Posted on: August 3, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2011 4:45 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
If you are a college head coach looking for a Top 100 quarterback in the class of 2012, that ship has pretty much sailed.
The nation's top dual-threat quarterback and number two overall at the position, Hueytown (Ala.) signal-caller Jameis Winston made his decision and came off everyone's recruiting board as he verbally committed to Florida State Wednesday afternoon.
"I'm just comfortable that's where I want to be," Winston said on national television. "I'm very confident and see myself there in the near future."
The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder is a threat to beat you with his arm and his legs. He was recently named an MVP at the Elite 11 quarterback competition in California and has a terrific blend of athleticism that just gives defenses fits. Winston is still a bit raw but provides the Seminoles with a future star at the position.
While at the Elite 11 last month, he was able to get a glimpse at his future by asking current Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel about what it takes to be the quarterback in Tallahassee.
"I've asked him about Florida State and their program," Winston said. "He's been pretty real with me. He's told me the ups and downs - there's not many downs but he told me some."
Alabama and LSU were Winston's other finalists. Living about an hour from Tuscaloosa, it was tough to pass on the local football powerhouse but the talented quarterback is extremely happy with his decision even if a few others are not.
"Alabama fans, they're probably going to hate me," he said on television. "But my job right now is not to please the fans in general. I'm just focused on leading my high school team to a state championship."
Winston is also an excellent baseball player and has said he would bypass football if he was drafted high enough. Although he's projected to go anywhere to the middle rounds to the first, baseball was not the first thing on his mind Wednesday as he made his decision. If he does end up enrolling in college, he will play both sports and, by going to Florida State, will likely redshirt with Manuel firmly entrenched as the starter this season.
"I'm thinking about it, the baseball draft is coming soon," Winston said. "But right now I'm just focused on leading my team to a state championship and baseball will come later."
Last season as a junior, Winston threw for 2,334 yards and 17 touchdowns against just four interceptions. He is Jimbo Fisher's 16th commitment for the class of 2012 and second quarterback to join the fold.
Posted on: August 3, 2011 4:12 pm
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Posted on: July 20, 2011 2:30 am
Edited on: July 20, 2011 2:38 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
MALIBU, Calif. -- With everybody settled into their picturesque surroundings at Pepperdine University during day two of the Elite 11, the throws were sharper, the completion percentage was up and - perhaps just as important - so was the level of competition.
"It's been good out here with all these great quarterbacks," Bessemer (Ala.) quarterback Jameis Winston said. "I'm just out here competing, that's the main thing."
The 6-foot-4, 185-pound signal-caller was the top performer Tuesday and was really spinning the ball well during a brisk morning throwing session. Despite the effort he put in on each throw, Winston understands that he's still evolving from an athlete into a quarterback and that there are several parts of his game that he can work on.
"Drops," he identifies immediately almost before the question is even asked. "I want to also work on my hips more. I have to get my hips open more so I don't hurt anything down low. So I just have to work my hips more and get open. I've got to get better everyday."
Winston was almost like a little brother on the field to college counselor E.J. Manuel out of Florida State. The two have similar builds (though Winston is much thinner) and a similar throwing motion. Often conversing between snaps, the college starter had no problem mentoring the high school star.
"E.J. helps me a lot on making sure I'm staying on top of the ball and not squeezing the ball," Winston said. "He's helped me a lot and he's at one of my final schools, Florida State."
Down to three schools in his recruitment, Maxpreps' second ranked quarterback and 21st overall player in the class of 2012 is considering the Seminoles and hasn't been shy about asking Manuel about the program.
"I've asked him about Florida State and their program," Winston said. "He's been pretty real with me. He's told me the ups and downs - there's not many downs but he told me some."
The other finalists for the five-star quarterback are both SEC powerhouses, one close to home and the other a few hours away by car. With distance not a huge factor for Winston, he's had to look closer at what each program brings to the table for him.
"Alabama is the home school," he said. "I mean, there's no place like home. I've been there a million times, just over and over. LSU, it's just a great competitive atmosphere and I want to be in that competitive atmosphere wherever I go, especially with baseball and football."
Winston is a top high school baseball player in addition to his success on the gridiron. While Florida State and LSU are perennial contenders at the College World Series, the success of the baseball program at any of the three schools he's considering is only a small factor in his decision.
"Yes," he says before cautioning," but Alabama's baseball program is coming up."
