Five things to watch at USA Football 7 on 7 nationals in Hoover

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Five things to watch at USA Football 7 on 7 nationals in Hoover

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Five things to watch at USA Football 7 on 7 nationals in Hoover

USA Football has expanded its plans for 7 on 7 football this summer with regional and national events.

The 14 regional events began in San Francisco on June 9 after 10 last year. The three national events are an increase from one last year, which was held in Hoover, Ala., as the continuation of the National Select 7on7 event that has been held there since 2002.

The Hoover event, though, is still the biggest and is scheduled for Thursday through Saturday. Forty teams are expected to compete with teams divided into four pools of 10.

Here are five things to watch as the action gets underway.

The champs

A year ago McGill-Toolen (Ala.) grinded its way to the championship with help from a huge tournament by quarterback Bubba Thompson. Thompson was set to take over as the starting quarterback last fall and the 7v7 event was a harbinger of things to come. Toolen was ranked among the top schools in the Super 25 throughout the season and reached the 7A state final before losing to Hoover 17-7. Thompson saw his football prospects grow, but baseball remained his primary sport. He was drafted in the first round by the Texas Rangers last month.

Sheldon Layman is taking over the keys to the offense this season and shined in the spring game, completing 11 of 12 passes. Layman got playing time last season, given the number of blowouts, and completed 25-of-41 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns.

“Sheldon already is showing great leadership,” coach Earnest Hill told AL.com. “He’s been working at quarterback since he was 8. He’s really growing. I think one thing that has helped him is that he was moved to the varsity in ninth grade and has been there since. …  I think he’ll do a great job for us. It will be different for him. He’ll be in the fire now, but we have a lot of confidence in him.”

Rush returns to Hoover

The name Rush Propst still matters in Hoover and the former coach will bring his Colquitt County (Moultrie, Ga.) team back to the 7v7 event. Propst resigned from Hoover in 2007.

A year ago, this event happened in the aftermath of Propst’s yearlong suspension that was later overturned. This year, he can just focus on football.

Colquitt is among the most aggressive schools when it comes to scheduling multiple 7 on 7 events and has already had success this spring.

Colquitt landed in the difficult Pool D, which also features Alabama power Spanish Fort, the 2015 6A state champion, and 2016 Georgia state AAAAAA champion Valdosta, among others.

Top talent

In past years, major college stars from Robert Nkemdiche to Marcus Lattimore to T.J. Yeldon, among others, have competed in the 7v7 nationals. This year will be no different.

Among the competitors will be Clemson commit Trevor Lawrence, a five-star quarterback from Cartersville (Ga.), as well as five-star receiver Justyn Ross of Central-Phenix City (Ala.), a Clemson target. Lawrence has built a relationship with Ross and wants him to see him come along to Clemson.

“Clemson always has great wide receivers and knows how to use their receivers really well,” Lawrence told AL.com. “They end up having great stats and the kind of people Clemson builds is a big thing.”

“I feel great about our chances. With what Clemson has to offer. He might not choose Clemson, but I think we have a good chance.”

Given the location of the event, a large contingency of Alabama and Auburn targets—and SEC targets in general—will be in attendance. For a more comprehensive list at those players, visit AL.com.

The future

Drew Pyne, a quarterback in the class of 2020, has already made a name for himself, and he’ll look to add to his legacy in Hoover. The rising sophomore made a splash when he landed an Alabama offer as an eighth-grader, and he has since landed offers from several others, including Auburn, Florida State, and, most recently, Notre Dame.

“I am very thankful and appreciative of my offer from Notre Dame,” said Pyne told 247Sports. “I like to be low-key about my plans for college and instead, focus on my high school team, teammates, and getting ready to defend our state championship.”

Pyne helped New Canaan (Conn.) to its fourth consecutive state title and threw for 2,347 yards and 26 touchdowns.

Tua part two?

Tua Tagovailoa starred in Hawaii before moving across the country to play at Alabama. His brother, Taulia, followed, and he will make his debut, of sorts, at Hoover.

Taulia, a four-star in the class of 2019, is expected to make a huge difference for Thompson (Alabaster, Ala.), who hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2006. Thompson will get a glimpse into the future starting tomorrow.

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