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April 5, 2013

Nine underrated prospects to watch

MORE: Rivals Camp Series

It may not feel like it, but it's still early for the class of 2014. Today's accelerated recruiting process can make signing day feel closer than it is. In reality, though, there's still plenty of time for things to shake out.

No player in the class has taken a snap as a senior and new talent is still being discovered. So midway through the summer circuit, we examine nine players who are long on talent but short on offers.

QB Luke Rubenzer, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro
Rubenzer's recruitment has some momentum, but maybe not as much as it should. The main factor holding him back is a lack of size. He measured 6-foot exactly at the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour stop in Phoenix, and while he doesn't have the look of a quarterback prototype, you can't argue with the results. Rubenzer passed for 2,834 yards last season and ran for another 1,184. He also scored 47 total touchdowns. He's comfortable throwing on the run and is mostly accurate when he decides to sit in the pocket. He won't make coaches faint with his arm strength, but it's not a glaring weakness, either. He's been impressive in both camp settings and in 7-on-7 during the offseason.

ATH Tyler West, Derby (Kan.)
West turned a few heads playing running back at the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour stop in Phoenix. The buzz surrounding him concerned his speed, which surprised a few people in attendance. Still, he wasn't a one-trick pony by any means. Playing running back, West held his own against some of the better linebackers in football-rich Arizona. He didn't win every rep he took, but seemed to be at his best against touted prospects. West's build is probably more suited for a linebacker, and he's starting to train at that position along side fellow Wichita product and All Big 12 linebacker Arthur Brown, who just wrapped up his career at Kansas State.

QB Landon Root, Wichita (Kan.) Collegiate
The knock on Root is his consistency, so judging him based on one good camp performance is dangerous. That said, the Wichita (Kan.) Collegiate quarterback looked impressive at the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour stop in Phoenix. He has the size and the speed of a BCS-level quarterback and spun the ball well all afternoon. He wasn't among the top-level of players at the position. Rivals100 member Kyle Allen and 2015 signal-caller Brett Rypien were a different class, but Root's arm strength and accuracy were impressive nonetheless. The major takeaway is that when Root is at his best, he's the kind of player who can stir serious recruiting buzz. If he maintains his level of play throughout his senior season, offers should show up in bunches.

RB Kishawn Holmes, Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta
The fact that Holmes is yet to land a scholarship offer is curious. He's been one of the best backs on the camp circuit for the past few months and possesses elite-level agility and plenty of speed. He is undersized. There's no disputing that. But there are plenty of 5-foot-8 backs playing college football. Holmes was a standout at the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour stop in Los Angeles and followed that up with by landing on the top performers list at NFA 7-on-7 Gamebreakers Challenge, where he easily baffled defenders in one-on-one situations and showed a knack for hauling in difficult passes.

WR Shay Fields, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
Fields made his mark at the NLA 7-on-7 event in Las Vegas. There, he played both running back and wide receiver. He created significant separation at both positions. He gets off the line quickly and runs tight routes. He is slightly undersized, but it's not a glaring issue by any means.

TE Mavin Saunders, Houston (Texas) Kinkaid
Saunders is also a basketball star. The fact that he stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 233 pounds makes it simple to see why. On the football field, he's a work in progress. Saunders is raw, but presents quarterbacks with a long and rangy target who can go get passes that aren't particularly accurate. He could stand to add some weight and polish his routes, but the athleticism is there in spades. College coaches should view Saunders as a gamble that stands to pay dividends down the road.

DB Donovan Wilson, Shreveport (La.) Woodlawn
Wilson is one of the few players on this list with an ideal build. In fact, he could just as easily work as a linebacker. He emerged as a player to watch at the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour event in Dallas, where he won reps against a host of four-star prospects and other highly thought-of receivers. He closed as well as any safety at the camp and showed off an impressive vertical that made him a nightmare on jump balls.

DB Drue Tranquill, Fort Wayne (Ind.) Carroll
The takeaway from Tranquill performance at the NLA Midwest 7-on-7 was his blend of size and agility. There aren't too many 200-plus pound players who move as smoothly as he does. The most impressive part of his game, however, is the way his physicality blends with is athleticism. His rare combination of speed and strength landed him on the list of top performers at the NLA event in Youngstown, Ohio.

ATH Delvon Randall, Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway
Randall spends his fall Fridays on a stacked team at Gateway. His teammates get the headlines and most of the attention in the fall. Nobody is holding him down this offseason, though. Randall was one of the headliners at the NLA Midwest 7-on-7 event. There, he played safety for most of the day and made a couple of outstanding game-saving plays. His instincts at safety are impressive. He always seems to know where and when to break and never misjudged a ball.

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