Projected by some to go as high as the first round draft in next year's MLB Draft, Winston knows it's possible he'll have to make a decision similar to Nebraska quarterback and Kansas City Royals first round pick Bubba Starling.
"Yes I've followed him," Winston said. "I'm going to consider (going pro). I don't know right now because I'm not as advanced as he is. He got there this year and I'm just considering it. Thinking about it but trying to have fun. It's in the back of my mind."
Slated to make one fan base very happy when he ultimately picks a school on August 3rd, Winston revealed that he's already decided where he'll play his college ball - football and baseball - but didn't offer any hints as to where that might actually be.
"I know where I'm going," he said. "The coaches know."
Kline reps the West Coast
Danville (Calif.) quarterback Zach Kline had one of the shortest commutes to the Elite 11 from the Bay Area and though he is used to going down to the beach or enjoying a cool summer day, the experience with 23 other top quarterbacks at the Elite 11 has been eye-opening for him.
"It's been awesome," Kline said. "Nothing is like it, ever. It's the best thing I've ever been to and you have the best players here."
The California kid was sporting a Rafael Nadal-like look on Tuesday with long hair and a headband. Though he was one of the most outgoing and relaxed players on the field, that masked his workman-like approach to learning as much as he could from the coaches and counselors at the event.
"A lot of things like making every throw count and the little things matter the most," he said about what he learned. "Even the smallest thing down to a drop, the fake on the play action matters more than anything and is the difference between a completion and an interception. And just kind of getting to know these guys and the things that they see."
In between meals and film sessions, the Cal commit has been able to take time to bond with his fellow campers, many of whom he is already close with.
"I know these guys real well," Kline said. "Connor Brewer I've been friends with for awhile, for a couple of years. Jake Rodrigues I've been friends with for a long time as well. Tyler Matthews same deal. Gunner Kiel, I was at the Elite 11 last year as a ball boy with him. He's the man, he's a great quarterback and just a cool dude to hang around with. Same for all of those guys, every single one of them."
Regarded by many as the top quarterback on the West Coast, the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder is confident in himself and showed that he can make all the throws on the field, going neck-and-neck with other highly ranked players like Winston and Kiel. Still, despite actually belonging with the best in the nation, Kline knows there's still something left for him to prove.
"Definitely," he says before identifying the biggest reason why. "Tanner Mangum is giving me a run for my money. He's good, a great quarterback and a great dude too. He's a good friend of mine as well and he's going to do big things at BYU, just an awesome quarterback, can't wait to watch him."
Appleby stars in the classroom
While Mangum wore a yellow jersey for being the winner of the Golden Arm competition on the field Monday, North Canton (Ohio) quarterback Austin Appleby sported a red jersey on Tuesday after taking home honors for best performance in the classroom. The chance to show off his quarterback IQ was a welcome one for someone who had prepared to do so for quite some time.
"I got a chance to get up in front on the board, in front of everybody, and impress Coach (Trent) Dilfer," Appleby said. "I put a lot of time and preparation coming into this. I've been hours upon hours into knowing this playbook and I take pride in being the most prepared at this camp."
With so much teaching on and off the field from instructors, Appleby made an apt analogy to schoolwork when talking about what specifically he'll take back to his high school.
"It's graduate level stuff," he said. "In my offense, I'm a little more advanced and making those checks and making those slide protections, or any audible I need too. So having this knowledge and understanding of how it's really supposed to work is really going to broaden my skill level from a mental aspect as well from the coaching we're going to get from a fundamental aspect."
The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder looks like he's physically ready to play on Saturdays and appears fully recovered from a knee injury he suffered last year. He throws a very catchable ball but can really put some spin on it if required. Even having the opportunity to showcase his quarterback skills alongside the other campers has been quite the experience for Appleby.
"It's awesome, there's no better place than to be here right now," he said. "The talent level is unbelievable. It's the top 24 for a reason and as the days go by and we get near the end, the elite will rise towards the top. Then we'll see who's number one and I have full intentions of being that number one."
Committed to Purdue, Appleby is in constant contact with the Boilermakers staff to keep them updated on his progress at the Elite 11.
"I'm going to be in contact with them and at the end of the day, I kind of update them with what's going on," he said. "It's kind of tough with the time zone, I keep forgetting how late it is over there. But I tell my high school coach as well and we're going to all together get better."
