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April 12, 2005

Skill rules at NIKE

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Talk to any college coach about why they recruit Miami, and two words are often heard: skill players. At the Miami NIKE Training Camp at the University of Miami on Sunday, it looked like the trend of producing stars like Andre Johnson, Clinton Portis, Antonio Bryant and Phillip Buchanon will continue.

This time, though, you'll have to learn names like quarterback Jarred Fayson, running back Javarris James, receiver Tamarcus Porter and defensive back Kevin Holloway. Those are just a few of the players that are highlighted in this Rivals.com breakdown of the first NIKE Training Camp for 2005.

Quarterback
Heading into Sunday's camp there were more question marks than answers surrounding the talent in South Florida for the class of 2005. But most of the players that had concerns erased those with marked improvement in fundamentals, arm strength and each one of them displayed great athletic ability.

Fayson stole the show and was ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 1 player at the camp after he racked up eye-popping testing numbers and a strong performance in drills.

Fayson measured in at 6-foot-1 and 184 pounds and then started the day off by bench-pressing 17 repetitions of 185 pounds and followed up by a 36-inch vertical leap. After those solid numbers, he really got on a tear by clocking a 4.32-second time in the 40-yard dash and a 4.01-second time in the shuttle.

"I had been training hard, and I definitely expected to be able to come out here today and do a good job, but I could really tell that I was in the zone," Fayson said. "I spent the past two weeks working hard with my trainer. I was really focused on coming out here and doing my best against the best."

He continued the dominance by looking great in the passing drills and then he was sparkling in the one-on-one portion of the drills, connecting on a number of different types of passes against talented defensive backs.

The biggest question marks about Fayson heading into the camp were about his passing technique. On junior film he showed signs of short-arming some passes or making poor drops, but it was obvious that he worked hard on those fundamentals the past few months and he was vastly improved.

Another player that showed great improvement and proved that he has the tools to be a high-level Division I dual-threat quarterback is Thaddeus Lewis of Hialeah (Fla.) Miami Lakes.

After making strides at the EA Sports Elite 11 Regional Quarterback workout, Lewis continued to improve Sunday afternoon. He had a strong arm, solid mechanics and as the day went on he became more accurate and accurate. He still has room for improvement, but his great frame, very good athletic ability and eagerness to learn and get better pushed him up the list and likely into the minds of colleges.

Look for his stock to soar after a very solid outing.

Lauderdale Lakes (Fla.) Boyd Anderson quarterback Herb Bynes was also one of the more impressive quarterbacks at the camp. He was probably the most physically put together quarterback, easily looking like he was 6-foot-3 and in the 215-pound area.

He had a surprisingly strong arm and when he got the fundamentals correct, he was more accurate than anticipated. With an offer on the table from Duke and heavy interest from teams in the ACC and SEC, look for him, too, to move up the charts once college coaches see him in person this spring.

Robert Love of Pahokee, Fla., was one of the shorter quarterbacks working out and you could tell at times that he was hampered because he couldn't use his game-breaking ability to scramble with the ball. However, he did catch on quick in the passing technique drills and he made some strides. If things don't work out at quarterback, there is no question that Love has the physical tools to be a very solid Division I player.

Running back
Bad leg or no bad leg, there was no doubt that the top back on hand was James from Immokalee.

He admitted after the camp that he was hampered with a tweaked hamstring, and that caused him to not be able to accelerate to full speed in the 40-yard dash. But the 4.6 time he had was the only thing that he didn't dominate.

He was a real competitor and took on everybody that came his way. He had cat-like reflexes and could change direction on a dime. It was easy to see why teams from all over the nation are recruiting him, and the fact that he battled hard despite the injury cemented even further his stock as a potential five-star candidate.

The argument for who was the second-best back has many candidates as there were quite a few other guys that deserve special mention.

