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April 24, 2013

RCS St. Louis: Five things we learned


MORE: Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour

O'FALLON, Ill. -- The St. Louis area marked the 12th stop of the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour. West recruiting analyst Rob Cassidy takes a look back at the five things he learned on Sunday.

1. Undiscovered talent

When you live in rural Illinois, stirring up recruiting buzz isn't the easiest thing to do. Winning the offensive line MVP at the Rivals Camp Series will do the trick, though. Highland (Ill.) High School guard Tanner Farmer did just that in St. Louis and picked up his first offer (Western Michigan) the next day.

It feels as though that's only the start for the 300-pound, multi-time state wrestling champion. Farmer impressed from the start in St. Louis, where he didn't lose a single rep despite going up against some highly regarded defensive linemen. his performance was nothing short of dominant, and everyone in attendance took notice.

Farmer has the size, technique and the strength to be a 10-plus-offer prospect but was the victim of location. He used the weekend to prove that, even in 2013, top talent can slip through the cracks for a time.

2. Monte Harrison measures up

Three-star wide receiver Monte Harrison was part of a group that included Allen Lazard, the top-ranked wideout in the country. And while Lazard was impressive and in the running for top honors all afternoon, it was Harrison who walked away with the offensive skill MVP trophy.

Lazard is probably worthy of his top billing, but Harrison showed himself to be grossly undervalued. He isn't as physically imposing as America's top receiver, but he looked every bit as gifted during one-on-ones.

Harrison was surprisingly fast and was particularly lethal on deep passes, which allowed him to create gaping separation downfield. Meanwhile, Lazard was steady and made his living on intermediate routes, mostly to the middle of the field, which defensive backs had no chance of defending.

3. No shortage of young backs

Some of the event's best running backs have yet to take a single snap as high school juniors. The crop of underclassmen tailbacks was highlighted by hyper-imposing East St. Louis, Ill., sophomore Natereace Strong, who was possibly the most impressive-looking prospect of any age in the group.

The most familiar young gun on display was Calvin Strong (no relation) who racked up more than 1,800 yards rushing a season ago. Kentrail Moran and Ryan Williams were also impressive despite competing against older, more seasoned players.

As a whole, the troop was well put-together and looked as college-ready as most 2014 players in attendance.

Sunday proved that there's a solid chance the Midwest will be well represented in the Rivals100 at the running back spot for years to come.

4. Hendrix has Rivals100 potential

O'Fallon, Ill., defensive end Dewayne Hendrix came to St. Louis as a four-star prospect and the No. 231 player in his class. Even so, his performance somehow left people thinking he might be underrated.

Hendrix blew away offensive linemen in one-on-one drills and took the guesswork out of the battle for defensive line MVP. He has the size and strength to play on the college level as is, and his technique is polished as well. If ever there was a candidate for a significant bump in the rankings, it's Hendrix.

5. The future of Midwestern D-linemen lives in Illinois

The biggest threat to Hendrix's MVP campaign was sophomore defensive end Terry Beckner Jr., who nearly matched Hendrix rep for rep all afternoon. The most impressive part of Beckner's day was his back-to-back solid wins over four-star 2014 prospect D.J. Foster.

Becker is by no means a one-camp wonder, though. At 6-foot-5, 260 pounds, he has the size and speed needed to develop into an elite-level prospect. The fact that his technique is developed beyond his years is a plus as well.

Becker was more violent and aggressive than even Hendrix, but couldn't watch the older prospect when it came time to make a second move or showcase football instincts, which will develop over time. There's no telling how many offers Beckner will claim at this time next year, but the number figures to be higher than 20.



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