Clearly advanced mentally and physically, the senior to-be is undecided if he'll enroll early and take part in spring football with Purdue next year.
"I don't know at this point," he said. "We're looking into it but I don't know the details at this point."
- Tanner Mangum won the Golden Arm competition for the second day in a row. After proudly sporting the yellow jersey on Tuesday, he will do so again during Wednesday's throwing sessions.
- Utah commit Travis Wilson has the frame to put on a few pounds of muscle but the 6-foot-6 quarterback has all the tools to make it at the next level. His release might be the best part of his game, as the ball comes out quickly and effortlessly.
- One of the surprises of day two was North Carolina commit Patton Robinette. He came in a close second behind Mangum in the Golden Arm competition but was sharp throughout practice. He did a good job hitting the receivers in the right spot and knowing just how much to put on the ball. Robinette also did a good job on throws to the outside and could really drive the ball on out routes.
- After a rough week at The Opening, Oregon verbal Jake Rodrigues has bounced back nicely at the Elite 11. It still seems like he gets a little bit too wide of a base but he was accurate and was able to get good power on just about every one of his throws.
- If there's anyone who could be labeled Mr. Consistent, it would be Bart Houston. He doesn't wow you out of the gate but he's got the perfect mix of arm strength, frame, throwing motion and accuracy to know he'll be a perfect fit at Wisconsin.
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Austin Appleby, Bart Houston, Bubba Starling, BYU, Cal, College World Series, Connor Brewer, E.J. Manuel, Elite 11, Florida State, Gunner Kiel, Jake Rodrigues, Jameis Winston, Kansas City Royals, LSU, Nebraska, North Carolina Utah, Oregon, Patton Robinette, Pepperdine, Purdue, Rafel Nadal, SEC, Tanner Mangum, The Opening, Travis Wilson, Trent Dilfer, Tyler Matthews, Wisconsin, Zach Kline
Posted on: July 19, 2011 3:16 am
Edited on: July 19, 2011 10:04 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
MALIBU, Calif. -- Perfection isn't something that is easy to come by but 24 of the nation's top quarterbacks found the conditions to be as close to perfect as you could be on a picturesque Southern California day to open the Elite 11 quarterback competition on the campus of Pepperdine University.
Amid signal-callers who had succeeded in high school, college and the NFL, the one player that drew plenty of attention with every throw was Columbus (Ind.) star Gunner Kiel. One of the handful of uncommitted players at the event, he was slated to have already made a decision last month and again in the middle of July. But those dates came and went and so everybody wanted know just who was standing out and when the top-ranked quarterback would pull the trigger on a school.
"I just decided to go and check out my options again and what was out there," Kiel said. "I tried (to set another date). I tried that next week but that didn't really work out. I'm done putting dates on it and whenever I feel ready to commit, that's when I'm going to."
Wearing his familiar white and orange shoes, Kiel was sharp throughout the two hour workout overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He threw a tight spiral on just about every throw and was one of the few quarterbacks who stayed balanced throughout the throwing motion.
Because he often declines interview requests, Kiel knows that there's intense interest in his decision and though he had no trouble answering any question that came his way from a throng of reporters, the 6-foot-4, 215-pounder wouldn't offer up many hints as to which program he was leaning towards.
"I like to keep it kind of personal, I'm always a team player too," he said. "I like to focus my time on my team and school work. I think of college stuff all the time but at the end of the day, I'm not going to make it a big thing. I'll probably tell the team and my family and it will probably gradually get out.
"It takes a lot out of you for a teenager but I have a strong family that's always by my side."
Kiel's older brothers are quite familiar with the ins and outs of the recruiting process. Dusty is Indiana's possible starter this season while other brother Drew is reading defenses and calling out plays at Illinois State. While the conversations between the Kiel brothers might not always be about football, the pair have been an invaluable resource for Gunner to lean on.
"It's huge, they know what's out there and what's not," said the youngest Kiel. "I couldn't be more thankful for more blessed with a better family or better team."
Oklahoma, Indiana, Missouri and Alabama have mostly been the four teams out front for the five-star quarterback and many believe the Hoosiers are only on the list because of his brother. Ask Kiel though and he'll dismiss talk that it would be a "shock" if he were to play for the local team.
