The Farrell Awards: Under Armour week edition
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Under Armour All-America Game is in the books with Team Armour defeating Team Highlight 24-21. After following practices all week leading up to the game in Orlando, here are the Farrell Awards from the week.
LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE
This award goes to the most dynamic and exciting player during the week, the guy who gets everyone's attention when he has the ball. Clearly wide receiver Jeff Thomas made a statement during the game with 148 receiving yards and two touchdowns, and he was exciting to watch during practice as well. Thomas should continue to draw national attention following his performance in the game, which included a 79-yard touchdown.
Honorable mention: Khalan Laborn, an FSU commitment, was certainly exciting to watch during the game with 74 yards and a touchdown on eight carries after not doing a ton in practice. Saiid Adebo, a Notre Dame commitment, also showed a lot of burst during practices and a bit during the game. Kellen Mond, a Texas A&M commitment, also made some impressive scrambling plays during the game.
This goes to the player who raised his stock the most during the week, and that was defensive end Luiji Vilain. While Vilain, a Michigan commitment, is already a four-star and ranked No. 7 at weakside defensive end, he improved his stock quite a bit. He’s not a five-star talent, but a move into the Rivals100 is certainly possible as he showed not only speed and length but toughness.
Honorable mention: Jeff Thomas raised his stock even though he’s already in the Rivals100 and players like Russ Yeast (Louisville), Levi Jones, Ellis Brooks, Xavier Newman (Colorado), Trey Smith (Tennessee), Phidarian Mathis, K’Lavon Chaisson and CJ Thorpe (Penn State) are all guys who will be discussed for a bump in our upcoming rankings release. Khalan Laborn and Dylan Moses (Alabama) made a strong case for five-stars.
This award is not one that you want; it's for the player whose stock dropped the most. There were many players who disappointed but Arizona State quarterback commitment Ryan Kelly took the biggest hit. Ranked at No. 152 in the country and No. 8 at dual-threat quarterback, Kelley didn’t look good at all in practice and missed the game with a shoulder injury. Whether it was the shoulder or just a poor performance, we came away disappointed regardless.
Honorable mention: Notre Dame linebacker commitment David Adams did not show the size, speed or instincts of a Rivals250 prospect. LSU offensive tackle commitment Austin Deculus was pushing for a fifth star but performed poorly on the outside and dropped back and Alabama defensive tackle commitment Akial Byers was small and pushed around quite a bit for a top 10 player at his position. Offensive tackle Tony Gray will also have trouble hanging onto that fourth star.
This award is given to the best-looking prospect on the hoof, the guy who looks like he could play in college or even the NFL right now. There were many impressive –looking prospects, but Georgia offensive tackle commitment Isaiah Wilson was the most impressive. He looks like he has been playing in the NFL for five years.
Honorable mention: Alex Leatherwood, an Alabama commitment, isn’t far behind Wilson, while Marvin Wilson on the defensive side looks the part as well. Wide receiver Tee Higgins, a Clemson commitment, may be skinny but he sure looks great while tight end Brock Wright (Notre Dame) looks great as well. Dylan Moses, as expected, looked physically put together while Navaughn Donaldson (Miami) was probably the biggest offensive lineman at the event, which is saying something.
This award goes to the player with the best feet, whether it's an offensive lineman or a cornerback, big man or mighty mite. LaMont Wade’s footwork is awesome for a cornerback as he’s always on balance, is quick in his backpedal and uses those feet to quickly change direction. The Penn State commitment is a technician.
Honorable mention: Khalan Laborn’s footwork was very impressive, especially during the game where he made something out of nothing numerous times and we all saw how Jeff Thomas can be tough to handle in space.
This one goes to the biggest hitter, which is essentially the guy who laid the lumber in the game or by accident in practice, because there was not much tackling to the ground during the week. Pitt safety commitment Paris Ford was a headhunter in the game and destroyed Khalan Laborn on one play as he headed to the sideline. Ford loves to hit, that much was clear.
Honorable mention: Dylan Moses arrived with a thump a few times and I liked the way Tre Brown (Oklahoma) squared up at times to hit. Defensive end Josh Kaindoh, even though he needs to fill out, showed the ability to get off blocks and lay some lumber as well and new Ole Miss commitment Breon Dixon had a couple of big hits in the game.
What's the difference between Hard Hat and Lunch Pail? The Hard Hat Award is for the biggest hitter while the Lunch Pail Award is for the guy who does the dirty work that doesn't get into the box score or noticed by many. Marvin Wilson didn’t register a tackle in the game but had a pass deflection and took up so much attention from the interior line that others were able to shoot free.
Honorable mention: Robert Beal (Georgia) didn’t have a full boxscore, but he had a few key hurries while Grant Delpit had two tackles, but his length was important in pass coverage many times. Kwity Paye also had a few key hurries in addition to his tackle for a loss and Alabama linebacker Markail Benton was overshadowed by Dylan Moses but was in position often. Offensive linemen Calvin Ashley (Auburn) and CJ Thorpe also made a few key blocks many didn’t notice.
