Posted on: April 29, 2011 4:38 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 4:41 pm

SEC April Commitment List

Posted by Bryan Fischer

It's the last week in April and several schools have already hit the ground running in the class of 2012. Today we'll take a look at the verbal commitments in the SEC, where Nick Saban leads the pack in terms of verbal commitments early in the recruiting cycle but the Gators are hot on his trail.

Alabama (11)

Defensive end Ryan Anderson (Daphne, Ala.)
Defensive tackle Dakota Ball (Lindale, Ga.)
Athlete Kenyan Drake (Powder Springs, Ga.)
Offensive lineman Brandon Greene (Ellenwood, Ga.)
Kicker Adam Griffith (Calhoun, Ga.)
Defensive end Caleb Gulledge (Prattville, Ala.)
Linebacker Reggie Ragland (Madison, Ala.)
Running back Justin Taylor (Atlanta, Ga.)
Athlete Justin Thomas (Prattville, Ala.)
Athlete Eddie Williams (Panama City, Fla.)

Arkansas (6)

Offensive lineman Cordale Boyd (Memphis, Tenn.)
Wide receiver Jalen Cobb (Warren, Ark.)
Athlete Nathan Holmes (Port Arthur, Texas)
Running back Donovan Roberts (Norman, Okla.)
Linebacker A.J. Turner (Lepanto, Ark.)  
Offensive lineman Jeremy Ward (Pottsville, Ark.)

Auburn (4)

Offensive lineman Michael Flint (Oxford, Ala.)
Quarterback Zeke Pike (Edgewood, Ky.), Tom Lemming Top 100 for 2012

Defensive end Cassanova McKinzy (Birmingham, Ala.)
Wide receiver Alex Taylor (Lester, Ala.)

Florida (9)

Defensive back Willie Bailey (Hallandale, Fla.)
Running back Mike Davis (Stone Mountain, Ga.)
Offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker (Boynton Beach, Fla.), Tom Lemming Top 100 for 2012
Running back Matt Jones (Seffner, Fla.)
Defensive tackle JaFar Mann (Stone Mountain, Ga.)
Defensive tackle Dante Phillips (Venice, Fla.)
Wide receiver LaTroy Pittman (Citra, Fla.)
Linebacker Jeremi Powell (Largo, Fla.)
Defensive tackle Quinteze Williams (Tyrone, Ga.)

Georgia (6)

Wide receiver C.J. Curry (Gainesville, Ga.)
Defensive end Jalen Fields (Milledgeville, Ga.)
Athlete Leonard Floyd (Eastman, Ga.)  
Kicker Marshall Morgan (Miami, Fla.)
Wide receiver Lonnie Outlaw (Milledgeville, Ga.)
Tight end Ty Smith (Moultrie, Ga.)

Kentucky (3)

Defensive tackle Thomas Chapman (Louisville, Ky.)
Defensive back Josh Harris (Maysville, Ky.)
Quarterback Patrick Towles (Fort Thomas, Ky.)

LSU (9)

Defensive end Torshiro Davis (Shreveport, La.)
Wide receiver Travin Dural (Beaux Bridge, La.)  
Defensive end Ronnie Feist (Edgard, La.)
Tight end Dillon Gordon (River Ridge, La.)
Linebacker Trey Granier (Thibodaux, La.)
Wide receiver Avery Johnson (Pompano Beach, Fla.)
Athlete Lamar Lewis (Lafayette, La.)
Defensive back Dwayne Thomas (New Orleans, La.)
Tight end John Thomas (Bossier City, La.)

Ole Miss (3)

Defensive tackle Issac Gross (Batesville, Miss.)
Offensive lineman Ben Still (Memphis, Tenn.)
Defensive end Temario Strong (Batesville, Miss.)  

Mississippi State (2)

Offensive lineman Devon Desper (Madison, Miss.)
Athlete Deontay Evans (McComb, Miss.)

South Carolina (3)

Linebacker T.J. Holloman (Atlanta, Ga.)
Defensive tackle Carlos Hood (Stone Mountain, Ga.)
Running back Kendric Salley (Williston, S.C.)

Tennessee (1)

Running back Imani Cross (Gainesville, Ga.)

Vanderbilt (1)

Defensive end Tre Griffin (Kennesaw, Ga.)

Posted on: April 26, 2011 9:13 pm

Ole Miss adds defensive duo

Posted by Bryan Fischer

South Panola High has sent it's share of athletes to Ole Miss over the years. Just last year, wide receiver Nickolas Brassell became a Rebel and on Tuesday the school sent two players in the class of 2012 to Houston Nutt with the commitments of defensive tackle Issac Gross and linebacker Temario Strong.

"I've been thinking about it," Gross told RebelGrove.com. "I have always loved Ole Miss. I visited some other schools and I liked them and I have a lot of respect for the coaches. But I love Mississippi and I want to play close to home and I've always loved Ole Miss."

