Now that this year's Nike 7ON Tournament is all wrapped up, it's time to introduce you to a few players I found especially interesting throughout the two-day event. With this kind of football, where you're going five-wide against nickel-plus defenses and there are no linemen on either side, it's not always easy to project performance from 7-on-7 to the "real thing".
Quarterbacks don't have to deal with pressure, and can progress through their reads as they like. Receivers can run full routes without breaking off and adjusting to quarterback pressure. And you don't see how well a back blows through a blitz with the right kind of blocking; because those concepts are set aside for this game. It's fast-break football, and it's very interesting, but there are certain things you just can't pick up in any 7-on game. That said, the teams at the Nike function were doing it right, showing incredible athleticism and endurance with their speed and agility in temperatures that pushed past 90 on Thursday and Friday. Here are some of the kids who really stood out to these eyes.
QB Nick Patti, Dr. Phillips High, Orlando, Florida - Patti, who played for the "Zoom Blade" team, will be a member of the class of 2012, and he's already making a name with his abilities. At 5-foot11, he doesn't have ideal quarterback height, but he can make all the throws in a way that goes beyond what you might expect from your average high school quarterback who's just hauling it all over the place. Good carriage in the pocket (again, against no pressure), and he's one to watch for the arm strength and palette of throws. Running back Dee Hart showed off his vertical ability on a jump ball on the first day from one of Patti's passes.
WR/DB Shane Wynn, Glenville, High, Cleveland, Ohio - Class of 2011. Wynn was very impressive in space, especially with his after-catch moves. The 5-foot-8, 155-pound speedster was great at catching the ball out of a quick out or up pattern and twisting his way upfield through defenders. Reports indicate that he's got a lot of big-school offers, and it's easy to see why. The Cleveland team, who suited up as "Hyper Strong", was noted from the start for their speed.
QB Teddy Bridgewater, Miami Northwestern High, Miami, Florida - Bridgewater was the MVP of the tournament as his "Vapor Trail" team took the trophy. He has a big frame (6-foot-3, 192 pounds) with room to fill it out. Not only did he show off his estimable mobility, he picked off a pass against Dr. Phillips High and played a little receiver as well. Bridgewater has been quoted as saying that he'd like to be another Vince Young(notes) - he's certainly got the side-to-side mobility for it. Definitely one to watch, as is receiver Eli Rogers, another 2011 recruit from the same team.
OLB James Wilder, Jr., Plant Senior High, Tampa, Florida - Playing for the Nike "Super Speed" teams, Wilder projects as a possible linebacker, defensive end, or running back at the next level. He showed good speed in keeping up with receivers and impressed with his size (6-foot-2, 216 pounds). He also caught some balls out of the backfield.
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