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June 12, 2013

Challenge: Team Flickr what we learned

MORE: Complete Five-Star Challenge coverage

The Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by Under Armour featured the top prospects in the country on the field at Soldier Field in Chicago. Here is what we learned about Team Flickr at the event.

Five-star needs a tuneup

There was an all-star collection of talent in the defensive line group at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge. Five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter stood out for different reasons on Saturday and Sunday at Soldier Field. He won the majority of his reps on Sunday but struggled on Saturday. On Saturday, the 6-foot-5, 231-pound Carter did not show a solid repertoire of pass-rushing moves beyond a speed rush to the outside. He tried to counter inside a few times over the weekend but did not stay low enough and the offensive linemen were able to drive him down the line and away from the quarterback. On Sunday, Carter was much more successful, winning the bulk of his reps, however his technique was still not to the caliber of some of the other five-star defensive ends there.

The real deal

Sophomore standout Minkah Fitzpatrick was invited to Chicago to play with the big boys and did not shy away. Fitzpatrick is a natural cornerback and he excelled at that position on the camp circuit earlier this year. Over the weekend at Soldier Field, however, Fitzpatrick played safety for Team Flickr during the 7-on-7 tournament and made a great impression. For Fitzpatrick to stand out while playing out of position against the best competition he has faced is impressive. While playing the deep middle, Fitzpatrick was able to come up with two interceptions and multiple pass breakups, a few of which could easily have been interceptions. To say Fitzpatrick has a bright future would be a gross understatement and his nine early offers should be an obvious indicator.

Gaining respect

While Casey Tucker might not have been the offensive linemen MVP, he certainly put on an impressive performance, especially on Sunday. The 6-foot-5, 282-pound offensive tackle went up against the best defensive linemen in the country and won the majority of his reps. The best parts of his game were his initial punch and great lateral quickness but he needs to work on his lower body strength and balance.

Tucker has great natural technique and as he continues to develop his body, he could be a star at the next level.

Williams best coverage LB in SEC country?

Coming into the weekend, the majority of the analyst team believed outside linebacker Dillon Bates was going to be the best linebacker in coverage, but Mobile (Ala.) St. Paul's Tre Williams had other ideas. Williams was by far the best mid-level defender and nabbed an interception to earn his team's first points. He had several other passes defended and was always around the ball. We knew his instincts were good, but he showed us they were great throughout the entirety of the tournament.

When we saw him at the RCS Birmingham, he flashed good cover ability against some of the region's top athletes. However, his closing speed and lateral agility defending some of the game's best skill players exceeded our expectations. He is always around the ball and closes in a hurry. Bottom line, he was the best defensive player on a stacked team of defenders.

Jackson two-way player?

Adoree Jackson's athleticism is through the roof. His film is ridiculous and his flying front flip on tape leaves you shaking your head. Jackson might be the most gifted two-way player in the country. Again we knew he was good as a cornerback and return man, but we didn't know of his playmaking ability as a wideout against other premier defensive backs. It's one thing to play 7-on-7 in his home state and get the best of middle-tier talent; it's another thing to routinely beat players of equal caliber.

The Rivals100 prospect hauled in a long touchdown pass from Deshaun Watson on a sensational double move. He also added a scoring reception on a fade pattern where he contorted his body to a ball outside of his catch radius to make a great play. When he lined up at corner, he was effective locking down the opposition. His elite speed and ability to make home run plays on either side reminds us of do-it-all Oregon athlete De'Anthony Thomas. It was fun watching a dynamic player elevate his game against the best in a big-time setting.



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