Graig Cooper from Memphis Melrose came a long way to South Florida because he wanted to test himself against the best of the best. In drills and later in one-on-one competition he excelled and definitely showed that he's a back that could end up being recruited at the SEC level. His 4.6-second time in the 40 was his only disappointment.

Tampa Jesuit running back Anthony Allen also turned heads with an impressive 6-0 , 215-pound frame. What really sparked everybody's interest was his amazing shuttle time of 4.06 seconds, which tied him for the fifth best in the camp. Allen also looked great all day in drills

The fastest man at the camp - junior-to-be running back Armando Allen of Hialeah (Fla.) Miami Lakes - was also quite impressive. Along with running a 4.31-second time in the 40 at 5-9 and 181 pounds, Allen looked great in drills all day long. His explosion off the snap makes him an attractive prospect already and burning speed definitely puts his name on the map for next recruiting season.

Matt Speed of Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) Dwyer also looked the part of a bullish running back with decent speed and a frame that featured bulging biceps.

Wide receiver/tight end
There was plenty of skill to go around at the receiver spot, and arguably the top receiver at the camp was Pahokee, Fla., standout Tamarcus Porter. With a lean frame that is suited for speed, Porter couldn't be caught in the one-on-one drills.

He beat defenders time after time with a combination of fluid routes and great breaks on the ball. Entering the camp, Porter was just starting to move up the recruiting charts, but after a solid performance on Sunday don't be surprised if he walks away with multiple scholarship offers in the spring evaluation period.

Brandon Heath of Palm Beach (Fla.) Lakes looked remarkable in the agility portion of the camp, in drills and in one-on-one competition. Heath clocked an average 4.6-second time, but was one of the most commanding prospects at receiver. It would have been exciting to see him head over to defense and work on locking down some of the talented receivers because he's just as talented on that side of the ball, but he looked the part of a solid recruit that will be a good playmaker on the next level.

In the same category as Porter and Heath had to be Burnon Anderson of Plantation. Not only did he look the part of a major prospect, everything he did on the field proved it. He's got the wheels, got the hands and has an amazing frame. He was highly regarded coming into the camp and did nothing to disappoint.

Lauderdale Lakes (Fla.) Boyd Anderson is home to Lattarius Thomas and he definitely passed the eyeball test and looked great through drills all day. Devin Parrish of Deerfield Beach (Fla.) Zion Lutheran ran a 4.48-second time in the 40 and looked the part of a smallish slot receiver with game-breaking ability. He missed part of the drills because of an injury but came back strong in the one-on-one portion of the camp.

One player that really intrigued everybody in attendance was Andrew Hylton of Miramar. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder just looked the part of a major sleeper that could emerge into a Division I prospect, but it's unclear how he tested at this point.

Other names that looked good - Sherman Lang of Melbourne (Fla.) Air Academy, Preston Parker of Delray Beach (Fla.) Atlantic, Bobby Rauh of Orlando Edgewater and Chris Paul-Etienne of Miami Edison.

At tight end the pickings were pretty slim, but Tampa Jefferson standout Trent Pupello came into the camp as a reputation as one of the tops in the state and he did nothing to disappoint. With his massive frame, Pupello easily looked like he could spin down to offensive line if he had to. He did show good bursts of quickness, but the most impressive thing about him no question at all was his hulking frame.

Offensive line
The offensive line was headlined by a group of a few elite prospects and more sleepers that could turn out to be good players in the long run. Let's start with the best of the bunch - Deron Rose of Tampa Jefferson.

Rose didn't exactly blow the doors off when he clocked in at 5.7-seconds in the 40, but when he got on the field and got to showcase his great blocking ability he showed why he's been called one of Florida's top linemen. He also showed why teams like Florida, Michigan, Texas and Alabama are recruiting him and why he already has 20-plus offers on the table.

Rose went head-to-head with all of the very talented defensive linemen in the camp and came out ahead every time. He had very good pass-pro technique and his long arms and brute strength made it impossible to get past him. He entered the camp considered to be an elite national recruit, and he didn't do anything to diminish that thought.