"I wouldn't say that," he said. "Indiana has a great coaching staff and they're definitely going to win football games. Coach (Kevin) Wilson is a fiery guy. My brother is going to be playing quarterback for them, which is awesome. I'll be at games and cheering him on. When I talk to him, I know they're going to win football games."
Kiel said that he does not plan to take any other visits and that he has already taken a trip to see all of his final schools. One notable thing he mentioned Monday was the fact that he would not go to a school that is looking to take two quarterbacks in the class of 2012. That would seem to rule out Oklahoma and Missouri, who both picked up players at the position in the past few weeks, but MaxPreps' top signal-caller wouldn't let on about any of his finalists in too much detail.
"There's some schools out there, i just kind of try and keep it low-key," he said. "I think everyone's great that I'm interested in. They have great facilities, great football teams, it's just kind of hard to make a decision right now.
"I'll probably decide before school."
Performing at events like the Elite 11 are one of the few times players get a chance to gauge how they stack up against competition nationally. Ranked as the second best player in the country overall, the red haired quarterback isn't feeling the heat from others and is focused only on improving himself throughout the rest of the week.
"There's always pressure out there," Kiel said. "At the end of the day, you've got to have fun and let it sling and not care. I know it's out there that I'm the number one quarterback in the nation but that's just a number."
Mangum continues to impress
As the camp counselors announced who won the final drill of the day, it was no surprise to hear them call out Eagle (Idaho) quarterback Tanner Mangum's name after the BYU recruit continued to show off his accuracy and strong arm on the final stop of the camp circuit.
"It feels good to come out on the first day and do well to start the week off right," Mangum said. "I know there's a lot of talented quarterbacks out here so it feels good to kind of get your name out there within the group."
Mangum was the top quarterback at last week's The Opening in Oregon and he picked up right where he left off in Malibu, winning the Golden Gun award for best accuracy during the final drill of the day.
"I'm trying to keep the momentum going," he said. "I'm playing well right now and hopefully I can keep it up the rest of the week. It definitely feels good to come out here and play well."
As the one of the few players from Idaho to receive much attention nationally, competing with the top players from around the country - and more often than not beating them - has been welcome preparation for the next level.
"You've only been here a few hours but you can already feel the competitive nature that these guys have," he said. "They're here for a reason. It's good to get to know these guys on a level other than football."
The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder will get to wear a special gold jersey throughout Tuesday as a result of being the top performer in the final drills.
Pike loving the experience
Auburn commit and Edgewood (Ky.) quarterback Zeke Pike has already been around the country for 7-on-7 competitions but walking off the field at Pepperdine was an altogether new, and very welcome, experience for the 6-foot-5, 230-pound football player.
"It's great just coming out here and competing with the top guys in the country," Pike said. "Even better than that is to be out here in California and Malibu. It doesn't get much better than this."
Pike is still recovering from minor shoulder surgery but was throwing the ball well at the end of the day after starting a bit slow. As someone who is a bit raw, picking up tips and tricks from the instructors has been vital to becoming a better quarterback.
"It's fun to come out here with guys who know what they're talking about and be able to pick up teaching points," he said. "It's a lot different but it doesn't get much better than this, practicing football with the ocean in the background."
With camp counselors such as Florida State's E.J. Emanuel and Michigan State's Kirk Cousins, Pike has dedicated himself to soaking up anything and everything they and others have to offer as advice.
"You just try to take anything you can get back," Pike said. "You're working with Trent (Dilfer) and Jordan Palmer was in our group, he's five minutes from where I live. It's kind of good to come out here and meet him, we'll probably work a little when I get back. You just try and take something to improve your game."
Posted on: April 18, 2011 11:40 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 10:58 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Perhaps it was no surprise but several Florida State commitments performed well during the latest stop in the Nike Football Training Camp tour just a few miles where they will one day play college football.
The camp was another opportunity for some of the South's best talent to showcase their skills and get discovered but it was Seminole commit Dante Fowler who ended up stealing the show - for the second year in a row.
"It was real good. I'm blessed to get MVP for the second year," Fowler said. "I'm working hard and making sure everybody still remembers who I am."
The St. Petersburg (Fla.) defensive end was not the tallest or biggest defensive lineman at the camp but he did have the best motor. Fowler never lost a rep and seemed to get to the quarterback in one-on-one drills quicker than just about anybody. Part of the reason Fowler did so well was the camp offering the opportunity to go full bore.