"I just always wanted to go to Ole Miss," Strong added. "I just decided it was time to do it. This is what I always wanted to do."

The 6-foot-3, 245 pound Gross held offers from just about every SEC program and from schools across the country. He'll likely end up as a defensive end once he gets to Oxford but can also play outside linebacker. At the end of the day though, it's not about where he plays but getting the win for his team.

"When I was growing up, all I knew was winning," Gross told the website. "You have to realize when you lose, you have to go back, watch the film and try to get better. You have to lean on each other and come together to change the program. I don't want to accept losses."

Strong, a 6-1, 220 pounder, is the nephew of former Ole Miss linebacker Eddie Strong and also had a cousin that played defensive tackle at the school. He'll slide in at outside linebacker to start his career in college, which he is certain is with the Rebels.

"I'm through with recruiting," Strong said. "I couldn't see myself anywhere else."

The duo give Ole Miss three commitments for the class of 2012. Strong had 69 tackles and 14.5 sacks as a junior last season while Gross added 75 tackles and 10 sacks.

Posted on: April 26, 2011 5:08 pm

Green-Beckham has recruiting on back-burner

Posted by Bryan Fischer

It's always the little things in recruiting. Take, as just one example, the news that Hillcrest High in Springfield, Mo. scheduled a game at the University of Arkansas on September 1st. Normally this wouldn't be a huge deal as many high school programs are scheduling big out-of-state games in order to get on television and/or receive a decent-sized check.

Hillcrest however, just so happens to have MaxPreps' number one overall player in the country in wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. More than one Razorback fan has taken this to mean that the Hogs are the frontrunners for his services. While Green-Beckham is indeed looking at Arkansas (along with several other SEC schools), they aren't in the lead for his terrific pass catching services.

Recruiting, according to his adoptive father and head coach, is actually something the two rarely discuss.

"People would be shocked about how little we talk about it," John Beckham told the Springfield News-Leader. "It's just not something we discuss often."

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis have already been through Hillcrest to see Green-Beckham play a game and quite a few assistant coaches will stop by with the May Evaluation Period under way. Just don't expect the him to be impressed enough to name a few schools that stand out as a result.

Part of the reason why recruiting has taken such a backseat for the five-star receiver is Green-Beckham's younger brother, Darnell, was recently diagnosed with leukemia. He has unfortunately spent most of his time undergoing treatment at a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. The family is holding a charity drive tonight at a local frozen custard shop in order to help raise funds.

Bottom line, no matter what you hear about Dorial Green-Beckham's recruiting, be sure and take it with a grain of salt. The family has its priorities in order and recruiting isn't one of them at the moment.

Posted on: April 22, 2011 12:33 am

Vandy picks up first commitment of 2012

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Vanderbilt is finally on the recruiting board. The last SEC school that did not have a verbal commitment picked up their first Thursday night from Kennesaw (Ga.) defensive end Tre Griffin.

“The education is great there, and I fell in love with the campus when I visited,” Griffin told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I love the new coaching staff and their energy.”

The 6-foot-1, 235 pound defensive end received interest from several other schools and visited Georgia Tech for their Junior Day last weekend but held only an offer from Vanderbilt. Although he likely would have picked up a few other offers as coaches came through North Cobb High, the junior decided to go ahead and commit.

"I talked to Coach (James) Franklin and I also called my position coach, Coach (Sean) Spencer," Griffin told VandySports.com. "Coach Franklin was really excited about it and asked me what made me make the decision and I just told him basically the same thing, all of the opportunities that are there. Playing in the SEC to being able to graduate and say I got a degree from Vanderbilt, that's huge. It's everything."

Academics were the key in Griffin's recruitment and the main reason why he decided to be a Commodore.

“The other schools were football, football, football … and academics second,” he told the Journal-Constitution. “Football is extremely important but I still have to get an education, too. That’s why I chose Vanderbilt.”

Posted on: April 21, 2011 12:03 pm

Boyd becomes commitment #5 for Arkansas

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Arkansas added another talented offensive lineman to their class of 2012 Wednesday night in Memphis (Tenn.) standout Cordale Boyd.

"I came up to Fayetteville last month and just loved it," Boyd told HawgsIllustrated.com. "I loved the coaches, the weight room, the academics and the whole atmosphere. Right away, once I got there, it just felt like home. Coach (Bobby) Petrino and his staff just made me feel so wanted and this is where I want to spend the next five years."

The Razorbacks haven't dipped into Tennessee for a player the past few years but from the sound of it, they have a foothold in the current class in Boyd.

"There had been so many schools, but none of them really moved me like Arkansas," he said. "I know Arkansas is where I am supposed to be."

The 6-foot-3, 300 pound offensive lineman had scholarship offers from Vanderbilt and Memphis and was receiving interest from several other SEC programs. He is the fifth commitment overall for Arkansas in this class and second along the offensive line.