While he wasn't the biggest kid there at the camp, Jake Padrick of Port St. Lucie (Fla.) Centennial ranked right up toward the top as one of the best offensive linemen there. While he was only 6-0 and 281 pounds, Padrick ran a 4.9 40-yard dash and put up 31 repetitions in the bench press. Those were definitely impressive, but where Padrick excelled most is in the drills and one-on-one. He didn't shy away from going head-to-head against a very talented offensive line group, and he did extremely well.

His height might scare away some of the major Division I programs, but if some of the mid-major schools are smart - they'd take a heavy look at him in the spring evaluation process because he'd be a great pickup for a program like that.

Jeremy Baker of West Palm Beach (Fla.) Palm Beach Lakes was also one of the better linemen at the camp. He switched back and forth between offense and defense, but honestly he had much more success in the one-on-ones on the offensive side of the ball. His pop was right up there as one of the best in camp. When he tones up and adds even more muscle mass to his lower body, he'll be a real player in college.

Kevin Perez of Miami Killan looked good in drills, but struggled a little in the one-on-one drills, but still he has the goods to be a highly-recruited offensive lineman. His pass-pro technique was impressive and his first pop was one of the best in the entire camp. He might have to work on his lateral quickness, which might force him to play inside in college, but the frame, the willingness to learn and the technique is there for him to be a college starter someday.

Miami Monsignor Pace offensive lineman Javon Hill didn't get to work out because of an injury, but he passed the eyeball test and it's easy to see why Duke has already offered and others are extremely interested in him.

Coming out of left field was one of the biggest sleepers at the camp - Antonio Tassara of Naples (Fla.) Barron Collier. It was discovered early on in the camp that he was really only in his second season of football after moving from Peru in South America. What was also discovered that he has a great frame in the 6-6, 290-pound range and that he has a lot of raw natural talent. If he develops like he hopes to - and he does have a positive attitude about learning - then he might end up being one of the biggest steals in South Florida.

Defensive line
Outside the running backs or receivers, there was no more loaded position than the defensive line. Headlining the list was defensive end Jamil Paris of Vero Beach (Fla.) Sebastian River.

Sure Paris was a known name heading into the event, but nobody expected him to blow up like he did. He entered the camp as a solid prospect but left as a potential national recruit. Paris measured in at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, clocked a 4.54-second 40-yard dash time, 4.5 shuttle, 16 repetitions in the bench-press and a 29-inch vertical leap.

In the one-on-one drills everybody that he went up against he beat With a lightning fast first step, long arms and a thin frame that has plenty of room for growth, he was this year's version of Ricky Jean Francois at the camp.

Charles Deas of Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Boyd Anderson said he wasn't pleased with his 40-time of 5.3 seconds, but he had to be happy with everything else he did on Sunday.

Deas was the only defensive lineman that gave Rose a true test. Even though he wasn't able to beat him head-to-head Deas pushed Rose to the limit, and he also dominated everybody else he faced. He has the build and body of an interior lineman, and he had some of the biggest biceps ever seen.

Once he tones the rest of his body, he will be a real keeper, and he probably cemented his stock as a national prospect on Sunday.

Paris' clone at the camp was Markeeth Drummer of West Palm Beach (Fla.) Cardinal Newman. Wearing bright, shiny blue shoes, Drummer stood out in every portion of the camp. Drummer said he slipped twice while running the 40 and still managed to block a 4.95. He also had a decent 4.4 shuttle, 16 reps on the bench and a 32-inch vertical leap. But it was in the one-on-one drills where his quick first step and long arms allowing him to get past the would-be blocker time after time.

Kevin Bryant of Hallandale, Fla., was listed as an offensive lineman coming into the camp, but by the end of it, he proved that he could be a nasty, nasty defensive tackle if he wants to.

