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July 1, 2011

New Level event offers Pike big stage

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The second annual New Level Athletics Elite 7-on-7 National Championship will be held Saturday and Sunday at SMU in Dallas. Rivals.com analyst Brian Perroni will be on hand to scout all the action, and offers a few questions he's looking to have answered this weekend.

1. How will Zeke Pike rebound from his Ohio State Elite 11 performance?

The U.S. Army All-American quarterback from Edgewood (Ky.) Dixie Heights impressed on the camp circuit as a rising junior a year ago and earned quite a few early offers. However, the Auburn commit admittedly struggled quite a bit at this spring's Elite 11 camp.

Pike came into the star-studded weekend with high expectations on his shoulders. With fellow top quarterbacks Gunner Kiel and Jameis Winston in attendance, it was a chance for him to see how he compared with the other prospects. It was not his best effort.

Pike struggled with his accuracy, velocity and release all day. He had thrown quite a bit coming into the event, so fatigue could have played a factor into his performance. This weekend will be a good chance for him to show it was a fluke.

Pike leads the Goon Squad team comprised of other Midwest prospects. He has a chance to throw to some very good receivers such as Jason Croom, Roger Lewis and Jeremy Graves while getting to face some top defensive backs.

Pike has the opportunity to back up his ranking as the nation's No. 3 pro-style quarterback and the No. 72 overall prospect with a strong showing this weekend.

2. Does Louisiana's class of 2012 stack up with its class of 2011?

The state of Louisiana had one of its best classes in a very long time a year ago with players such as five-stars La'El Collins, Anthony Johnson and Jarvis Landry, as well as Odell Beckham Jr., Kenny Hilliard and Bradley Sylve.

While the class of 2012 in the Pelican State has 10 players in the latest Rivals250, it is not generally seen as strong a class with the top-tier players. However, several have the chance to show out this weekend.

LSU commits Travin Dural and Lamar Louis are two headliners on offense while five-star safety Landon Collins anchors the other side of the ball.

Texas A&M commit Darion Monroe plays quarterback in high school but will line up at cornerback, his likely college position, this weekend. Stars in wide receiver Jaydrick Declouet, defensive back Trevon Stewart and class of 2013 tight end Deondre Skinner will help make this formidable as well.

With several of its stars on display it will be an opportunity for the state of Louisiana to make a statement again with the class of 2012.

3. Will the trip help solidify SMU commit Robert Lewis?

SMU, and assistant coach Adrian Klemm in particular, has been very busy recruiting the state of California. The Mustangs signed six prospects, including four-star defensive end Davon Moreland, in the class of 2011 and have gotten off to a good start in 2012 with the commitment of Lewis, a running back from South Gate (Calif.) South East.

However, Lewis has since picked up new offers from Colorado, Ole Miss and Utah. He has said he is committed to the Mustangs but still plans to look at other programs.

This weekend will be a great opportunity for Klemm and the rest of the Mustang coaches to help their cause as the event is being held on the SMU campus. It will be the first time that Lewis has visited the Dallas school.

Though college coaches are not allowed to be at the tournament, it is a sure bet that the SMU staff has made sure Lewis takes a tour and meets with the coaches during his free time. Can head coach June Jones sign yet another stud from California? We will know a lot more on Monday for sure.



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