This award sounds like it's for a defender who hits, but it's really for a receiver with the best hands during the week. I liked the way Notre Dame commitment Saiid Adebo caught the ball as he rarely let it hit his body and turned upfield with ease while securing the ball.
POISE UNDER PRESSURE
This is essentially for the best quarterback who performs when the lights come on and there is actually a live pass-rush coming at him. It’s clear it was Kellen Mond this week. While his stat line of 5-for-13 for 90 yards wasn’t the most impressive, he also ran for 84 yards and made some remarkable plays avoiding the rush, throwing on the run and scrambling for key yards. He never gets rattled and it showed.
This award goes to the quarterback with the best arm who showed the ability to make all the passes with zip on the football. While he was extremely inaccurate in the game going 4-for-18, Syracuse commitment Tommy DeVito has a cannon. He just needs to learn to throw with more touch.
This goes to the player who played out of position and still held his own and clearly it was Jacoby Stevens, who loves to hit and play defense but more than held his own as a wide receiver. Stevens initially didn’t want to play offense but sucked it up, adjusted and was one of the better players in practice all week.
Honorable mention: DeAngelo Gibbs (Georgia) got robbed of a long catch in the game and was solid all week at wide receiver although his future appears to be on defense. Maleik Gray (Tennessee) also played well at linebacker despite being undersized. His future is more likely to be in the defensive backfield.
This is for the player who provided the best coverage on defense during the week. Penn State commitment LaMont Wade wins this one to go along with Fancy Feet. Wade brings energy and aggressiveness to the position and he is also very physical.
This goes to the smallest guy who made the biggest impact and played bigger than his size and this year it’s clearly Jeff Thomas. At 5-foot-10 at best and about 175 pounds, he was impossible to cover in practice and the game.
Honorable mention: K’Lavon Chaisson weighs less than 220 pounds by my guess but he handled much bigger guys in the game. Wide receiver Russ Yeast is listed at 5-foot-11 but he’s smaller than that but has some big days in practice. Khalan Laborn isn’t very tall, but he packs a punch and can finish runs.
ALL OR NOTHING
This is for the player who will either make a huge play or potentially make a mistake or be invisible at times. I’m a big fan of Oklahoma commitment Tre Brown, but he can be up and down with his consistency. On a few plays in the game, he squared up and made big tackles and then at other times he over pursued or got turned around too easily.
Honorable mention: Hezekiah Jones can get separation on anyone, but his hands weren’t consistent all week long. Notre Dame commitment Robert Hainsey can look great on one play and put on skates the next and Florida State commitment Stanford Samuels shows great instincts but then gets lost in coverage here and there, at least he did the first couple days of practice. Austin Deculus is another inconsistent player who will destroy someone in space but allow speed rushers to get around him too easily.
This award goes to the player who was simply good all week long and could be relied upon to bring it each and every day. To me it was clearly Marvin Wilson, who was targeted by every offensive lineman in practice and the game and still had a great week. Wilson is a special talent.
This award goes to the player who had the biggest impact in the game itself. There were two MVPs, Jeff Thomas and Khalan Laborn, but to me it was Thomas, who took two short passes and turned them into long touchdowns, padding the stats of some quarterbacks who were average or below average in the game otherwise. He was the key to his team’s win and earns his third Farrell Award.
Honorable mention: K'Lavon Chaisson had three sacks, Dylan Moses had 10 tackles, Khalan Laborn was impressive, Texas commitment Toneil Carter had a nice game and Deonte Johnson had a couple big sacks. Kellen Mond led his team on some key drives as well to keep them in the game.
This goes to the player that didn't make a ton of lists and didn't get a lot of attention. I’m not sure how many lists linebacker Ellis Brooks made, but he was one of the better linebackers on either team in drills, in practice and in the game itself.
Honorable mention: Phidarian Mathis was excellent all week long but didn’t get a ton of notice while LSU defensive backs Kary Vincent and Grant Delpit were both very solid in pass defense. Another LSU commitment, defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin, occupied blockers during team play in practice and in the game.
This award goes to the player entering the game that was in prime position to earn that extra star, whether it was a fifth or fourth star, but didn't meet those expectations. LSU offensive tackle/guard Austin Deculus was very close to that fifth star in ranking but his week put him out of contention. He was too slow footed on the outside to be a five-star and might be better off as a guard in college.
Honorable mention: Xavier McKinney was ranked No. 43 coming into the week but didn’t quite do enough to push for that fifth star and Notre Dame tight end Brock Wright is a kid I like a lot, but he didn’t show the downfield quickness to be one of our rare five stars, barring a rankings meetings surprise.