Bryant, who looked to be in the 6-5, 300-pound range, went head-to-head against Tassara in what ended up being one of the plays of the camp. On the snap, Bryant bull rushed Tassara and eventually ended up engaged and locked on with him. Bryant instinctively picked Tassara up and threw him into the blocking dummy that represented the quarterback. The play drew big cheers from the defensive line group and high fives all the way around.

Leslie Stirrups of Tampa Hillsborough and John Paul of Immokalee also had their moments. Paul worked out on both sides of the ball, but he was at his best when he was speed rushing the passer in one-on-one drills. With his long and lean frame, Paul was able to use the swim-technique to get to the quarterback several times. Stirrups was all about power at defensive tackle. He used his low center of gravity to push through would be blockers. He also looked to be one of the stronger players at the camp, period.

Joseph Jackson of Miami Booker T. Washington looked thin as a rail, but for some reason nobody in the camp could block him in one-on-one situations. It was his first quick step that really gave him the advantage over the slower linemen.

Audie Augustine of Oakland Park (Fla.) Northeast looked like an outside linebacker working out with the defensive ends, but there was no question that he had the goods to be a talented Division I football player. He had quickness about him and the ability to change direction that made him tough to block all day. Plus, he really passed the eyeball test and looks the part of a major prospect.

Linebacker
Linebacker was really the only position that didn't seem to have an abundance of talent. Outside linebacker Emmanuel Cook was one of the better ones in the bunch. He was about 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds and might be a little under-sized for some schools, but his testing, agility in drills and ability to close on the football in one-on-one drills made him a player to keep your eye on this fall.

Cypress Bay's Michael Johnson was one of the most physically fit players at the camp. He can play either linebacker or safety.

Defensive back
One player that improved his stock maybe better than anybody else at the camp was Hollywood (Fla.) Parkway Academy cornerback Kevin Holloway. Holloway took home most valuable player honors from Student Sports and NIKE, as he dominated in both the testing and the drill portion of the camp.

Holloway, 5-8, 153 pounds tested off the charts running a 4.35-second 40-yard dash, 4.12- shuttle, 15 reps on the bench and jumped 37.8 inches in the vertical. If that was all Holloway did at the camp, test well, it still would have been a great day but he actually increased his stock even more in the position drills.

"He was the top guy in my group all day long and it wasn't even close," NIKE defensive back coach Kerry Joseph said. "I know he's a little on the small side, but he can play. He has great quickness and can really close on the ball. He has great technique and really battles for the ball when it's in the air.

"He made some great plays today where it looked like he was beat and then he just closed on it to bat the ball down. He's an aggressive player too and doesn't back down from anyone. After his performance today, I think his stock should soar, and I don't think there's a college in Florida he can't play for."

You could have picked a number of defensive backs for the No. 2 spot in the camp, but the nod goes to Brian Thomas of Zephyrhills, Fla.

Thomas measured in at 6-0 3/4 and 186 pounds, clocked a 4.55 40 and had a 4.06 shuttle time. He was also amazing in ladder and cone drills, displaying quick feet and great ability to change direction. In one-on-ones he was also solid, using his strong upper-body to play tight with the receiver. Thomas was one of many really talented defensive backs, and the one thing he does share with the others in the group - the will to compete.

Not far behind Thomas was Jaquan Williams of Sarasota (Fla.) Riverview. Williams tested well with a 4.48 time in the 40, a 30.3-inch vertical leap and a 4.6 shuttle time. He also more than held his own in one-on-one drills and with his size - he's over 6-feet - he could easily match-up with the receivers that tried to beat him deep.

A few other defensive backs that impressed were Pahokee cornerback Ricky Gary, Miami South Miami cornerback Patrick Robinson and sleeper Ervin Bynes of Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard. Gary was all over field with his quickness, Robinson has some of the fastest acceleration around and Bynes proved that he has the moxie to cover anybody.

For expanded coverage of the Miami NIKE Training Camp, you should check out StudentSportsFootball.com. Access to StudentSportsFootball.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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