Posted on: April 20, 2011 3:18 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 6:41 pm

Zeke Pike commits to Auburn

By MaxPreps contributor Mike Dyer

Zeke Pike understands his recruiting journey is really the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that few high school football players are ever able to experience.

Maybe that's why the Dixie Heights (Edgewood, Ky.) junior quarterback said he wasn't completely soured by the day-to-day nationwide hype surrounding his college decision-making process.

That hype ended Wednesday when Pike gave a verbal commitment to play at Auburn.

Pike, who turned 18 on April 8, typically received 20 to 30 phone calls a day from recruiting websites or those curious as to which schools the top prospect might visit or consider. He also received an estimated 50,000 pieces of mail from college programs, according to his father, former NFL player Mark Pike. Mark said the mail takes up nearly his entire office area.

"It's (wasn't) as exciting as it used to be," Zeke said of the constant attention.

Pike, who is rated the nation's No. 30 player overall in the 2012 class by MaxPreps/CBS Sports football recruiting expert Tom Lemming, didn't always answer his phone and he admits the unique experience often got "hectic" at times.

Hectic is an understatement these days, according to Mark, who played college football at Georgia Tech and had a 13-year career with the Buffalo Bills after being drafted in 1986. What Mark went through during his recruiting process in the 1980s doesn't even begin to compare with what Zeke faced in today's highly competitive recruiting landscape.

"I just try to guide him the best I can," said Mark, who retired from the NFL in 1999 and is active in various business ventures in northern Kentucky. "He is pretty smart (in knowing) what he is looking for."

During Dixie Heights' spring break the week of April 18, Zeke and his father were scheduled to visit several colleges programs, including Tennessee, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia and Auburn. Turns out, Auburn was the one that made the best impression.

Mark, 47, said the visits were about connecting with the head coaches and coordinators involved with the programs. While the "big toys" like weight rooms or practice facilities are nice, Mark said he and his son were more interested in speaking with the coaches about specific football plans.

For Zeke, who is 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, the serious recruiting attention started during the spring of 2010 when he first started to receive scholarship offers. Fast forward to April 2011 and Pike said he had at least 40 offers with a significant portion of those being from Bowl Championship Series programs.

Zeke was the first quarterback to commit to the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in early January and he will certainly remain on the national stage with additional national preseason recognition this summer. While Dixie Heights coach Tom Spritzky said the all-star game presents "a great opportunity" for Zeke, the standout quarterback is more concerned about the time he will miss early next year when he's in San Antonio for the game - away from his basketball teammates during the middle of that season.

It's that type of perspective that makes Pike a leader among his teammates. Dixie Heights will participate in a national 7-on-7 tournament in Hoover, Ala., in mid-July. The high school squad hopes to improve its regular-season record after a 6-6 record from the 2010 season. The Colonels' offense is expected to be similar to last season with Pike possibly seeing more time under center.

Mark has advised his son to enjoy his senior year because he will never be able get that back. Mark has told Zeke to play the game the way he knows how and not worry about what people might say about him.

Zeke, whose first name is of Biblical origin, said his father, a former linebacker, has had a "big impact" on his life.

"He's been on the biggest stages of stages," Zeke said.

What makes college programs salivate over Pike is his size, arm strength and his ability to stand in the pocket. He also has strong field vision. Pike, who threw for 2,135 yards and 18 touchdowns last season for the Colonels, wants to continue to improve upon his mechanics going into his senior year.

Lemming said he was impressed with Pike's quick feet, his arm strength and his poise. Pike also rushed for 947 yards and 17 touchdowns last season.

"Zeke is a guy that can fit into any system," said Lemming.

Lemming said Pike is a "no-brainer" for college programs.

"He's very confident," Lemming said.

Pike would like to major in education and social work with thoughts of coaching at the high school or college level. He said he wants to make an impact in people's lives.

"Zeke has a great heart," Mark said. "He loves helping people."

Spritzky said in an "ideal world" Pike would make a college decision before the start of the football season this August.

Mark said a decision before the season would be convenient for Zeke and avoid any unnecessary distractions, so that problem is taken care of now. Mark said Zeke has persevered in keeping his focus on what really matters during the recruiting process.

"I'm proud of him," Mark said. "He's handled it well."

National Football Editor Stephen Spiewak contributed to this report. Photo by Wayne Litmer.

Posted on: April 19, 2011 11:22 am

4/19 Recruiting Roundup

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Great weekend at the Georgia and Florida State Nike Camps, a ton of great prospects performed well. Maybe the two best stops along with the USC camp.

- A few Michigan recruiting updates, including one on offensive tackle Jordan Diamond.

- Tackle Ryan Ward added offers from Iowa and Indiana and some more on Diamond going to visit some SEC schools.

- Some nuggets on just how Tennessee coach Derek Dooley recruits.

- Some more thoughts from Royce Jenkins-Stone on his decision to attend Michigan.
Posted on: April 18, 2011 11:40 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 10:58 am

Florida State Nike Camp Notebook

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 (EdOrgeron 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 (KevinWilson, 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.

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