"I turn it up a lot," he said. "My offensive linemen in practice want a lot of work and everything but sometimes I just don't want to hurt them. There's a lot of stuff I do out here that I don't do school. But when we get in pads, I'm going to really show everyone what's up."
Fellow Florida State commit and defensive end Chis Casher was also impressive and was Fowler's closest competition for position group MVP. The talented duo of commitments ended up pushing each other to do better throughout the day.
"I think that's the reason neither of us didn't lose any battles," Fowler said. "It was a competition and we didn't want to lose. We were going to get the MVP award and see who the best is. Chris Casher, he's really good. I tip my hat to him."
The 6-foot-2, 230 pound Fowler says he is still committed to the Seminoles but is still picking up offers and being recruited by several schools across the country. His most recent offer is also the one that intrigues him the most.
"The newest offer that I got was USC," Fowler said. "Coach Monte Kiffin and Coach (Ed) Orgeron are real energetic. They really want me to come out and we'll see about doing that. They called me at 6:15 AM (Friday) and I was still asleep. I left the house around 6:45 and when I came home, I saw that the phone (caller ID) said USC. It shows that they're really interested in me even though I committed to a school. I'm going to show USC some respect."
The recruiting process will continue throughout the spring and summer for Fowler. The talented end is still planning on taking several unofficial visits but will likely save most of his long distance travel for official visits.
"If I do take any unofficials, I'm going to stay in Florida," he said. "Probably Florida and Miami and USF, I've got to show my hometown some love. If I take my official visits, it will be Florida State, USC, Miami and USF."
The weekend also offered the chance for Fowler to get a glimpse at what awaits him once he arrives as a full time student in Tallahassee. The Seminoles Garnet and Gold spring game was not the only thing he did on Saturday however.
"Florida State is a great school and I like what they're doing with their program," Fowler said. "I was at the Spring Game and it was good seeing a lot of people I'm going to be playing with. Seeing some of the recruits that might commit to Florida State, I tried doing a little bit of recruiting. It was nice."
Casher a close second but primed to dominate
One of the players who certainly passed the eye test this weekend was Mobile (Ala.) defensive end Chris Casher. Also a Florida State commitment, he came to this year's Nike Camp determined to use the techniques he learned last year to dominate the competition.
"I had fun. Last year when I went to the Nike Camp, the thing I wanted to work on was my hand technique in tight quarters," Casher said. "In one-on-ones today, I saw it pay off and I did real good at that."
The 6-foot-4, 240 pound end had no problem going up against the plethora of offensive linemen but it was his fellow FSU commit that was his toughest competition on the day. The friendly rivalry - coupled with a few laughs and a bit of boisterous applause - was one of the highlights for the future defensive line mates.
"I feel as though me and Dante were the two best as far as D-line," Casher said. "We're friends but we still compete against each other, he wants to beat me and I want to beat him."
Like Fowler, Casher is still receiving attention from college recruiters who feel they're not out of it yet. Despite the communication that goes on between him and colleges, Casher says he's still sold on Florida State being the place for him.
"Oh yeah," he said. "On Friday's my coach gives me a pile of letters. But I'm solid, I'm not going anywhere.
"I've always sort of been a fan and when I got on campus, it felt like family. I wanted to be a part of that. It was just a connection. I watched and rooted for them because my dad is a Florida State fan. When I got up in age and schools started recruiting me and when Dameyune Craig was going to talk to me, I jumped on it. When I wanted to commit my dad wanted to make sure that I wasn't doing it just because he was a fan and I told him no."
Like many other commitments, Casher attended the Seminoles' spring game and liked what he saw of his future battery-mates.
"The defense was solid, they were real solid," he said of the spring game. "I'm looking forward to being able to join the team and get that jersey. I was looking at (quarterback E.J. Manuel) and E.J. might be bigger than me. I talked with Coach (Jimbo) Fisher too."
Hicks impresses at end but could see future on offense
One of the more intriguing prospects at the camp was Blackshear (Ga.) athlete Quayvon Hicks. A compact but explosive player, Hicks was one of the tougher match ups during one-on-one drills thanks to a quick first step and the ability to bull rush using his tremendous upper body strength.
"I think I did pretty good today," Hicks said of his day. "I wanted to learn how to use my hands better against the offensive line."
