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July 6, 2012
Underclassmen Challenge: Most to gain
MORE: Underclassmen Challenge
The Rivals Underclassmen Challenge is set for July 8 in Dallas. Here are 10 players who have the most to gain from their performance.
CB Andrew Ashley, Olney (Md.) Good Counsel (2015): The 5-foot-9, 165-pound defender is only going into his sophomore season, but he still has a lot to live up to. Good Counsel has turned into a factory of top recruits, especially at the cornerback position. The nation's top corner in the class of 2013, Kendall Fuller, hails from there and this is about the time in his career that he started making noise at the national level. Is Ashley the next Blake Countess or Kirk Garner or even the next Fuller? He can move toward answering that this weekend.
QB Reggie Bonnafon, Louisville (Ky.) Trinity: The 6-foot-1, 195-pound dual-threat quarterback is behind a three-star quarterback in Travis Wright on Trinity's depth chart. Bonnafon will be given the reins to the offense as a senior, but he will have to bide his time at wide receiver until then. Because of that, events such as the Challenge will give him an opportunity to show off as a passer. He did well at an Elite 11 camp this summer and this is another chance to showcase his arm.
S John Bonney, Houston (Texas) Lamar: The state of Texas is absolutely loaded with top defensive backs in the class of 2014. At least 15 are already looking like possible four- or five-star prospects. However, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Bonney has not been included in that group. The talented defender already has offers from Baylor, Houston and SMU and he could pile up others if he plays well alongside such players as Edward Paris, Brandon Simmons, Chris Hardeman and Cedric Collins.
ATH Dominique Brown, Ocala (Fla.) Trinity Catholic: The 5-foot-10, 183-pound athlete has been very good this offseason in camp settings. Brown has mostly played defensive back and, despite not testing well in the 40, has been able to cover well. He holds one offer from FIU right now, but if he is able to generate some buzz this weekend, more schools will take notice.
QB Tyler Harris, Blackshear (Ga.) Pierce County: The 6-foot-3, 205-pound quarterback has gained all kinds of praise lately due to his size and arm. However, Harris has not really had a chance to showcase his abilities on a national stage. The Underclassmen Challenge will be a perfect time for the Peach State prospect to make an impact in front of his peers as well as national analysts. Not many quarterbacks from the class of 2014 have gotten exposure, so this is the perfect opportunity for Harris to do so.
RB Mikel Horton, West Chester (Ohio) Lakota West: The 6-foot-1, 230-pound back is a bruising runner who is good between the tackles. However, his running style did not lend itself to big plays as a sophomore, when he averaged just 4.4 yards per carry. This summer, Horton has proven to be a top performer at every regional event. The Challenge will present a chance to go against some very good linebackers and defensive backs. Horton canprove he's a true all-around back and not just a player that can move the chains when needed.
OT Demetrius Knox, Fort Worth (Texas) All Saints: So far, the 6-foot-5, 300-pound lineman is the only of the 20 rising juniors who competed in the Rivals Five-Star Challenge to sign up for the Underclassmen Challenge. Knox admittedly struggled at the Five-Star Challenge, but it was his first camp. Now that he has some experience, he could prove himself to be one of the top linemen in the country for the class of 2014.
OT Andrew Mike, Tucson (Ariz.) Sabino: The 6-foot-7, 260-pound offensive tackle has been very good at every camp he has attended but he has never gone against the caliber of defenders he will this weekend. Mike has offers from mainly West Coast schools at this time but, with a strong performance this weekend, he could turn himself into a national offensive line prospect. His frame is a bit reminiscent of another tackle from the Southwest in Matthew Hegarty and Mike could put himself in a position to be just as heavily recruited.
ATH Devante Noil, New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr: Edna Karr was absolutely loaded with talent last year, but it was not until they put the 5-foot-10, 165-pound speedster under center that they started to win games. Noil eventually led Enda Karr to the state championship game. This weekend, he will have a chance to show what he can do at wide receiver and could end up being one of the most talked-about players. Some people believe he has an even higher upside than teammate and good friend Gerald Willis III.
OG Jake Whitley, North Augusta (S.C.): The 6-foot-4, 295-pound rising junior certainly has the size to be a Div. I offensive lineman.The question remains as to whether Whitley is athletic enough to play guard at the next level. He did well at a regional VTO camp this summer, but the Challenge will give him the opportunity to show if he has improved his athleticism since then. If he has, then the sky is the limit for his recruitment and he could see offers pour in soon.