April 20, 2007

Top prospects set to compete at Athens NIKE Camp

Year in and year out, the Athens NIKE Camp features some of the top prospects in the Southeast. The Class of 2008 edition of the event, which will be held Saturday on the campus of the University of Georgia, is expected to be no different and multiple elite prospects will test themselves against top talent.

Many prospects emerged at last season's Athens NIKE Camp. Here's a look back at some of last year's noteworthy happenings.

-Multiple onlookers first saw Tampa (Fla.) Plant quarterback Robert Marve,
who signed with Miami (Fla.) in February, throw the ball.

-Those same onlookers also got a first glimpse of four-star wide receiver prospect Jason Barnes of Charlotte (N.C.) Independence, who signed with South Carolina in February.

-Lynn Haven (Fla.) Mosley running back Enrique Davis answered questions about his speed by running a 4.39-second 40-yard dash and standing out during the running back drills. Davis signed with Auburn in February.

-Blythewood (S.C.) linebacker Charles White had such a good day that he received an offer from the University of Georgia and committed to the Bulldogs within the week. White signed with UGA.

-A trio of Statesboro (Ga.) prospects (Class of 2007 defensive end Justin Houston and safety John Knox and Class of 2008 defensive tackle DeAngelo Tyson first emerged as elite prospects at last year's camp. Houston and Knox signed with Georgia in February and Tyson currently is committed to the Dawgs.

-Summerville (S.C.) wide receiver A.J. Green, one of the top prospects in the Class of 2008, was very likely the best overall offensive player at last year's camp. Green committed to Georgia a few months after the camp and remains part of the Bulldogs 2008 class.

There were many more stellar showings during last year's camp and judging from the list of who is expected Saturday, this year should be no different.


Wide receivers

The wide receiver position looks deep and talented and is expected to have multiple difference-makers competing on Saturday, including two of Georgia's best in Ellenwood Cedar Grove's Josh Jarboe and Mount Airy Habersham Central's Tavarres King.

King, who has excellent speed, could be the Peach State's top receiver prospect. The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder has multiple scholarship offers, but right now it's a two-team race between Georgia (his favorite) and Clemson, where his father played college football.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Jarboe is a bigger receiver. He has offers from multiple programs and currently has Georgia, Georgia Tech and Ohio State in his top three.

Blythewood (S.C.) pass catcher Marquan Jones, a Clemson commitment, is the top wide receiver prospect in the state of South Carolina in this year's class outside of Green. The smooth, fluid athlete led the young Blythewood program to a state title during his junior year.

Kennesaw (Ga.) Harrison pass catcher Darvin Adams is a 6-foot-3, 175-pound athlete who claims offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Wake Forest and Auburn. Right now, the Tigers are his leaders. Adams, who played multiple positions during his junior year, scored 20 offensive touchdowns last season.

Alcoa (Tenn.) athlete Brian Sommer could work out as a defensive back or a receiver. The 6-foot, 195-pounder favors South Carolina and Tennessee and also has offers from Ole Miss, Louisville and West Virginia.

Other receivers to watch include North Augusta (S.C.) speedster Marcus Thurmond, DeMarcus Watts of Atlanta Grady, Jamar Branch of Goldsboro (N.C.), Sean Adgebola of Loganville (Ga.) Grayson[/db], Xzavian Brandon of Duluth Northview[/db].

Offensive line

Led by pre-evaluation Rivals100 tackle Greg Shaw of Miami Pace, the group of offensive line prospects in Athens Saturday should be outstanding.

The 6-foot-6, 280-pound Shaw, who holds offers from most of the programs in the Southeastern and Atlantic Coast Conferences, among others, will get the chance to show he's a dominant prospect at tackle and one of the elite in a year where there are plenty of five-star candidates at his position.

Kenneth Page of Columbia (S.C.) A.C. Flora has dozens of scholarship offers (the most recent coming from West Virginia on Friday) and is the top offensive line prospect in the Palmetto State in this year's class. Page was outstanding during last year's Clemson NIKE Camp and is heading to Athens this year to prove he's one of the top linemen in the country.

Many in Georgia feel that Chamblee offensive lineman Omoregie Uzzi is one of the most under-publicized talents in the Southeast. But Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Duke and Virginia have recognized the 6-foot-4, 290-pound guard prospect's abilities. He certainly will be one to watch Saturday.

