Posted on: July 24, 2011 1:23 am
Edited on: July 24, 2011 9:35 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
ORLANDO -- Gridiron Kings, the final recruiting event of the summer, kicked off at the Wide World of Sports complex Saturday afternoon near Disney World, featuring some of the top talent in the country.
Divided into four regions, the players from the Southeast continued their impressive dominance of the event, going undefeated in the first two games of pool play in an event the team has won every year since its inception.
"It's been a great experience so far, I'm playing with some of the best talent from the Southeast," Fairburn (Ga.) defensive back Joshua Holsey said. "We're playing against everyone from around the country and that's a great experience. We're having fun and since we're winning, it's really fun."
The Southeast lucked out in its two wins, however. The deciding touchdowns in each game came with less than a minute remaining, but the find-a-way attitude was just part of the spirit the athletes from the South exuded.
"Our offense just brings us back and our defense just tries to do what we can to stop the offense from scoring," Holsey said. "We all pretty much know each other from The Opening. We all have a close bond, either in the locker room or on the field, it's just like playing with each other (for years), we know what each other does and likes. That's the greatest thing."
Though most of the players at Gridiron Kings are already committed to a school, that didn't stop the Auburn-bound Holsey from trying to get a few players to join him on The Plains.
"Yes, I'm trying to get as many recruits to come to Auburn as possible," Holsey says without hesitation. "Me, JaQuay (Williams), we always talk about getting the best guys. We want to go down there and win, we're trying to win the national championship ourselves. We're trying to build a class that can go down there and compete and have fun."
Holsey has been committed to the Tigers since May and points to one thing above others as being the reason he is firmly a part of Auburn's recruiting class.
"Just the coaches," he said. "They're really nice to me. The players, the whole facilities, it just feels like a family and a place where I can spend the next four years there."
Adams close to decision
If there was one team really looking forward to toppling the Southeast, it was the West squad. Westlake Village (Calif.) cornerback Ishmael Adams helped the squad to a 1-1 mark, with the lone loss coming thanks to a pass that was tipped by a defender right into the hands of a Southeast receiver for a score with less than 30 seconds left. Despite the close loss, spirits were high throughout the day for a dangerous squad come the knockout round.
"It's a great time with all the fellas, just hanging out," Adams said. "We're putting in work."
Adams and his West teammates are closer than the other three regional teams in part because they've seen each other early and often this summer.
"Just from camps and doing all these different things, we're very comfortable with each other," he said. "The chemistry is there. We're looking to do well."
Doing well also includes a bit of trash talk between the squads. For the West, according to Adams, that means shouts of "West Side All Day," or "West Side is the Best Side." He is also pretty talkative on the field with his teammates about what to expect from the offenses and didn't mind talking about his recruiting either.
"I'm very close," he said of a decision. "I'm still going to take all my official visits but I'm pretty sure with where I want to go right now. I'm taking my visits to see what the other schools have. I want to make the decision before I go into the season."
Holding offers from most of the Pac-12, Adams has always looked to stay somewhat close to Southern California and has narrowed down his list to include programs with strong ties to the area.
"UCLA, Cal, Oregon, Colorado and Arizona State," he said were his finalists. "UCLA and Cal, they're on me real big, then ASU. I've also always talked to the Oregon coach and he's told me he's not really hard on calling me every day. He just let me know that he wants me at the school and if I want to come, it's my decision."
Adams added that fellow West teammate Bryce Treggs, who committed to Cal two weeks ago, was heavily recruiting him for the Bears.
-- Tampa (Fla.) athlete Nelson Agholor wasn't supposed to be at the event but was a late -- and impact -- substitution for the Southeast squad. He's a fluid athlete who was a favorite target on offense and could really get off the line. He's tremendous at safety, but the way he can influence a game on either side of the ball, it's no wonder schools are just recruiting to get him on campus and then figure out a position later. He said he didn't want to talk recruiting and instead wanted to focus on what happened on the field.
-- SMU commit Robert Lewis and Texas A&M commit Trey Williams were the two most impressive players out of the backfield. Lewis was able to find soft spots in the defense and exploit them at all three levels of the passing game. Williams had two highlight plays when he shaked and baked his way down the field for a big gain and then followed it up with a touchdown on a seam route.
-- Tight end Sean Price continues to impress this summer. The Citra (Fla.) product was once again a matchup issue for linebackers who either couldn't handle his speed or couldn't handle his size. He has a good release off the line, but it can get better, which will only make him more dangerous in the passing game. Price made one of the best catches of the day when he dove for a ball and caught it one-handed for a touchdown.
-- 2013 quarterback Shane Morris had a bit of an up-and-down day. He wasn't as sharp as he normally was in 7-on-7 settings, sometimes lapsing when making an easy throw and turning it into an incompletion. The lefty didn't have the athletes that some of the other quarterbacks did but he still should have performed better.
