PAISLEY, Fla. – The FBU Top Gun Showcase Camp is full of blue-chip players who are household names with recruiters and college football fans all across the country. But Sunday there were a handful of real surprise players who were more impressive than their higher-ranked counterparts.
One of those was Tulsa (Okla.) Union three-star athlete Anthony Foster.
While he already has eight scholarship offers from teams like Air Force, Colorado, Kansas State, New Mexico, Oregon State, Wyoming, Rice and Tulsa, Foster has not received nearly the type of recognition he's deserved. That could all change after the performance he had on Sunday.
Earning rave reviews from FBU coaches, including receivers coach Andre Rison, Foster simply caught everything that was thrown his direction. He also had his way with many of the nation's top defensive back prospects with his precision route-running and deceptive speed.
"There were a couple of throws that I should have caught," Foster, who is 5-feet-9 and 180 pounds, said. "But I felt good about how I did. I know I should have come in here in better shape, but to come in here and have success against some of the best players in the country was really exciting.
"I don't know if it's going to put me on the map any more, but it sure can't hurt."
Also not hurting himself is Vallejo (Calif.) Bethel cornerback C.J. Anderson, who has had a strong camp. The 5-foot-8, 180-pounder ran the fastest shuttle time in the camp at 4.09 seconds. Pair that with a 32-inch vertical leap and strong drill work, and he looks like he could be ready to shake that sleeper tag.
Marlin Lane, a star running back from the class of 2011, is also making waves. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder was a Class 1A all-state selection this past season at DeLeon Springs (Fla.) Lighthouse Christian, but he'll transfer to Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland this fall. Not only did he impress in drill work, but he had two of the best testing results of the camp with a 33.5-inch vertical leap and a 4.24 second shuttle time.
Best of the Best
Quarterback: As one might expect at a camp called Top Gun, there were plenty of talented gun-slingers that had good workouts on Sunday. At the top of the list were four really good ones.
Hampton (Va.) Phoebus star Tajh Boyd had a strong day, showing why he's ranked as one of the nation's best signal-callers. Rivals.com analyst Barry Every was very impressed with Boyd's leadership and his strong desire to be the best he can be. Boyd has already filled out and is physically ready to compete at the next level. He is a real keeper for West Virginia.
No more quarterback has attracted more buzz lately than Kevin Newsome of Chesapeake (Va.) Western Branch, mainly because of question marks about his commitment to Michigan. The four-star quarterback demonstrated very good velocity and nice spin on his passes. He was much better Sunday than he was earlier this summer at the EA Sports Elite 11 qualifier in Las Vegas, and he definitely has a desire to get better. After the other quarterbacks were done working out, Newsome was outside throwing passes at targets all by himself.
Drew Allen of San Antonio (Texas) Alamo Heights also had a strong day. With a live arm, excellent height and a great frame, Allen is an intelligent passer who seems to always know where to put the ball. Charley Loeb of Groton (Mass.) Lawrence Academy also ranked among the best at the position. Every was impressed with Loeb's tremendous velocity on his short and mid-range passes, along with a very tight spin on his throws.
Running back: Easily the most loaded position in the camp, featuring five superstar 2009 prospects and several underclassmen who are sure to be stars.
The headliners according to the position coaches was Christine Michael of Beumont (Texas) West Brook and Edwin Baker of Oak Park, Michigan. But they weren't alone.
"(Michael) is a guy all that they've talked about," said former NFL star Lorenzo White, who's coaching the running back group for FBU. "I like all the kids in our group, but he has been the most impressive in my opinion so far. I also really like that No. 20, Edwin Baker. He's so steady in everything he does.
"But all the guys in the group are special. They're all so different. There's the Bryce Brown kid who has tremendous quickness for a big back. And Cierre Wood looks like a rocket taking off every time he touches the ball. He can get from point A to point B in the blink of an eye. I also think Chris Whaley has a chance to be a good one. He's a big back who has great hands."
The younger players like Lache Seastrunk of Temple, Texas, and Lane also made a big impression on the coaches. Seastrunk is one of the smaller backs, but is still well defined with legs built like an Olympic sprinter. And Lane already looks like he could step on the football field, which is amazing because he's just 15-years old.
