MANHATTAN, Kan. - Don't let the location fool you. Though it was not in the confines of large talent-producing states such as Texas or Florida, the NIKE Training Camp Saturday at Kansas State University featured tons of talent, especially in the form of some impressive defensive backs.
Dominique Franks may have come into the camp as the one-to-watch but Paul Chaney, Ray Trice, Terell Carr, and Nathan Hickey made this group a tough one to follow. Those names and many others on both sides of the ball equaled a very nice surprise in Manhattan.
"We saw a lot of talent and a lot more speed than I thought we would," Student Sports recruiting analyst Greg Biggins said. "Guys at every position could really play, and that was a very pleasant surprise along with great facilities which makes for an easy and very successful camp. That and kids got a lot of reps out here."
The defensive backs stood out to everyone including the coaches out on the field. Franks, who is a talented blue-chip prospect from Tulsa (Okla.) Union had a great day as expected. What wasn't expected was the excellent play of St. Louis (Mo.) cornerback Chaney.
"Chaney was big time and all the coaches really raved about him and to go along with it he ran a 4.3 40-yard dash," Biggins said. "He's tough and plays press good. His goal was actually to get noticed so I think he did that."
It was hard to single out just one of the many talented pass defenders that showed up. NIKE defensive back coach Chris Martin who also plays defensive back in the CFL for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, says the natural ability was evident all over the field.
"A lot of the guys had excellent hip movement and they got out of their breaks very well," Martin said. "There were some new things for them to learn but after coaching them up they really excelled. You can run the 40, do the bench, but at the end of the day it's what you do between the lines and as far as the last 20 minutes in the camp I think these guys excelled in one-on-ones."
The wide receivers were also very good challengers to the stock pile of talented corners and safeties Saturday. St. Louis (Mo.) Beaumont's Niles Brinkley showed off his physical nature from the second the ball was snapped. His one-on-ones were fun to watch to say the least. One player that was extremely impressive to watch was Sergio Kahn of University City (Mo.) and he was held in high regard by numerous coaches on hand.
Omaha (Neb.) Central receiver Derrick Russell seemed to be the talk of the camp by the time one-on-ones had finished up by showing great route running ability and a knack for getting up field in a hurry. Lincoln (Neb.) North Star prospect Tyler Bullock joined Russell in being two very impressive receiver targets from the Cornhusker state.
At defensive line, coaches raved on about the play of Adrian Clayborn and could not be beat in one-on-one drills by showing a tenacity to get to the football that was truly eye opening. Chad Roark showed a knack for both defense and offense line with his quickness and joined Dulani Stephens as top defensive lineman in the camp.
"The positions all over in the line and everywhere in the one-on-ones is just fun to watch and there were a lot of good offensive and defensive lineman," Event coordinator John Brock said. "It's just what you would expect in the Midwest in big, physical lineman that get it done."
Quarterbacks also showed their stuff starting with Ames (Iowa) signal caller Austen Arnaud who showed pinpoint passing abilities. North Platte (Neb.) quarterback Nathan Enderle also had an impressive day overall, especially in the one-on-ones against impressive corners in press coverage.
"Overall things were fantastic today and it was the first time we've had two camps going on in the same day with one here in Manhattan and one going on in Michigan," Brock said. "But it just went great and it was a great day."