ATLANTA - Over three days, 25 of the Southwest's best prospects collected in Atlanta, Ga. to showcase their ability at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge. Here are five things we learned about the Southwest squad during the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge.
1. Ricky Seals-Jones can play
The biggest question for the Southwest team, and maybe for the Challenge overall, coming into the weekend was whether Sealy (Texas) wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones could actually play the position. The nation's No. 1 receiver prospect, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Texan plays quarterback and safety for his high school team. After a very subpar showing on Saturday, Seals-Jones rebounded on Sunday as the top performer for his team. It still remains to be seen whether he might grow into a tight end at the next level, but he showed he can get behind defenders and catch the ball in traffic.
2. Tyrone Swoopes has made strides.
Five-star quarterback Swoopes of Whitewright, Texas is ranked so highly mainly based on potential. The Texas commit was seen as an extraordinary athlete with a great arm but lacking the touch and accuracy of the other passers at the event. While he had his ups and downs, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound passer made improvements as Sunday's 7-on-7 action went on. He was more comfortable making reads and checking down and also was not afraid to try and fit balls into smaller windows. For a quarterback who was not able to showcase his primary weapon in his legs, he had a great weekend. He truly has the potential to be a star for the Longhorns.
3. The ultimate sleeper
New Iberia (La.) Westgate offensive guard Josh Boutte was one of the last players invited to the Challenge as a late injury replacement. In fact, the 6-foot-5, 319-pound LSU commit did not know he was attending until a week prior. Boutte has not been a regular on the camp circuit and lost his first two one-on-one matchups but dominated everything after that. He pancaked three different players, including standout defenders Scott Pagano and DaShawn Hand. Due to his early commitment to the Tigers and the fact he hails from a fairly lightly-recruited area, Boutte was unknown to almost every other player in attendance. That didn't last long, though, and he quickly made a name for himself once they hit the field.
4. Dearth of defensive linemen?
It was thought that the defensive line position in the Southwest region, especially in the state of Texas, was an incredibly strong and deep group in the class of 2013. However, the unit certainly struggled over the weekend and finished last in Sunday's lineman challenge. Texas A&M defensive tackle commit Kerrick Huggins suffered an ankle injury on Saturday and was unable to return Sunday. Fellow Aggie commit Isaiah Golden flashed signs of greatness but showed up admittedly out of shape at 6-foot-2, 333 pounds. Alief (Texas) Taylor defensive end Torrodney Prevot is incredibly quick off the ball but was the smallest lineman in attendance by far at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds. Can he gain enough weight in college? Oklahoma defensive end commit D.J. Ward fared quite well but was fairly lean as well. Players such as Justin Manning and A'Shawn Robinson were unable to attend, but there are at least some questions now about what was supposed to be the strongest position group in the region.
5. The underclassmen DBs are special.
The Southwest region has 17 or 18 defensive back prospects that already seem like surefire Rivals250 selections for the class of 2014, so the two selected for the Challenge - Laurence Jones of Monroe (La.) Neville and Tony Brown of Beaumont (Texas) Ozen - had to prove they belonged. Both certainly did. Brown made his case to be considered for the honors of top defensive back in Texas along with the likes of Edward Paris and Nick Harvey, while Jones was one the event's best cornerbacks despite coming in at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds. If the rest of the group can play like those two it will be hard for colleges to decide which prospects to make a priority out of that group. A lot of schools will get some very, very good players, though.