ATLANTA – The Rivals Underclassmen Challenge is in the books and it’s once again time for the Gorney Awards. After watching many of the nation’s top athletes compete Friday at Lakewood Stadium, a lot of players earned some credit. Here’s a look:
This goes to the player who looked the best at the camp and the award could have gone to numerous offensive linemen but Madison is the pick. The Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas standout already looks like a college receiver, he’s filled out and physical and even when cornerbacks were hanging all over him, Madison had no issues catching nearly every pass thrown his way.
This goes to the smallest player who made the biggest impact and Simpkins, a Georgia Tech running back commit, lands this award. The Miami (Fla.) Norland 2023 running back is undersized but he’s so shifty and explosive and Simpkins is also adept at changing pace to keep defenders on their heels. Simpkins is never going to be a big power back but he provides a spark and that make-you-miss ability.
The winner of this award is the prospect who plays with the most passion and anger and McVay is the winner. Off the field, the four-star prospect is courteous, pleasant and just downright nice and friendly. But once he steps between those lines and gets that competitive fire going the East St. Louis, Ill., standout is menacing, yapping at his opponents, physical and looking to make a statement.
This award goes to the receiver or tight end who consistently provided the biggest target and Spurlin, a Georgia commit, wins it. The Santa Rosa Beach (Fla.) South Walton standout is lean and rangy with long arms to pick passes out of the air. The 2023 four-star can split out, he is good off the line, smooth through his routes and then Spurlin showed off great hands as he was seriously in consideration for the position MVP award.
This award goes to the player who is so massive it’s hard to believe he’s in high school and Reichert is the winner. The Raytown, Mo., standout checked in at 6-foot-6 and 367 pounds, played left tackle, loved to go after defensive linemen and play with a physical nature and he was in the running for position MVP as well. Reichert only has a handful of offers but should easily be in the double digits because he has special qualities.
MOUNTAIN MAN PART II
When Formby walked into the Underclassmen Challenge Media Day on Thursday night, the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Northridge standout filled up the room. He was massive and looked every bit the part of a college offensive tackle – and one of the biggest ones as well. On Friday at the event, Formby checked in at nearly 6-foot-7 and 295 pounds, very little bad weight and then he had a great showing at the camp. Georgia Tech and Ole Miss have offered but many, many others should come.
This award goes to the player who not only had a fun time all camp but also was seen yapping at his opponents throughout the event and Miller wins this award. The 2023 offensive tackle from Chester (Va.) Life Christian Academy drove overnight to make the camp on Friday but he was well-rested because Miller was talking it up to the defensive lineman. His favorite phrase: “Barbecue chicken alert,” when he or his fellow offensive linemen won a rep.
This award goes to the player who showed off the best straight-line speed and looked like he had rockets on his back and the award goes to Anderson from Downey (Calif.) Warren. The 2024 standout was a deep threat all day, separated from cornerbacks with ease and then made some nice fingertip catches on passes slightly overthrown.
This goes to the quarterback who throws the prettiest ball and “spins it” better than anyone else and that was unquestionably McClellan. The position MVP and 2024 prospect from Oxford, Ala., does not have an overly physical frame but a deceptively strong arm and he throws a perfect spiral nearly every time. It was really fun watching McClellan, who has early offers from Auburn, Florida State and Georgia Tech, because his precision passing and velocity was very advanced.
This goes to the prospect with the best footwork, regardless of position, and Milhollin wins it. The 2024 receiver from Roswell (Ga.) Fellowship Christian School is not the biggest but he made defensive backs whiff during the cat-and-mouse drill to some rave reviews by the fellow players and then during one-on-ones he separated well and made some nice catches. If he continues to develop physically, offers should start coming.
This award goes to the player with the best hands and Hopkins is the winner. The 2023 receiver from Thomasville (Ga.) Thomas County Central made great catches all day whether on deep balls or across the middle but especially on some tough sideline throws. Hopkins already has nearly a dozen offers and he could push as one of the top 2023 receivers in the Southeast.
STICK ‘EM PART II
Harrison-Pilot also deserves a lot of credit because the 2023 four-star receiver had an exceptional camp as well. The Temple, Texas standout went deep and caught numerous passes showing off his big-play ability. Harrison-Pilot was catching passes all over the field but he was especially a threat on the deep ball.
This award goes to the player who consistently won his reps and Sanker is the pick. The 2023 offensive lineman from Douglasville (Ga.) South Paulding completely dominated at guard using a powerful base and great hands to completely shut down defensive linemen who were trying to break free. Sanker was under serious consideration for the position MVP award, he was that good and that consistent in winning reps
This is for the defensive back who provided the best overall coverage at the event and Cotman Jr. was the pick here. The Chester (Va.) Life Christian Academy standout plays with a lot of attitude and edge, he likes to chirp at receivers and get in their hands and then he relies on his physical ability to knock away passes and make things difficult. Only Maryland has offered so far but the 2023 prospect has all the tools to be special.