Posted by Bryan Fischer
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Well over 500 of Texas and the Southwest's finest football players came out for the annual Nike Football Training Camp on the campus of TCU Sunday afternoon. Although perhaps not as deep in terms of talent at some position groups than years past, the camp was nevertheless a destination for several of the top committed and uncommitted players in the area.
Dallas (Texas) linebacker and Texas commit Peter Jinkens was one of the top linebackers at event and it showed at the end when he was awarded the position MVP. He was explosive all day and seemed to ratchet up his game as the competition grew more intense.
"It's an honor and a blessing because there was a lot of good linebackers out here," Jinkens said. "To know that I'm the best one is a source of pride for me."
The 6-foot-1, 210 linebacker had several particularly good match ups with Allen (Texas) running back Jonathan Williams. The two had a few one-on-ones in the pass rush drill with Williams winning the first by getting physical against Jinkens' rush. The next play Jinkens made quick rush and got to the ball after making a move. The third rep could be considered a tie after Jinkens made a move and appeared to have Williams beat before he recovered to block Jinkens just long enough before reaching the ball.
"It was real fun," Jinkens said. "I went against him a lot in the pass rushing drill. I was kind of shocked myself. Today when we were doing pairs, I started crying. I don't know why but I just felt the passion of the game right there. I went in to competition mode and turned it up."
"It's competition all day," Williams said. "Me and Jenkins kept going up against each other in one-on-ones, they wanted us to go every time. It was a good competition."
One of the top linebackers in the state, much less at the Nike Camp, Jinkens was just one of several Longhorn commitments in attendance.
"Yeah, Hassan (Ridgeway), Curtis Riser, Thomas Johnson and I are all real good friends," he said.
The group was also at the camp doing a bit of recruiting and spreading the word about the Longhorns.
"Oh yes, we're trying to get a few more," Jinkens said with a smile before mentioning Johnathan Gray.
Gray is the nation's number one running back and has Texas as one of three schools he is considering.
Allen duo shines
Williams did not come home with the running back MVP award but he was one of the best looking backs competing. He had a slight injury issue that limited him most of the afternoon but showed flashes when he was out on the field.
"I think I did pretty well, I tweaked my groin a little bit so I didn't do all of the drills," Williams said. "I came out here to compete in one-on-ones and I felt I did real good.
"I just wanted to come out here and compete against the best players in the state of Texas. That's the main thing I was looking for."
Ranked 91st in Tom Lemming's Top 100 for 2012, Williams has emerged as one of the top players in a deep year at running back in the state of Texas. He recently reached the double-digit scholarship offer mark and has several out of state programs recruiting him heavily.
"I'm up to ten now," Williams said. "Michigan State just offered me for my tenth offer. It's all pretty close right now, I like Missouri right now though."
The 6-foot, 200 pound running back is aiming to commit to a school before the season and possibly even after completing spring football. Although the exact date of a commitment is up in the air, Williams is planning a few unofficial visits to become more familiar with schools.
"I'm going to try and go to Arkansas over the summer," he said. "I know I'm going to Missouri's Spring Game next Saturday. That should be fun. They're recruiting me pretty hard and I like them academically because I want to major in sports broadcasting. They have a real good journalism school."
Williams' teammate, quarterback Alec Morris also performed well at the camp, taking home Quarterback MVP honors after displaying good accuracy and arm strength throughout the day.
"It's a good surprise, I wasn't too sure coming in because this is one of the few camps I've done," Morris said. "I felt like I did well and I'm happy to hear that I was MVP."
The interest in the 6-foot-3, 220 pound quarterback has continued to pick up steam. With several quarterbacks in attendance who held multiple offers, Morris came out to the camp to prove that his skills were right there with them.
"I've actually been working with (former Texas A&M quarterback) Kevin Murray," Morris said. "He was running me through the paces and help me out at this camp. I wasn't really coming to work on anything because I really just came to show I can play at the next level."
Though Morris doesn't hold any offers at the moment, several schools are showing interest in the big signal caller.
"No offers yet but there's a bunch of schools coming down this spring (for the May Evaluation period)," he said. "Oklahoma State, Arkansas, West Virginia, Utah and a few others.
"We'll see how it goes this summer, see what schools come down and figure things out once spring ball is over."
Starts is the offensive line star
A week after several offensive linemen performed well in Los Angeles, the stop in Fort Worth was expected to equal it in terms of star power. Texas commit Curtis Riser didn't participate and Texas A&M pledge Kimo Tipoti didn't show up. In the end it didn't matter because that allowed Waco (Texas) lineman Michael Starts to perform well as both an offensive and defensive lineman.
"I like playing both sides of the ball," Starts said. "I think it's best for me to stay tuned up and in shape."
Starts was best suited as an offensive tackle, displaying a quick drop step and good frame at 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds. He also took a few reps at defensive tackle and though he definitely has the size, still appeared a bit raw at the position.
"I'd love to play defense but if coaches wants me on offense or wherever they need me, that's where I'll play," he said. "They've said they might move me back and forth."
Starts has been on the radar for awhile mostly as an offensive lineman and holds offers from every major school in the state. He is, however, seeing several out of state schools get into the mix for his recruitment but he appears a bit skittish on going to far from home.
"I have Auburn, Notre Dame and Michigan (offers)," he said. "They're all kind of far from home so I really don't know if I'm able to do that. There's a chance that I might but I don't know until I make my decision. We have (official visits) planned."
The big tackle has already taken several unofficial visits the past few months. Though recruiting is picking up among the local schools, Starts has all of the in-state schools on a level playing playing field.
"Unofficially, Baylor, Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M and TCU," he said. "I like them all the same. It's pretty even. I just want to fit in and be around people who accept me for who I am and stuff like that."
- LSU commit Toshiro Davis was one of several players from the state of Louisiana to make the trip north to attend the camp. He said he was solid with LSU and likes that he'll be playing in a hybrid linebacker roll with the Tigers. Davis exploded off the ball and was never really challenged in one-on-ones which is not quite what he wanted after doing much the same his junior year.
"I really came here for the competition," Davis said. "Some of the games I played last year, I really feel like the competition wasn't all that high. I want to expand my game."
- Defensive line MVP was Mansfield (Texas) defensive end Hassan Ridgeway. Offensive line MVP was Duncanville (Texas) tackle Adam Butler. Arlington (Texas) running back Tavarreon Dickerson took home position group MVP as well.
- Austin (Texas) wide receiver Cayleb Jones, Tom Lemming's number three overall recruit, showed up at the camp but did not participate. The Texas commit said he rolled his ankle two weeks ago and was being precautions.
- One of the many scat back types that made an impression was North Little Rock (Ark.) running back Altee Tenpenny. The sophomore was a bit on the lean side but was very quick and very fast. He had the top SPARQ rating at the Nike combine on Saturday and managed to run a 4.52 40-yard dash and a 37-inch vertical jump.