-- Texas A&M commit Matt Davis was one of four Aggies in Orlando and just flat-out moved the ball downfield for the Southwest team. He doesn't throw the tightest spirals, but he moves the chains and gets the ball to the right receiver.
-- Boise State commit Marcus Rios had a nice day and grabbed a spectacular interception off a deflection versus the Southeast team.
-- It's going to be tough to get past the Southeast team when they have players like defensive backs Chaz Elder and Travis Blanks. The pair hooked up on an interception with Blanks tipping the ball and Elder pulling down the turnover. The pair simply were ball hawks all evening.
-- The top wide receiver in the country, Texas commit Cayleb Jones, went down with a hand injury early in the day. Fellow Longhorn Thomas Johnson made sure he wouldn't be missed with a terrific day. He has great hands, runs good routes and catches everything.
-- The more athlete Ronald Darby plays defensive back, the more he looks like a top-flight safety prospect. The talented athlete has speed and burst almost unmatched and does a really good job of focusing on his man and reading what he does.
-- It was a very good day for Scottsdale (Ariz.) athlete Davonte Neal. There's still debate as to whether he's best suited for offense or defense and he played both equally well on Saturday. He's still a bit stiff in his hips when he turns and runs at corner but he nevertheless was an impact player on both sides of the ball and made several plays in the secondary.
Tags: Arizona State, Auburn, Boise State, Bryce Treggs, Cal, Cayleb Jones, Chaz Elder, Colorado, Davonte Neal, Gridiron Kings, Gridiron Kings 2011, Ishmael Adams, JaQuay Williams, Joshua Holsey, Marcus Rios, Matt Davis, Nelson Agholor, Oregon, Pac-12, Robert Lewis, Ronald Darby, Sean Price, Shane Morris, SMU, Texas, Texas A&M, The Opening, Thomas Johnson, Travis Blanks, Trey Williams, UCLA
Posted on: May 24, 2011 12:54 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Some of the best from all over the Midwest and East Coast came to play on the campus of Ohio State for this past Saturday's Nike Camp. Here's a few of the top performers on the offensive side of the ball from the camp:
With the final stop for the Elite 11 and a good number of talented quarterbacks in the Midwest, Ohio State hosted some of the best signal callers in the nation. With three of the top four guys in the MaxPreps Top 100 in attendance, there was some very good play from the most important position on the field. Zeke Pike struggled during the Elite 11 but bounced back with a solid day during the Nike Camp.
The top quarterback in the nation and number two overall player, Kiel easily lived up to the hype. He was the best quarterback at an Elite 11 event this year and has the size, arm and accuracy you look for. Physically, he looks ready to play right away and is smooth from drop back to follow through. He can still improve but he's got a presence to him and is a very polished prospect overall.
Tall and lanky, Winston was another top player who lived up to his high ranking. He's light on his feet and though he runs the ball well, he's got a very good arm and throws the ball effortlessly. He can really spin the ball and threw a very pretty fade route. During a two-minute drill simulation, he showed off a calm demeanor and playmaking skills. He's not as polished as some other quarterbacks but he's got everything you look for in a college quarterback.
A rising junior, you can tell why Michigan made Morris the cornerstone of their 2013 class. He has good size and really nice footwork. The lefty throws a nice ball and throws the ball well on the move. He is accurate and had a surprisingly quick release. Morris had the confidence of an older quarterback and was eager to learn at the same time.
There weren't a ton of great running backs in attendance but Mahone stood out with his combination of size and speed. Though he wasn't the fastest guy running routes, he did show a good burst and nice hands. He's not going to reverse field on you a bunch of times and looks like a downhill runner. He's one of the top backs in the Midwest but still has some room to improve.
Stanford might have been one of the most heavily recruited players at the camp and you can see why after a few minutes of watching him. He's got the frame to fill out a little and is ideal height as an outside receiver who can also play out of the slot. Stanford gets into and out of his breaks quickly and is a good route runner. One thing that sticks out is his long arms and very big hands, which just snatch the ball out of the air. He creates separation from opposing defensive backs and while he's not the fastest guy out there, he still manages to do what ever he wants.
The Tennessee commit should fill a slot receiver role quickly. He's fast and has really good feet which allow him to turn on a dime. He's not as polished as others and had a drop or two but was solid throughout the camp. He seemed to improve as the day went on and if he gets bigger, could be a nice addition for the Vols.
Davis is another smaller guy who will end up as a slot guy who can stretch the field. He's small but silky smooth running routes. Davis has a solid pair of hands but needs to work on really driving some of his routes to create more separation with his man.
