HOOVER, Ala. - The National Select 7-on-7 is the premier passing tournament in the country and a perfect end to the summer passing league schedule.
With 20 of the 31 participating teams being ranked in the RivalsHigh 100 over the last three seasons, there was plenty of team and individual talent.
Expectations are always high for the participants. Some of those expectations were met, while others, unfortunately, were not.
With that a look at who impressed and who fell short:
National Select 7 on 7: RAISING THE BAR
It was a pleasant surprise to see the success of the teams from Louisiana. Mandeville (La.) High is much more of a 7-on-7 team and so its third-place finish was not altogether a surprise. However, West Monroe (La.) High is not a passing league trailblazer. The Rebels advanced into the semifinals of the losers bracket before falling to Loganville (Ga.) Grayson. The quarterback play was surprisingly good as well for a team that was looking to fill the void.
Entering the event, there was a lot of hype about the senior quarterbacks in the pool and for good reason with Brendan Nosovitch, Maty Mauk, Justin Thomas, Jalen Whitlow, Todd Mays and others in attendance. But it was the next group of signal callers that made the event. Trey Robinson (Dorman), Jeremy Johnson (Montgomery Carver), Austin Allen (Fayetteville), T.J Fleeton (Daphne), and Eddie Printz (Lassiter) all had some of the better showings in the event.
Of the players who stood out in a crowd, it may have been Yeldon that most everyone was talking about. Yeldon was physically impressive and a stellar route runner with soft hands. He looked fluid in and out of breaks and made some very nice catches, taking pressure off his quarterback. Yeldon also expressed a personal goal to rush for over 1,000 yards and catch 1,000 yards worth of passes.
The expectation to see Allentown Central Catholic be a team of Brendan Nosovitch and a motley cast of characters was quickly turned on the first day. Kevin Gulyas and R.J. Taylor both looked good in the offense but the most impressive of the supporting cast was Jalen Snyder-Scipio. The 6-foot-3 senior made a lot of big catches and passed the eyeball test to be a potential Division I athlete. With more focus being paid to the Class AAA team, it would not be a surprise if all four ended up at Division I programs.
National Select 7 on 7: Missing the Mark
Entering the field with the hype of the nation's longest winning streak and a field full of talented teams was a tough backdrop for a team that is undoubtedly not a 7-on-7 team. But it wasn't just that. For most of the event, the Falcons looked outmatched and outmanned. While the strength of the team is in the trenches, not winning a single game was unexpected and disappointing.
Wearing a Rivals.com polo for three days provides people an ample opportunity to give unsolicited opinions and most every time an evaluation of the Butkus Award semifinalist was given, the words "overrated" and "stiff" came up. The people in Alabama are very rare to knock one of their own but Alexander was the most often criticized player in the event. In the two games watched in person, it did look like Alexander was not meant to be out in space.
Despite making it to the final eight teams, the overall talent that was expected to be on the rise from the Palmetto State Showdown a month ago was not there. Scotty Hosch is a player who should receive Division I offers because of his talent, but his surrounding cast will need to step up its play. The receivers got little to no separation in the event and forced Hosch to throw through the smallest windows of any quarterback in the field. If the team wins six regular season games, Bob Sphires should be coach of the year in Georgia.
Kenton and Montgomery Carver receivers
Having Maty Mauk and Jeremy Johnson at the helm gave both teams a chance to compete in every game, but neither team has the receiving talent around it that it did last year - and it showed. Johnson, on the second day of pool play alone, threw eight first play, first pass touchdowns from the 40 yard line. His touch reminds many of Jeff Blake, but when he needed a player to get open and not just run a streak, it was not happening. Mauk, not as much of a deep ball passer but more precise, had a similar problem with having receivers break to their spots. The Kenton offense is more reliant on timing and it was not as fine tuned as it was last year.