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June 19, 2012

Five-Star Challenge: Who needs it most?

MORE: R100 Five-Star Challenge details

Here's a look at nine prospects who could use a strong performace to improve their stock at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge later this week.

OLB Josh Banderas, 6-2/220, Lincoln (Neb) Lincoln Southwest
Not many college recruiters come through Nebraska since it's not a hotbed of high school football, but Banderas has already proven on the national stage at the U.S. Army National Combine that he can compete with the best. The Nebraska commit will have an incredible opportunity, one that might not present itself again for him, to shine among the top linebackers in the country. This weekend could prove to be especially important as Banderas tries to make a statement that recruits from Nebraska can play, too.

S Tahaan Goodman, 6-2/185, Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.)
There are some that argue Goodman is the best safety in California, if not the country, and the four-star standout is going to get his chance to prove it Atlanta. With Su'a Cravens deciding not to participate and Max Redfield backing out in recent weeks, Goodman can really establish himself and back up his reputation. The Rancho Cucamonga recruit is super athletic and will have his chances to excel, but he's going to be tested all over the field.

CB Chris Hawkins, 6-0/170, Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.)
Hawkins has added some muscle and has been preparing for the Rivals.com Five-Star Challenge since he accepted his invitation. The USC commit is outstanding in coverage and has had an excellent spring at camps and 7-on-7 tournaments. The Rancho Cucamonga prospect is out to prove he's a five-star prospect, and he's going to compete against some of the nation's top receivers to prove it.

OLB Deon Hollins Jr., 6-2/225, Missouri City (Texas) Fort Bend Marshall
The UCLA commit plays defensive end for his high school and has done so at most camps he's gone to this off-season. He's likely going to play linebacker in college, so we need to see him in coverage and see how he moves laterally to move him into the Rivals250. Hollins definitely has the talent and a lot of programs still pursuing him, but his performance in Atlanta will be crucial for future rankings.

WR Isaiah Jones, 6-4/210, Milton (Fla.)
Jones' hometown is in a remote area of the Florida panhandle and close to the Alabama border, so it's kind of hidden from the real hotbeds in that state. Plus, Jones plays on a high school team without a top-level Divison-I prospect at quarterback so he's not racking up the numbers that could be possible if he had an outstanding player throwing him the ball. With high-end talent all over the field in Atlanta, Jones is going to have his chance to shine and could really boost his ranking.

DE Joe Mathis, 6-4/243, Upland (Calif.)
Mathis has been waiting for this weekend for a long time. Over the past couple months, the four-star recruit has been trimming down to gain more speed, and he hasn't lost any of his toughness or tenacity. The Upland prospect is coming to Atlanta to prove he's one of the best defensive ends in the country and possibly a five-star prospect. There are five strong-side defensive ends rated higher, and Mathis wants to move up the rankings.

SDE Malik McDowell, 6-6/260, Detroit (Mich.) Loyola
Defensive end Da'Shawn Hand and defensive tackle Andrew Brown have become the premium names in the 2014 class, but McDowell is looking to make a statement at the Rivals.com Five-Star Challenge. The Detroit Loyola prospect already has seven impressive offers, and an outstanding showing in Atlanta could propel him toward the top of the list among rising juniors.

WR Ricky Seals-Jones, 6-5/220, Sealy (Texas)
Seals-Jones is the top-rated wide receiver in the country and also the very first four-star prospect in the rankings. He plays quarterback and safety for his school, so it's been hard to rank him as a five-star without seeing him actually play receiver. This will be his opportunity to show he's an established receiver who not only deserves his lofty ranking but a place among the truly elite.

CB Eli Woodard, 6-1/185, Voorhees (N.J.) Eastern
Woodard is among the highest-rated four-stars, and a good weekend in Atlanta could change everything. The three prospects rated ahead of him at corner - Kendall Fuller, Vernon Hargreaves III and Cameron Burrows - are all five-star recruits, and Woodard might have the talent to join those ranks. He's pesky with his hands and one of the most talented prospects in the class. A solid showing against some outstanding receivers could bump him up even more.



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