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April 6, 2008

Miami Nike Camp sets the bar

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - When you come to south Florida, there are several things that you expect: sun, palm trees, beaches and of course, speed. The Nike Football Training Camps kicked off on Sunday afternoon at the University of Miami, and as expected the talent on hand was off the charts, particularly at the skill positions.

The list of wide receiver talent was long and impressive and was only matched by the players that lined up across the line from them at defensive back.

Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Barry Every expected to see some good players at the skill positions and was not disappointed.

"Obviously, when you come to South Florida you expect to see a bunch of DBs and widouts," Every said. "You expect to see skill and to me those were the two positions that stood out the most."

Among an incredibly deep group of wide receivers, Every found three players in particular that stood out, one of which was only a sophomore.

"At about 6 feet 2.5 and 171 pounds or so, Ted Meline needs to add some weight, but he has incredible hands," Every said about the 2010 prospect. "He caught everything with his hands."

Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas wide receiver Duron Carter had an impressive day at the event but his teammate Dwayne Difton, an early South Florida commit, also caught the eye of Every due to his speed and athleticism.

A player whose stock continues to soar and who seems to impress in every setting is Miramar wide receiver Stedman Bailey. Bailey has no offers to date but it should only be a matter of time before multiple offers come his way. He was one of several Miramar wide receivers at the event that put on a terrific show.

"The Stedman Bailey kid was real consistent and showed good speed and good quickness," Every commented.

Among the many talented wideouts in attendance, some of the more effective players were Archbishop Carroll's Rodney Smith, a big 6-foot-5 target that is an effortless pass-catcher and Ivan McCartney, cousin to Chad Johnson and another outstanding Miramar target.

Defending the great crop of wide receivers was a corps of defensive backs that was every bit up to the challenge.

Defensive backs coach Eugene Jackson had the pleasure of coaching the deep group of cornerbacks and noticed two players in particular that stood out in the crowd.

"Michael Carter needs to get a little stronger but he has good feet and good balance," Jackson said. "He has good closing speed. If he gets a little upper body strength he'll be ok. He's a very good listener and very coachable."

Along with the Pompano Beach (Fla.) Ely standout, the second name that stood out on the corner is a name that will continue to be thrown around in the future, 2010 prospect LaMarcus Joyner.

"I liked the sophomore Joyner," said Jackson. "He just works hard. He just needs to be polished. He has a lot of upside. To me, he looks like he could play both DB and linebacker because he's very strong. He's just a diamond that needs to be polished up. He's very coachable."

Miami Northwestern safety Tevin McCaskill also had a great day as did Vladimir Emilien out of Plantation, Fla., before spraining his knee in one-on-ones.

The quarterbacks throwing to the talented group of skill players consisted of a standout senior and a few very strong 2010 prospects.

"Eugene Smith has the most talent in the group," said quarterbacks coach Bob Johnson of the Miramar signal caller. "(Deerfield Beach's) Denard Robinson and the kid from Killian, Ricky Rowe are good athletes that throw a good ball. Garrett Williams (of Chamblee, Georgia) is a short kid that I like a lot. Those three guys have a chance. They're not the prototypical tall ones but could be very good."

Johnson talked about Tyler Wilhelm as one of the most improved players over the course of the day and he also saw some tremendous potential in two 2010 prospects.

"This Godfrey kid (Jeffrey Godfrey of Miami Central), I liked him maybe the best in the camp," Johnson said. "He looks like he can run. Brandon Doughty. He has a chance. He's just a junior and if he works on some thinks he could be a good player."

At running back, there was one player that was the consensus pick throughout the coaches and spectators as one of the top performers at the camp, Miami Palmetto running back Jaamal Berry.

Running backs coach Brandon Hancock immediately singled Berry out as his top player at the position.

"[Berry] came out there and he competed well and showed a lot of size and athleticism," remarked the former USC fullback. "In the one-on-one drills, he's physical and he showed a lot of eagerness to get up in there. He was good with his hands in the pass blocking and also on the pass catching side of the ball he ran some good routes. I think all in all he was one of the guys who was Division-I ready. I thought Berry was the closest to the comprehensive package."

Berry was joined by sophomore Jakhari Gore as one of the top backs in attendance along with Dillard's Trabis Ward.

Among the linebackers, the one player that really separated himself was Rivals100 member Frankie Telfort. Telfort doesn't have the prototypical size at linebacker, but he more than makes up for it with his athleticism.

"Frankie Telfort was the guy as far as athletic ability and being able to stay with any running back he went against in one-on-ones," said Barry Every.

In the trenches, two different offensive line coaches singled out the same two players as the top players on that side of the ball and made it clear that the Muck is good for more than just speedy receivers and defensive backs. Pahokee's Jaquan Bentley and Glades Central's Rupert Bryan represented their programs well.

"Bryan and Bentley did a great job of just throwing guys around at the line of scrimmage which is tough to do in one-on-ones," said offensive line coach Pete Brock.

Coach Kolyanides echoed those same sentiments.

"During one-on-ones, Bentley was just a mean SOB," Kolyanides said. "They guy plays with a good edge, but he plays with an edge. Bryan was one of the most coachable kids that I've ever seen. He might be a little undersized at 6-1.5 but he has amazing feet, amazing flexibility and an amazing motor."

The biggest challenge to the offensive linemen on the interior came from Miami Northwestern super sophomore Todd Chandler, on the outside two of the toughest players to block were Olivier Vernon, an early commit to Miami, and David Gilbert of Oakland Park Northeast.

"As far as underclassmen go, Todd Chandler is just really, really, really powerful," Every said. "I also like David Gilbert. He has unbelievable character and unbelievable body structure and he hasn't even hit the tip of the iceberg yet as far as his potential."

In all, the Miami Nike Camp set the bar very high for the Nike Camp circuit. The amount of Division-I caliber talent in attendance was far too much to count and serves as a great indicator of what's to come on the top camp circuit in the country.

For more on the NIKE Football Training Camps, check out StudentSportsFootball.com.




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