Receiver: While Foster was one of the big surprises in the camp so far, it's no surprise that five-stars Randall Carroll of Los Angeles Cathedral and Shaquelle Evans of Inglewood, Calif., lived up to their reputations.
Carroll is easily the fastest kid on the field. A football player who is also a track star, Carroll has jets that make him impossible to keep up with. He also had the camp's top vertical leap at 35 inches. He runs very precise routes and can get deep with his speed with ease.
While Carroll's game is all about speed, Evans' game is about being physical. With a tremendous 6-foot, 200-pound frame that must have less than five percent body fat, Evans can really create space with his powerful body. Every says Evans reminds him of a young Laveranues Coles.
Lynchberg (Va.) Brookville athlete Logan Thomas might not look like the fastest player around, but time after time in drills he would find a way to get behind the defensive backs. He has great ability to get off the bump and has very good hands. Every said he's convinced Thomas has the potential to be a big-time athletic tight end in college.
Before he went down with an injury, Minneapolis (Minn.) Breck receiver Bryce McNeal was well on his way toward showing everybody why he's the top prospect in his state. He runs crisp and accurate routes and has excellent hands. He'll also be a really nice fit in Michigan's new offense; with his 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame, he's also going to be physical enough to block.
Linebacker: One of the smallest groups in the camp is plenty big on talent. The standouts in the group were Larvez Mars of Apopka, Fla., Marvin Robinson of Eagle Lake (Fla.) Lake Region, Jaydan Bird of Conway Springs, Kan., and Zeke Motta of Vero Beach, Fla.
Mars is only 5-feet-11 and 205 pounds, but he more than makes up for it in everything he does. He's extremely active, great with his reads and can come up and hit hard. He's also fast enough to hang with speedy backs in passing situations. Some schools might avoid recruiting him because he's only 5-11, but that's a mistake because the kid is a major player.
Robinson admits he didn't have the best outing earlier this summer at the USC Rising Star Camp. Along with being injured, he just couldn't get in the zone. But he was there on Sunday, making big play after big play in drills and then in one-on-one battles. He was the one guy who was consistently able to hang with both the physical and speedy backs in the camp.
Bird, an Oklahoma commitment, continues to have an amazing summer. After impressing earlier in June at the Sooners' camp, he had another big showing Sunday. A heady and intelligent player, Bird was the quickest to diagnose the play and react the appropriate way. He also loves to practice and goes hard on every single down, which should endear him to Bob Stoops, who expects his defensive players to give it all, all the time.
Zeke Motta moved from the safety to linebacker spot about midway through Sunday's morning session, and it looks like he really found a home there. He was called Baby Hercules by the coaches. And with his athletic ability and great frame, it looks like he might have found a home at linebacker.
Defensive back: If running back was the best group in the camp, this was a close second. The defensive back group was littered with outstanding talent, including five-star athlete Patrick Hall of Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure.
Fighting through a nagging hamstring injury in the afternoon session, Hall was able to showcase his great coverage skills in one-on-ones and seven-on-seven drills. His long arms and ability to break on the ball should make him an extremely effective cover corner on the next level.
Right up there with Hall for the best at the position had to be Michael Carter of Pompano Beach (Fla.) Ely. Carter was always around the ball, showed great awareness and was able to break up pass after pass with his long arms. He's also extremely fast and athletic enough to keep up with the quickest receivers.
Byron Moore of Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne and Gabe Lynn of Jenks, Okla., were also among the best in the deep group. Moore made several big plays in seven-on-sevens, including a big interception which would have been an easy return for a touchdown. And Lynn is one of the more physical defenders in the camp. He had no problem going up against the tougher, more put-together guys like Evans or Thomas at receiver.
T.J. McDonald of Fresno (Calif.) was having a great early session, but he sat out the afternoon with a slight injury. The same was true about Chris Metcalf of Compton, Calif. He injured his left knee slightly and missed the entire afternoon session.
Players were also tested on Sunday in the shuttle and the vertical leap. Some of the top performers included Motta and Evans in the shuttle with a 4.25-second time. After Carroll's 35-inch leap, Wood was second with a 34.5-inch jump. Hall jumped 34 inches, Seastrunk 33.5 inches, and Thomas and Moore each had 32.5-inch leaps.