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Heel Tough Blog: Major Tar Heel Targets Take Center Stage in Rivals Camp Series

This past Sunday was the first iteration of the Rivals Camp Series in the Charlotte area since 2019, as some of the best talent on the East Coast was in attendance to showcase their skills against each other. Here is a look at how we thought the Tar Heel offers performed and who were some of the other prospects who stood out.

2023 4IOL Markee Anderson

Anderson, one of the Tar Heels' top offensive line targets in the 2023 class, was in attendance and had a solid day in a setting that isn’t really set up to showcase his strengths. Still, he moved really well in the individual drills and shifted his weight well. The 1-on-1’s were a bit up and down for him, but it was really all about where he was playing on the line that determined the success of his reps. When he was at guard, he looked really good, winning each of his reps and showing some good physicality. When he was moved out to tackle, however, it was a much different story, though, he struggled to handle the speed and length of the edge rushers. This isn’t an entirely shocking result and just solidifies the fact that he will be an interior offensive lineman wherever he goes.

2023 3TE Vance Bolyard

Bolyard was far and away the best tight end in attendance on Sunday. In these camps, the tight ends go through the same drills as the wide receivers, meaning the focus was one the receiving element of his game and he showed some really good things. He did a nice job of creating separation in the 1-on-1’s and did a great job of shaking, winning the physical battle off the line of scrimmage. Bolyard also caught the ball extremely well while proving why the Tar Heels pulled the trigger on an offer earlier this offseason.

2023 3WR Paul Billups

Billups wasn’t given an award after the event, but he still had a really solid showing for himself. He showed off his speed throughout the day, especially in the 1-on-1’s, and he caught everything catchable that was thrown his way. He wasn’t nearly as dominant as the other two receiving targets that were in attendance but he still did some encouraging things that showed why the Tar Heels want to be in the mix.

2024 5QB Jadyn Davis

This was the prospect that everyone really wanted to get a look at in this camp and he showed out. Davis was clearly the best quarterback out there on Sunday, showing off some impressive arm strength and nice touch on his throws. It was hard to focus on the quarterbacks in the 1-on-1’s because of how they have the quarterbacks staged on the field where every one of the offensive skill players are pretty much grouped together, but in the throws that we did catch, he looked the part of one of the top quarterbacks in the nation. The Tar Heels are in the running early for this uber talented class of 2024 quarterback and seem to be in good shape as they look to secure another commitment from a significant in-state quarterback.

2023 4DL Jamaal Jarrett

Jarrett is one of the Tar Heels' biggest overall targets in the 2023 class as one of the top defensive linemen in the state and he looked the part on Sunday when he won defensive line MVP. With his body style, no one would expect him to shine in the individual drills where showcasing athleticism is the goal, but he moved pretty well. As expected, he shined in the 1-on-1’s with his strength and physicality that allowed him to succeed on the majority of his reps. These camps are not really built around his skillset, so him showing out is very encouraging.

2023 4DL Xzavier McLeod

McLeod was another one of the main standouts along the defensive line and it paid off with awards for his performance. He moved extremely well in the individual drills, especially for an interior defensive lineman and he was outstanding in the 1-on-1’s. He had a strong release off the line of scrimmage that allowed him to just breeze by some guys and he also did a great job of utilizing the swim move. It’s hard to take too much away from a camp where guys aren’t in pads, but he was definitely the most dominant finesse pass rusher.

2023 4WR Noah Rogers

Rogers took home the wide receiver MVP on Sunday, no small accomplishment with the group that was out there on Sunday. Rogers once again showed his technicality in the individual drills and the 1-on-1’s with his route running and caught the ball well throughout the day. He didn’t need to show much after coming into the camp as the top receiver in the state, but he justified that thinking with his performance.

2024 4ATH Jonathan Paylor

Paylor was one of the more interesting players to keep an eye on during Sunday’s camp. The versatile offensive weapon, who finish with more than 1,000 yards rushing and receiving this past year, spent the day with the receivers and had a good day. He had a couple of drops early, but settled in as the day went along and made highlight reel catches in the 1-on0-1’s. One thing that was there the entire time with Paylor on Sunday was the tremendous straight line speed and shiftness that made him tough to stay with all afternoon. This is a weapon that Phil Longo and many offensive coordinators will be wanting in their offenses and it’s a good thing that the Tar Heels are in the running early for his services.

Names to Keep an Eye On

Assad Brown Jr.

Brown was part of a group of Virginia prospects that shined on Sunday. In the 1-on-1’s he was fantastic, locking down the majority of the receivers that he went against and thriving when in press coverage.

Derrick Brown Jr.

Brown Jr. was a menace on the edge in the 1-on-1’s on Sunday. He had a good jump off the line and worked the spin move about as well as any one that was in attendance. As expected, he also moved very well in the individual drills.

James Carrington

Carrington was the best underclassman lineman that was in attendance on Sunday, thriving in the 1-on-1’s against the interior of the defensive line. He showed a nice mixture of speed and power off the line of scrimmage and utilized swim moves as good as anyone outside of McLeod.

Antonio Cotman Jr.

Cotman Jr. was named the defensive back MVP of the camp and simply outstanding. He showed out on both sides of the ball, especially in the 1-on-1’s where he made a bunch of highlight reel plays. He shined the most on the defensive side of the football as he locked up an extremely talented group of receivers as well as anyone that was in attendance on Sunday.

Ben Cutter

Cutter took home the linebacker MVP award on Sunday after a really strong performance in a small but talented group. He looked really good in the pass-rushing drills against the running backs and held his own in the 1-on-1 coverage drills that really isn’t the strength of his game.

Peyton Jones

Jones took home an award for his performance after the camp after a nice day all around. He looked really good in the individual drills showing a smooth change of direction and strong footwork. In the 1-on-1’s, he held his own in the pass blocking drills despite his smaller frame and he caught the ball pretty well out of the backfield, as well.

Jordan Knox

Knox was another one of the offensive linemen that moved around a lot and had some nice success. He moved well in the individual drills, setting the stage for a good performance in the 1-on-1’s where he showcased some strong lateral movement and nice upper body strength to overpower some of the top defensive linemen.

Gus Ritchey

Ritchey was one of the younger players that stood out the most on Sunday. He was another one of the guys on the edge who gave the tackles issues with his speed and finesse moves and did enough to earn notification as one of the top performers afterwards.

Kam Pringle

Pringle was given the offensive line MVP after a stellar showing on Sunday. He moved very well in the individual drills and was the standout in the 1-on-1’s where he showed nice versatility and lateral movement.

Daylan Smothers

Smothers is a name that most Tar Heel fans probably already are familiar with and he showed why he is one of the nation’s top running backs again on Sunday. He took home running back MVP after shining with his great footwork and outstanding pass protection skills. He had a nice showing in the 1-on-1’s, especially when matched up against the linebackers.

Jordan Thompson

Thompson was another one of the standouts at linebacker even though he wasn’t recognized afterwards. He looked really good in the individual drills, showing good footwork and making quick decisions. He combined that with a solid showing in the 1-on-1’s, handling himself well against the tight ends and running backs in coverage.

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