CORAL GABLES, Fla.- At the first NIKE Camp of year, the linebacker position was loaded. The position, which featured multiple Division I-A prospects, was the talk of Sunday's Miami NIKE Camp on the campus of the University of Miami.
Homestead High's Marcus Robinson walked away with Most Valuable Player honors for the position following the event, but the coaches who picked the award winners agreed it was a tough call to single out one among the talented group.
Robinson was impressive, however, showing off the quickness, speed and athleticism that makes him one of South Florida's best overall prospects. Heading into the camp, it was obvious on film that Robinson had good pursuit speed and was fast in a straight line, but what stood out Sunday was his ability to drop into coverage and move laterally. Given that, Robinson is a more complete and more versatile prospect that what once was thought.
Robinson has scholarship offers from Miami and others.
One look at Miami Krop's Etienne Sabino and it's obvious why in one day this week, he spoke with head coaches from USC (Pete Carroll, Florida (Urban Meyer), Tennessee Phillip Fulmer and Notre Dame Charlie Weis). The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder not only has good size, he is very fluid and flexible and is college-ready from a physical standpoint.
Some speculate that Sabino could play defensive end in college. That's not out of the question, but today he showed that he's at a high level at the linebacker position. Sabino plays strong and that power in his arms and hands will be used to shed blocks well.
Chaminade-Madonna's Jordan Futch also was impressive. He's got a long frame, good speed and quickness and a high football I.Q. The 6-foot-3, 202-pounder also has excellent instincts at linebacker, which is important.
Futch holds scholarship offers from a number of programs, including Auburn, Alabama, Georgia and others.
Futch's high school teammate, Tarik Rollins, also was impressive. He moves well laterally and uses his long arms well to disrupt ball carriers and shed blocks. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Rollins has an early offer from Ole Miss, among others.
Coral Reef's Malcolm Munroe was outstanding in all of the drills and looked like he belonged with Futch, Sabino, Robinson and the others. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder moved well in all of the drills and is good in pass coverage as well. He doesn't hold any scholarship offers currently, but expect that to change soon.
Jatavious Miller from Pahokee is undersized, but has excellent quickness, speed and balance. Like many from his high school, you can tell that he loves to play football. Auburn, which has had great success developing linebackers with Miller's dimensions over the years into standout players, is one of two programs recruiting him heavily. The other is Central Florida, which Miller expects to offer any day.
Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Day's William Orr may be more of a strong safety on the collegiate level, but his explosiveness and athletic ability was evident Sunday when he worked out with the linebackers. It's not out of the question that he plays linebacker in college, he just looks the part more at a strong safety or rover type of position. Orr did not report any scholarship offers, but it's just a matter of time.
Alex Pattee from Hollywood Hills impressed many onlookers. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder was impressive in many of the drills. Like Orr, Pattee is still waiting on his first scholarship offer.
Miami Northwestern quarterback Jacory Harris was the best of the bunch Sunday. The 6-foot-4, 180-pounder can make all of the throws and was the most accurate passer. Multiple schools have now jumped in the mix for Harris and it would not be a surprise to see his stock climb even higher after his showing Sunday.
Miami Booker T. Washington's Sancho McDonald had a good day throwing the ball. He has a strong arm and is above average in the accuracy department. He's the type of quarterback prospect that needs some polish, but the tools are there. Ohio State is one of several programs giving a hard look at McDonald.
Lake Worth's Star Jackson struggled with an injury, but still competed. He has a quick release and throws a nice ball. He also has good size for the position and is a highly-competitive prospect. Jackson already has early offers from Georgia, Central Florida and others and it's no surprise that he does.
Winter Haven's D.C. Jefferson has excellent size for a signal caller. He struggled in the passing department a bit Sunday and also sat out a good portion of the one-on-one drills, so it was hard to get an accurate gauge on his ability as a quarterback.
Two prospects from Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson were among the best at the running back position Sunday.
Chris Anderson and Derrick Warthen aren't the biggest backs around, but both are strong and explosive and have breakaway speed. Both also have good hands and were impressive running routes, meaning that one or both could end up in the slot at the college level if necessary.
Class of 2009 Pahokee standout Vincent Smith was injured 30 minutes into the event, so he didn't get to participate in many of the drills. Still, he looks the part and is expected to be one of the better junior backs in South Florida next season. If things go as expected on the field for Smith next season, expect Florida State and Miami to be big factors when the time comes.
Lakeland Kathleen's Terrell Colston stacked up nicely against the other running backs at the camp. He has offers from Troy and Southern Mississippi, but says that Ole Miss and Arizona State are showing him increased attention.
The wide receiver position overall was solid, but there weren't very many players that separated themselves from the pack.
Speedy Booker T. Washington receiver Davon Johnson was one of the more impressive prospects at the event and took home top wide receiver honors from the NIKE Camp staff. The 5-foot-11, 165-pounder showed off his speed (he's got a confirmed 4.33-second 40-yard dash time) during the drills and also caught it well. Miami (Fla.), Florida International, Rutgers, Ole Miss and Central Florida all have interest in Johnson.
Belle Glade Glades Central receiver Travis Benjamin's wiry frame and quickness make him very slippery in the open field. He's a player who doesn't lack confidence and should see his stock rise over time. Miami and LSU are among the programs interested in Benjamin.
