The nation’s largest 7on7 football tournament is returning to Las Vegas this weekend with top-tier recruits dotting virtually every team’s roster.
Organizers say the Pylon Elite 7v7 Las Vegas National has attracted 120 teams in the high school division for players in the Classes of 2017, ’18 and ’19; 42 teams for seventh and eighth graders; and 13 teams for fifth and sixth graders. In all, players from 17 states as well as British Columbia will compete Saturday and Sunday.
Pylon puts on regional events leading to the national championship July 4 in Dallas, but the Las Vegas event is the biggest attraction on the circuit. The winner this weekend will qualify for Dallas.
“This event is more a national draw in terms of teams,” said Baron Flenory, the co-founder and event director for Pylon 7v7, citing teams coming from as far as Florida, Texas and Hawaii.
Pool plays begins Saturday for seeding purposes and then all the teams come back Sunday for a single-elimination event.
“This is the biggest event by a lot,” said Scout’s Greg Biggins. “To win the whole thing is really a grind. These kids are playing a ton of games on Sunday to keep advancing.”
Participation has grown in part because of Pylon’s partnership to bring 7v7 to the AAU Junior Olympic Games for the first time. The Junior Olympics are July 27-Aug. 6 and will feature a total of 72 teams divided among the three divisions.
“It’s certainly had a really good impact on participation and perception and profile of Pylon,” Flenory said. “We are the founders of the 7 on 7. We’ve putting in that work for the last decade and things are coming to fruition. The (Junior Olympics) is a confirmation that 7 on 7 is a popular sport, it’s exciting and here to stay.
“A lot of teams are very interested in the Junior Olympics. Teams are booking transportation and making plans for it.”
Heading into the Las Vegas National, here are 10 players to watch among those expected to attend. Organizers have not put out an official list of rosters as of Friday afternoon.
- Najee Harris, RB, Antioch, Calif.: The No. 1 player in the Class of 2017 according to Scout, Harris is an Alabama commit who was one of only two juniors on the American Family Insurance ALL-USA First Team last fall. He will play for Sacramento-based TMP Elite. “He’s a running back, but he’s still a dominant player in 7 on 7,” Biggins said.
- Josh Falo, TE, Inderkum (Sacramento): The No. 6 tight end in the class also will play for TMP Elite. He recently got some attention in scouting circles when he said Cal was sending him 10 letters per day.
- Tate Martell, QB, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas): The Texas A&M commit who earned an invite to the Elite 11 last week at the Los Angeles Regional is back on his home turf now. Among his teammates with 702 Elite are his Gorman teammates RB Biaggio Ali-Walsh and Brevin Jordan.
- Stephen Carr, RB, Summit (Fontana, Calif.): Carr will play for the defending champions Ground Zero and is ranked as the No. 2 running back recruit in the nation. He is committed to USC, at least for now.
- Thomas Graham, CB, Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.), Olaijah Griffin, CB, (Mission Viejo, Calif.) and Jaiden Woodbey, S, St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.). Ground Zero will have an elite-level defensive backfield with this trio. Graham is ranked as the No. 4 corner in the 2017 class, Griffin and Woodbey are both four-star prospects in the Class of 2018.
- Chaz Ah You, S, Westlake (Saratoga Springs, Utah): He is ranked as the No. 6 safety in the class and the No. 1 safety in the West by Scout.com. He will be among the key players from Team Utah.
- Darnay Holmes, CB, Calabasas (Calif.): He is ranked as the No. 1 cornerback in the nation and the No. 2 player at any position in the state of California by the 247Sports Composite rankings. Holmes is highly coveted with a number of West Coast schools leading his list heading into his planned June announcement. He will play for ProWay Training and could be the best defensive player at the event.
- Tyjon Lindsey, WR, Centennial (Corona, Calif.): The former Gorman receiver returns to Las Vegas and will be part of ProWay Training. Lindsey was named the MVP at wide receiver in last weekend’s The Opening regional in the Los Angeles area.