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Take a look at the state of Youth Football for 7th & 8TH graders things have vastly changed the last couple of years. With technology as well as former athletes becoming trainers, kids are far more advanced physically & mentally. You can attribute Youth Football Coaches hunger for knowledge & perfecting their craft to kids being ready to make the transition to the next level. You now actually have area High School coaches attending Youth Games checking out most likely the next High School star. 15 years ago the things that are happening now would seem far-fetched to High School Coaches & Recruiters. As I previously mentioned in my feature on Quarterbacks, 8th graders are now receiving verbal College offers. While last year Class of 2020 Quarterbacks were the big winners many other positions reaped the benefits of their labor. Class of 2021 has three prospects with early offers already I will touch on one of those athletes, when breaking down the class of 2021 top skill guys in the country. It’s such a motivating factor to stay focus for athletes coming up to know there on a College recruiters radar. Take your time and get a glimpse of what makes each individual athlete one of the top skill players in the country in the class of 2021.
Class of 2021 Top Skill Guys
Running backs / Athlete
Height & Weight : 6"0- 165 pounds
Team : Webb School of Knoxville ( Tn )
Howard is all about explosion. It isn't tough for a player of his size & speed to be truly elite, but Howard indeed has the athleticism and explosive speed to be just that. Howard is a four time national champ track star In the 100 & 200 meter he has elite top-end speed and he reaches it extremely quickly while showing great acceleration. He is very difficult to tackle in the open field, as his speed and quickness destroy angles. He seems to lose very little of his speed when cutting or cornering. Howard is extremely versatile as he is also a threat lined up out wide or on Kickoff & punt returns. This talented 8th grader already holds a Tennessee offer and get this, Howard is the starting Rb on Varsity already and dominating with fours year remaining yes a star was born.
Height & Weight : 5"8-165
Team : Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes 13/14u ( FL )
There are a lot of youth football teams that simply hand off the ball to the best athlete on their team because of lack of a pure running back. Fortunately for the Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes 13/14u they’ve got a natural running back in Amari Daniels. Amari will wow you with his physical skills. He doesn’t have the size of someone you would think can carry the ball over twenty times a game, but he’s got tremendous lower body strength & is powerful. It’s the little things that add up to make Daniels an exciting running back prospect. He is very slippery and seems to maneuver his way out of crowded areas to bust out for big gains while steam rolling defenders. When he is boxed in, he does a great job of fighting for every yard and is tough to tackle one on one because he runs with an attitude. Daniels greatest strength though is his vision and blazing speed. He sets up blocks and sets up defensive backs who take bad angles to turn what should be a smaller gain into a touchdown. I love his instincts with the ball in his hands. Daniels is a star on the rise and still learning the position going into his 4 season playing Rb with his stock still soaring.
Height & Weight : 5"11-179
Team : Sarasota Seminoles Seniors ( Fl)
Mike “Poohdah” Hayes is one of the top multi positional players in the nation and one of the top players in the southeast region. The two positions most widely raised as possibilities for him on the next level is running back & Safety. Mike plays both Running back & safety so I evaluated him at both spots. It isn’t easy being a great football player, but Mike Hayes sure makes it look like it is. There is not much on the football field that Hayes doesn’t do well. Hayes is such a smooth athlete. His agility is so outstanding that he cuts almost effortlessly on the field. Has the speed to run down, or out run, his opponent. He’s got great leaping ability as well.He’s got good size for multiple positions. Offensively there are so many things he does well. Does a good job as a zone runner and has good instincts. Can run through, around, and even jump over the top of defenders and has a tremendous ability to cut without losing much speed in the open field. Hayes even showed he can be a dangerous receiver by splitting out wide and winning some jump balls on some fade routes. Poohdah is his nick name and he has always dominated older kids since I saw this kid play as a 6th grader thinking at the time he was older.
