The summer is a major season in college football recruiting, and the summer of 2013 promises to be no different.
Recruits are out of class and can focus solely on football. Not only is their upcoming season on the forefront, but so are combines, 7-on-7s, team camps and camps put on by recruiting services.
Summer is the prime time for many recruits to build up their stock before their senior season begins, and it's a great time to build hype when the pads are off.
Athleticism, quickness and natural ability are all on display during the summer. Of course, the key is sustaining that hype through great play during your senior season, but nothing replaces that summer buildup when it come to recruiting rankings.
Here are a lucky seven "sleeper" recruits who will rise up the rankings this summer.
Vincent Mihota is a very intriguing defensive end prospect from Fredericksburg, Virginia.
He's ranked as a 3-star recruit (247Sports Composite), and he's the No. 21 strong-side defensive end in the country, according to 247Sports Composite.
Mihota has good size at 6'4'', 240 pounds, and he's very quick and explosive off the ball. He's strong enough to blow up a block and cause a pile, and he can also two-gap a player, get separation and make a play.
He also projects to be a strong pass-rusher with a good inside rip move to the "B" gap, great speed and ability to pursue the play from the back-side.
Mihota is committed to Virginia Tech, and I wouldn't be surprised if that composite 3-star becomes a 4-star by fall.
Donte Thomas-Williams has great size for a running back at 6'0'', 209 pounds.
Smaller defenders will have a very hard time taking him down by themselves, and he's certainly not going to get tackled by an arm tackle. He's one of those "bowling-ball" runners who just hit the hole and keep going.
He'll be effective between the tackles, but he also displays the speed and agility to bounce outside and beat defenders to the edge. What I really like about him is the fact that he's always moving forward.
He's strong enough to lower his shoulder and run through a tackle, so he'll pick up tons of extra yards.
Thomas-Williams has notable offers from Florida, Ohio State, South Carolina and Vanderbilt among others.
He has the talent to play far above his 3-star ranking.
If he shows some speed this summer, he should get bumped up to a 4-star.
Keep an eye out for 3-star Nacarius Fant this summer, because he has the skill set to really shine at combines and 7-on-7s. I believe his skills will translate to the college football level as well.
He's only 5'10'', 170 pounds, but he runs a 4.50 40 according to 247Sports.
Fant is the type of receiver who could be a perfect slot option because he'll preset a ton of mismatches between the seams, and he also has the ability to be a deep threat.
He runs with long strides and has great vertical ability. He'll be able to go up and get a football that's thrown a bit high, and he can pick up yards after the catch because of his athleticism, agility and quickness.
Fant has two offers right now, from Illinois and Kentucky, and both programs are on top of his interest list (247Sports).
He should rise up some target boards this summer and perhaps even get another star.
Michael O'Connor is a 3-star quarterback recruit from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and he's going to school down at the IMG Academy in Florida.
He has great measurables at 6'5'', 215 pounds. Big, pocket-passing quarterbacks are always extremely valuable, and O'Connor has the skill set to back up his size.
He displays a very strong arm and a nice deep ball. He has the arm strength to heave it down the field, but he also puts good touch and arc on the ball. O'Connor also has enough zip on his throw to make a strong pass to the sidelines, and he shows the ability to thread the needle.
What makes him very intriguing is his ability to run though. He's a big, imposing runner who can be extremely effective on an option-read play as a running quarterback. He's big, tough to take down, and he hits the hole hard.
Once we get a better look at his skill set this summer, I wouldn't be surprised to see him get a fourth star.
Michigan State and Vanderbilt are the top two teams on his 247Sports interest list.
Troy Reeder is a Penn State commitment, and he's ranked as a 3-star recruit pretty unanimously.
He may not be getting a lot of hype due to the fact that he's already committed, but Reeder is a player who can end up being a star at the college level. He's a huge commitment for Penn State.
Reeder has terrific size at 6'2'', 230 pounds, and he couples that with great speed. He runs a 4.60 40, according to 247Sports.
The big thing that you'll notice right way about Reeder is that he is not afraid of contact. His speed also allows him to be extremely effective on the edges of a defense, to the point where you shouldn't even try to run a stretch play to his side.
He's physical and tough enough to take on a lead blocker, but he also has the skill set to get off the block and make the play in the gap. He also appears to be extremely disciplined and looks comfortable in open space as a pass-defender.
Reeder should be ranked higher than a 3-star, and he'll prove it this summer.
Andrew Williams is a recruit who could really rise up the rankings this summer.
If he impresses at combines and camps, look for Williams to push for a 5-star ranking once fall rolls around.
He has great size at 6'4'', 231 pounds, but where he'll really impress is with his intangibles. As a defensive end, he has the potential to be dominant at the point of attack. He gets great explosion out of his stance, and he plays with elite leverage. This is as an offensive tackle at the high school level, mind you—where he is dominant.
Williams doesn't project to play on the offensive line in college, so taking this summer to really show what he can do as an end is going to be huge. I believe the same fundamental techniques will be on display, and he does play defensive end as well in high school.
He plays with great leverage, tenacity and drive. He gets good pad level and drives his feet, and as a defensive end, his length will really come into play. Williams has the speed to be a great pass-rusher, but he's also strong enough to play strong and set the edge against the run. The 247Sports Composite Rankings have him ranked as the No. 10 weak-side defensive end in the country.
He has a ton of offers, most notably from Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas A&M and USC among many others.
Williams is only a 4-star, but he'll show 5-star potential as a defensive end this summer.
Ronnie Clark is a player who has 5-star talent in my opinion, and he should make a big push for the coveted fifth star this summer.
He's extremely versatile, and that's what makes him such an intriguing recruit. He has tremendous size at 6'3'', 210 pounds, and he couples that with a 4.59 40 speed (247Sports).
As a safety, he'll have the size and physicality to come down to the line of scrimmage to play strong against the run, but his speed and length will help him in coverage. He'll be able to effectively cover the deep zones, and he should be able to play either strong or free safety.
That said, Clark is also a player that you can throw at wide receiver or tight end on offense, and he can make plays as a possession receiver. He'd be effective on bubble screens and shorter routes, but once he gets the ball in his hands, he has the ability to take it to the house. He can also return kicks.
That type of versatility will really stand out in the summer, and although he projects to be a safety, he should impress enough at camps and 7-on-7s in all facets of the game.
Auburn and Alabama are currently on top of his 247Sports interest list.