As one of over 30 players from the state of Georgia who will be heading to a FBS school, Hicks was determined to not only get better but also prove himself against some of the best in the region.
"I think it makes me better as an athlete to come out here and compete against some of the best athletes in my class and even other classes," he said. "Dante Fowler and an FSU commit (Casher) in my class were out here and we're all going at it. I went at both inside and outside and was just trying to do my thing."
Already holding offers from Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami and Tennessee, more than one school is close to offering according to Hicks.
"A lot of SEC schools are evaluating film and what position I'll play at the next level," he said. "I think some will come through in the spring and see me."
The schools that are close to offering are evaluating him at mainly at fullback and defensive end. The May Evaluation Period will be key for some of them to get a chance to see what skills he has and where he might fit in best. Despite not really knowing where he might play, Hicks is receiving plenty of attention from schools as his recruitment is starting to pick up.
"Auburn, Alabama, Florida State and Georgia," he said were his top schools. "I might play fullback or something until my body grows. So after the first year or second year, I think most of them are going to move me to defense."
Hicks is mainly looking at the school and not necessarily the position he will play in college. That said, he does have a position of preference and based on what he showed at the Nike Camp, it's easy to see why.
"I love to rush the quarterback, that's what I live for," he said. "But I wouldn't mind playing where I'm needed at."
The 6-foot-2, 255 pound bowling ball is planning on taking a few unofficial visits in the months leading up to when he can officially visit. Though he didn't have an exact date nailed down in terms of a commitment, he said he wanted to make sure he has seen several schools to get an understanding of everyone that is recruiting him. Alabama and Auburn are two schools who will be receiving a visit in the near future.
Laith more than impressive at tight end
It's often hard for a tight end to stand out at an event like the Nike Camp outside of his size given the abundance of wide receivers and other skill position talent. That said, it wasn't too surprising to see Tallahassee (Fla.) tight end Laith Harlow make play after play against competition he's generally not used to seeing.
"Coming out here meant a lot today because it's the top of the top of the top," Harlow said. "You want to come where you get the most experience and get shown the most. I had a lot of fun out here today and I felt like I got better and worked with the top and competed and overall today was a good day for me."
With well over 20 offers, Harlow is not quite ready to start narrowing down his list. Still open to just about everybody, expect schools to extend an offer if they haven't already done so once they size up Harlow when they stop by Godby High this spring.
"I've got quite a few offers already," he said. "I'm just focused on high school right now and I love every college right now and I'm taking everything into consideration. There's nobody who really stands out or is recruiting me harder than the other."
Because he's still open to just about everybody, Harlow is flexible as far as when he makes a verbal commitment. Right now he has it tentatively pegged for the first Wednesday in February but there's no timetable at the current moment.
"It doesn't really matter to me, I'm not set on Signing Day being the day, I may commit early," he said. "It's whenever you feel that home feeling, that, 'this is it' right now, that's when you commit."
The 6-foot-5, 240 pound tight end looked like he could be a major addition in any offense thanks to his size and flexibility as a blocker in addition to being able to flex out and run routes. Harlow is deceptively fast and runs crisp, precise routes. Although he hasn't started to really begin unofficially visiting schools, he did manage to make a trip all the way to Eugene to visit Oregon this past weekend.
"Oregon was a lot of fun, they showed me a lot of love up there," Harlow said. "It was a good time, the coaches were really nice, the players were really cool and down to earth. Real nice campus and I'm not really afraid of leaving home so that's not a problem for me."
Miller eyes a few SEC schools
It was a strong group of offensive linemen at the camp and the player with the best looking frame was Palm Beach (Fla.) tackle Patrick Miller. You can tell Miller used to play a bit at tight end not because of his height but due to the way he moves his feet. He held his own during limited reps during one-on-ones but didn't live up to his own high expectations for the day.
"Not as well as I wanted to," Miller said. "I just came out to show what I have to offer and check out what Florida State has to offer. I have some friends from here so it was kind of a little vacation too."
The Seminoles are one of several schools who have already offered and Miller used the day before the camp to check out the Garnet and Gold spring game and see just what the school has to offer despite them not recruiting him heavily.
"I went in at the beginning for the tour and then I left and watched the spring game with some of my friends," he said. "I have an offer from FSU but I think they're pretty good on lineman and need a left tackle as much as some other schools."