Boyd Anderson's Chris Bynes, the younger brother of Auburn linebacker signee Josh Bynes, is a big-bodied pass catcher with solid hands. He's the type of receiver that smaller defensive backs aren't going to be able to jam at the line of scrimmage at all. Miami, Ole Miss and Georgia Tech all have strong interest here.
Another Boyd Anderson receiver, Tyrone Brantley, has the chance to emerge as a BCS Conference-level sleeper.
A pair of prospects from Miami Piper, Markinley Saint-Fort and Chavar Watkins, had some nice moments during the camp. Auburn, Minnesota and Central Florida are among the schools looking at the pair.
Recent Miami commit Brandon Washington of Northwestern (formerly of Booker T. Washington) and Lakeland Lake Gibson's Ricky Barnum were the best two Class of 2008 offensive line prospects at the event.
Washington likely projects as a guard long-term, but he's got the chance to be a great one. He has excellent athletic ability, is powerful at the point of attack, has the footwork to pull and plays strong. He dominated the one-on-one drills and was outstanding in the position and agility drills.
Flexibility is one of Barnum's strengths and the reason he could potentially be a tackle at the college level (he will probably move inside in the NFL if he makes it that far), though right or left is to be determined. Barnum will need to add weight in college, but has the frame to do so. He also has long arms, which allows him to lock on to defenders very well.
Barnum has scholarship offers from Auburn, Virginia Tech, Miami and others.
Lake Worth's Joe Looney will have to get in better shape in college, but he's got the makings of a solid interior player. He's very strong and could be a punishing blocker provided he develops properly.
One of the more intriguing storylines at the camp was the play of two Class of 2009 offensive linemen from Glades Central. Tackle Henry Orelus was one of the top overall prospects in the camp. The 6-foot-4, 260-pounder has excellent size, technique and footwork and should develop into one of the more coveted prospects in the state of Florida in the next recruiting cycle.
His teammate, Rupert Bryan, was not beaten very often during one-on-one drills and won his share of battles in the other drills as well. Though he's not as big as Orelus (Bryan could potentially still grow), he's just as skilled of a player and should develop into a college prospect on the interior of the offensive line.
Sanford (Fla.) Seminole defensive end Dyrdon Dye has a good first step, quick feet, speed and athleticism. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder put on a display in position drills and when he went against offensive linemen. Dye has very quick hands, which helps him shed blockers with ease.
With quality pass rushers always at a premium, look for Dye to show up on the radar of many high-level Division I-A programs in the near future.
Miami (Fla.) defensive tackle commit Micanor Regis looks the part of a solid defensive line prospect. Regis, who projects as a two technique or nose tackle, has the chance to be special if he can put it all together.
Defensive tackle Zach Kerr came all the way down from Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg, Md., and was impressive. The massive 6-foot-4, 290-pounder has an early offer from Rutgers.
Not enough can be said about the multi-interception performance of Rivals.com Junior All-American Patrick Johnson of Ely High in Pompano Beach. The 6-foot, 190-pounder has excellent height and bulk for a cornerback and is fast and quick. Johnson impressed during all of the drills he participated in.
Johnson has multiple scholarship offers, but the talk surrounding his recruitment has centered around Miami and Florida State during the early stages of this cycle.
Booker T. Washington's Brandon Harris was at the camp and put in a solid day's work. Multiple observers felt he was one of the top five defensive backs in attendance.
A sleeper has emerged in Robert Sands of Carol City High in Miami. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound safety showed that though his dimensions are rare for a safety, he can turn and run and cover as well as come up in run support. Sands' ability to jump up and get the ball may give him a shot at wide receiver in college, but his size and athleticism are intriguing regardless of where he plays. He doesn't have any scholarship offers, but likes Miami, Florida State and Florida.
Gulfport Boca Ciega cornerback Donald Warren won the award from the NIKE Camp staff for top defensive back. He impressed during drills and claims an early scholarship offer from Virginia and is interested in a number of other programs.
Orlando Boone cornerback Jeremy Brown has picked up a number of scholarship offers in recent weeks, including Notre Dame. Sunday, he looked very solid in the one-on-ones and other drills. Brown's speed, combined with his natural ability at cornerback, has vaulted him up the board of many college coaching staffs.
Delray Beach Atlantic Community safety Karnell Hatcher was bothered by hamstring issue during the camp, but still competed hard and showed that he wasn't just a run support player. Hatcher's strength will always be physical play and sure tackling, but judging from his performance on Sunday, he's not a player that will be a liability on third down.
Archbishop Carroll's George Baker was one of the fastest overall prospects at any NIKE Combine this year (he ran a 4.37-second 40-yard dash in February) and his speed was on display Sunday. Baker is still learning the cornerback position and that caused him to get beat a couple of times, but once he develops some at the position, his speed will be hard to match. Even if cornerback does not work out, it's hard to see Baker not playing somewhere for a college team. Ole Miss, Florida International and others have already offered Baker a scholarship.
Fort Myers safety C.J. Odom has some nice moments. He's a sleeper to keep an eye on.
JC Shurburtt can be reached at email@example.com
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