Gorney's Takeaways: Nation's best impress at Pylon 7on7 Tournament
BULLHEAD CITY, Ariz. - The Pylon 7on7 Tournament was held here over the weekend and many of the nation’s top teams and players were in attendance, giving us another opportunity to see some of the next big-time stars. Here are some takeaways from the loaded event:
FLORIDA STATE COMMIT IS SPECIAL
Travis Hunter was so dominant at the event and especially Saturday night during pool play that it became almost laughable how good the Florida State commit was playing as he showed off his bouncy athletic ability and playmaking chops. At defensive back, Hunter effortlessly ran with everybody Fast Houston played, he out-jumped receivers for 50-50 balls, he ran down players easily and looked like arguably the best cornerback in the 2022 class.
Then the five-star athlete flipped over to wide receiver, ran by every defensive back, caught a bunch of touchdowns and then celebrated with his teammates time and again. The best news for Florida State fans? Hunter said he’s fully committed to the Seminoles even though Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and others continue to pursue him.
MURPHY HAS BIG PERFORMANCE
New Texas commit Maalik Murphy is already ranked as the No. 45 prospect and as the fifth-best pro-style quarterback in the 2022 class so he’s highly respected among the group but his showing at Pylon could move him even higher. The group is loaded but Murphy is not taking a back seat to any of the quarterbacks ranked ahead of him, the only issue is that he has not had a junior season and limited varsity film so only time can help those issues.
Murphy looks as good as any quarterback on the hoof, he’s smooth, makes tough throws look easy and he’s a quiet leader who moves the offense down the field, can make the pinpoint throw right to his receivers’ hands and after seeing him numerous times over the last few years, this was one of Murphy’s best performances yet.
2023 WEST QB CLASS IS LOADED
Malachi Nelson leads the way among 2023 quarterbacks in the West and will be in the discussion for the top prospect at his position nationally but Pittsburg, Calif., recruit Jaden Rashada had a terrific showing and definitely has established himself as one of the best QBs in his class. Smooth and effortless, Rashada made all the throws as he and Nelson looked like mirror images of each other on the field.
Other 2023 quarterbacks that also excelled at the event included Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco’s Pierce Clarkson, Tacoma (Wash.) Lincoln’s Gabarri Johnson and Downey (Calif.) Warren’s Nico Iamaleava.
WEST RECEIVERS SHOW UP BIG
Four-star Tobias Merriweather and Darrius Clemons have completely different physical builds but both dominated the event and proved to not only be slightly underrated but two of the best receivers in the class as well.
Merriweather had the better weekend as the long, lanky receiver showed off great route running, the knack to get open and then outstanding hands to catch everything thrown his way. He torched good defensive backs all the time and could not be slowed down. Washington, Oregon, Notre Dame, Stanford, UCLA and others are involved.
Clemons was wearing Oregon gloves (maybe or maybe not a hint at his future school) and outmuscled talented defensive backs, made a bunch of catches and showed surprising speed for his size. After playing his junior season in Utah, Clemons is back at Portland (Ore.) Westview and is excited to take visits when possible. Auburn is making a big run here and many others are involved.
WAYNE LOOKS LIKE A MILLION BUCKS
When I first saw Jayden Wayne with his FSP team on Saturday, I immediately thought he looked exactly like Kayvon Thibodeaux at the same stage. I was wrong. Wayne is bigger. The 2023 defensive end from Tacoma (Wash.) Lincoln is all of 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, he has no bad weight, moves well for his size and looks like a potential superstar most likely at defensive end.
In a 7-on-7 setting, Wayne didn’t do much but he’s special. The 2023 recruit already has 15 offers, excellent tape and looks like a college-ready defensive tackle even as his junior season is kicking off. On the hoof, Wayne was the best-looking prospect at the entire event.
WELLIVER COULD BE GREAT
Cole Welliver has phenomenal size as a pro-style quarterback, precision like a surgeon, he zips the ball over the field with a perfect spiral every time and he has all the markings of a big-time, national quarterback in the 2024 class.
The new Flower Mound (Texas) Marcus quarterback who transferred from Burien (Wash.) Kennedy Catholic after he was expected to take over from Sam Huard only has offers from Arizona State, Colorado, Washington State and FAU has been hearing more from Maryland and South Carolina and he clearly has the talent to be one of the best quarterbacks nationally in the 2024 class.