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May 1, 2005
Catching on: Blacksburg NIKE position breakdown
BLACKSBURG, Va. - The Blacksburg NIKE Camp was supposed to be all about the big men, with a few good running backs and wide receivers thrown in the mix. Instead it turned out to be a very deep camp with talent showing from nearly every position. While the big eaters on the offensive and defensive line were impressive, the wide receiver position was the deepest on the day. Here's our breakdown of each position and the standouts.
Quarterbacks - One of the weaker positions overall at the camp was at quarterback, where there just wasn't a whole lot of depth. Some players passed the eyeball test but when it came time to throw, they just didn't measure up. One player who did however was Washington (D.C.) H.D. Woodson slinger Eddie McGee. McGee has good size and throws the ball with a lot of zip and was one of the more accurate quarterbacks on the day. North Stafford, Va. quarterback Kyle Lloyd surprised a lot of people with a good day and Ohio quarterbacks Michael Hartline and Arvell Nelson had an interesting dual for the title of top quarterback in Ohio this year (Nelson won but not by much). 2007 stud Tyrod Taylor showed well with the older guys and should be a standout next year and beyond.
Running Backs - Running backs can't do a whole lot at camps and combines other than go through drills that showcase their footwork and do some receiving drills against linebackers, most of whom aren't fast enough to cover them. By paying close attention to the backs at the camp, quite a few stood out. Cary, N.C. stud Josh Adams isn't very big, but he's super fast and changes direction well. The opposite of Adams is Richmond (Va.) Varina running back Brandon Minor who has excellent size and is well put together, but lacks quick feet. He's an inside-the-tackles type of runner who can bounce it outside if needed, but he looks like he'd be better running through tacklers than around them.
LaMarcus Bond from Ahoskie (N.C.) Hertford County has good cutting ability and is quick while big fullback Donielle Babb from Franklin, Va. looks like a bruiser and has good speed for a big man. Virginia Beach (Va.) Kellam running back J'Here Hill took home top SPARQ honors and is impressive in many aspects while Georgia sleeper Jon Benson showed why he's a standout in track with excellent speed and jumping ability.
Vienna (Va.) Oakton athlete Keith Payne worked out with the running backs, but his size makes it pretty clear he'll be a linebacker at the next level as he continues to grow. He's getting too tall to be a tailback.
Wide Receivers - Where do we start? Obviously with Fork Union (Va.) Fork Union Military stud Brandon Caleb who was behind Antonio Logan-El when it comes to overall performance at the camp. Caleb has size, speed, change of direction, jumping ability, hands and the ability to cut upfield quickly. He's basically the whole package. Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville teammates Raymond Small, Daven Jones and Ray Fisher were also quite impressive as was football newcomer Brent Vinson from Hampton (Va.) Phoebus.
Add to the mix Marlington, Ohio stud Troy Pascley as well as Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside standout Oliver Alexander and you can see how deep this position was. However, it goes even deeper than that.
Norfolk (Va.) Lake Taylor athlete Santonyo Jones showed off his ability as did Richmond (Va.) Hermitage wide receiver Griff Yancey, who was a bit shorter than advertised but skilled nonetheless. North Stafford, Va. wide out Jeremy Wicker also showed ability to gain separation and go up and get the football.
As good as the wide outs were, the camp was lacking overall at tight end.
Offensive Linemen - If Logan-El was the man, everyone else would have to fall under the boy category, even though there were some big linemen. Bryant Browning is massive and moves very well for a big man, yet another standout from Glenville. One player who came out of nowhere was Kingsport (Tenn.) Dobyns-Bennett guard Daniel Kilgore, who showed excellent technique and leverage.
Rivals100 offensive guard J.B. Walton isn't a camp or combine type of player. He won't wow you with his size and he isn't able to do what he does best, pull from his guard position and get to the second level. He's clearly an inside lineman who isn't as comfortable playing in space as others, but he showed signs on the day. He's a coachable and hard working player and his film speaks for itself. Has Walton been on the defensive side of the ball, he would have been hard to stop with his quickness off the ball.
Offensive guard Nick Sloan from Adairsville, Ga. showed he liked to mix things up in the one-on-ones and is a nasty player. Bryan Hall from Richmond (Va.) Hermitage and Ashton Muslimani from Chesapeake (Va.) Greenbriar Christian are both massive and get in the way, but lack overall footwork.
Defensive Linemen - The defensive line was deep and, to their credit, no one cried "not it" when facing the possibility of going against Logan-El, especially not Meadowbrook, Va. rush end John Graves. While Graves got flattened on an outside move the first time against Logan-El, he was able to get four or five yards into the backfield on his bull rush attempt the second time. Graves seemed to seek out Logan-El both times, which is what you want in a defensive end. Ashland (Va.) Patrick Henry stud Marcus Anthony and Somerset (Ky.) Pulaski Southwestern end Josh Minton were the two quickest defensive ends off the ball.
Defensive tackle Daryl Robertson from Bedford (Va.) Liberty was the most impressive inside defensive lineman in the drills, showcasing a wide array of pass rushing moves and excellent leg drive. Greenbelt (Md.) Eleanor Roosevelt defensive end Ralph Alexander looks like the next sleeper from that school to emege into D-1 football. He was explosive off the edge and had a great motor in drills.
Glenville stud Robert Rose is the complete package at defensive end with enough size to hold up against tackles and enough quickness to give them fits. He was clearly one of the best overall linemen when it came to physique and technique.
Linebackers - As they love to say in the NFL (and soon most college conferences), "upon further review" the linebacker position wasn't quite as thin as we first thought. Charlotte (N.C.) West prospect Yameen Thomas worked out with the defensive linemen and Payne worked out with the running backs, but both showed enough to project each at linebacker. Payne looks like he'll be a big, strong inside 'backer while Thomas will be an outside guy with his pass-rushing ability.
Snow Hill (N.C.) Greene Central linebacker Mario Brown looked great in drills and measured up on the eyeball test. Chesterfield (Va.) James River athlete Zach Thomas not only has a linebacker's name, but also the quickness and strength to play the position. However, he could end up as a defensive end as well. Potomac Falls, Va. linebacker J.A. Haley was pretty much unknown before this camp, but will be getting quite a few looks once word spreads about him. Forestville, Md. 'backer Devonte Campbell is a 2007 prospect, but looked more cut and faster than almost any of the 2006 group on hand.
Defensive backs - Who can cover all these terrific wide receivers? Not too many, but there were a few that stood out. Hampton (Va.) Phoebus cornerback DeNathian Robinson has good closing and recovery speed and excellent hips. He can also go up and get the ball with good jumping ability. Safety prospect Ricky Cook from Pearisburg (Va.) Giles did a very good job of staying with his man in one-on-ones despite his tall frame and Ashland (Va.) Patrick Henry cornerback Troy Leftwich also played well. Fleming (Va.) Roanoke defensive back Dwayne Priest showed a lot of hustle and quickness and was one of the tougher and physical defensive backs on hand.
For expanded coverage of the Blacksburg 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.