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D2 Sports Network set to host annual middle school football showcase on May 27

CHERRY HILL (N.J.) - D2 Sports Network will host its annual middle school football showcase at Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at 3 pm. The event is for sixth, seventh and eighth grade students and costs $50 to register. New Hampshire wide receivers coach Charles Watkins will be in attendance as a guest instructor.

"I'm thankful that D2 Sports Network has reached out to Camden Catholic for this glorious event," first-year Fighting Irish coach Wayne Gilliam II said. "Events like this give students the opportunity to show off their skill set and make an early name for themselves in the high school ranks. ... This event provides a space for South Jersey talents and coaches to be in one location to evaluate and develop talent."

Last year's event featured a plethora of standouts that proceeded to make an immediate impact on their respective high school teams as freshmen.

KaRon Ali, the younger brother of Boston College commit Kahlil Ali, Jr., impressed coaches with a 4.6-second finish in the 40-yard dash at last year's D2 Sports Network South Jersey Future Bowl Game Combine. As a freshman, Ali has picked up offers from Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Maryland, West Virginia, Temple and Boston College. The speedster also took an unofficial visit to Penn State.

Ali rushed for 297 yards and six touchdowns in six games played as Pennsauken (N.J.) finished with an 8-1 record and reached the Central Jersey Group 4 playoffs. The freshman also returned a kickoff for a touchdown in a 39-6 triumph over Camden Catholic.

One of the top quarterbacks at last year's event was Roman Catholic (Pa.)'s Semaj Beals. Beals was named a Second Team All-Catholic selection by the Philadelphia Catholic League and helped lead the Cahillites to a 9-3 record as a freshman in 2022. The top thrower from the 2022 D2 Sports Network middle school showcase currently holds offers from Alabama, Penn State, Virginia Tech, James Madison, West Virginia, Utah State, Boston College, Duke, Charlotte, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Florida A&M, Temple and UConn. The 6-foot-1 signal caller has also attended visits at Florida State and North Carolina.

Illinois quarterback Donovan Leary, the younger brother of Kentucky signal caller Devin Leary, is a notable pocket passer that also attended the showcase in 2017 and 2018.

Glassboro (N.J.) freshman Amari Sabb is another standout from last year. Sabb rushed for 756 yards, six touchdowns and hauled in 14 receptions for 136 yards and two touchdowns. The freshman also snared four interceptions on defense. The younger brother of Michigan safety Keon Sabb holds offers from Georgia, Michigan, Ole Miss, Penn State, Oregon, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Boston College, Rutgers, UConn, Maryland, Akron and Charlotte.

Last year's standouts also included St. Augustine (N.J.) linebacker Donovan Linthicum and Cedar Creek (N.J.) running back, outside linebacker and strong safety Aamir Dunbar. Linthicum showed promise as a run stopper with his nimble feet and ability to recognize protection alignments to methodically invade gaps and force running backs to change direction. As a freshman, he blocked a punt and scored a 45-yard touchdown in a 21-14 loss to Group 4 state champion Millville. Linthicum also tallied 22 tackles and a tackle for loss. Dunbar flashed his speed and ability to change direction with a 7.29-second finish in the three-cone drill at last year's showcase.

In previous years, the event has featured LSU ballhawk Darian "Duce" Chestnut, 2022 South Jersey Sports Zone Defensive Player of the Year James Heard, Jr., Texas A&M defensive lineman Isaiah Raikes, West Virginia linebacker Tirek Austin-Cave, Syracuse defensive lineman Denis Jaquez, Jr., Imhotep Charter (Pa.) standout Jahsear Whittington (Pittsburgh commit), Assumption cornerback Roderick Boyd II, Wagner defensive back Jayden Brown and Sacred Heart defensive backs and former Williamstown (N.J.) teammates Brody Colbert and Quinn Hart, among other defensive standouts.

Additional interior linemen participants have included Howard's C.J. Miller, Delran (N.J.) freshman Jake Namnun (offer from Boston College), Brown defensive lineman Winston Jordan and St. Augustine (N.J.) standout and 2022 South Jersey Sports Zone All-South Jersey First Team selection Vincent Isom.

The D2 Sports Network middle school showcase has also produced powerful runners including Stony Brook running back Johnny Martin and former Woodbury standout Teddy Lockhart III. Lockhart III is currently at William Paterson. Temple wide receiver Corey Palmer and St. Joseph's Prep (Pa.) wide receiver David Washington, Jr. are among the top pass-catchers to participate in the event in previous years. Washington, Jr. holds offers from Ole Miss, Michigan State, Virginia, Oregon, Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Penn State, Tennessee and Kentucky, among others.

A lengthy list of qualified coaches has served as instructors in prior showcases including Syracuse director of high school relations and former Rutgers standout Dennis Thomas, Winslow (N.J.) coach and former Penn State running back Bill Belton, former USC and Maryland defensive back Antwine Perez, Bishop Eustace (N.J.) coach Chris Pollard, former Rowan linebacker Anthony Townsend, and Camden Eastside (N.J.) coach Melik Brown, among others.

Click on the link to visit D2 Sports Network's events page for more information and to register for this year's middle school football showcase: Events | D2sportsnetwork.

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