Rivals.com recently returned from the one of the largest college prep combines on the east coast. It was absolutely perfect football weather in the foothill mountains of Virginia as family and friends, along with more than 50 college recruiters and coaches, gathered for the Fall 2003 Hargrave Military Academy football combine.
The future SEC stars kept showing their stuff at the combine. Not to be outdone by Arkansas, Tennessee has one very impressive commitment and is in the mix for a few more.
5-foot-11, 185-pound cornerback Jonathan Hefney (left), committed to the Vols, used the combine to further show why he was offered a scholarship by the SEC power. Hefney, a South Carolina native overlooked last year by the Gamecocks and Tigers in state, turned in a 4.4-second time in the 40-yard dash and showcased his tight man coverage in the 7-on-7 drills. Playing bump-and-run or zone, Hefney has the skills to do it all. He can read the quarterback, break on the ball, and come up to take away the short plays in the flat.
During the combine, we also learned that Tennessee is strongly involved with 6-foot-4, 245-pound linebacker Antonio Reynolds. Reynolds, a phenomenal athlete who originally committed to Miami, will take an official visit to Tennessee this upcoming weekend (Dec. 12). He will follow that weekend with an official visit to Clemson later in December (Dec. 19). Maryland is also angling for an official visit.
After watching Reynolds work the combine, there is no wonder why so many top programs are actively seeking his services. Reynolds 4.6-second 40-yard dash time and 35-inch vertical are further testament to his athletic ability. Playing outside or inside linebacker, Antonio will make the fans whatever school he chooses very happy for several years to come.
Tennessee will also be hosting 6-foot-6, 280-pound defensive end Brandon Setzer on an official visit this weekend (Dec. 12). Setzer recently returned from a visit to Virginia Tech where he found the university to be "down to earth and very appealing". NC State is also in the running for Setzer and was present at the combine to get a first-hand look at Brandon and his 5.12-second 40 time. One of the most appealing aspects about Setzer is his tremendous leg strength and drive, as evidenced by his 36-inch vertical.
The University of Georgia brought a large contingent of coaches to view their prized recruit, 6-foot-1, 205-pound running back Danny Ware. Ware, committed to attend Georgia in 2004, has all the tools to be a top power runner in the SEC in the near future. Clocked at 4.44-seconds in the 40, Ware also has great upper body strength evidenced by his impressive 18 bench reps at 185 pounds.
However, his musclar build doesn't hinder Ware's ability to be a great offensive weapon coming out of the backfield. During 7-on-7 drills, Ware made several great reads and had the hands to be a receiving threat in short yardage situations.
Not to be left out in the SEC, Ole Miss used an uprising in it's recent football program to pull in one of the best all-around athletes from Hargrave. 6-foot-3, 205-pound safety Mico McSwain (right) proved to be the fastest athlete on this combine day, checking in with a blazing 4.25-second time in the 40-yard dash and a team best 37-inch vertical. As evidenced by his sheer speed and jumping ability, coupled with his size, McSwain has no problem reading, recovering, playing both sides of the field or playing jump ball with the best of them. He's a great talent who will be an intimidating downfield sight for SEC quarterbacks.
As a compliment to outside linebacker Antonio Reynolds, Hargave also boasts two other top linebacker recruits in Derek Burrell and John Baranowsky (left). At 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, Burrell has received serious interest from several MAC schools as well up-and-comer UConn.
Burrell stated, "I will be taking an official visit to University of Virginia the third week in December and would like to set up an official visit with Maryland, as I have family in that area".
Whoever gets Burrell, will be getting themselves a terrific outside linebacker. Timed at 4.63-seconds in the 40 and with a 36-inch vertical, Derek has the footwork and speed to handle offensive lineman and ability to make plays all over the field.
While on the topic of "making plays", Baranowsky has one speed -- go. Whether it's in an interview, in the lockerroom, or on the defensive side of the ball, John is a player who goes 100 miles-per-hour and gives 100-percent all of the time. He also has a great attitude for a middle linebacker as he's never seen a tackle he can't make.
Timed at 4.5-seconds in the 40-yard dash, Baranowsky is also one of the strongest players on the team. He uses his 6-foot-3, 235-pound frame to bench press a near team best 22 reps at 185 pounds. A take-charge field leader and dominant player in the middle, John is receiving interest from such schools as Baylor, Marshall, UConn and Kent State (where he just returned from an official visit).
Tomorrow, more from the combine's top players in our final segment.
Special thanks to Andy Crouch for contributing to this report.