Knapp took home MVP honors and was solid and consistent all day long. He's good tackle size and doesn't have much bad body weight. Knapp can get a little stronger in his upper body to handle the bull rush but he's athletic enough to keep moving and maintain an advantage. He also has a very quick kick step and can get back in pass protection quickly and stay balanced.
A little smaller than others, Stock is more of a guard but he might excel as a center. He's got good feet and pulls around to block very well. During one-on-one drills he kept his man in front of him and didn't let his man out leverage him.
Herron definitely projects as an interior offensive lineman and needs to get rid of some bad body weight. That said, he was very good in pass protection and moves his feet nicely. His arms are long and he does a good job at keeping the defender from getting into him too much. Every once and awhile he'd get off balance and lean too much however. Herron did well at the camp overall and might see his offer list pick up as he was one of the better players there.
Posted on: May 22, 2011 9:06 am
Edited on: May 22, 2011 9:19 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
COLUMBUS, Ohio – After a talent-laden Elite 11 on the campus of Ohio State Friday, the Nike Football Camp on Saturday tried to match the talent level and may have ended up exceeding it overall based on the number of big names in attendance.
The latest stop in the camp circuit attracted several hundred of the nation's top athletes and one of the headliners was Cincinnati (Ohio) defensive end Adolphus Washington, who excelled during one-on-one drills once he got into the swing of things.
“I did pretty good,” Washington said. “I messed up in the one-on-ones the first time but overall I did pretty good. I came and bounced back.”
The 6-foot-3, 260 pound end had really good footwork outside of one rep and had a nice array of pass rush moves. He's compact but explosive and proved he was one of the top guys at his position.
“It's good competition to see who I have to go against in my class,” he said. “It's lets you know that other people are out there working. Just because you are one of the top (guys) in the country doesn't mean much, they're coming after you because you are one of the top guys.”
The Taft High product has the frame to add on weight and perhaps even the ability to move inside for some reps at defensive tackle. With almost too many scholarship offers to count, Washington has seen plenty of schools stop by during the evaluation period, including some big names in the past week.
“Notre Dame on Monday, Alabama, Ohio State, Tennessee,” he rattled off. “It was a couple of them.”
As hectic as things have been for Washington, he's managed to trim his list of schools down as he starts to focus on the recruiting process and the journey to eventually making a commitment.
“I actually have a top five: Ohio State, Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan and Miami in Florida,” Washington said. “I'm not really crossing anybody out but that's my top five that I like right now.”
Washington hasn't taken any unofficial visits to see those five schools yet but he is about to put a check mark next to one of those schools pretty soon to indicate he's visited.
“Me and Dwayne (Stanford) are going to Michigan next week,” Washington said. “We're looking forward to looking at their roster, seeing how the social environment is, graduation rates, how do African-American students do at their school and things like that.”
The Wolverines are one of the programs that meet the criteria that Washington is looking for in a school. While he's still a few months away from pulling the trigger, the very confident defensive end knows what he is looking for and won't commit until he's comfortable that the school has all that he's looking for.
“I'm looking into academics first,” he said. “Do they have the major I'm trying to get my degree in? What's the social life there and see how the team works together and stuff like that.”
Washington has not really eliminated any schools but at this point in the process it will be hard for others outside his top five to jockey into position to land his signature on Signing Day. Even within his top five pretty much set, there are two schools who have been on Washington from the beginning and continue to recruit him as a top priority.
“Michigan is actually recruiting me the hardest,” he said. “Coach (Greg) Mattison and Coach (Mark) Smith. Alabama too with Coach Sal (Sunseri).”
Though Washington didn't take home defensive end MVP Saturday, he was among the most polished pass rushers at the camp and you can easily tell why plenty of the nation's top programs are after the talented defender.
Stanford stands out too
While Washington was a stud on defense, his Cincinnati Taft High teammate Dwayne Stanford might have been even more impressive at wide receiver Saturday. With an outstanding frame and polished pass catching skills, it's easy to see why he is also among the country's best at the receiver position.
“I got to see where I was at today against some of the top DB's in the area and I think I showed I did pretty well,” Stanford said. “I didn't know any of them but I know from watching them that they were pretty good and knew what they were doing.”
Like many of the attendees, attending the Nike Camp was about more than just going through one-on-ones and catching passes.
“To get teaching, that's the main reason why I came here,” he said. “The first three hours I got teaching and I learned a lot about my footwork and route running. A lot of good stuff here. And also just to see where I'm at against the other top receivers out here. I'm always looking to get better against the best.”
The 6-foot-4, 200 pound wide out also listed a few of the schools to stop by Taft in the past few weeks and for Stanford, every school that does come by to evaluate him serves as motivation and part of the drive to be one of the best in the country at his position.
“This week we had Tennessee stop by, North Carolina, USC was here, some others,” Stanford said. “It's been busy. I'm working to get better and prove to these colleges that I am what they see.”