There are several schools that are looking for a top-flight offensive tackle among the double digit list of offers Miller has. Unlike many players who are just starting to look closely at the recruiting process, the 6-foot-7, 270 pound Miller is primarily looking at schools in the SEC.
"Florida, Auburn, LSU are the three that keep repeating, those are my top three" he said. "Who knows. I just got an offer from Alabama too. They offered me and my quarterback Faton Bauta."
The Florida State visit was not Miller's first nor was it his last. Although he won't travel extensively, he hopes to narrow things down before the season starts so he can take just a select few official visits.
"I've taken a few unofficial visits," he said. "Whenever the time comes around I'll take three officials and I'll just do the top three schools and keep it simple. I know all these schools can show you a good time and try to persuade you but you've got to be smart."
While being in the SEC seems to be requirement number one for the talented offensive lineman, there are a host of other qualities Miller is looking for before he eventually makes a verbal commitment later in the year.
"I'm looking for someone who needs a left tackle," he said of his preference for early playing time. "I'm looking for a good college town to have fun but also able to work hard. Playing time and other people at my position are factors. I want to see a bunch of offensive linemen who are just like me that like to work hard. I don't care where I go, I'll go wherever but I'm trying to stay in the SEC."
Competing is just the name of the game for Patti
If there's a football camp or competition in the South, the chances are good that Orlando (Fla.) quarterback Nick Patti will be there and ready to throw the ball to wherever an open receiver is.
"Coming in and measuring yourself going up against some of the best competition in the country," he said. "I always keep a chip on my shoulder because I'm always proving myself to people. But I love it and it's what I want to do."
Height is always an issue with Patti, who is about 5-foot-10. Despite his small stature, he can sling the football around with the best of them and was one of the most accurate quarterbacks at the event. It's clear that all Patti does is love to compete and he performed well enough in Tallahassee to be named position group MVP.
"It means a lot. Tyler Cameron was out here and I think a lot of him, he's good quarterback," Patti said. "It's good to come out on top every once and awhile."
There is budding interest in the Central Florida signal caller who currently holds offers from Louisiana Tech, Indiana and UCF. Patti expects USF to visit his school to see him on Thursday and has been told some 50 schools will stop by Dr. Phillips to see him and a host of other FBS-level recruits.
"I'm talking to a lot of people right now, pretty much it's UCF, Indiana, Boise State and USF," he said of schools standing out. "I'll be at Boise State on Tuesday and I just got back from Indiana last week. I loved Indiana, I was real surprised about it. It's a real college town, it's old and has a lot of history and you can just feel it. I loved the coaches, Coach (Kevin) Wilson, you can just tell he has a good thing going there and he's going to do great things."
The trip up to Boise offers Patti a chance to see a school that, much like him, is all about playing against bigger competition and often coming out on top.
"They're a hidden gem," he said. "They're like me, they constantly want to prove people wrong and play the big dog and beat the big dog. That's what I want to do."
There's not a throw Patti cannot make and he was one of the most sound quarterbacks mechanically at the event. Although it seems as though his height is an issue, his grit and determination seem to make up for any shortcomings. As more and more schools start to jump in to the picture, Patti is comfortable in his own skin and just looking for a system that allows him to succeed.
"Somewhere where I can come in and play," he said. "I think I can play in any system, whether it's pro-style, spread, option, anything really. I think I can do it and I just want a system where the coach wants me the most."
- In addition to Patti and Fowler winning their respective position group MVPs, Citra (Fla.) running back Jamie Gilmore, Orlando (Fla.) receiver Drico Johnson, Lake City (Fla.) offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, Fleming Island (Fla.) linebacker Cameron McCurry and Tallahassee (Fla.) defensive back Travis Blanks also took home an MVP award.
- In addition to Blanks, cornerback P.J. Williams was particularly impressive at defensive back and made several plays while never seeming to let his man get out of half an arm's reach. Williams sported a Florida State hat that he has frequently worn at events and didn't mind answering any questions fellow recruits had about the local team. Still, he was overshadowed by Blanks, who lived up to his billing as the Maxpreps' top ranked defensive back. Not only did he have an interception after savvily baiting a quarterback and dropping into his zone like a veteran, but Blanks rarely had any receiver even get a look from a quarterback just because he was on him.
