January 3, 2008

Top junior prospects arrive in San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO - From all across the country the nation's top juniors flocked to the U.S. Army National Combine in San Antonio, Texas. Many of the Rivals100 for 2009 showed up during Thursday's check-in including top 10 prospects like Bryce Brown and Jacobbi McDaniel.

Brown, the younger brother of 2008 five-star linebacker Arthur Brown, arrived after watching his big brother take part in practice.

While Brown was quiet about his recruitment, McDaniel shocked many fans by announcing that the Florida Gators were the top school on his list after a lot of speculation had rival Florida State at No. 1.

Either way, these two were just a drop in the bucket of the talent on hand in San Antonio.

Stockpiling the 'Slingers

There was perhaps no position more loaded at the combine than that of the game's premier position, quarterback.

As many as six quarterbacks among the initial 2009 Rivals100 registered for the combine, none ranked more highly than Chesapeake (Va.) Western Branch signal caller Kevin Newsome. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound quarterback holds offers from North Carolina, Penn State, and Virginia Tech and is awaiting interest from Texas, Ohio State, Michigan, and USC.

While Newsome is one of the nation's elite dual-threat quarterbacks, one of the most highly regarded pro-style passers is San Diego (Calif.) Scripps Ranch four-star Tate Forcier. The talented Californian barely showed up in time for registration, but had big news with Auburn, Penn State and Oregon sending offers within the last week to join the existing group of Wisconsin, Iowa, Stanford and Arizona.

One name that was something of a surprise was Bloomington (Minn.) Jefferson four-star Moses Alipate. While Alipate still holds only one offer, from the in-state Gophers, he is receiving a ton of mail from the likes of USC along with most of the SEC and Big Ten.

Other notable quarterbacks in attendance included Tom Savage of Philadelphia Cardinal O'Hara, Morgan Newton of Carmel, Ind. and Brownwood, Texas product Casey Pachall.

Big Uglies show up Big-Time

For all of the quarterbacks, it was the players who will be pursuing them that were in the healthiest supply on Thursday.

Of course, McDaniel led the way for the defensive linemen, but Rivals100 defensive ends like Justin Chaisson, Craig Drummond, Brandon Jenkins, and Nick Kasa were among those in attendance.

Drummond of Chicago Morgan Park and Chaisson of Las Vegas Bishop Gorman hail from schools well known for their abilities to churn out talent and are possible five-star candidates when the full list of five-stars are released later this year.

While Jenkins and Kasa don't hail from some of the nation's premier talent farms both already hold offers and figure to have their option of schools throughout their own regions.

Along the defensive line, the ends are important, but most defenses are built through the middle and need powerful defensive tackles to build around. And there was no short supply of great run stuffers, most notably Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech's William Campbell and DeAndre Coleman of Seattle Garfield. The two passed the eyeball test and in particular in the case of Campbell had jaws on the floor with their physical presence.

With the group in mind, it would be easy to feel sorry for the offensive line group in Friday's combine, but looking through the roster of expected players it's clear that they aren't coming to a gunfight with nothing but their two hands.

There was no more physically impressive lineman to walk through the doors of the registration than Cedar Hill, Texas four-star Thomas Ashcraft. The big man measured in at 6-foot-4, 291-pounds, but those figures hardly did his size justice.

Other impressive linemen in attendance were Rivals100 members Mason Walters and John Martinez. Both come from familiar programs in Wolfforth (Texas) Frenship and Salt Lake City Cottonwood Senior, respectively.

Making Early Commitments

Several already committed players chose to go ahead and attend the combine. Among them was the previously mentioned Campbell, a long-time Michigan commitment.

Also among the list is a pair of Southern California stars as Morrell Presley reaffirmed his commitment to USC, as did long-time UCLA pledge Marlon Pollard.

While all three prospects have been well publicized, one that had not been is Ole Miss commitment Payten Jason. The running back from Waggaman (La.) Jesuit said that his commitment to the Rebels hasn't changed, even if the coaching staff has.

"I still want to go play for them, if they want me," Jason said.

Other Notables

  • Running backs Ronnie Wingo of St. Louis, and Okeechobee, Fla. Star Lonnie Pryor were both in attendance and more than passed the eyeball test. Another surprising visitor was Leesville, Louis product Michael Ford.

  • Talented athletes Bryce McNeal of Minneapolis and Donavan Tate of Cartersville, Ga. both showed up sporting offers and figuring to only grow in recruiting stature.

  • If there was one player who has gone relatively unknown, but may be deserving of much more future accolades it's Nosa Eguae of Arlington (Texas) Mansfield Summit, who measured in at 6-foot-3, 245-pounds and looked very similar physically to current five-star prospect Chancey Aghayere.

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