March 14, 2010

Florida commit leads star-studded 7-on-7

TAMPA, Fla. - There was talent all over the field in the BadgerSports Elite 7-on-7 on the campus of USF over the weekend. 11 teams competed in the passing tournament. All of them were loaded with Florida talent and most of the teams were stocked with numerous players with FBS scholarship offers.

In the end though, a team based out of Jacksonville proved that a scholarship tally doesn't automatically grant a championship. The Miami-based South Florida Express was a team consisting of upwards of ten players that already have numerous college opportunities. Jacksonville-based Pro Impact had two. Unfortunately for the South Florida Express, one of those players was Florida commit A.C. Leonard.

Over the course of the two-day event, Leonard left no doubt that he was the top performer. He was simply unstoppable.

Listed at only 6-foot-2, Leonard plays much, much bigger. He gets up field with smooth ease, has the strength to run through defensive backs literally crawling all over him and when the ball arrives he has incredibly soft hands. Looking at his measurables on paper, Leonard would be considered an undersized tight end but to see him play on Sunday, he looked like the complete package.

There were other players on the Pro Impact squad that had great tournaments but Leonard was the bell cow and deservedly the MVP of the event.

Leonard's supporting cast was led by two players that excelled on the defensive side of the ball. Ahmad Christian out of Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian was Leonard's only teammate with offers (FIU and Iowa State) and he played like it. Playing cornerback, Christian was a very consistent performer, locking down almost everybody he faced.

Playing opposite of Christian at cornerback was William Union. Though slightly undersized at 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, Union was a big-time playmaker. In fact the play of the tournament came from Union. Leading the South Florida Express by four with time winding down in the championship game, the Miami squad was knocking on the door of the goalline for the game-winning score. On a fade route to win the game, Union rose up, high-pointed the football and pulled down a game-sealing interception.

Valiant in defeat

Though his day ended in disappointment, Teddy Bridgewater had a tournament to be proud of as the quarterback of the South Florida Express team. Bridgewater is a bit of a mystery at quarterback. He's so athletic and has tremendous tools but he is also extremely raw, hasn't received a lot of position instruction and he can come across as bored at times playing the position.

However, some of those same factors that can be construed as negative are the same factors that make Bridgewater special. As unpolished as he is, Bridgewater's potential could be through the roof with some individual quarterback coaching. Also his nonchalant attitude under center is what gives Bridgewater a calm that allows him to make clutch throws and bounce back from negative plays.

The intangibles and confidence that Bridgewater possesses are hard to quantify but they find their roots in his fun-loving approach to the game.

"That's what it's all about is having fun but not being too cocky with it," Bridgewater said. "I think I played great .I had a lot of fun out here this past weekend. It's been nice. I want to thank Badger for inviting us and thank the coaches for getting us up here."

When breaking down his own game, Bridgewater has a easy comparison for himself.

"I think I bring what Vince Young brought to the game when he was in college," he said. "He's a dual threat quarterback that can run and kill you with his arm also. I can read the field and pick defenses apart."

Bridgewater has plans to graduate high school in December and enroll in college early. He has also targeted a November decision date around his birthday. Currently he lists Alabama, Florida, LSU and Miami as the schools