Summer standouts: Assessing the top linebackers on the camp circuit
Despite a knee injury, Reuben Foster showcased his immense Division I potential
Notre Dame commit Jaylon Smith shined at the Rivals100 Challenge, The Opening
Matthew Thomas, Michael Hutchings were among other prospects that impressed
Now that the summer camps have wound down, Rivals.com is taking a position-by-position look at the summer standouts. After taking stock of the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and defensive linemen, it's time to evaluate the linebackers.
Note: Players are listed in alphabetical order, not by star ranking.
Gyasi Akem, Broken Arrow (Okla.): Akem arrived at the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge with only one offer, but that was likely because the 6-foot-2, 209-pounder missed his entire sophomore season with a knee injury. Now that Akem appears fully healthy, looking for plenty more scholarships to pour in. He was arguably the most physically gifted linebacker at the event in Dallas.
Alex Anzalone, Wyomissing (Pa.): The Notre Dame pledge played well at both The Opening and Florida's Friday Night Lights event, as he was constantly moving and looking to make a play. He's very aggressive going after the ball in pass coverage, and his constant movement allows him to defend throws that most other linebackers can't get to.
Larenz Bryant, Charlotte Vance: Bryant showed great timing and athleticism at The Opening, allowing him to make a lot of plays. He's still a little bit undersized (6-foot-1, 207 pounds), but he could develop into a force after undergoing college weight training. Once the ball is snapped, the South Carolina commit does a great job of reading the play and actively pursuing the ball.
Reuben Foster, Auburn (Ala.): The nation's No. 2 overall prospect looked great at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge. He already has the look of a SEC-caliber linebacker, moving well even though he's coming off a knee injury. He's built well, boasts great athleticism for a player his size and is extremely tough to deal with. Foster had to miss most of The Opening due to injury, but remains one of the premier prospects in the class of 2013.
Clifton Garrett, Joliet (Ill.) Plainfield South: Garrett has emerged as one of the hottest recruiting names in the Midwest, and, after his performance at the Illinois Nike Camp, the hype is certainly justified. The 2014 prospect has a great frame and impressive size, plus he's rangy and can move well. He's not a finished product, but there is plenty to like about the rising junior.
Deon Hollins Jr., Missouri City (Texas) Fort Bend Marshall: Hollins doesn't blow scouts away with his physical attributes, but he simply has a knack for getting things accomplished. He was especially impressive during one-on-ones at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, where showed the ability to keep pace with running backs and tight ends. He's rarely a step behind, and he knows how to make the most of his enviable athleticism.
Michael Hutchings, Concord (Calif.) De La Salle: The USC commit was seen at The Opening and appeared to be in tremendous shape. He kept his speed and maneuverability throughout, and perhaps more importantly, looked extremely comfortable matching up with some of the nation's best running backs during drills.
Peter Kalambayi, Matthews (N.C.) Butler: Kalambayi really established himself at Top Gun -- on more than one occasion. The 6-foot-3, 238-pounder is one of the best-looking linebackers in the country, possessing an unmistakable thickness to his frame. Some scouts believe he can step onto a college field and make an impact immediately from a physical standpoint, but the Stanford commit still has some work to do in order to become a true elite-level linebacker.
Raekwon McMillan, Hinesville (Ga.) Liberty County: In terms of sheer physical presence, McMillan is one of the most striking 2014 linebackers in the country. He's not as ripped as Foster is, but very few players are. He was impressive at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, and he is known as a prolific tackler. Given some progression in pass coverage, and McMillan could rack up Division I offers by the end of his junior year.
Mike Mitchell, Plano (Texas) Prestonwood Christian Academy: Mitchell was one of the most impressive players at The Opening and Gridiron Kings events. Even though he didn't compete in drills because he had qualified as a SPARQ finalist, he still stood out in testing with his advanced physical presence and movement. Mitchell ran a blazing fast 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash, a tremendous time for a player his size.
Quinton Powell, Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland: There are bigger linebackers around than Powell -- he stands at just 6-feet, 190 pounds -- but few can cover the amount of ground that he does. He possesses great quickness and balance, and his ability to laterally blanket the field is exceptional. In open-field drills against running backs, the Florida commit used his long arms and speed to redirect runners and make sure that he wasn't taken advantage of.
Cameron Queiro, Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic: The younger brother of Kyle Queiro, the Northwestern-committed 2013 athlete, Cameron Quiero made a name for himself at the Rutgers 7-on-7 competition. The 2014 prospect continues to add weight to his frame, but he also continues to maintain his quickness in space. Now that he's stronger, Quiero showed that he isn't afraid to get physical, either.
Doug Randolph, Richmond (Va.) Woodberry Forest School: Randolph displayed his quickness and agility at the Chesapeake Bowl Camp, surprising many of running backs by staying with them during drills. He was excellent both in pass coverage and in clogging up the middle of the field.
Marcus Robinson, Memphis (Tenn.) Memphis East: Robinson tore up the Memphis Nike Camp, and even at his size (6-foot-4, 207 pounds), he looks like he can add weight while maintaining his speed and athleticism. He is not only quick but explosive and could be primed for a dominant senior season at Memphis East this fall.
Jaylon Smith, Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers: Smith has been all over the summer circuit, whether at The Opening or the Rivals100 Challenge. He's been excellent every single time. The Notre Dame pledge is freakishly athletic, moves well for a 6-foot-3, 212-pounder and can make plays unimaginable to the average linebacker. Smith covers so much ground in so little time that he often startles opposing offenses.
Matthew Thomas, Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington: Thomas is not the biggest linebacker, but he has long, lean features and he certainly makes the most of them. He is impressive moving around the field, and he has the capability to disrupt a multitude of attacks. He also demonstrated terrific timing at The Opening -- he seems to know the exact moment to go after the ball and make a play.
Dwight Williams, Gardena (Calif.) Serra: The 2014 prospect had some shining moments at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge. He was one of the most impressive linebackers in pass coverage, and, though undersized, is significantly tougher than he's given credit for. Despite facing top-tier older competition, Williams was one of the premier linebackers in Atlanta and performed admirably in a tough situation.
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