Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Underclassmen shine at IMG event
By Derek Tyson
BRADENTON, Fla. -- There were more than 30 prospects ranked in the ESPN 300 in attendance at the IMG National Championship at IMG Academy over the weekend. With so much talent on hand, it would be easy to overlook some of the underclassmen who stood out over the course of the two-day event. Here is a list of several younger players who did enough with their performances to stand out.
WR Nate Craig, 2016 Uncommitted Craig was incredible throughout the tournament. His Unsigned Preps teammate, Deon Cain, might be the No. 25-ranked player in the country for this year's class, but Craig was every bit as impressive. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound athlete made several spectacular catches, including one leaping catch that was in the middle of three defenders. Ohio State looks like the team to beat early on for Craig, but there is still a long way to go in his recruitment.
QB Shea Patterson, 2016 Committed to Arizona Patterson was excellent in the two days at IMG. The Arizona commit showed excellent arm strength and pinpoint accuracy during the tournament. His older brother is a graduate assistant at Arizona, but Patterson admits he is still open to other schools. Prior to heading to Bradenton, Patterson took an unofficial visit to Oklahoma State, where he added an offer from the Cowboys.
WR D.J. Matthews, 2017 Uncommitted Matthews is a high school teammate of Florida commit Tristan Payton and Florida State commit De'Andre Johnson, and he might have been the most impressive player of the group. Matthews made play after play including a sensational one-handed catch that had fans and media in attendance in awe. He already has offers from Florida, Clemson, Florida State and Miami, but look for his stock to skyrocket in the near future.
QB K.J. Costello, 2016 Uncommitted Like Patterson, Costello looked great throughout the tournament. The 6-foot-5 signal-caller displayed a very strong arm and leadership skills that are uncommon for an underclassmen. Prior to coming to IMG, Costello visited USC, Michigan, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida State and Florida. Look for those seven schools to be in the mix for Costello until he makes a decision.
DB Shaun Wade, 2017 Uncommitted Look for Wade to follow in the footsteps of his Jacksonville, Florida, Trinity Christian teammate Kevin Toliver II, the No. 3-ranked player in the country for this recruiting class. At 6-2, 175 pounds, Wade has all the measurables and talent to be one of the top players in the country in a few years. Wade already has offers from Clemson, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, UCLA and several others.
DB Chauncey Gardner, 2016 Committed to Florida If spectators didn’t know who Gardner was, it didn’t take long to figure it out. Gardner was without question the loudest player to participate at the tournament. He did, however, back up his trash talk with his play. This Florida commit, who recently switched his commitment from Miami, made several pass breakups and was consistently around the ball.