DURHAM, N.C. – On Sunday, JC Shurburtt broke down the top rising seniors at the Duke Nike Training Camp. With four-stars like JC Coleman, Germone Hopper, Korren Kirven and Kwontie Moore all in attendance, the event certainly had its share of top 2012 names. However, where the Duke camp was unique was in its showcase of what are sure to be the national names of the class of 2013.
Peter Kalambayi led an outstanding group of underclassmen.
Among the many underclassmen in attendance, we take a look at the best of a strong group. (list is in alphabetical order)
Justin Bridges-Thompson, S, Spartanburg (S.C.) High School
Regardless of class, not many defensive backs looked the part like Bridges-Thompson. The safety is big and strong but not bulky. He had some of the quickest feet in positional work and really explodes out of his breaks. Though he had an injury early in the day and wasn’t able to compete in the 1on1s and 7on7s, he left his mark even in limited participation.
My take: He needs polish, but Bridges-Thompson is a unique enough athlete to emerge as one of the top safeties in South Carolina.
Andrew Brown, SDE, Chesapeake (Va.) Indian River (Class of 2014)
By most accounts, the most impressive underclassman in Durham was also one of the youngest underclassmen. Brown will only be a sophomore during the 2011 season but on Sunday he was demanding reps at defensive end and putting on a resounding show. Brown could certainly grow into a defensive tackle and is likely heading in that direction at 260-plus pounds already but he showed great power and quickness to dominate 1on1s off the edge.
My take: Write this name down alongside names like Leonard Fournette (RB, New Orleans) and Sony Michel (RB, Plantation, FL) as locks to be among the very best in the country in the class of 2014.
Larenz Bryant, RB, Charlotte (N.C.) Vance
With size at 6-1, 200 pounds, Bryant fits a similar mold to several other backs that we’ve seen throughout this spring such as Kenyan Drake, George Morris and Jamaal Williams. He could line up in the slot, be a downhill back or possibly even move over to the defensive side of the ball. In a good running back group, Bryant consistently was making plays that were different in the camp setting.
My take: You have to love the tools for Bryant. On film, you’d like to see more instincts and feel with the ball in his hands but with more experience that can develop. In person, he shows a lot of upside.
Riley Ferguson, Pro, Matthews (N.C.) Butler
Riley Ferguson was one of the top passers in attendance at Duke.
It wasn’t long ago that we were watching Riley Ferguson put on a show in Athens, Ga. and take home the Georgia NIKE Camp quarterback MVP award. Though he didn’t take home any hardware at this event, Ferguson certainly made a case that he was deserving. Ferguson throws with confidence and swagger and he also shows good consistency and athleticism.
My take: When it comes time to rank the class of 2013, I will be surprised if Ferguson isn’t at least in the discussion for the top 150 range.
Daniel Garces, WDE, Charlotte (N.C.) Providence
From a size standpoint, Garces is a bit of a tweener. He is a little taller than 6-2 and looks like a big linebacker on the hoof. Off of the edge though, he is definitely a load and his quickness makes him tough to handle. Probably a good fit for a 3-4 outside linebacker role, Garces was certainly one of the top pass rushers regardless of class.
My take: On film, Garces is just as effective of a pass rusher as he showed on Sunday and he seems to have an active motor. There is a real possibility that he’s a multiple offer kid by the middle of the fall.
Greg Gilmore, DT, Hope Mills (N.C.) South View
Physically, Gilmore looks more like a college sophomore than a high school sophomore. He’s very physical and explosive and as a big interior defender he played with good leverage. It was very startling to find out that Gilmore was in the class of 2013 and plenty of North Carolina high school coaches will be disappointed to learn the same.
My take: Without seeing any film, Gilmore looks to have the tools to emerge as a national recruit at the defensive line position. He has the size and athleticism that make him rare and if that translates in pads, Gilmore is special.
Bucky Hodges, Pro, Salem (Va.) High School
This is the second chance we’ve had to see Bucky Hodges this spring and he has impressed in both settings. Hodges has great size, a good arm and really puts the ball where receivers can do something with it. At times both his drop and delivery aren’t as quick and efficient as you’d like to see, so there is plenty of room for development but Hodges has some good tools to work with.
My take: Already with offers from both in-state schools, Hodges has a chance to develop into an elite quarterback thanks in large part to a frame and presence that you can’t teach. At this point he’s not quite a ‘no-brainer’ though.
Peter Kalambayi, ILB, Matthews (N.C) Butler
Another sophomore with a build that far exceeds his age, Kalambayi is every bit of 6-2, 220 pounds if he’s not bigger. Space evaporates when Kalambayi is closing on ball carriers and he also has a good knack for getting his hands on balls and being around the play in the pass game. A true inside linebacker, Kalambayi also possesses the hips and coverage ability to carry verticals and defend passing lanes as well as come down hill.
My take: As long as he doesn’t get too big, I fully expect Kalambayi to be one of the most highly recruited inside linebakcers in the class of 2013.
Andrew Motuapuaka, OLB, Salem (Va.) High School
If his playmaking doesn’t catch your eye, Motuapuaka’s Troy Polomalu style hair will certainly grab your attention. Motuapuaka is originally from Tonga but comes from a military family and has moved around. He certainly knows how to move on the football field as well. The undersized backer was probably the best backer to defend the pass at Sunday’s event and may even project as a safety.
My take: I would be curious to see if Motuapuaka can backpedal and play safety. He’s a very good linebacker in a camp setting but his size and physicality aren’t what they need to be on film. Regardless, he is a division I prospect that could develop into more.