April 12, 2005

A Paris landmark

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - It happens every year. A player shows up at a Nike Training Camp somewhere in the country and makes the jump, based on his performance that day, from obscure player to coveted prospect.

While it's a story that's been played out time and time again year after year, it's also one that never gets old.

Sunday at the University of Miami, with nearly 300 top prospects from talent-rich South Florida on hand, defensive end Jamil Paris emerged in a starring role at the opening NIKE camp of the 2005 schedule.

It wasn't as if Paris was a complete unknown. In fact, he was regarded as an intriguing prospect at the outset of the day, a reputation that proved to be justified when he arrived on the field.

At 6-foot-5, 215 pounds and well sculpted, Paris looks like a big-time player, enough so that the Vero Beach, Fla., native was immediately identified by Rivals.com analysts as a target to be monitored throughout the course of the day.

Whatever questions remained, however, about just what kind of athlete Paris was didn't last long.

When word filtered through the masses that Paris had run a 4.54 electronically-timed 40-yard dash, an amazing mark for a player of his size, he had an audience following him around for the rest of the day.

"Usually I run about 4.6 or 4.65, but I ran really well," said Paris, who also recorded a 29-inch vertical leap and 16 bench press reps at 185 pounds. "I wanted to come here and show people what I could do, and I feel like I did that. I'm really happy."

Said Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Jeremy Crabtree: "Nobody expected Paris to blow up like he did. He entered the camp as a solid prospect but left as a potential national recruit."

While Paris' measurables were outstanding, his performance in the various drills he took part in was equally impressive, especially his battles with the camp's talented offensive linemen.

"In the one-on-one drills, everybody that he went up against he beat," Crabtree said. "He's got a lightning fast first step, long arms and a thin frame that has plenty of room for growth."

Said Paris: "They had me going up against some big guys. They thought they were going to beat me because I wasn't as big, but they were wrong."

One of the likely reasons that Paris arrived at the Miami camp as an unheralded prospect was a junior season marred by injuries, as well as the wrath of Mother Nature. Playing for Vero Beach High School, he missed most of the season because of an ankle injury and a concussion, while seeing three other games on his team's schedule postponed by the Hurricanes that pounded Florida last fall.

"I didn't get to put up any stats because I didn't get to play much," said Paris, who has since transferred to Sebastian River High School, where he will play his senior year. "That's why I knew this (camp) was important."

Paris is still waiting for his first scholarship offer, but after Sunday's performance, it's likely he won't be waiting long. It's also a pretty safe bet that his recruitment is about to pick up dramatically. But when it comes to that subject, one school currently stands above the rest.

"Miami. I'm a Hurricanes fan," said Paris, who attended two UM games last fall. "They're my favorite, but I also like Clemson, LSU and Auburn."

If Miami stays at the top of Paris' list, the move to Sebastian River could work out well, as the coach there is former Hurricanes' standout Randy Bethel, a tight end at the school from 1987-1990.

While Paris was pleased overall with his performance Sunday, he does have one area that he will target for improvement in the coming months.

"I wasn't happy with my bench press," Paris said. "I have to get in the weight room and get stronger. Strength will be the most important thing."

One of Sunday's observers doesn't anticipate that being a problem.

"He's got the frame to add 30 or 40 pounds, maybe even more, without losing his speed," said Rivals.com Southeast recruiting analyst Jeremy Patterson. "He's a guy who's going to be a prototypical defensive end in college, and he projects as an outstanding pass rusher."

For expanded coverage of the Miami NIKE Training Camp, you should check out StudentSportsFootball.com. Access to StudentSportsFootball.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.



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