Football | 7v7 tournament at IMG Academy features homegrown talent

BRADENTON -- Jack Allison's busy weekend of 7-on-7 football began Friday when he and his Palmetto High School teammates traveled to Orlando for the Adidas 7v7 Florida State Championship. On Saturday, his first tournament will end and his latest will begin.

He won't be at IMG Academy when pool play begins for the IMG 7v7 National Championship Football tournament this weekend, but his Team Tampa will be ready to compete without him until he arrives Sunday for bracket play.

"I think we have a really, really good chance of winning it all because of the talent that's on that team," Allison said. "It'll be really hard to beat us."

Tampa, which finished third at the IMG 7v7 Southeast Regional Football tournament in March to qualify for nationals, is one of the most talented teams in the field, featuring several star Ascenders, including five-star cornerback Saivion Smith, four-star wide receiver Tavares Chase, five-star tight end Isaac Nauta and four-star running back Tony Jones Jr. While Allison, a four-star prospect, is gone with Palmetto, former IMG quarterback Malik Henry, a five-star recruit, will take all the snaps for Team Tampa.

South FL Express, a team from Miami, won the Southeast Regional and also features one Ascender, four-star wideout Emmanuel Greene, who is committed to play football with Allison at Miami.

All rankings are according to the 247sports composite, which aggregates rankings from the major recruiting services to find a consensus.

"Every team here is gonna be really, really good," Allison said. "The level of competition there is gonna be awesome."

IMG has been hosting the 7v7 National Championship since 2011 and during the 2015 NFL Draft three participants from the inaugural tournament -- defensive end Dante Fowler, and wide receivers Amari Cooper and Nelson Agholor -- were chosen in the first 20 picks.

This year there are teams from 16 states plus Canada, including a Georgia team called Cam Newton All-Stars Black, which is coached by the Panthers' Pro Bowl quarterback and his father.

On Friday, the former Heisman Trophy winner hosted a skills challenge at IMG Academy Stadium with 29 of the top quarterbacks set to compete during the weekend, including five-star prospect Shea Patterson and four-star recruit Davis Mills.

"It's thrilling to see all these big-time names coming through and setting foot on campus and coming to the Bradenton community to compete at a high level," said Titus Queen, the Ascenders' director of events whose first week at IMG coincided with the Southeast Regional. "I'm really looking forward to actually watching the games and seeing how much speed is on display."

Pool play will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday. Team Tampa, which is in Pool 2, will open up against CTC Rochester from New York. South FL Express is in Pool 9 and will open its tournament against Next Level Orange, a team from Knoxville, Tenn., at 4:10 p.m. Pool play will be held on the IMG practice fields. Double elimination bracket play begins Sunday at 8 a.m. at IMG Academy Stadium.