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June 26, 2012

Rivals Challenge: West lessons learned


MORE: The inaugural Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge

ATLANTA -- Over three days, 25 of the West's best prospects collected in Atlanta to showcase their ability at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge. Here are five things we learned about the West squad during the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge.

1. Browne is not invincible
Max Browne has been so dominant and impressive at camps that there was a feeling he could almost control any setting with his skill and arm strength.

While he performed well during Saturday's position drills and 1-on-1s at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, he definitely struggled during the 7-on-7 portion. Some passes were overthrown, some underthrown and some came off his hand not looking great at all.

He's still an outstanding quarterback with lots of skill, but he had a tough time on Sunday. Whether it was just a bad day, or a case of not having the best receiving corps, or a sign that the highest level of competition got to him a little bit is something to consider.

2. Mathis is intriguing prospect
Joe Mathis had a bad day Saturday during an extended 1-on-1 session with the linemen as he was controlled, pushed back and didn't win many of his reps. Sunday, he came back with a better performance but there are still questions about his best position.

Is he a defensive end? Should he gain weight and move inside? Can he stand up and be a hybrid defensive end/linebacker?

The Upland, Calif., four-star prospect does not have a traditional build for a defensive end, but when he goes his hardest he can be successful at that position. Still, he was exposed at times by some of the best offensive linemen in the country.

3. Tucker could be special
Casey Tucker did not win every rep -- in fact he was beaten many times -- but with his size, knowledge of the position and work ethic, the 2014 offensive tackle from Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton could be a special player.

Tucker was battling some of the top defensive ends in the country and doing an admirable job. Later he said he knew every mistake he made and wanted to fix it for the next rep.

Arizona State, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Washington and others have already offered Tucker and he's making a clear case for being the top-rated player in Arizona for next recruiting cycle.

4. Interested to see more Pagano
At the last minute, Scott Pagano earned his invite to the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge and so he board a plane, endured the long flight from Honolulu to Atlanta and then soon after hit the field for extremely competitive 1-on-1 drills.

The Moanalua standout looked great physically, but struggled against some of the best offensive linemen in the country. Was this a case of seeing the real Pagano or of someone who was jet-lagged and surprised that he was really thousands of miles away from home on short notice?

We would love to see Pagano in a more-settled environment where he has time to adjust to his surroundings, get his internal clock right and then go out on the field. It could be a completely different outcome.

5. Hawkins has good weekend
Cornerback has become one of the most competitive positions in the 2013 recruiting class and Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., four-star Chris Hawkins proved to be one of the better players at that position this past weekend.

Hawkins is a little undersized but he gets after it, is physical with receivers and plays with an attitude that he's not going to get beaten on any play.

The problem, though, is that the position is so loaded that Hawkins might not move much in the cornerback rankings, but could make a slight move up nationally. Against outstanding competition, Hawkins really did shine in Atlanta.



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