Height & Weight :5"8-159
Team : Detroit Spartans 14u ( Mi )
Travis packs more power than most other running backs that are the same size. Boston is powerfully built with room to get bigger. He shows very good long speed and a solid burst. His lateral movement skills are good and deceptive. He’s a heck of an inside runner that displays patience and vision. He runs with authority when he hits the h*** and plays bigger than his size would indicate. He will break tackles is a tough player to bring down at the second level. He has good enough feet to be a one-cut runner, but shows more with subtle movements. He is more likely to run through than make someone miss. Don’t sleep on his extra gear in the open field either. Let me add his impact on the defensive side of the ball as well, An absolutely fearless tackler, Boston packs a punch. His athletic timing and ability to deliver the perfect strike make him a devastating tackler in the open field. Looks like Boston is a problem on either offensive or defensive side of the ball.
Height & Weight : 6"1-180
Team : Rainier Ravens 13/14u ( Wash )
Julien Simon fits in that feature back category. He’s a big back that has the athletic skills of a much smaller player and he is only going to continue to get bigger and stronger. Simon has tremendous lateral agility and very good feet. He shows a great burst out of his cuts and has great speed overall speed. He already has the size to be a feature back at the High School level and has plenty of room to add weight naturally without losing any quickness. Simon has all the traits necessary in a great runner. He is able to maintain balance after contact and run with power. He will break arm tackles and has the speed to run away from players once he gets a crease at the second level. He runs tall, but will lower his pad level when making contact. His change of direction skills for a player his size is top notch. That combined with his power make him very difficult to tackle one on one. This Seattle native is ready to break out and represent the name on the back of his jersey on the national level.
Height & Weight : 6"2-170
Team : Bunche Middle school ( Ga)
Tests of athleticism don't accurately measure what Smith can do in pads, as he's an elite deep threat with the rare ability to run by defensive backs deceived by his speed. He eats up cushions quickly and even if defenders do manage to stay with him, his leaping ability and ball skills render the good coverage irrelevant in the end. A good route runner overall to be so young, Smith can steam and weave defenders and also does a good job with his shoulder fakes to help him create separation. Changing speeds is another tactic that Smith uses to his advantage -- he can come off the line of scrimmage slowly at times to lull defenders to sleep before creating separation with his burst. After the catch, he's a dynamic prospect, that will make things happen while also picking up extra yardage because of his size and above-average lateral quickness for his size. Strong hands and ball skills ensure that he comes down with the football when he has a chance. Having fulfilled his enormous potential as in the combine & camp circuit, Smith projects as a big-play receiver in High school because of his ability to get open deep, as well as a red-zone threat because of his ability to attack the football at its highest point.
Height & Weight : 5"8-153
Team : Maryland Heat 14u ( MD )
Zion Larkins has great speed and flashes explosive burst. His lateral agility is very good. The question with him will always be his height, but he plays more physical than one would expect for someone his size. Larkin definitely has the physical tools that make him great, but it’s the other parts of his game that make him a special player. He has an advanced understanding of how to set up defensive backs by changing speeds with his routes and is able to create separation because of it. He’s already so quick out of his breaks that this makes him even tougher to cover as a someone lined up in the slot or out wide. He shows good hands and the ability to catch the ball well in traffic. He’s not afraid of the contact and is more physical after the the catch than you’d expect. He also can make people miss and understands when to cut it and add in that extra gear to run away from people. He has that same element as a returner too.
Height & Weight : 5"6-137
Team : Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes 13/14u ( Fl )
When the football gods invented the slot receiver, I’m sure their ideal was something similar to Vinson Davis. Davis might not have the prototype height for a wide receiver, but he is built solidly enough that he could even withstand some carries on jet sweeps at the next level. His best asset though is his speed. He has that extra gear that allows him to outrun players who even might have an angle on him in pursuit. He’s got good hands and is able to gain separation because of his quickness when running routes. The skill that really makes him special is his change of direction. He doesn’t lose speed when he cuts and has the ability to break away from a defense if he has a crease. This also makes him a dynamic punt returner as well. It’s great to have someone that has the ability to run by someone on a go route, but Davis has that rare ability to turn a jailbreak screen on a 2nd and 9 into a 75 yard score. When we talk about game changers Vinson Davis is arguably in the discussion as that 1# guy in the country.
