NEW ORLEANS — Some of the nation’s premier skill position prospects gathered in New Orleans on Sunday to compete in Pylon’s Louisiana Bootleggers Invitational tournament. In a field full of elite talent from Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, Houston-based Fast 7v7 walked away with the championship.
Nonetheless, there were standout performances from quarterbacks, wide receivers and defensive backs on several teams. SEC Country was in attendance for pool play and the tournament to provide analysis.
Here were the tournament’s top performers:
Jalen Green, CB (Fast 7v7)
Green was the tournament’s overall top performer after a dominant showing on the afternoon. The 4-star corner from Houston showed that he could be physical at the point of attack, wrestling with elite wide receivers across from him and winning said battles. Green also displayed how stout he could be in coverage, jumping a pass 25 yards downfield and nabbing an interception. Keep in mind this one-on-one battle came against Louisiana’s No. 2-ranked receiver.
Green was an integral part of Fast 7v7’s championship run, proving he is one of the elite cornerbacks in the 2018 recruiting class.
Recruiting skinny: Green’s recruitment remains open, with schools such as LSU, TCU and Texas all very much in the mix. The 6-foot-1, 171-pounder has maintained a long, solid relationship with Tigers defensive backs coach Corey Raymond, but this decision is still far off. He has maintained he wants to announce a commitment on National Signing Day, so fall visits and officials will be a major part.
Jalen Greene with a very nice jam at the line pic.twitter.com/C28EMnsECe
— Amos Morale III (@Amos_MoraleIII) April 10, 2017
Justin Rogers, QB (Bootleggers)
Louisiana’s top quarterback played as you would have expected. Rogers was rocketing passes to his receivers but also showing off his elite arm strength with deeper throws downfield. The 4-star dual-threat quarterback also had a chance to move around in the pocket, using his legs to buy time when opposing defenses blitzed him, and Rogers impressed with his ability to throw on the move.
Rogers’ film shows that he has uncanny arm strength and deep throw accuracy. His 7-on-7 performance revealed how far his game has developed in the short and intermediate passing game. There isn’t a throw that Rogers can’t make.
Recruiting skinny: Rogers recently added an offer from Texas, but remains locked in on a top three of LSU, TCU and North Carolina. TCU holds a slight edge because of the early offer and recently visited for the spring game. He will return to LSU again for the Tigers’ spring game on April 22, and it is certainly a two-horse race between LSU and the Horned Frogs for the highly coveted quarterback.
Justin Rogers tosses it up for Devonta Lee in the end zone pic.twitter.com/EeLzQLUUH0
— Sam Spiegelman (@samspiegs) April 10, 2017
Terrace Marshall Jr., WR (Bootleggers)
Five stars have always sat beside Marshall on most recruiting rankings, but the elite Louisiana receiver is now looking the part routinely. Marshall has always been a playmaker on deeper passes, but has polished up his short and intermediate routes, and ran a post-corner on Sunday perfectly. Not surprisingly, it resulted in a Bootleggers touchdown. Marshall has elite size and speed, and his route running has reached new heights as well.
Marshall’s 7-on-7 coach pointed out the 5-star receiver as a prospect that has made the most strides in his game in one year’s time, and a lot of that progress is the result of a more driven, more focused approach to his craft.
Recruiting skinny: Marshall should be releasing a top five list in the near future. Expect LSU, TCU, Texas A&M, Oregon and Miami to all be on it. Marshall will be at LSU’s spring game. He’ll be at Miami next weekend and Oregon over the summer. Consider the in-state power the subtle favorite, though, as LSU’s coaches have been on the top receiver longer and harder than any other staff.
Malik Heath, WR (Mississippi Grind)
The Mississippi State pledge is an absolute mismatch for opposing cornerbacks. Heath was in New Orleans for “The Opening” regional a month ago, but couldn’t display his full potential as he dealt with an injury. At full strength on Sunday, Heath’s size (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) and speed (4.43 40 time) were quite noticeable. Heath was winning jump-ball battles and taking the ball away from defensive backs, and did so against some elite competition — like The Bootleggers in the semifinals match. Heath very nearly won that game for Grind by his own power. He translates to a top-tier receiver at the next level and is deserving of a boost in the rankings.
Recruiting skinny: Heath has maintained his verbal commitment to Mississippi State over the past year, but there are varying factors in his decision. LSU has made a strong push for the Magnolia State product. As has Florida State. He has also made visits to Alabama and Tennessee, and it would not be surprising to see Heath reopen his recruitment at some point. Consider LSU and FSU as two teams to watch.
Eddie Smith, CB (Bootleggers)
One of Louisiana’s fastest-rising prospects this spring, Smith proved the caliber of player he was in Sunday’s invitational by stepping up and drawing elite receivers in nearly every single matchup. The 6-foot, 172-pounder is physical at the point of attack, but also possesses great speed in sticking with receivers on their routes. Smith came up with a handle of pass breakups throughout the afternoon as the competition stiffened.
Smith has great instincts and impressive footwork at this stage in his development. With his size and physical tools, he is capable of earning a fourth star and playing big-time college football.
Recruiting skinny: LSU is closely monitoring Smith and could extend an offer if there’s a hitch in the cornerback big board this summer or fall. Mississippi State and Oregon State are the two favorites at this stage. Smith has family ties to Oregon State, which could be a decisive factor, and is coming off a visit to Starkville, Miss., which went very well. An offer from LSU would shake things up for sure.
