June 9, 2008

Eugene NIKE camp: OL

Once again top high school football players from across the country converged on Eugene for the NIKE training camp. The offensive line group was very competitive with some tremendous athletes and a few D-1 prospects.

The group of offensive line instructors was outstanding, including New England Patriot offensive line legend Pete Brock, Oregon offensive line coach Steve Greatwood, Oregon graduate Assistant Coach Eddy Morrissey to name a few of the ten or so offensive line coaches. As with every year's NIKE camp, the offensive line group was extremely attentive and coachable. The competitors were well-aware of the chance to learn valuable lessons while exposing their name to college recruiters with good performances.

The camp was by invitation only but was free of cost for participants. The camp lasted around three hours and was broken into two segments. The first session for the offensive line was inside the Moshofsky Center focusing on training with specialized SPARQ equipment designed specifically for the needs of linemen.

In the second session, the offensive line group moved to the outside practice fields and broke into three separate drills which they rotated through. Greatwood led a pulling drill, Morrissey a double-team drive blocking drill and former NFL offensive tackle Brock led a pass-blocking station.

Compared to last year's camp, the 2008 version did not have the number of top D-1 prospects. Out of last year's Eugene NIKE offensive line crop, nine went on to sign with D-1 schools, while this year the number will be closer to three. The offensive line coaches voted Mitch Gaulke of West Linn, Oregon the camp's offensive line MVP, but a number of athletes stood out with their performances. The following is my evaluation of the performances Saturday:

1. Mitch Gaulke - West Linn, Oregon - Gaulke was the consensus MVP amongst the position coaches. He was excellent in one-on-ones, showing a solid base, excellent balance, hands and footwork. While he doesn't have quite the size that most D-1 offensive coaches are looking for, he had a very good day in Eugene.

2. Kapua Sai - St. Louis, Hawaii - Sai has the frame to play D-1 football, but perhaps not enough quickness for Pac-10 programs at this point in his development. He will not have to work on gaining mass, but will need to focus on maintaining the same weight while increasing muscle mass.

3. Tyler Thomas - Flathead, Montana - Thomas has enough size to interest some schools as an offensive lineman, but at 6'2" probably not Pac-10 schools. Thomas excelled in some drills but revealed a lack of hip flexibility in others which diminishes his game. This is something he can easily work on and needs to because his straight line acceleration and power is very good.

4. Mana Greig - St. Louis High, Hawaii - Greig does not have enough size to play on the offensive line at the D-1 level but was a warrior in drills all day long. His fundamentals are sound and with a few more inches he would have unlimited potential as an offensive lineman.

5. Tytan Timoteo - St. Louis High, Hawaii - Timoteo's analysis is identical to the one for teammate Greig.

6. Neil Fuhrmann - Cascade Christian, Washington - Good size, probably enough for D-1 football. Didn't stand out in the morning sessions but was noticeable in the second half of the camp including one-on-ones.

This list is not exhaustive, but the list of players who stood out at the camp. The coaches discussed the performances of the players following the camp and the above list includes the names which seemed to come up most often in the discussion.

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