With a busy spring full of things to do, Stanford hasn't had a chance to see many of the schools who have extended him a verbal scholarship offer. With school about to be wrapped up, his schedule will be jam-packed with unofficial visits over the coming month or two this summer.
“Basically, I want to get around to all of these colleges on the East Coast,” he said. “Next weekend I'm going to try and make it up to Michigan and see them. I'm going to be on the road all of June.”
One of the things that he is looking to do is continue to play with his close friend and teammate Washington at the next level. While there's always talk of package deals in college football recruiting, it appears that it will be very hard to separate the two from signing with the same program.
“Definitely,” Stanford confirmed of the duo's playing together. “We're going to take most of our visits together. We'll sit down and see where's the best school for us individually and where the best school for us is together. Hopefully our individual schools are the same school that fits us best together. We definitely want to stay together and it's something we'll try and make happen.”
Unlike Washington however, Stanford hasn't narrowed down his list of over 20 offers and counting. It's clear that he wants to be able to do some research on a school and if possible see them for himself before naming a few top teams in the mix for his services.
“No, no really because I haven't taken any visits yet,” he said. “I took one to Cincinnati and Ohio State but those were during the season. Now I'm going to take these visits and really focus on seeing if it's a school that I can really see myself at.”
Academics are important to Stanford and his parents. While that is one of his top criteria in selecting a school, so too is how he fits into a program and the town that he'll live in for four or five years.
“I just want to see how the coaches use me and stuff like that,” he said. “I just want to feel like it's a good fit for me. The atmosphere and how it feels and that I like what's going on there.”
Mahone leaves lasting impression
Already one of the top running backs in the Midwest, Austintown (Ohio) athlete William Mahone didn't need to stop by Ohio State to show what he could do. But there he was at the Nike Camp, showing off a good burst, soft hands and many of the skills that get colleges from across the country excited just thinking about landing him.
“I felt like I did really good today, this is one of the best camps I've been to,” Mahone said. “There was some great competition out there today and I had a really good time.”
The 5-foot-10, 210 pounder was among the bigger running backs to show up and he tried to use that to his advantage during several of the drills. While he was best in the open field and taking on linebackers one-on-one, he did have to make a slight adjustment when it came to blocking individual defenders.
“I picked up on some more footwork drills and I need to work on my blocking,” he said. “I was surprised that we did some blocking today, I really wasn't ready for it. I kind of struggled with that a little bit so I know I need to work on it.
“It's different (without pads). You can't have that mentality where you want to take somebody out, you have to hold back a little.”
Already holding a double-digit offer list, Mahone continues to pick up scholarships weekly. The evaluation period has seen plenty of assistant coaches roll by Fitch High to get a look at him this spring and see how impressive he is in person.
“The most recent would be Minnesota about a week ago,” he said. “We've had Stanford stop by our high school. Pitt, Cincinnati, Michigan, Michigan State and a lot of other schools.”
Most of Mahone's offers come from schools in the Midwest or along the East Coast. While many are several hundred miles away from home, he's still on the fence as to what's an acceptable distance away from home he's comfortable going.
“It would be kind of nice to stay home but then again, if I need to go, I'm going to go,” he said. “I guess you could say I'm on the fence about distance away from home.”
There's plenty of other factors that will go into his decision however.
“I want a good relationship with the coaching staff, I want to feel like a family,” he said. “Coaching stability. I also want to be able to get on the field as soon as I can.”
Mahone has taken a few unofficial visits already this past year and has seen Michigan State, Pitt, Penn State and West Virginia already. He plans on visiting Notre Dame and Boston College in the near future but there already seems to be one school emerging as a leader for his commitment.
“The best relationship I have with coaches is at Pittsburgh,” Mahone said. “They're just warm and embracive. I went down there for my first visit with the new staff and they were real cool. I went back a month later, me and my mom went down there, and it was even better. I saw the campus and feel like I can have great success there.”
The plan is to narrow his list of schools down this summer and then take all five official visits before verbally committing sometime during the season.
Knapp stands out along the offensive line
One of the great things about the Nike Camps are the chance to see a player perform well that might be a little under the radar. Portage (Mich.) offensive tackle Kyle Knapp isn't heavily recruited but he has seen his stock rise as of late and he did nothing to slow it down Saturday, picking up the group's MVP award and shutting down some big time defensive linemen in one-on-ones.
“It's just a great feeling, I've been working at it for a long time, non-stop,” Knapp said. “I'm ready to continue it and keep working my butt off to keep it going.”
The 6-foot-4, 265 pound Knapp has a great frame and looks to be a natural left tackle. He could get a little stronger but is very athletic and moves well, stays balanced when pass blocking and has a very quick drop step. He needed all his skills during the competition given the talent he had to face.