Devonta Jason, WR (Coastline Stars)
Jason would be the first to admit that he has battled injuries since basketball season ended a few weeks ago, but on Sunday the 4-star Kansas commit played at the level most have become accustomed to seeing him. “Whop” broke loose for three touchdowns in one of Coastline Stars’ playoff games, displaying three of the best attributes of his game. That includes his ability to get vertical over defensive backs, his deceptive speed, his strong hands and his toughness at the line of scrimmage.
In other words, this was a reminder that Jason is still one of the elite prospects in the state of Louisiana. He is just a natural football player.
Recruiting skinny: It’s been three months since Jason gave a verbal commitment to Tony Hull at Kansas. He still hears from LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State, and he has visits planned out to Alabama and Miami coming up. LSU remains very interested in the one-time commit, and Jason is still giving Mickey Joseph a chance. He is an early enrollee, so he plans on visiting all of the aforementioned schools to take closer looks. Jason is in the process of narrowing down a final set of schools to decide from with a final decision set for later this fall.
Devonta Jason with the ?? hands!!! ?? pic.twitter.com/fqMavtVGgU
— Amos Morale III (@Amos_MoraleIII) April 9, 2017
Sheldon Jones, WR (Bootleggers)
Jones continues to live up to his reputation: he rarely drops a pass and is the consummate go-to target on The Bootleggers in clutch situations. The UTSA commit was a force during Sunday’s tournament, easily getting past opposing defensive backs and finding unique ways to get open. Jones was the recipient of several grabs where no defender was within 5 yards of him. That includes a handful of touchdown receptions that helped The Bootleggers advance to the championship game.
UTSA is getting one of the most underrated recruits in The Boot in “Sticks.” He should excel as a slot receiver at the next level and add some explosiveness to Frank Wilson’s offense.
Recruiting skinny: Jones has remained ultra solid in his commitment to UTSA. That has not deterred other programs from extending offers in him or showing interest, but I fully anticipate the Warren Easton (La.) High School product to stick firm. He has found a perfect fit already.
Ja’Marr Chase, WR (Bootleggers)
Chase’s rise during camps this spring has not only made him a well-known name in Louisiana circles, but now on a national scope. The 4-star wide receiver is a crisp route runner with insanely strong hands and most importantly, a knack for finding the football when it’s thrown in his direction. Chase came down with a handful of memorable grabs during the tournament on Sunday, most of which were key receptions and touchdowns.
Chase has an incredible blend of size, speed and toughness to break away at the line of scrimmage and distance himself from elite corners. His development in the 7-on-7 circuit proves as much.
Recruiting skinny: Chase has secured more than 30 offers in the past several months and released a list of top schools earlier this spring. There are certainly schools to watch. LSU, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech and Georgia are all in the mix. The Tigers have an edge due to proximity and the in-state advantage, but this is not a lock. Chase boasts a good relationship with Texas Texas assistant Jabbar Juluke, who hails from New Orleans. TCU and Oklahoma State are also going to be in the mix because of their offensive schemes, and Georgia — which just offered Chase earlier in April — could make a move as well.
Justin Rogers with a beautiful pass to Ja'Marr Chase, who makes another unreal grab pic.twitter.com/ijfFoXY85w
— Sam Spiegelman (@samspiegs) April 10, 2017
Lawrence Keys III, WR (Coastline Stars)
Keys is arguably Louisiana’s most explosive recruit in the 2018 recruiting class, but the 4-star receiver showed up another aspect to his game during the 7-on-7 tournament. The 5-foot-11, 162-pounder made an unworldly behind-the-back grab over a defensive back for a touchdown in Coastline Stars’ playoff run to the semifinals.
Keys’ vertical ability paired with strong hands making him an ideal option in the slot. He can not only quickly get by defenders, but has the ability to take the top of defenses, too. The soft-spoken New Orleans prospect is so versatile.
Recruiting skinny: Keys has well over 30 offers at his disposal, but is narrowing down the field to a few schools. LSU, Texas, Notre Dame, TCU and Arkansas are among some of those schools, with Mickey Joseph leading the charge for the Tigers. LSU coaches remain in contact with Keys on a daily basis, and a visit may be in store at some point this month. Keys will likely visit along with his mother to check on the team’s new offense. He is being courted as a slot receiver, a role is very comfortable in and should excel at.
Coastline goes nuts. pic.twitter.com/vDdNjqlZM1
— Jerit Roser (@JeritRoser) April 9, 2017
Lance Robinson, DB (Bootleggers)
Another Louisiana recruit that has seen a spike in big-time offers this spring is Robinson, the do-it-all defensive back, receiver and third-down tailback for De La Salle (La.) High School in New Orleans. Robinson has procured 15 or so offers this spring; seeing why isn’t hard. The tough, physical safety had a strong outing for the Bootleggers during pool and tournament play. He has a deep knowledge of different coverages and finds opportunities to make plays without blowing opportunities.
Recruiting skinny: Robinson plays a number of roles for his high school team, but he’ll likely stick at safety at the next level. His offer sheet has blown up rather quickly this spring, with Tulane, Kansas State, Arizona and Washington State as some of the schools to extend overtures. Robinson was invited to LSU’s junior day, but made the short trip to Tulane instead. He is not close to finalizing a decision with options continuing to pour in.