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June 20, 2012
ATLANTA -- The Rivals100 Five Star Challenge is so loaded with talent that it's hard to pinpoint a surprise. However, Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell takes his best shot at five prospects who just might shock a few people.
TE Josh McNeil, Durham (N.C.) Hillside: A late addition due to the injury of Adam Breneman, McNeil is ranked No. 10 in the nation at tight end and is hungry to show he belongs in the discussion with Breneman, O.J. Howard and DeSean Smith as top 100 players. He'll get to show his stuff on the same field as Howard and Smith as well as another talented tight end, Danny Mattingly. Could this last-minute replacement gig turn McNeil into a top 100 prospect?
WR Isaiah Jones, Milton, Fla.: Jones comes from a small school and is a raw prospect, but talented enough to be in the national top 150. With his 6-foot-4, 210-pound size and natural athletic ability, could we be looking at a prospect who is closer to a national top-10 talent at his position rather than his No. 20 standing right now? He'll get to compare his talents to Ricky Seals-Jones, Marquez North, Laquon Treadwell, Steven Mitchell, John Diarse, Earnest Robinson, Reggie Davis and Eldridge Massington, all players ranked ahead of him at wide receiver.
WR Tyler Boyd, Clairton, Pa.: Ranked outside the national top 200, Boyd is hungry to prove that he belongs in the Rivals100 and much closer to fellow Pittsburgh-area wide receiver Robert Foster. Many feel Boyd is the better player of the two right now, and his versatility on offense and defense makes him a valuable asset to the North. However, he'll try to do his damage strictly as a wide receiver and could have one of the best sets of hands at the event.
LB Josh Banderas, Lincoln, Neb.: Banderas is ranked at No. 201 in the country, is a firm Nebraska commitment and has little to prove to those schools that coveted him. However, on a national stage, some think he's underrated and should be higher up on the list at outside linebacker. While No. 13 in the country at his position is excellent, Banderas gets to show his natural coverage ability and great hips against four prospects ranked ahead of him at the same position. And there are some who think he could leave as one of the best linebackers at the event.
DL Elijah Qualls, Petaluma (Calif.) Casa Grande: Listed as an athlete because he plays running back and other positions in high school, Qualls isn't the only three-star prospect at the event. However, he's the only one who makes this list because he's is one of the most controversially ranked prospects in the country. Some on the West Coast, including a few big-time defensive line coaches at major colleges, think he's a no-brainer five-star. However, his performances so far show a raw prospect who has a lot of work to do to become a natural defensive tackle. This could be the camp Qualls shows that promise.