May 21, 2007

Stars come out for VA Beach Combine

Hampton Roads was the scene of four spring football camps in front of scouts from across the country last week. Recruiters from Virginia, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Georgia, Connecticut, Boston College, Maryland and numerous other schools made their way to the region to check out top players for 2008 and 2009.

On display Monday was recruits from Norfolk and Portsmouth. Leading the way of course was stud offensive tackle Vinston Painter and opposite him was mult-offer defensive tackle Klinton Ruff. Both players were the stars on Monday dominating one-on-ones drills. In fact, Ruff and Painter went against each other three times and Ruff won two of the battles. Ruff looked very quick and lean. He doesn't look the 298-pounds he's listed. As for Painter, he moved well and is huge as expected.

Of course, a couple players really surprised the recruiters' on-hand. Those being Norview wide receiver Mike Williams and Park View wide receiver Michael Johnson. Williams is a 6-foot-4, 205-pound wideout who appeared to be a bit raw, but showed flashes of some solid skills. He's got a lot of room to grow. Johnson was big too at 6-foot-3, 194-pounds. He showed good speed and was willing to put his body on the line to make plays.

The second day of camp took us to Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake were recruits from the Chesapeake and Suffolk regions displayed their skills. No surprise, the stars on hand were Oscar Smith's own wide receiver trio of Kerry Boykins, Todd Harrelson and Jamal Wilson. All three showed terrific speed, good route running and an ability to adjust to the football. In particular I was surprised about Wilson, who was much quicker than anticipated.

Not to be overlooked on the day were two talented quarterbacks in Casey Turner and 2009 stud Kevin Newsome. Turner threw some terrific passes to Boykins, Wilson and Harrelson. He had good mobility, nice touch and spin on the ball and looked real comfortable in his delivery. Newsome threw some tight spirals and arguably was the best looking recruit out there on the day. He showed tremendous speed and athleticism running and passing.

Like the first day of camp, there were plenty of surprises in Chesapeake starting at quarterback with 2010 talent Phillip Sims. For being just a freshman, he threw some tight passes and was able to hit the out and deep pass. Also impressive was Deep Creek safety Devin Arrington who has a terrific frame at 6-foot-2, 190-pounds and good athleticism. Rounding out the group was huge 6-foot-5, 210-pound wide receiver DeAndre White a 2009 wideout. He was a bit slow, but has a huge thick frame to dominate the competition and showed good hands too.

Probably the most talent filled camp of the week on Wednesday was at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex. Impressing everyone in attendance was Ocean Lakes star wideout Marcus Davis who is cut at 6-foot-4, 224-pounds. He looked extremely fast and could be a terrific athlete in a variety of positions at the next level with his ability.

Salem had their two star talents on display in linebacker Lyndell Gibson and running back Kevin Whaley. Although on the short end at 5-foot-11, 215-pounds, Gibson showed good speed. Meanwhile, Whaley may be just 5-foot-10, 170-pounds, but he's built with no fat. He looked explosive and extremely quick in drills.

Although no on display due to injury, Xavier Boyce was in attendance on crutches. He has a terrific frame to work with. Fellow Virginia Beach talent, running back Tony Gregory made a showing. He looked very quick in drills and has a terrific frame to work with at 6-foot-0, 178-pounds.

Arguably the hottest prospect in the country was on display as well in quarterback E.J. Manuel. Simply put, he was the best prospect in attendance on the day. His frame is terrific and he showed good spin and comfort in the pocket during one-on-ones.

Surprises were aplenty in Virginia Beach too with a handful of talent. Tallwood defensive end Chris Johnson helped his stock as he looked fast and motivated in drills. He was the best defensive line recruit there. Another player to keep an eye on is Javon Boddie who showed good speed. A few others not to be overlooked were defensive back Tyheem Lawton, wide receiver Randall Dunn and lineman Tory Williams. All three showed good speed for their positions, but perhaps the biggest sleeper was unknown wideout Alex Arain who measured in at 6-foot-5, 180-pounds. He was a bit lanky, but ran well and made some solid catches.

Woodside High School was the last stop in Hampton Roads on Thursday where recruits from Hampton, Gloucester and Newport News came out. State champs, Phoebus came out in full force with a slew of talented prospects.

In 2008, wide receivers Nathaniel Motley and Reid Evans definitely helped their cause showing good route running, terrific moves and excellent explosion off the line. Joining them from Phoebus was linebacker Darius McMillan who is a bit short at 6-foot-1, but he's got a good frame and solid speed. He covered the tailbacks well in one-on-one drills.

Phoebus has even more talent next year with stud quarterback Tajh Boyd. He looked real comfortable under center and was probably the best prospect on the day. He has a solid frame that still has a lot of room to grow. He also played defensive back for a bit which showed off his speed. In passing drills, Boyd's throws were tight and on target most of the day. Not to be forgotten was his talented teammate, defensive end Dominique Davenport. He is a beast off the edge at 6-foot-1, 239-pounds and dominated older competition. He also has a terrific burst.

A couple surprises on the day included huge 6-foot-6, 246-pound offensive tackle Chris Brock. He is very thin, but looked tough and has a wonderful frame to work with. Joining him was 2009 quarterback Teddy Bacote who looked very comfortable on the day. He threw tight spirals and had good zip on the ball. His frame is great too at 6-foot-4, 171-pounds.

Mike Farrell is the National Recruiting Analyst for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mike@rivals.com.

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