On Sunday in Gainesville, The Nike Football Training Camp concluded its tour through the Sunshine State. More than 300 prospects participated on the practice fields of the University of Florida, with many gator targets in attendance.
Despite the absence of a couple big names, most notably James Wilder Jr. and Kelvin Benjamin, the event produced many spectacular performances. Here are some observations from the camp including how the quarterbacks fared, scouting one of the top defensive backs in the nation, a few highlights and a listing of the top overall prospects.
THE SIGNAL CALLERS
Quarterback was one of the deepest positions in the camp, headlined by Hagerty (Fla.) High's Jeff Driskel. Driskel has incredible upside for such a young age. He is a legit 6-foot-3 and possesses outstanding size and strength.
During the first hour of warm-ups he threw a spiral on nearly every pass. His ball was extremely accurate and precise, and arrived at its destination in a hurry. In the pass skel drill, Driskel made great reads and put proper air on his throw. He struggled some with different dropback patterns, but appeared to improve as he received more reps.
Overall, the 225-pounder had a nice showing and earned MVP honors for quarterback.
Another standout on Sunday was Plant's (Fla.) Phillip Ely. Under the watchful eye of his head coach, Robert Weiner, Ely showcased the skills that won him a state championship last season. Although Ely isn't the tallest or biggest quarterback, he makes up for his lack of size with a crisp throwing motion and exceptional footwork.
The Plant prospect threw multiple touchdown passes and looked like a natural in the pocket.
Ely even received recognition from former Gator quarterback Shane Matthews as the best pure passer in the camp.
South Lake (Fla.) prepstar Nick Waisome is well established as one of the elite cornerbacks in the nation.
Participating in yet another event, Waisome turned in one of the top performances on Sunday.
After the event, he gave GatorBait.net a summary of his experience.
"I feel I did real strong," said Waisome. "Went up against a lot of big time receivers and did my best. I won a lot of matches, and overall just had a great day."
Many of those matches resulted in deflections by Waisome, but there were a series of plays that stood out for the 5-foot-10, 171 pounder.
On consecutive reps, he recorded two interceptions that would have been returned for touchdowns in an actual game.
True enough, one of the turnovers almost didn't happen. Waisome was beaten badly on juke move, but utilized his 4.4 speed to make up lost ground and haul in the pick.
When attending camps and combines, Waisome revealed how he plans on enhancing his skills.
"I really want to improve on the fundamentals; the things that you just got to get better at. Breaking on the ball, working on your hands, shuffling your feet; those are just all the basic aspects of the game that I try to focus my game on."
Waisome plans on attending The Urban Meyer Football Camp and Friday Night Lights this summer, and will announce his top five or seven teams soon.
At 6-foot-2 and 200-pounds, Armwood (Fla.) running back Matt Jones is hard to miss in a crowd. But on Sunday, it wasn't his bulk body frame that drew attention to him.
Instead, the 2012 prospect was spotted doing the gator chomp all morning long.
Jones recently visited UF spring practice and received an offer from the coaching staff on his visit.
He looked very fluid in positional drills, making smooth cuts and turns. He also made a couple grabs out of the backfield and ran his routes well.
GatorBait.net will have an update on Jones, his experience at the Nike camp and much more this week.
Pedro Menendez (Fla.) linebacker Tony Steward won the MVP award for linebackers at the Nike camp.
Physically and athletically, Steward was the most impressive prospect in the group of linebackers.
In workouts, Steward put his imposing strength on display and exhibited excellent change of direction as well. He appears destined to end up on the inside, but could potentially develop enough versatility to play all three spots.
Steward spoke on his performance after being named the top 'backer in the camp. "I had fun, it was good competition and I worked my behind off today. I think I did pretty good. I guess it's obvious because I got MVP for linebackers, but I could have done better .I just tried to listen to the coaches, take as much advice as I could and put it together with my skills."
Although Steward mentioned UF as one of the hardest schools recruiting him, he listed Florida State, Alabama, and Clemson as his top three teams.
NEWS & NOTES
2013 Glades Day (Fla.) prospect Kelvin Taylor, the son of former UF running back Fred Taylor, looked promising in drills on Sunday. He is a spitting image of his father and runs just like him as well. After the event I asked Taylor if he had to sign his National Letter of Intent today, would Florida be the team he chooses? "Yeah," he replied with a smile.
Dillard (Fla.) safety Wayne Lyons was accompanied by his mother (a UF grad) and his sister (a UF student). He was sound in bump-and-run coverage, especially on one play where he knocked Raines (Fla.) wide receiver Isaiah Stallings completely out of bounds near the line of scrimmage.
Glades Central (Fla.) wide receiver Jamie Wilson made a beautiful reception on a deep ball in the pass skel drill. He should be one of the top receivers in the state for the class of 2012. Trintiy Catholic's (Fla.) David Thomas and Fort Meade's (Fla.) Ronald Jones also made plays during the workout.
Several former Gators were on hand for the Nike Camp, including Matthews, Reidel Anthony, Jemalle Cornelius, Tony Joiner and Riley Cooper. Current UF quarterback John Brantley was also in attendance helping out with coaching.
THE TOP TEN
(With over 300 prospects attending, this isn't by any means an all-inclusive list. Just those I saw who impressed me most) 1) Jeff Driskel- Has all the tools and intangibles to be an elite quarterback at the next level. 2) Nick Waisome- Suburb skills and closing speed, definitely as good as advertised. 3) Tony Steward- The best linebacker in the camp by far, and will be a huge asset to a lucky team's front seven. 4) Ja'Juan Story- Freakish athlete that was arguably the best receiver on the field. 5) Jamie Gilmore- The 2012 prospect took home the MVP award for running back. 6) Aaron Baysdon- Another MVP honoree for the receiver position that caught multiple touchdown passes. 7) Brandon Fulse- Just a mammoth at tight end, and had no trouble getting open on Sunday. 8) Karlos Williams- Made some plays in the secondary and gave receivers a hard time all day. 9) Phillip Ely- Again small size, but throws a pretty ball that's on point almost every time. 10) LaTroy Pittman- A standout among the receiving core with soft hands and nice catching ability.