Height & Weight : 5"9-164
Team : Baldwin Bruins ( CAL )
Gooden is one of the best athletes at the position in this entire class. He eats up so much ground with his strides and has deceptively explosive speed. He has that extra gear that so few have. Even when given a huge cushion to work against, Gooden has the speed to get deep on a cornerback. He’s get on top of players so quickly with his long strides and forces them to open up. He changes speed very well too and it allows him to gain that extra bit of separation when running deep. Aside from Gooden big play potential as a receiver, this kid is threat to turn a kick or punt return into a touchdown in an instant. Larry is dangerous with the ball in his hands rather it’s a hand off or bubble screen he just has a nose for the endzone.
Height & Weight : 5"8-150
Team : Reagan Middle School ( Tx )
Rector has a tremendous skill set, as he is a perfect fit for any spread offense. Already known around the Lone Star State, it's time for Majik to begin the process of becoming a household name around the nation. Majik speed and quickness are exceptional for the receiver position. He's a deep threat who can explode off the line to immediately force cornerbacks to use a bail technique. Majik is light on his feet, plus he has good athleticism when running routes. He fails to show any issues sprinting out of his cuts, as he can separate with ease from defenders. Majik also flashes good awareness, as he can adjust his routes on the fly. Majik is light on his feet, plus he has good athleticism when running routes. After the catch, the speedy receiver is lethal. He has a quick upfield transfer, plus he is elusive in space. Majik possesses good vision and instincts as a runner, being as this kid was also an electrifying running back most of his life. Majik is the ultimate competitor so when things get intense he raises to the occasion.
Height & Weight : 5”9-153
Team : I.E Ducks 13/14u ( Cali )
Joshua Lorick is an excellent prospect. He is not that tall, but has long arms slender build. Lorick is an excellent combination of quickness and functional strength. He has just enough great long speed, and is quick in and out of his cuts to create separation in the short and mid-levels. Lorick is hard to press because of his strength and length as well, which allows him quick releases into his routes. And the routes he runs are very, very good. You can tell that Lorick has worked on his route running, as he tries to make every route look the same. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t really impressed by Lorick's hands. They are some of the best in the class. He extends to catch balls above his head and below his knees. He effortlessly plucks, and is very natural catching the football. Lorick's hands are strong and he will be a reliable option on third down. One thing I can vouch for about Lorick is before the game is over this kid will make a play, His catch versus the Miami Gardens Chiefs was a live notice of that.
Height & Weight : 6"2-165
Team : Overtown Tornadoes 14u ( Fl )
Brooks has a High school frame already standing almost 6”3, offering the potential to add significant weight. His long catching radius benefits him quite a bit in the red zone. And that is where Brooks is the most dangerous. He has the ability to leap over defenders, use excellent body control to position himself for the catch, and then extend his long arms and secure the football with big hands, bringing it down. Brooks is also quite confident in making over-the-shoulder catches. Brooks does show some wiggle when returning punts, and that translates to some after-the-catch ability when his team throws him a shorter pass for his size this kid makes something out of nothing on his way to the end zone. Jacorey is still raw because he is also a big time hoops prospect but his ceiling is thru the roof on the gridiron and I fully expect him to blossom into a big time prospect.
Height & Weight : 5"8-153
Team : Fort Lauderdale hurricanes ( Fl )
McBurrows doesn't have the prototypical build of a running back, but he use to be a future slot receiver playing running back -- he has the vision and the feet to create extra yardage past what his offensive line and the defense allow. And has always in the discussion as one of the best running backs in his age group, but also in the same breathe considered among the top athletes in the nation. McBurrows has that quality, and it's the reason why it's virtually impossible to talk about his skill set without mentioning the word dynamic or electrifying. Both are apt. Experienced as a slot receiver in addition to his running back duties, McBurrows compares favorably to Former Duck De'Anthony Thomas and plays a similar roll in the Canes offense. Coach Chris has a proven blueprint for how to take advantage of versatile skill sets like McBurrows by getting his athletes the ball in space, and that was ultimately too much for any team to stop with a playmaker like McBurrows.