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Monday, June 23, 2014
Notebook: IMG 7v7 Championship

By Derek Tyson

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The IMG 7v7 National Championship held at IMG Academy over the weekend featured some of the top 7-on-7 teams from all over the country and even a few teams from Canada. The event, which included 12 prospects ranked in the top 50 of the ESPN 300, showcased some of the best talent you will find in a single tournament. Led by Alabama verbal commits Calvin Ridley and Shawn Burgess-Becker, the Florida Fire from South Florida defeated Tampa’s Unsigned Preps 20-18 in the championship game to take home the title.

Quarterbacks shine

There were several high-profile quarterbacks in attendance, and they lived up to the hype for the most part. Deondre Francois, who recently transferred to IMG Academy, made numerous impressive throws. The 6-foot-2, 188-pound signal-caller has a top three of Oregon, Auburn and Florida State and is planning to make his decision at the end of July.



ESPN 300 quarterbacks Brady White, an Arizona State commit, De'Andre Johnson -- a Florida State commit -- and Dwayne Lawson, a Miami commit, made several impressive throws throughout the tournament.

In addition to the 2015 quarterbacks, two 2016 quarterback prospects, Shea Patterson and K.J. Costello, didn’t take a backseat to anyone at the event. Patterson, a long-time Arizona commit, admitted he is still open to other schools.

"I hear from a bunch of other schools,” Patterson said. "I hear from Michigan, Notre Dame and USC -- I just got back from Oklahoma State and I got an offer from them. My commitment is still pretty solid but I’m definitely looking around and trying to enjoy the process and try and find the right fit for me.”



Costello, a California native, decided to take several unofficial visits with some of his teammates while on the East Coast.

“We stopped by seven schools on our trip,” Costello said. "We started back on the West Coast at USC but then we went to Michigan, Notre Dame, then we went to Bama, Tennessee, Florida State and then Florida. I just felt like we needed to get around and see some schools while we were here.”

Though Costello was reluctant to name any favorites, he admitted the schools he visited have caught his attention.

"Right now I picked those schools to visit for a reason,” he said. "I don’t see myself making a bad decisions with any of those schools. Ideally I’d like to make my decision before my senior season and I don’t want to be a guy that decommits."

Marshall knows of two visits

The No. 20-ranked prospect in the country, cornerback Iman Marshall, was one of the most athletic players in the tournament. Marshall was reluctant to name any leaders, but admitted there are two visits he is planning to take in the fall.

"Notre Dame and Florida State are two official visits that come to mind,” Marshall said. "As of right now me and my dad have to discuss what other visits we want to take. But most importantly with Notre Dame, it’s just the connection and the tradition with Notre Dame. They have one of the best traditions in the country and it’s just a good football program and good tradition. You just can’t go wrong with Notre Dame.

"As for Florida State, they have the national championship. They develop DBs. You already know they have some of the top guys in the country going there with Derwin James and Tyrek Cole.”

Marshall said he would like to start to narrow things down during his senior year and make his final decision on signing day in February.

Decision looming for Irwin

Marshall’s 7-on-7 teammate, wide receiver Trent Irwin, has narrowed down his decision to two schools, Arizona State and Stanford. The No. 222 player in the ESPN 300 said he had a decision date in mind but now is torn between the two schools and could end up delaying his decision.

"I was thinking August 1, but right now I don’t know between those two which one I like more, so I don’t know when I’ll announce," Irwin said. “Stanford is a real nice school. Great coaches, great program, they won the Pac 12 last year and been a top team the last three or four years, so that’s great about them. My quarterback (White) is going to Arizona State. The coaches seem real cool there and it seems like a great community and it’s hard to just weight the ups and downs of both schools.”

Irwin admits he and White would like to play together, but his decision will likely not be based on that.

"We’d love to play together but we both understand if we fit somewhere else better then we’ll go to the other place,” Irwin said.

Oregon’s offense might help land top defensive end

Five-star defensive end Byron Cowart is one of the top defenders in the country, but the No. 5-ranked player in the country said Oregon’s high-powered offense is a big reason the Ducks are No. 1 on his list of schools.

"Oregon is my number one school,” Cowart said. “When you talking about wanting to go to the next level and being fundamentally sound, they are going to coach you -- you are going to be well-coached and you’re going to be in shape. That’s my biggest thing. I know anywhere you go they will get you in shape but playing for a fast offense and you know you are going to be on the field, they will make sure their top defensive ends are in shape so they can make impact plays.”

Cowart has befriended five-star defensive end CeCe Jefferson and offensive tackle George Brown. The three are planning to take their official visits together in the fall.

"Me, CeCe and George Brown want to take our officials together so for a fact, we had UCLA there for an official,” Cowart said. "I want to do Arizona State, but we’ll see. We’re still seeing where we want to go. I know for a fact, UCLA will get one, Oregon and probably Florida for George because he’s in Ohio so he wanted to take an official to Florida, so we’ll take one there too."

McCloud ready to take visits

Recent reports indicated that four-star athlete Ray-Ray McCloud III was favoring two schools, Florida and Clemson, but the No. 82 player in the ESPN 300 said that is not the case and he will start to narrow things down later this summer.

"I actually like Auburn as well and I’m going up to Bama in July,” McCloud said. "I’ll go to Auburn in August. I’m also going to USC and UCLA to visit and I’ll fly from California to Maryland after that to check them out. I want to start narrowing things down at the end of July so I can figure out where I want to take my official visits.”

McCloud’s close friend, Deon Cain, recently committed to Clemson, but McCloud said Cain’s decision will not play much of a factor with what he decides to do.

"I mean it does, but it doesn't,” McCloud said. "We know this is a business decision and if we can’t do then we can’t do it. If we do go to the same school that would be great, but I’m not going to make my decision off of Deon.”

Campbell talks Joker Phillips departure from Florida

Five-star athlete George Campbell had built a close relationship with former Florida wide receivers coach Joker Phillips, so when Campbell found out Phillips resigned amid recruiting violation allegations Campbell was understandably taken back. After a few weeks of processing, however, Campbell believes the loss of Phillips will not hurt the Gators chances of landing him.

“I really can’t make my decision off of that,” Campbell said, “because coaches come and go and I mean he had to do what he had to do so It’s not that big of a deal. I talked to Coach [Will] Muschamp about it, he pretty much said at the end of the day if Coach [Chris] Leak is the best guy for the job then great and if not he will do what he has to do for the team.”

Campbell recently visited LSU and will also visit two other SEC West schools, Auburn and Alabama, in July. He has no other visits planned as of now.