Concord (N.C.) Robinson tackle R.J. Mattes is one of the Tar Heel State's top trenchmen. The 6-foot-7, 265-pounder has excellent feet and NFL bloodlines as his father Ron played in the league. Mattes has offers from a host of schools, but currently likes Virginia (his father's alma mater), North Carolina and Clemson the most.

Other offensive linemen to keep an eye on are A.J. Hawkins of Lithonia Martin Luther King, James McIver of Atlanta Riverwood, Cordy Glenn of Riverdale, Everette Curtis of Macon (Ga.) Northeast, Gideon Scott of Mount Zion Jonesboro and Class of 2009 prospect Andre Harris of Lovejoy (Ga.).

Running backs

Jonesboro (Ga.) Mount Zion running back Martin Ward, a University of Georgia commit, will head to his future home to compete Saturday, along with several other talented prospects at his position.

Virginia Tech, Maryland and Connecticut have offered Virginia Beach Salem running back Kevin Whaley. The 5-foot-11, 167-pound speedster rushed for 39 touchdowns his junior season and will be looking to increase his stock with a sold showing Saturday.

Vance King of Stockbridge (Ga.) has good speed and could project at defensive back or running back in college. He is expected to work out as a running back on Saturday. North Carolina has already jumped on board with a scholarship offer.

College Park (Ga.) Woodward Academy all-purpose back Jamal Paige has scholarship offers from all three service academies (Air Force, Army, Navy) and will be out to show off his speed and versatility on Saturday. Page impressed with stellar testing numbers at the Atlanta NIKE Combine in February, including a 4.47-second 40-yard dash.

Speedy Science Hill (Tenn.) running back Solomon Duanah has a best time of 10.8 seconds in the 100-meter dash and will be out to show he's got the talent to go along with his natural athletic ability.

Class of 2009 standout Devin Wherry of Rock Hill (S.C.) South Pointe could be one of the top prospects in the Palmetto State during the next cycle.

Other running backs to watch include Toquavious Gilchrist of Abbeville (S.C.), DeMario Pippen of Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Central, Alex Daniel of Roswell (Ga.) (he also could work out at safety, as that's where he projects best in college), C.J. Davis of Asheville (N.C.) A.C. Reynolds and Anthony Fonville of Florence (S.C.) South Florence.


Charlotte (N.C.) Latin's Braden Hanson will compete at the camp in addition to the Elite 11 workout at Georgia Tech the night before. The 6-foot-6, 200-pound signal caller has offers from North Carolina and others and will test his skills against some of the best prospects in the Southeast.

Duluth (Ga.) Northview's Justin Tuggle has offers from Mississippi State and Indiana. The son of former Atlanta Falcons linebacker Jessie Tuggle is looking for his stock to rise with a standout showing Saturday.

Clemson quarterback commit Jon Richt of Athens (Ga.) Prince Avenue Christian will compete. The future Tiger and son of UGA head coach Mark Richt also will compete in the Elite 11 Friday night at Tech.

Other quarterbacks to watch include Dallas (Ga.) Paulding County's Zach Thomason, Reid McCollum of Summerville (S.C.), Brent Burnette of Maryville (Tenn.), Curt Phillips of Kingsport (Tenn.) Sullivan South, Deron Furr of Columbus (Ga.) Carver, Aramis Hillary of Johnston (S.C.) Strom Thurmond, Jaybo Shaw of Flowery Brach (Ga.), Jacob Charest of Matthews (N.C.) Butler, Troy Dannehower of Daytona Beach Seabreeze and Class of 2009 standout Stephon Gilmore of Rock Hill (S.C.) South Pointe.

Tight ends

Recent North Carolina State commit Mario Carter of Charlotte (N.C.) Independence is expected to compete Saturday. The 6-foot-4, 240-pounder helped his team capture its seventh straight state championship.

Myrtle Beach (S.C.) jumbo athlete Andrew Powers is a 6-foot-5, 240-pounder who could work out at tight end or defensive end. Either way, his size makes him an intriguing prospect and potential sleeper.

Other tight ends to watch include Marietta (Ga.) Kennesaw Mountain's Bryce Ros and Rossville (Ga.) Ridgeland's Nigel Nicolas, a Duke commit.