- Although the sidelines at the event were quite crowded, there was one parent who stood out from the crowd and it wasn't just because he was taller than most in attendance. Ken Griffey Jr., yes that Ken Griffey Jr., came to support his son Trey, a 6-foot-3 wide receiver who impressed those at the camp regardless of his last name. He has a good frame and runs routes well. He has soft hands and they're so big, you'd think he has on one of his dad's mitts instead of receiver gloves. He recently transferred to Orlando powerhouse Dr. Phillips and if he has a big season, look for him to grab a few BCS offers. Several schools are already interested in him but he is staying grounded thanks to his father.
"He teaches me what i need to do and what I should and shouldn't say," the younger Griffey said. "He wants me to take the SAT and that's the one thing he puts emphasis on. SAT and the ACT and always try your hardest, never give half effort."
- Jupiter (Fla.) quarterback Tyler Cameron was one of the other standouts in the quarterback group that was much better overall than at the Athens Nike Camp (which Cameron also attended). Cameron is getting looks from several quality programs and already holds offers from Boston College, Illinois, Louisville and Rutgers among others. He has the size you look for and was pretty accurate, spinning the ball well throughout the camp. Florida isn't known for producing a ton of great quarterbacks but Cameron could fight to have his name be under consideration as the top guy in-state. He needs to work on getting his arm angle up however because at times he'd get a little lazy and drop it on short to intermediate routes.
- It wasn't a huge surprise to see Jamie Gilmore perform well at this event given it really suits his skillet. He once again showed off quick feet and really seemed to keep his center of gravity low while exploding in and out of breaks. He holds a few offers from Big East and ACC programs but given his production, it might be just a matter of time before teams overlook his height and realize he's a playmaker.
- Although Chris Casher was impressive physically, Yulee (Fla.) 2013 running back Derrick Henry gave him a run for his money. Muscular for someone his age, the 6-foot-3, 230 pound Henry was the SPARQ MVP award winner after putting up eye-popping numbers, including a 4.53 40-yard dash. He looked a little bit stiff as a running back and ran a bit upright but several programs have extended offers, including most of the in-state schools. You could end up seeing Henry as an H-back or on defense as a linebacker or defensive end.
- Several of the local recruits had a good day but Lincoln High teammates Raphael Andrades and Ronald Butler were particularly impressive. Andrades is a 6-foot, 200 pound wide receiver who is well built and is a sleeper prospect as a slot guy. He runs crisp routes and has great hand. The best thing about Andrades is he's pretty polished, looking the ball in at all times, tucking it away quickly and knowing just how to run his routes. He holds offers from Illinois and Stanford at the moment but he should see his list start to grow quickly. Butler performed well at quarterback and was very sharp in all phases. He had a quick drop back and threw a very nice deep ball, turning over a sweet spiral.
- Lake City (Fla.) offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil is an up-and-comer but looked good doing drills and in one-on-ones. He has the requisite size and a great frame to add weight. He is just a sophomore so his impressive showing means he's one to watch once the season rolls around. Several schools have already taken notice as he claimed offers from USC, USF, Florida and Arkansas.
- Others who impressed were Orlando (Fla.) offensive lineman Duaron Williams, Jacksonville (Fla.) quarterback Nathan Peterman, Gainesville (Fla.) cornerback Chris Bivins, Tampa (Fla.) quarterback Greg Windham, Birmingham (Ala.) tight end Canon Smith, Southlake (Fla.) receiver James Brooks and Palm Beach (Fla.) defensive tackle Mike Minns among others.
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Big East, Boise State, Boston College, Cameron McCurry, Canon Smith, Chirs Casher, Chris Bivins, Dameyune Craig, Dante Fowler, Derrick Henry, Drico Johnson, Duaron Williams, E.J. Manuel, Ed Orgeron, Faton Bauta, Florida, Florida State, Florida State Nike Camp, FSU NFTC, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Greg Windham, Illinois, Indiana, James Brooks, Jamie Gilmore, Jimbo Fisher, Ken Griffey Jr., Kevin Wilson, Laith Harlow, Laremy Tunsil, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, LSU, Miami, Mike Minns, Monte Kiffin, Nathan Peterman, Nick Patti, Nike Camp, Oregon, P.J. Williams, Patrick Miller, Quayvon Hicks, Raphael Andrades, Ronald Butler, Rutgers, SEC, Stanford, Tennessee, Travis Blanks, Trey Griffey, Tyler Cameron, UCF, USC, USF