OK, now that we have become sufficiently aware of the performances this past weekend at the USF Sling&Shoot of top players Dvario Montgomery, Winter Park WR-DB, and Vernon Hargreaves III, Tampa Wharton WR-DB, let's take a look at the rest of the field.
- The man who might have had the single most impressive play of the tournament was Drew Madhu, one of the top prospects on the usually stocked Tampa Plant roster. Plant was up on Armwood with time running down and Armwood in their two-minute offense. Madhu, however, put a stop to that on the first pass of the final series when new Armwood QB Daryl Richardson threw a pass to the sideline that Madhu looked as if he would bat down easily. Instead, however, Madhu somehow managed to snag the ball one-handed with his body twisting awkwardly the opposite way of his momentum and he came down with the game-winning interception. That play put Plant in the title game against eventual winner Winter Park. That wasn’t the only big play Madhu made on the weekend, as he was all over the field for coach Bob Weiner and the runners-up Plant Panthers.
- Plant had other impressive performers. WRs Austin Aikens (2012) and Austin Roberts (2014) were stellar, pulling down numerous big catches to help move Plant down the field. Defensively, Plant also has its usual stock of talent with DB Paris Bostick and Madhu leading the way.
- Another legitimate MVP candidate was Leesburg senior Dmauri Jones, a 6-foot-5, 190-pound WR who was extra impressive in traffic on jump-ball tosses to the end zone. He uses his height very well and even though he had a different quarterback than usual this past weekend, Jones still had his timing down pretty tight.
- Leesburg also had other playmakers in rising seniors Jalen Dozier, a little guy at 5-foot-5 who was making huge plays all weekend as a slot receiver. Emmanuel Nelson was also in on a few big plays himself. And backup QB Lee Bennett, sitting in for absent Undra Mitchem, showed some confidence for an upcoming freshman.
- Tampa Jesuit had some big-time performers starting with rising sophomore QB Timmy Eveld (6-5, 185). The big QB has a big arm and has gained far better control of it since we last saw Eveld a year ago. Also for Jesuit, Parker Clontz (2013) and Matt Garcia (2012) provided more big plays on defense.
- Orlando University made a good showing in pulling off an upset win over Tampa Plant in pool play. In that contest, one of the top Central Florida receivers Marcus Garvey caught five touchdown passes. He would end up with 28 scoring catches for the tournament, putting right up with the likes of Hargreaves, Montgomery and Jones. QB Williams Solomon did a tremendous job of getting the ball to Garvey. A rising junior, Solomon is showing great progress as a first-year starter and should have a nice future ahead of him.
- Shadon Seabrook also showed out for University. The ball-hawking cornerback was usually put on the opposition’s top receiver and he did a great job in coverage all weekend. A rising junior, Seabrook shows great promise for the Cougars.
- Another big QB Chase Litton (6-6, 190), a rising sophomore out of Tampa Wharton, had a blast tossing the ball up in the air for that jack-in-the-box receiver Hargreaves. The best friends connected numerous times on crucial third- and fourth-down situations. Hargreaves typically only joined the offense on third down, and played the entire way as cornerback on the other side.
- Armwood’s new QB Daryl Richardson got to show off his arm and does he have a cannon. He probably could have launched the ball from the playing fields across USF’s main drag Fowler Avenue, the way it took off from his hands. Richardson will be a junior and still has some kinks to work out, but he’s someone to watch for 2013.
- DB Jarvis McCall also looked good for Armwood, using his big body (6-2, 185) to go right at the big receivers on display. On the other side, DB Leon McQuay III was equally impressive and he is one of the more heavily recruited juniors in the state. And of course, Florida commit RB Matt Jones was usual self, sometime playing both offense and defense. Jones is a horse that Gator fans can wait to see come out of the gates.
- We’ve hit on some of the big guns for Winter Park like Montgomery and Xavier Amerson, the bookend receivers, as well as QB Asiantii Woulard, but some rising sophomores showed out in extraordinary fashion. DB Blake McClain was picking off passes right and left and had two picks in the title game, the last one being the game and tourney clincher. Rafael “Rah Rah” Lopes also had a greet weekend, turning short passes into long gainers from a slot position. The kid is fast.
Surely I’ve left off a few players well deserving of recognition from the weekend, but this is most of what I gathered from the USF event.
Stay tuned, more 7-on-7 tourneys are on the calendar for this weekend with two in South Florida, and two in Central Florida at DeLand’s River City Shootout and Plant City’s West Florida Shootout, part of the Mel Kiper national series. UCF also hosts a big man camp on Saturday.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org