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.
When it comes to running backs, the University of Maryland has landed a gem in Hargrave's Keon Lattimore (left). An agile 6-foot-1, 215-pounder, Lattimore is very impressive with his quickness and his ability to read defenses. Timed at 4.44-seconds in the 40-yard dash, Lattimore has a special ability to make cuts in an instant as shown by his quicker times in agility drills (4.41 agility time).
This, along with his strength, gives him the capability to be a north-south or side-to-side runner, whichever the situation calls for. Lattimore also has very good hands and his moves in the open field will allow him to be successful at the next level.
Maryland didn't make Lattimore thier sole Hargrave target. Although he is still open to visits and offers from others, 6-foot-7, 250-pound tight end Anthony Hill is showing the most interest in Maryland as well as Florida and Ohio State. While watching Hill work, it becomes quite apparent why he has already received offers from Clemson, Baylor, NC State and Virginia Tech.
Possessing a prototypical tight end body, Anthony has 4.75-second speed in the 40 and great upper body strength. When watching Hill in 7-on-7 drills, it is quite apparent he can be a favorite target of a college quarterback as a safety valve over the middle at the next level. His speed allows him to work any type of man or zone coverage to get open with regularity. He couples all this week soft hands and the athletic ability to make the tough catch.
On the defensive side of the ball, Maryland is showing great interest in 6-foot-1, 195-pound defensive back Brandon Flowers. Flowers has nice size to match up with his 4.49-second 40-yard dash speed. He can play as a finesse cover corner or a physical safety. He is a very well-rounded defensive back.
Four-star running back Darrell Blackman (right) also wasted little time during the combine to show why NC State made him one of their top 2003-04 recruits.
Blackman, 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, posted a 4.43-second time in the 40 and was quite the site throughout the combine. A total package of speed, power and quickness make him a viable threat for several years to come. Great hands and footwork make him a nice weapon in or out of the backfield.
NC State also hopes to get a commitment from Hargrave wideout Armand Cauthen. A 6-foot-1, 195-pounder, Cauthen has drawn interest from several schools such as Florida, Florida State, North Carolina, NC State and Wake Forest, Cauthen recently returned from an official visit to Virginia Tech.
"I liked the school and the atmosphere at Virginia Tech, the players there treated me real nice but I want to follow up with more official visits."
Cauthen has the speed (4.5) to go with his great hands and playmaking ability.
The school with one of the greatest ties to Hargrave is Virginia Tech, who have already received a verbal commitment from one of the top quarterbacks on the east coast -- 6-foot-5, 210-pound signal caller Cory Holt.
Holt is a quality quarterback with great mobility, a strong arm, nice touch on the deep ball and a solid understanding of defenses which allows him to make proper reads downfield. With his athletic ability, Cory doesn't have to sit back and wait for things to happen. Holt is the kind of quarterback who can adapt to various college systems.
Along with Holt, Virginia Tech is the strong front runner for the services of Hargrave wdieout Justin Harper (left). The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder has listed NC State, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech as his top three choices. Upon returning from an official visit to Virginia Tech the weekend before the Hargrave combine, Harper committed to the Hokies this week.
Virginia Tech has landed themselves a top wideout. Harper has 4.53-second speed to go with his great size. His great strength allows him to match up well with even the most physical defensive backs and basically dictate what will take place on his side of the field. Harper is a great route runner, a hard worker and someone who is not afraid to go over the middle if called upon to do so. Holt-to-Harper could make a nice combination for Virginia Tech fans to cheer in a few years.
On the defensive side of the ball, Virginia Tech has received a verbal commitment from defensive back D.J. Parker. Parker is a nice cover corner at 6-foot-0 and 185 pounds with good speed (4.5) to play man coverage and the strength to come up in run support. He has very nice footwork to read and recover and can be a physical run stopper if need be.
As noted, Hargrave isn't short on skill position players by any stretch. One of their top defensive backs, Phillip Brown (right), committed to Virginia a year ago and was a nice attraction at the Hargrave combine. With good size at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, Brown showcased his 4.35-second speed for the UVA coaches and all others to see.
A great leader in the defensive backfield with the knack to call plays for not only himself, but other defensive players on the field, Brown is a player who isn't afraid of a challenge. He wants to see his opponent's best, because his opponent is going to get the best he has to offer. Brown has the confidence in his game that it takes to excel at the next level.
As one can tell, Hargrave Military Academy is a hotbed of football talent. The Hargrave Academy coaching staff, led by head coach Robert Prunty, should be commended for running such a fine program and offering these athletes the best there is in preparing them for the college experience. To all those involved in preparing and running the Hargrave football combine, a job well done.
Special thanks to Andy Crouch for contributing to this report.