CORAL GABLES, Fla. - It might have been crystal clear Sunday afternoon in Miami, but it sure seemed like it was raining. Raining Division I blue-chip prospects that is.
No matter where you turned Sunday at the University of Miami, blue-chip players were everywhere. Welcome to the city where speed, athleticism and the will to compete reign. More than 250 of the top prospects in the Southeast were on hand Sunday for the first NIKE Training Camp for 2005. Every position was stockpiled with prospects that will be household names on the recruiting front, and they used the camp to test their mettle.
Yet, a few prospects still managed to stand out above the rest with blazing 40-yard dash times, great individual performances in one-on-one drills and overall great days.
Tampa (Fla.) Hillsborough dual-threat quarterback Jarred Fayson came into the camp regarded as one of the top players in the state of Florida but there were still plenty of question marks about his game. He ended the day quite possibly as one of the nation's best players.
Nobody had a better day than Fayson, who measured in at 6-foot-1 and 184 pounds. He 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.
"I want to be a quarterback in college," Fayson, who has offers from Duke, Syracuse, USF, UCF, Ole Miss and Maryland, said. "I've improved my mechanics, watching a lot of film from last year, and I've been working hard on the little things that it will take to be a successful quarterback in college."
After Sunday don't be surprised if teams come knocking on the door because Fayson kicked it in with a performance that will be hard to top the rest of the camp tour.
Tampa football is usually under-appreciated when compared to Miami, but with the performance of both Fayson and Tampa Jefferson offensive lineman Deron Rose that might change. Fayson ruled the roost as one of the best skill performers at the camp, but there was no question that Rose was the top offensive line prospect in attendance.
Rose said he didn't run the best 40-yard dash time of the day, coming in somewhere in the 5.7-second range, but it was in the one-on-one drills where he was simply unstoppable. Defensive lineman after defensive lineman tried and tried to come up and challenge him - including highly-regarded Charles Deas of Laderdale Lakes (Fla.) Boyd Anderson - but it didn't matter.
Rose would dispatch them with his brute strength, great footwork and all of the other tools that it takes to be a blue-chip national offensive line prospect. There were plenty of great skill position players there Sunday, but defensive line was probably just as stacked. But it didn't matter because Rose owned everybody that came at him, and he said that's what he came out Sunday to do.
"Football in Florida is the best," Rose said. "There were so many really good guys out there on that defensive line. They kept coming after me, but I was proud of how I kept proving to myself that I can do it."
And along the way he might have proved that he was one of the nation's best line targets.
"Like I said football in Florida is the best," Rose said. "I'll let you guys decide if doing well like I did today proves that. I know that I worked hard, and I'm confident in my abilities."
While Rose did dominate everybody that came at him, it didn't overshadow the great performances of many of the other talented defensive linemen. That was the position where some already known names like Leslie Stirrups of Tampa Hillsborough, Jeremy Baker of West Palm Beach (Fla.) Palm Beach Lakes and John Paul of Immokalee, Fla., did exactly what you expect from impressive prospects.
But the real story of the position group was several unheralded prospects that moved to the forefront.
Jamil Paris of Sebastian (Fla.) River was a newcomer that blew up and left the camp as one of the top up-and-coming players in the Sunshine State. 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.
He didn't get a chance to go against Rose in one-on-one drills, but against every other lineman that he faced he couldn't be blocked. 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.
It was at last year that Francois blew up and was one of the most physically impressive looking players ever at a NIKE Camp.
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. Deas also was dominant throughout the entire camp, clocking in at 5.3-seconds in the 40, and despite not beating Rose, he looked the part of an elite national recruit.
When it comes to skill players, Florida is always home to best of the best.
While neither ran a blistering 40-yard dash time, running back Javarris James of Immokalee and receiver Brandon Heath of Palm Beach (Fla.) Lakes looked remarkable in drills and in one-on-one competition.
James measured in 6-foot and 201 pounds and ran a 4.67-second 40-yard dash. He was long, lean and looked like a cheetah with his ability to change direction and accelerate in the blink of an eye. Heath, who projects on both sides of the ball, clocked a 4.6-second time and was one of the most commanding prospects at receiver. He looked the part of a national recruit that will have more offers than he can handle.
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.