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May 12, 2013
RCS: Top surprises (offense)
The regional portion of the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour is over, wrapping up in Chicago and totaling 15 events around the country. There were many things we expected heading into the camps, but there were also numerous surprises, including the standout performance of Demetrius Johnson at the RCS Richmond. Here are the rest of the offensive surprises:
1. ATH Demetrius Johnson missed most of his junior season with an ankle injury, but based on in-person evaluations when he was healthy, we still made him a high four-star prospect and put him at No. 125 nationally. At the RCS in Richmond, Johnson proved our faith in him was merited. He was outstanding, and he battled Jamil Kamara to the end for Offensive Skill MVP honors. Johnson looked like he was limping a bit at the end on that same ankle, but he fought through it and was dominant. It shouldn't be a surprise that a high four-star dominated, but in this case it was.
2. We knew ATH Noah Brown was good, but nobody expected him to beat out six four-stars to take home the top spot on the New Jersey RCS Offensive Top Performers list. Brown can play on offense or defense, but he played only wide receiver and impressed everyone. He added muscle and was more physical than last year. He was consistently able to break press coverage and run routes without getting bumped off track, and he was explosive enough out of his breaks to create separation. Since the camp, Brown has picked up offers from Syracuse, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Ohio State and others.
3. WR Monte Harrison had amassed a few offers before he arrived at RCS St. Louis, and everyone knew he was a capable wide receiver. The fact that he beat out the No. 1 wideout in American to secure MVP honors, on the other hand, was a shock. Tall, aggressive and fast, Harrison looked every bit the top-level prospect during the camp. He created massive separation from cornerbacks on every rep and caught at least four passes of more than 40 yards.
4. OL Mike Grimm's performance at the U.S. Army National Underclassmen Combine propelled him to a high initial ranking in the Rivals250. His play at the Pittsburgh RCS was anything but inspiring. The 6-foot-6, 328-pound Grimm still had the quick feet and great strength, but he was impatient and did not time his punches well. Grimm either overcommitted by sliding inside or outside too quickly or missed on his punches. The issues are easily correctable and shouldn't be a problem for Grimm to fix.
5. TE Mavin Saunders was a bit of an unknown entering the RCS Houston. He put up strong numbers in his first year of football as a wide receiver at Houston (Texas) Kinkaid and he was a basketball standout, but we didn't know what kind of prospect he would be until he showed up at the camp. It did not take long for him to catch the attention of everyone in attendance. At first glance everyone wondered who he was, and then when drills and one-on-ones began he showed natural catching ability to go with his athleticism. On a day that featured some big tight ends, he was an immediate standout. Since then, his stock has shot up and he has reached double-digit offers.
6. Class of 2015 RB Andrew Dowell was not the Dowell brother we expected to be among the top offensive performers at the Pittsburgh RCS. His brother, David Dowell, had a breakout sophomore season last fall and has drawn plenty of early looks. Andrew was shelved as a sophomore with a hip injury, and Pittsburgh was his first real test in a big-time setting. The 6-foot, 200-pound ball carrier took advantage, easily mastering the position work and then dominating in the one-on-ones against linebackers.
7. OL Bryce Holland is a little short for a center, but that didn't stop him from dominating one-on-ones at RCS Phoenix. Being undersized allows him to get a low center of gravity. That, combined with his upper-body strength, gives him the tools necessary to drive and steer defenders in any direction. Holland is a bulldog of a lineman and will likely make some smaller program very happy.
8. There were plenty of rumors about the demise of Rivals100 running back Stanley Williams, and he looked poised to drop in the rankings. However, he showed up at RCS Atlanta as a walk-up participant and ended up showing the same athleticism that made him so highly ranked in the first place. While he's back on the market after de-committing from Georgia, there is no shortage of suitors for his services. He figures to continue to be among the best backs in the Southeast.
9. WR DaMarkus Lodge caught only six passes for 59 yards as a sophomore in 2012 because of a stacked senior class at Cedar Hill (Texas), but word coming into the RCS Dallas was the 2015 prospect would be an eye catcher. He did not disappoint as he got the best of a loaded defensive back group that included several Rivals250 members. His standout performance earned him Offensive Skill MVP honors over several highly sought 2014 prospects. It definitely says something when a prospect enters with no offers and in the next few weeks and months adds several BCS options.
10. D'Ernest Johnson taking home the MVP honors at the RCS Miami event surprised a few Rivals.com onlookers. Johnson wasn't known as a home run-type back, but he beat linebackers and safeties in one-on-ones while surprising us with his speed and route running. In a camp that featured fellow four-stars such as Joseph Yearby and Ryeshene Bronson, Johnson walked away with top billing.
11. Drew Doxtator was excited to attend the RCS in Phoenix because he wanted to prove himself against top competition, and the Henderson (Nev.) Foothill standout did that and more. Doxtator has decent size and an outstanding arm. He knows when to fire it through a tight space or put some loft on it so a receiver can run under his passes. He spins it well, has great form and is considered one of the better quarterbacks in the West. If he can put up monster stats again this season, even bigger offers should be coming.
12. Rising junior RayRay McCloud came into the RCS Orlando with a lot to prove and left with the hardware -- to the surprise of some. McCloud nabbed MVP honors on the offensive side with stellar play in one-on-ones on both sides of the ball. He locked up a few of the top offensive performers while playing corner, too. We feel his stock should rise and he should see the level of BCS interest pick up over the summer.
13. OL Tanner Farmer came into the St. Louis RCS with no scholarship offers and little college attention, yet by day's end he was clearly the offensive line MVP out of a solid group. Measuring 6-foot-4 and 305 pounds, Farmer is an interior line prospect who possesses great strength and footwork. He anchored and stoned defensive tackles time and time again, physically overpowering them and technically outmaneuvering them. Western Michigan ended the drought by awarding Farmer his first offer the day after his MVP performance in St. Louis.
14. To call it a complete surprise would not be right because RB D.J. Riggins has dominated the 7-on-7 scene all spring, but his outstanding performance at the RCS Phoenix was definitely memorable. Riggins has the unique ability to sell his cuts well but then burst into another gear, and he catches everything thrown in his vicinity. That he still has no offers is a head scratcher, but with more colleges stopping by Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian every day, things should change soon.