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May 17, 2004

Breaking down the State College NIKE Camp

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - With nearly 440 players on hand, the biggest NIKE Camp in the Northeast area showcased plenty of talent. As usual, the state of Pennsylvania was well represented by numerous talented players, like defensive tackle/offensive lineman Marques Slocum, but other states also boasted some impressive prospects.

Slocum, one of the biggest players in the country at 6-foot-6 and 330 pounds, was the most physically intimidating prospect on hand. However, he's more than just a big body as he illustrated time and time again in one-on-one drills. Slocum has the rare ability to stay low for a big man, has incredible power and excellent balance, all of which could land him a starting job in college as a defensive or offensive lineman.

The Philadelphia St. John Neumann standout showed intensity, an excellent motor and the ability to listen and learn when being taught. He's a quick study and could be an instant impact player as a college freshman.

"I like to play with intensity," he said. "I try to do everything I do to the best of my ability. I know there are some great linemen in Pennsylvania, but I have to think I'm the best. Why not?"

Why not indeed. Slocum wasn't the only player trying to prove to be the best their state has to offer. Here's a Rivals100.com breakdown of each of the positions.

Quarterback
Many of the quarterbacks on hand were trying to establish themselves as top national recruits while others were trying to open the eyes of college recruiters.

Most were successful.

Princeton (N.J.) The Hun School signal-caller Dom Natale has the most tools in his toolbox when it comes to being a complete quarterback. He shows excellent footwork, has enough agility and athletic ability to move around and throw on the run and he has pinpoint accuracy once he gets in a groove. However, the 6-foot-2, 189-pounder wasn't alone in impressing those in attendance.

Harrisburg (Pa.) Bishop McDevitt sophomore quarterback Jeremy Ricker has the potential to be one of the top players in the country for 2006. He has poise, confidence and arm strength beyond his years. Wayne Hills, N.J. signal-caller Nick Worzel had arguably the strongest arm at the camp and is improving every time we see him. Gene Delle Donne is also an impressive-looking prospect with good size and a strong arm.

Running back
The running back position was easily one of the deepest on the field on Saturday, led by super sophomore LeSean McCoy from Harrisburg (Pa.) Bishop McDevitt. The 5-foot-11, 193-pounder nicknamed "Shady" registered one of the fastest times at any NIKE Camp this year and was exceptional in one-on-one and passing drills.

Another tailback from Harrisburg, Pa., stood out as well as Mikell Simpson impressed with his long frame, agility and ability to catch the football. Long Island (N.Y.) North Babylon monster Jason Gwaltney was clearly the best big back on hand, showing off a sculpted physique and some light feet for a 234-pounder.

A few sleepers also emerged from the camp as Leominster, Mass. running back Anthony Bizzotto earned the best SPARQ score based on his 4.32-second 40-yard dash, 4.19-second shuttle, 34-inch vertical and 28 bench reps. New Rochelle, N.Y. star Raymell Rice also flashed excellent speed, good vision and quick cutting ability.

Wide receiver
With a few no-shows, the wide receiver position wasn't as deep as expected, but a couple players established themselves as national recruits. St. Albans (N.Y.) Holy Cross wideout Kevin Ogletree ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash at 6-foot-1 and 171 pounds and make some nice in-air adjustments on the ball. He has excellent ball skills and uses his body well.

Washington (D.C.) Dunbar wideout James McDonald isn't as fast or shifty as Ogletree, but he's stronger and more physical. McDonald has excellent body control and leaping ability.

At tight end, Hope Mills (N.C.) South View tight end Jonathan Hannah was clearly the most impressive physically while Brick, N.J. standout Garrett Graham showed off the receiving skills that allow him to play wideout in high school.

Offensive line
Parkton (Md.) Hereford offensive guard Joe Akers wasn't originally on the list to attend the NIKE Camp, but everyone was happy he did. The 6-foot-1, 305-pounder is a brawler with awesome leverage and quick feet. He gets off the ball very fast and is stronger than most opponents (34 bench reps).

Pennsylvania stud Dave McClain (Central Bucks HS in Pa.) showed impressive power and strong arms and hands in tight as he dominated those who were foolish enough to challenge him inside. Speed pass rushers pose a problem, but McClain is an awesome straight-ahead blocker and one of the biggest linemen in the country.

Two linemen who impressed with the use of their long arms were Coraopolis (Pa.) Moon guard John Bachman and Delran (N.J.) Holy Cross tackle Dennis Landolt. Both players get a good punch off the ball and lock their arms well, guiding defensive linemen where they want them and rarely getting off balance.

Defensive line
While Slocum was the biggest defensive lineman in the group, Randallstown, Md. defensive end Melvin Alaeze was clearly the best. The 6-foot-3, 277-pounder has uncanny speed going forward and side-to-side, gets off the ball like a cat and is strong enough to muscle his way past offensive linemen. While there was quite a bit of talent in the trenches, Alaeze was the star of the show.

Worcester (Mass.) St. John's defensive tackle James McGillicuddy is an old-school defensive lineman, preferring to bull rush and slug it out to get to the quarterback. His physical, in-your-face style wears down opponents and his relentless, non-stop motor keeps him going from first drill to last. There's nothing pretty about McGillicuddy's game, just pure smash-mouth football.

Harrisburg (Pa.) Bishop McDevitt sophomore Jason Kates and Joppa (Md.) Joppatowne defensive end Jeremy Navarre both showed well at times. Kates uses his massive frame to move linemen while Navarre uses speed and agility that comes from his outstanding wrestling ability.

Linebacker
Two linebackers stood out from the rest at the camp as Salem, N.J. stud LaMont Robinson and Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep standout Andre Mathis both showed why college coaches are drooling over them.

Robinson is a sculpted physical specimen who plays downhill and closes on the ball very fast. He also has excellent ball skills for a linebacker and is solid in coverage. His long arms, strength and speed set him apart. Mathis isn't quite as quick it seems as Robinson, but he is more polished as a linebacker. He has terrific instincts, learns quickly and has trememdous physical skills as well.

Hummelstown (Pa.) Lower Dauphin linebacker Mike Dell may be a step slower than the aformentioned duo, but he's a very instinctual player and shows excellent leadership qualities and a strong motor. Another linebacker who impressed was Silver Spring (Md.) Springbrook prospect Louis Woodland, who is tall, rangy and has good speed.

Defensive back
Without Pittsburgh Gateway superstar Justin King showing his stuff in testing or drills, the defensive backs were lacking a bit. Randallstown, Md. corner Jamari McCollough also just showed up to watch, leaving sophomore Myron Rolle (The Hun School in New Jersey) as the top defensive back strutting his stuff. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder was a boy amongst men in age, but was the most talented player in the secondary on the day. Rolle is long, runs well and breaks on the ball quickly. He's also very strong for his age.

Neptune, N.J., defensive back Shamar Taylor and Blackhawk, Pa. athlete Jeremy Bruce also stood out in testing and on the field. Taylor is a very strong, fast corner with excellent leaping ability while Bruce can play either running back, wideout or defensive back in college. His vertical (41 inches) and shuttle time (3.91) will have most looking at him on defense.

For expanded coverage of the State College NIKE Training Camp, you should check out StudentSports.com. Access to StudentSports.com requires an additional membership. Coming Soon! The best is getting better. The Rivals.com Recruiting Database will include all authentic data from this summer's NIKE Training Camp schedule.


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