“There were some really good defensive linemen,” he said. “They're quick and big but I feel like I handled myself well. I'm going to continue to work on my pass blocking and keep going. The coaches helped me with everything.”
Knapp is still a bit under the radar in the Midwest but is seeing his stock rise after performing well at several camps this spring. While he has yet to pick up his first BCS offer, he's got a solid group of schools who have extended a scholarship and will likely pick up a lot more once coaches get a hold of his film.
“I've got six right now, Western Michigan, Toledo, Ball State, Bowling Green, FIU and South Alabama,” he said. “There are some other schools talking with me but I'm not sure who's close to offering. Michigan has come by for a transcript visit. Iowa has come by for a transcript visit, Syracuse too.”
It will be a busy summer for Knapp with the trip to Columbus being just a pitstop along the way. He doesn't mind competing and will have plenty of chances to prove he's one of the better prospects in the region along the offensive line.
“I've got a lot of camps coming up,” he said. “I'm going to a one-day Wisconsin camp, Iowa's Elite camp. I'm going to go to Notre Dame... I've got them all, I've got a loaded schedule.”
Knapp said will wait until the fall to see how his recruiting plays out and likely commit halfway through the season.
- While plenty of parents were wearing Ohio State gear on the sidelines of the camp, there wasn't any being worn on the field. Ironically it was archival Michigan's maize and blue that littered the field. Quarterback Shane Morris, linebacker James Ross and cornerback Terry Richardson were among the top performers and represented their future school well on enemy territory. Richardson was the most recent to commit to going to Ann Arbor for college and discussed his verbal pledge last week.
“I committed to Michigan because I felt comfortable with them,” he said. “I did like Alabama and all the other schools but I felt the best at Michigan and that's why I picked them. I have a lot of friends going there and we'll make it happen up there.”
Richardson injured his hamstring at a track meet the night before running the 200 meters but still managed to lock down opposing receivers. He was one of several players whispering in a few recruits' ears about how good it was to be a Michigan man.
- In addition to Knapp taking home offensive line MVP honors, Morris took home quarterback MVP. Kansas City (Mo.) Ondre Pipkins was a terror during one-on-ones and was defensive line MVP while Ray Harris was running backs MVP, Tre Parmalee was wide receiver MVP, Jaylon Smith was linebackers MVP and Sebastian Smith was defensive back MVP.
- Others that impressed along the defensive line were Michigan commit Mario Ojemudia, who should be a very good outside linebacker at the next level, Se'Von Pittman, class of 2013 defensive end Jason Hatcher, tackle Sheldon Day, Pipkins, Alex Pace and Dayrl Goldsmith.
- The defensive backs had a very good day, with Cameron Burrows, Marcus Foster, Shaquille Davis and De'Van Bogard among those that impressed. The linebacker group was also deep and the aforementioned Ross was one of the top players in space. Class of 2013 prospect Mike McCray looked good and David Perkins also impressed with how well he moved.
- Stanford was easily the top guy at the receiver position, using his long arms to snag whatever was thrown his way. He's a good, polished route runner who gets into and out of breaks well and has deceptive speed for someone with his build. Corey Smith, Kevin Davis, Jeremy Graves, Gervon Simon and Urston Smith also performed well. Zeke Pike bounced back from a rough day at the Elite 11 to throw the ball much better. Pat Dill was another signal caller who looked good.
Tags: Adolphus Washington, Alabama, Alex Pace, Boston College, Cameron Burrows, Cincinnati, Corey Smith, David Perkins, Dayrl Goldsmith, De'Van Bogard, Dwayne Stanford, Gervon Simon, Greg Mattison, James Ross, Jason Hatcher, Jaylon Smith, Jeremy Graves, Kentucky, Kevin Davis, Kyle Knapp, Marcus Foster, Mario Ojemudia, Mark Smith, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Mike McCray, Minnesota, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ohio State Elite 11, Ohio State Nike Camp, Ondre Pipkins, Pat Dill, Penn State, Pitt, Ray Harris, Sal Sunseri, Se'Von Pittman, Sebastian Smith, Shane Morris, Shaquille Davis, Sheldon Day, Stanford, Tennessee, Terry Richardson, tre Parmalee, Urston Smith, USC, West Virginia, William Mahone, Wisconsin, Zeke Pike
Posted on: May 21, 2011 2:00 am
Edited on: May 24, 2011 12:59 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The sixth and final stop of the Elite 11 quarterback competition turned out to be one of the best stops of the entire spring camp circuit. Three of the top four quarterbacks in the MaxPreps Top 100 for 2012 showed up and just about everyone met or exceeded expectations.
Hueytown (Ala.) signal caller Jameis Winston had the longest trip out of just about everyone who showed up Friday afternoon but came out throwing and looked sharp throughout the two and a half hour throwing session.
“I think it was a productive day. I did some good things, I could have done better on some things but I don't think I did anything bad,” Winston said.