Defensive line

There is talk that pre-evaluation Rivals100 member A.J. Harmon of Louisville (Ga.) Jefferson County will attend the camp Saturday and work out as a defensive tackle (he projects as an offensive guard at the moment).

This is not something one should consider far-fetched. Though guard may be where his highest ceiling is, he's athletic enough to be a force along the defensive line.

Harmon has offers from most of the programs in the Southeast, but like King, most consider this a Clemson-Georgia battle at the moment. The Tigers currently are pitching him on giving defensive line a try and it's working with regards to gaining ground on the in-state Dawgs.

If Harmon doesn't show, the top prospect to watch heading into the camp on the defensive line could be Birmingham (Ala.) Woodlawn's Undra Billingsley. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Alabama commit holds offers from Tennessee, Clemson and Auburn in addition the Crimson Tide.

Newberry (S.C.) defensive tackle Kenny Davis has scholarship offers from Clemson and South Carolina and has said previously he would decide between the two in-state programs. The 6-foot-4, 295-pounder will get the chance to show more than just the Palmetto State that he belongs among the better d-line prospects in the Southeast in this class.

Gainesville (Ga.) defensive end Keith Wells holds offers from Georgia Tech, North Carolina, South Carolina and others. He has enough athleticism and upside to be one of the storylines Saturday.

Columbia (S.C.) Richland Northeast defensive end Chris Bonds is expected to be the top defensive line prospect in the Palmetto State in the Class of 2009.

Other defensive tackles to watch include James Brown of Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Central and Randy Salmon of Stockbridge (Ga.). Other defensive ends to watch include Baird Godley of Greensboro (N.C.) Northwest Guilford, Steven Fowlkes of Atlanta Banneker and James Searcy of Newnan (Ga.) Northgate.

Defensive backs

Georgia commitment Brandon Boykin and Darius Barksdale of Batesville (Miss.) South Panola lead the way in a talented group of defensive backs.

Boykin is one of the top cornerbacks in the Peach State in this year's class while Barksdale is a versatile athlete who could possibly workout on the offensive side of the football.

Winston-Salem (N.C.) Mount Tabor's Ed Gainey had 13 interceptions during his junior year. He will be showing off his ball skills during the one-on-one drills Saturday against the talented wide receivers at the event.

Prentiss Wagner of Clinton (La.) posted a stellar 37-inch vertical leap at the Baton Rouge NIKE Combine back in January. He will look to translate his impressive physical numbers to the football drills at the camp Saturday.

Garner (N.C.) speedster Tony Morgan plays running back and cornerback for his high school team. It will be interesting to watch Morgan in coverage during the one-on-one drills Saturday as many project him on the defensive side of the ball.

Tennessee commit J.T. Floyd of Greenville (S.C.) J.L. Mann is expected to workout. Floyd projects as a safety at the next level and shows up as a playmaker on film.

Suwanee (Ga.) Peachtree Ridge cornerback Cameron Demps runs a legitimate 4.35 second 40-yard dash. His speed and coverage skills will be on display Saturday.

Atlanta Marist's Cooper Taylor is a big, fast safety with a number of early offers, including Duke.

Other defensive backs to watch include Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson cornerback Amed Shakoor, Dacula (Ga.) safety Khiry Battle, Roswell (Ga.) safety Garrett Embry, Tampa (Fla.) Freedom safety Scott Peek.


Tennessee, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina and Clemson have offered Jonathan Willard of Loris (S.C.). The 6-foot-2, 207-pounder has the chance to emerge as one of the best prospects at his position in the Southeast with a stellar showing Saturday.

Alabama, North Carolina State, North Carolina and South Carolina have offered Shelby (N.C.) Crest's Dwayne Maddox. The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder had 100 tackles and five sacks during his junior season and is one of the better linebacker prospects in the Tar Heel State in the Class of 2008.

Norcross (Ga.) Greater Atlanta Christian's Christian Robinson has offers from Georgia, South Carolina and others. The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder has the chance to earn even more recognition with a strong showing Saturday.

Other linebackers to watch include: Mississippi State commit Bo Walters, Buford (Ga.) High standout T.J. Pridemore, Darryl Farley of Atlanta Grady and Reggie Bowens of Garner (N.C.).

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