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June 15, 2012

Matchup No. 8: Lawson vs. Gray

MORE: Five-Star Challenge | Matchup No. 10 | No. 9

Rivals.com has been counting down the top 10 matchups we can't wait to watch at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge over the final 10 days heading into the event, which is June 22-24 in Atlanta.

Eight days away: Matchup No. 8

WDE Carl Lawson, Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton vs.
OT Derwin Gray, Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate Academy

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Why Lawson has an edge: The five-star defensive end brings a great mix of speed and size off the edge. At 6-feet-2 and more than 250 pounds, he can go toe-to-toe physically with any offensive lineman you throw at him. He fires off the edge with a great first step and a motor that never slows as the play progresses. He does a great job of being very physical at the point of contact and getting blockers off-balance, which allows him to regularly win one-on-one battles. He is also effective at using active hands to shed blocks and discard blockers. He constantly keeps his feet moving upfield and shows the ability to redirect without slowing down. He will work to the inside just as quickly as he will dip his shoulder and go around the edge. He utilizes an array of moves to get into the offensive backfield as quickly as possible.

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Why Gray has an edge: The four-star offensive lineman has a great frame, solid build and thick base on his 6-foot-4, 291-pound frame. He exhibits very good balance and is agile for a big man. He plays the game with a physical approach and has excellent, quick feet that allow him to quickly move and recover against defensive linemen in one-on-one battles. Gray will go after the oncoming defender with a quick initial punch where he utilizes his long arms to keep the opponent at bay. He has shown the ability to adjust on the fly to combat an opponent's moves and doesn't allow himself to lose a rep the same way twice. Gray is a player who is only going to get better as he physically matures and realizes his upside with the help of coaching.

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Overall edge: At this stage, Lawson is the better prospect and further along on the football field. He will likely surprise Gray and other offensive linemen with his quickness around the edge at his size. He will also be able to take opposing offensive linemen on from a physical standpoint and win most one-on-one battles. Gray won't back down though when the two square off, as he always shows a competitive spirit in the one-on-one setting. Don't be shocked if Lawson gets the best of him early on by mixing up his approach on the attack, but fully expect Gray to adjust and battle back as the two continue to square off.



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