Ranked as the second best quarterback in the class of 2012 by MaxPreps, the 6-foot-4, 195-pounder threw a very nice ball and was exceptional on fade routes where he could show off his arm. Winston was light on his feet during drills, moving well and showing off improved footwork – one area of his game where he felt he could have improved on even more.
“Drops,” he zeroed in on. “I'm not that comfortable with the five step drops, the seven step drops. When I'd hitch, I was on my back leg a lot. My arm made up for it but I've got to get better at it.
“What people don't know is that my whole life I was a Wing-T quarterback. I've only had two years in a spread system. I've really only had two years throwing the football.”
A true dual-threat quarterback who can beat a team with his arm and his legs, Winston admits he is still a little more comfortable when he's throwing on the run outside of the pocket.
“Well, god gave me the legs to do it,” he said with a smile. “I am comfortable running just because I have more space but I'm more comfortable in the pocket as well.”
Winston doesn't really have a preference for what type of system he plays in college and certainly has his pick of whichever spread or pro-style system suits him best. With well over 25 scholarship offers with his name on it headed to Hueytown once coaches can send written offers, Winston is only beginning to pare down his recruiting.
“I'm starting to narrow it down, but not quite (all the way down) yet,” Winston said. “I plan on committing in July. I've just got to get out more, my parents haven't been out with me a lot.”
The trip to Ohio State for the Elite 11 will afford Winston the opportunity to take an unofficial visit to see the Buckeyes. He'll be visiting with the coaching staff and see all the school has to offer on Saturday before returning home.
“I hope Terrelle Pryor is up there so I can meet that big guy,” he said, only half-joking. “I just want to meet with the coaches, talk with coach (Jim) Tressel a little bit. This is a dream, being up here. I'm practicing on the same field as people like Eddie George and all those guys.”
An unofficial visit to LSU is in the cards for next week and there are several more penciled in on the calendar as Winston looks to keep to his schedule and commit in July.
“I've got to take my parents down to Florida State, I've got to take them down there because that's a place where I could see myself playing at,” he said. “LSU, Florida State and Oklahoma too. Oklahoma is my favorite school growing up so I'm going to try and get down there. And Vanderbilt, I like Vanderbilt a lot too. I'm going to try and go out west and visit schools like UCLA and Stanford.”
Both in-state schools, Alabama and Auburn, are also heavily pursuing the star QB. Winston says he's open to leaving home however, and is searching for a school that meets his criteria because he isn't worried about staying too close to home.
“First of all, people say academics but I actually am looking at academics,” Winston said. “I have a good GPA, I'm at a 4.1 right now. So I'm looking for academics but I'm also looking for players around me that want to win, that's the main thing.”
A two-sport star, Winston is one of the top high school baseball players in the country. A five-tool player who stars in the outfield, at shortstop and as a pitcher, several baseball scouts think he could go in the first three rounds of the upcoming MLB draft. While he is leaving the football/baseball decision for another day, wrapping up spring football at his high school last week means it's time for him to shift gears and go grab his glove.
“Baseball is going great,” he said. “I start summer ball next week. I'm going to be out there hitting home runs and striking people out.”
Winston said Alabama's baseball program is recruiting him the hardest and if he were to redshirt his first year in college football, he'd try and focus on baseball before competing to be the starting quarterback in the spring. While the strength of a school's baseball programs seems to be secondary to that of its football program in terms of Winston's recruitment, it is still a factor.
Based on the way he threw the ball around the Elite 11 however, it would seem that his future belongs on the gridiron first and the diamond second.
Pike not pleased with his performance
Five-star quarterback Zeke Pike came into the Elite 11 excited to prove that he was one of the top quarterbacks in the nation. After nearly three hours of throwing in the humid Columbus air however, the talented player didn't feel like he brought his “A” game to the competition.
“I did alright,” Pike said. “I didn't throw the ball as well as I thought I would. I'm kind of sore, I've been working real hard this week because it's the last week of summer ball. No excuses but I did preform the way I wanted to.
“That's part of being a quarterback, you're going to have a good game and you're going to have a bad game and you've got to bounce back.”
The Edgewood (Ky.) quarterback struggled at times during the competition, usually with his accuracy. He tended to overstride a little and didn't throw as tight a spiral as he normally does. There might be a little bit of truth to his arm being just a little bit tired as he has had a non-stop schedule since the beginning of the year. On top of leading a 7-on-7 travel team, Pike's high school just wrapped up spring practices right before he made the trip up.
“It's going good, we finished our last thing yesterday,” he said. “We're done for the rest of the school year and then we'll start back up June 1st so it's exciting.
“I'm going to 7-on-7 in Dallas later this summer. I'll probably go down to (Auburn's summer camp) and throw. I'll probably go down there a few more times but we'll see.”
