Nike Camp Observations

There was a good turnout on Saturday, with some of the state’s top prospects competing and showing their talents against other top talents from outside the state. Standout juniors from the Commonwealth included linebackers David Watford.

There was impressive talent throughout, but the most impressive position in my opinion was linebacker. In addition to Grant and Hughes, North Point (MD) standout Connor Crowell and Butler (Matthews, N.C.) standout Kris Frost looked the part of potential studs on the college level. Grant took home MVP honors at the linebacker position, but Crowell, Frost and Hughes couldn’t have been far behind. In addition to Grant, who looks like he could be a college player right now, Crowell impressed me in particular. The Maryland prep star has turned in several top SPARQ scores – a SPARQ score combines a 40 time, a 20-yard shuttle time, a vertical jump and power ball toss – throughout the spring and certainly showed off his athleticism on Saturday. Crowell was very fluid in his movement, showed good quickness off the ball and moved well in space.

I came away impressed with Hughes’ size. I didn’t expect him to look as good physically, but he is well built and moves well for his size. Frost showed well athletically also, but the most impressive part of his game is the leadership. He was a vocal performer out there and one of the true leaders on the day, often leading the way from drill to drill and getting other players pumped up.

Phoebus standout Caleb Taylor participated in most drills on Saturday, although I did not see him in space drills (where a coach makes a pitch to the running back and the linebacker is supposed to make a two-hand touch in space) or one-on-ones. The 6-0, 230-pounder will have a chance to show his stuff at Tech’s one-day camp next month. If he can show he is returning to the top form he showed as a sophomore, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an offer come.

Phoebus’ Daquan Romero is a tough competitor – he was extremely fiery on the “sack the quarterback” drill, where a running back is supposed to try to block a linebacker trying to get to the quarterback – and showed off his defensive end prowess there. The reigning Peninsula district Defensive Player of the Year didn’t look as comfortable in space drills against running backs, but that’s not a big surprise given the fact that he primarily plays defensive end in high school. He looks like a tough, gritty player, and I think he can make the transition to linebacker on the next level.

Ocean Lakes linebacker Lamar Neal appears to be one to watch. The 6-0 linebacker is a rock solid 218 pounds. If he can get his academics in order – something Dolphins head coach Chris Scott said is happening – I wouldn’t be surprise to see him earn some FBS offers this spring and summer. Andrew Bose, a 6-2, 225-pound prospect, looked solid as well. He is a talented athlete out of Huntingtown High School in West Virginia.

VT recruiting

Some of Virginia Tech’s top targets were on hand for Saturday’s event. Grant, Hughes, Funderburk, Thourogood and Watford were there, of course. Tech is in good shape with the latter two, both quarterback prospects. Virginia Tech is in serious contention for Grant, whose recruitment promises to be a battle. Tech is high on Hughes’ list as well, though Maryland, where Travis’ brother Trenton is on football scholarship, will be tough to beat.

I talked to Menchville (Newport News) running back Clifton Richardson. Paraphrasing, the 6-1, 195-pound junior, currently a “soft” commitment to UVa, is not seriously considering Virginia Tech at this point because of depth chart concerns. He would like an opportunity to play as a true freshman and isn’t sure the opportunity would be there at Virginia Tech.

Tech has offered Kris Frost and is listed in Frost’s top five, but at this point I don’t consider Tech the favorite. Other top VT targets in attendance on Saturday were Mallard Creek (N.C.) quarterback Marquise Williams and Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, VA) wide receiver Quinta Funderburk. Tech appears in better position right now with Williams, who had high praise for UNC and Virginia Tech in an interview last month. Funderburk appears likely to leave the state to play