ATLANTA - Everyone was expecting a huge lineup with some of the nation's best talent this weekend at the Atlanta NIKE camp. What they got was one of the best NIKE camps of all time. Participants from more than 15 states showed up to showcase their skills for more than 100 college scouts.
In some of the other NIKE camps this year, those camps have been deep at certain positions, but thin at others. Not this camp. Every position was absolutely loaded, and there were easily 30 guys that could have been considered for our top 10 at this camp. But only 10 could make it and here they are.
The top running back at a camp that was absolutely loaded with them was Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood star Maurice Wells. Wells was the king of what was by far the most impressive stable of running backs in the country gathered at the same camp this year. Wells ran well, he caught passes well, he shined in agility drills. He showed the 100 or so college coaches in attendance why some consider him the top running back in the entire country.
The great thing about Wells is that he has dazzled college coaches on his video with his skill as evidenced by his dozens of scholarship offers. Yet he drives over five hours just for the competitive nature. For Wells, the trip likely paid off as he all but wrapped up the honor of top running back in the South and has a good shot to be the top back in the country overall.
Since, arguably, the nation's top running back was there, then why don't we just go ahead and throw in what some consider the nation's top quarterback as well - Waynesville (N.C.) Tuscola signal caller Johnathon Crompton. There were plenty of talented quarterback's to choose from, but Crompton was easily the head of the class. A stellar standing by everyone else's standards does not translate into Crompton being happy with his performance.
"I thought I did some things well today, but overall I wasn't that happy with my performance," Crompton said. "I think I did some things well and I'm glad I came to this camp, because I really learned some things. I think the biggest benefit to coming was seeing how I stacked up with all of these other great quarterbacks."
The theme for the class of 2005 in the state of Georgia is the amazing amount of big men in the Peach State, both offensively and defensively.
When it came to lineman in the Peach State, or the country for that matter, no one has looked scarier than Warner Robins (Ga.) Houston County defensive end Kyle Moore.
Moore tipped the scales at 6-foot-6 ½ and looked flat out scary. Moore was clearly a man among boys out there and it seemed that he had at least the eyes of a dozen or more college coaches on him throughout the entire camp. In the class of 2004 the state of Georgia produced the nation's top defensive end in Brandon Miller, will that be the case in 2005 as well?
With four NIKE Camp's still to go the question remains unanswered, but Mr. Moore is a serious contender.
The state of Arkansas never gets the recognition it deserves for its football talent, but when a guy like Little Rock (Ark.) Pulaski Oak Grove athlete Darren McFadden comes along people begin to appreciate that talent a little more.
McFadden was superb all day. He worked out with the running backs, but you could just hear the college coaches talking about what kind of safety he would make for their program. The almost 6-foot-1 and 198-pound McFadden not only solidified his place in the Rivals 100, but he could be the best prospect out of Arkansas in quite sometime. He said he wants to play running back at Arkansas, where he's committed to, though.
Louisville (Ky.) Central defensive tackle James McKinney may not have had the towering height that guys like Moore did, but he was excellent all day long. His 40-yard dash time at 5.0 seconds wasn't spectacular, but his obvious talent was. The prospects were not even wearing helmets and pads and McKinney was manhandling folks. He is a very physical lineman with a nasty disposition. He has a great first step and his best attribute is his raw upper body strength.
The wide receivers were incredibly deep at the camp, but none were better than Atlanta (Ga.) Banneker wide out Carlos Thomas.
Thomas dazzled at everyone at the camp in drills with his speed and agility. Thomas is easily the best wide receiver in the Atlanta metro area and is beginning to pick up consideration for national 100 status. For many college coaches there, Thomas was the talk of the day and with guys like Maurice Wells, Johnathon Crompton and Kyle Moore there, that is quite a feat.
Tennessee running back commitment Lamarcus Coker of Antioch, Tenn., looked like a million bucks in drills all day. After his performance Saturday he is likely going to be listed in the all-purpose back category based on the fact that he catches as well as he runs. Coker is the ultimate threat coming out of the backfield and with his blazing 4.3 second 40-yard dash he is going to be wreaking havoc on SEC defenses over the course of the next few years. Though Coker is committed to Tennessee, he isn't shy about admitting the fact that with early playing time available the Alabama Crimson Tide have given him something to think about.
Quite a few prospects made the trek down from North Carolina and aside from Crompton the biggest name from the Tar Heel State was Charlotte (N.C.) Independence wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.
He showed exactly why his name carries so much weight in recruiting circles as he made leaping grabs over defenders time after time. His speed was stellar, his feet are dangerously quick and his leaping ability would Mugsy Bouges jealous. Those are all reasons why he is considered one of the best wide receivers in America. Massaquoi fit the bill of a prototypical wide receiver as well as anyone we've seen on the camp circuit this year.
It seemed as though every prospect at the camp was physically imposing and looked the part of a college prospect. However, there was one guy that came through the line that everyone marveled at and asked 'Wow, who is that kid?' That kid's name was Fort Valley (Ga.) Peach County defensive Larry Cox .
Cox was the second tallest defensive lineman at the camp, and he looked absolutely amazing all day in drills. Cox was matched up with Kyle Moore all day as the two seemed to be on a different level from the other defensive ends in attendance. Cox ran an average time at 4.9 seconds for a 6-foot-5, 240-pounder. Cox still has some issues to care of in the classroom, but that won't stop him from being one of the most hotly pursued prospects in Georgia.
With all the talk of running backs like Wells and Coker it could have been easy to overlook Marietta (Ga.) Wheeler running back Richie Rich . However, Rich wasn't going to let that happen as he stayed right with best of the best. Colleges like Oklahoma have already taken notice in Rich by offering him a scholarship. Rich doesn't have super size at 5-foot-9, 177 pounds, but he makes up for it with speed and quickness. On film the thing that stands out most about Rich is his quick strike ability. He is also very strong for his size and it is not uncommon to see him run over defenders.
For expanded coverage of the Atlanta NIKE Training Camp, you should check out StudentSports.com. Access to StudentSports.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.