As Auburn's only commitment in the MaxPreps Top 100 for 2012 – he's 30th overall – Pike is the cornerstone in the Tigers' recruiting class. He plans on doing a bit of recruiting for the school at Saturday's Nike Camp and talked glowingly about his connection with the school and the coaching staff.
“It's a place I kind of fell in love with,” he said. “It's where I knew I'd be happy and I'd love going to school there for four or five years. When it all comes down to it, it's about more than just football. It's about where you'll be happy at, where you can be successful at and I felt it there and that's where I felt the most comfortable at too.”
While he's a solid verbal commitment to the Tigers, that hasn't stopped several schools from continuing to pursue the him.
“They still send me a lot of mail and emails and messages,” Pike said. “I don't really read them anymore. I don't talk to as many coaches anymore but I try to keep the lines open with a couple coaches just in case anything ever happens, you never know. But I'm committed to Auburn and I'm going to be loyal to them.”
Kempt an underclassman to keep an eye on
The Elite 11 events are always a good time to see how underclassmen perform against top competition. Massillion (Ohio) quarterback Kyle Kempt was one of several at the event to catch the eye of observers and with good reason as he flashed all the tools he needed to be successful at the next level.
“I felt very good. I felt like I did very well in the drills,” Kempt said. “I was pretty accurate and I didn't try and do something I couldn't do. I just did everything I could to make it a catchable ball for the receiver and come out and show what I've got.”
The 6-foot-5, 190 pound Kempt throws a very catchable ball in a tight spiral. He seemed a bit neverous at the beginning but grew more comfortable as the event went on and was sharp when throwing routes to wide receivers.
“In reality, you're just competing against everybody,” he said. “It's a lot of fun. You have some of the best quarterbacks in the nation here and it's awesome to be able to come out here and compete with them.”
Kempt performed at the Elite 11's first stop, in Orlando, but decided to come back and go through the ringer once again. It's all part of his strategy to go to as many camps as possible to both learn from instructors on how to be a better quarterback and also show off what he can do in hopes of picking up more scholarship offers.
“For college camps, we're going down to Alabama, we're going to go to USC, hopefully Stanford, then Oregon State and Washington.” He continued, “Then we're going to come back here and go to Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan. We're going to do Notre Dame and Boston College and any other area camps we can find.”
Just a rising junior, Kempt already holds a verbal scholarship offer from Stanford and plenty of other schools are giving him a look.
“There are other schools showing interest,” he said. “I'm just going out and trying to prove myself and prove that they need to show a lot of interest in me.”
The offer from the Cardinal was a significant one for Kempt, not only because it was a major Division-I offer from a prestigious school, but because of the coach who saw something in him while he was just a sophomore.
“It meant a lot to me,” Kempt said. “Stanford is a great academic school. The guy who offered me was Coach (Jim) Harbaugh and (the offer) is still standing. Just to get it from him, from an NFL guy, it really meant a lot.”
Kempt is originally from Portland (Ore.) and moved to Ohio almost a year ago. While he now has roots in both the Midwest and the West Coast, where he eventually goes to school doesn't matter as much as some of the other criteria he is looking for in a program.
“A great campus, great academics,” he said. “I'm more of a pro-style offense quarterback so that's definitely the type of school I'm looking for. I really want a coaching staff that I can relate to and that I know I can go to for anything.”
Kempt's older brother was a backup quarterback at Oregon a few years ago and while he has talked with the Ducks a little, their spread system isn't the best fit for him so it's unlikely he'll head to his brother's alma matter. He is, however, already knee deep in the recruiting process and is able to go through it with ease thanks to the experience the family had with his brother.
“I've made an unofficial to Oregon State, I've made an unofficial to Washington,” he said. “I was actually here (at Ohio State) when they played Penn State and that was a great game. It was awesome, great atmosphere and some of the nicest people you'll meet.”
Based on his performance on the Ohio State practice fields Friday, don't be surprised to hear Kempt's name come up more and more as he makes his way around the country.
- Another underclassman who caught just about everyone's eye was Warren (Mich.) quarterback Shane Morris. While it probably had something to do with the way he was spinning the ball during the competition, he made sure everybody knew who he was by wearing a bright yellow Michigan shirt and cap. The recent commit to the school has good size and has an accurate arm. He plans on doing a bit of recruiting for the maize-and-blue at Saturday's Nike Camp.
- The country's top-ranked quarterback and number two overall player Gunner Kiel showed up and did not disappoint. He had to leave as soon as the camp was over but he was impressive from the first snap to the last. He's got a cannon for an arm and throws a really tight spiral. Kiel was the best looking quarterback at any of the Elite 11 stops and was extremely accurate in all phases.
He has plus footwork and physically looks ready to play at the next level immediately at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds. He can shave a few ticks off his release but it's pretty good as is. His downfield throws were beauties, turning over the nose of the ball perfectly. Mechanically sound, he kept the ball high and should be a great pickup for whatever school lands him.
- North Canton (Ohio) quarterback Austin Appleby already has a double digit offer list but should see increased interest from BCS-level schools in the near future. He's got great size and a very strong arm. His release is a little long but has the makings of a BCS-level signal caller. His most recent offer was from Miami of Ohio and he's receiving heavy interest from Michigan State, Michigan and others.
“We really covered a lot of Big East schools during the spring,” Appleby said. “Louisville, Syracuse, Connecticut they all said I'm very high on their board. In the SEC, Vanderbilt seemed very impressed. A lot of them are real close and they say they it's just going to take a camp date (to get an offer).”
- Monroe (Conn.) quarterback Casey Cochran was sharp in yet another camp and should continue to get more interest as the year goes on. He just picked up an offer from Boston College and plans to go to camps at UConn, Temple and Syracuse among others.
- Buffalo (N.Y.) quarterback Chad Kelly can really move and has the arm to throw it around the field, he was sharp all day and can really spin it.
- A few others who impressed were TCU commit Tyler Matthews, Matt Alviti from Park Ridge (Ill.), Sean Maguire of West Orange (N.J.) and Brian Blackburn from Detroit (Mich.).
Tags: Alabama, Auburn, Austin Appleby, Big East, Boston College, Brian Blackburn, Casey Cochran, Chad Kelly, Eddie George, Elite 11, Florida State, Gunner Kiel, Jameis Winston, Jim Harbaugh, Jim Tressel, Kyle Kempt, Lemming Top 100, Louisville, LSU, Matt Alviti, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ohio State Elite 11, Ohio State Nike Camp, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon State, Penn State, Sean Maguire, SEC, Shane Morris, Stanford, Syracuse, TCU, Temple, Terrelle Pryor, Tyler Matthews, UCLA, UConn, USC, Vanderbilt, Washington, Zeke Pike
Posted on: May 17, 2011 9:37 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
- A Q&A about Washington recruiting with a few thoughts on quarterback Jeff Lindquist.
- Illionis continues to be active in extending scholarship offers during the Evaluation Period.
- UConn has some work to do on the recruiting trail this year.
- Michigan coach Brady Hoke was quite excited to receive the commitment of quarterback Shane Morris.
- Plenty of top quarterbacks from all over the Midwest will be at this week's Elite 11 in Columbus.
- Arkansas visited several players in California and Georgia yesterday.
Posted on: May 11, 2011 11:24 am
Posted by Bryan FischerWhen Michigan head coach Brady Hoke was hired, he was like many new head coaches who said recruiting was a priority, especially in-state. Despite having to hit the ground sprinting, he ended up putting together a solid class of 2011 and has been making headway with a possible top 15 class in 2012.
Warren (Mich.) quarterback Shane Morris has taken note and decided to help be the cornerstone piece of an even better class of 2013, committing to the Wolverines Tuesday night.
"When I told Coach Hoke I was committing, he screamed, 'What?!' He jumped out of his seat and gave me a hug, called the coaches into his office and they all welcomed me. He even called his wife and told her," Morris told TheWolverine.com. "It was crazy."
A left-handed sophomore, Morris is one of the top quarterbacks in the midwest and already held offers from Michigan State and Cincinnati among others. His offer from Michigan came in March and making a commitment to his childhood favorite had been on his mind ever since then.
"It was a huge offer," Morris said. "I was really honored and really excited. It was just a huge surprise for me. I worked hard for it, but I wasn't expecting anything like this this early.
"My whole family grew up Michigan fans and watching Michigan football. Tom Brady is the main quarterback I idolize today. I try to learn from him and watch game film of him."
The 6-foot-3, 185 pound signal caller threw for 1,150 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore last season. He becomes the first commitment for any Big Ten school in the class of 2013
Posted on: March 30, 2011 9:21 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Very interesting USA Today article about paying players and the market value of a basketball scholarship, which the paper values to be worth at least $120,000 a year. Although there's 85 of them in football, one would figure on a football scholarship being worth slightly more.
- One name who you might be seeing more of is JaQuay Williams, who holds offers from Auburn, Clemson, Ohio State, Tennessee and South Carolina among others.
- Deion Sanders Jr., son of the famous NFL cornerback, could be a solid playmaker in college despite his lack of height.
- One of the best nicknames in the class of 2012, Alton "Pig" Howard, recently picked up an offer from Notre Dame.
- Michigan extended a verbal offer to sophomore quarterback Shane Morris to give him his second BCS offer.
- Speaking of quarterbacks and Michigan, Zeke Pike discussed his recent visit to Ann Arbor.
- Some Arkansas-related recruiting tidbits.