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Ole Miss elite: Memphis invades

OXFORD, Miss. – The city of Memphis has emerged as a recruiting hot bed in the class of 2012. Led by Top247 member Brian Kimbrow out of Memphis (Tenn.) East, the area not only has elite players in the senior class but it has depth. That depth became evident on Saturday at the Ole Miss elite camp.

Sheldon Dawson emerged as one of the best cornerbacks in the southeast on Saturday.

The event was dominated by Memphis natives and the top performance came from Sheldon Dawson, a prospect casual recruiting followers may not know. That anonymity should vanish following Saturday’s camp.

Dawson’s recruitment is unique because he was a backup tailback to teammate Jaylen Walton during his junior year. Even as the second option, Dawson was able to rush for over 1,000 yards. While several schools are recruiting Dawson as a running back, he also started on the defensive side of the ball at cornerback. That is where he worked under the watch of Ole Miss coaches and that is where he asserted himself as arguably the day’s top performer.

From the start of defensive back drill work, Dawson emerged as a fluid, quick and explosive athlete and with good size, his upside revealed itself immediately. However, when the drills moved to 1on1s, Dawson really stole the show. He dominated in a number of ways. At times, he wouldn’t let receivers off the line of scrimmage with a physical jam. Other reps he showed recovery speed and ball skills. He was a constant competitor and barely lost a rep all day.

The performance was so impressive that Dawson stated a strong case as the top player in the state of Tennessee. His film is impressive and the complete package he showed on Saturday is impossible to ignore.

Though his recruitment hasn’t had the fanfare of others in the southeast, Dawson is hardly anonymous to college coaches. Prior to the camp, Dawson reported 15 offers including the likes of Arkansas, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, North Carolina and Purdue. He also claimed offers from Ole Miss and Cincinnati and listed those two programs as co-leaders.

Dawson’s teammate, 2,000 yard rusher Jaylen Walton was also in attendance with Dawson and had a good day as well. With the two hopeful to play together at the next level, don’t be surprised if the pair leaves Oxford as Rebel commits. Their performances have certainly given Houston Nutt’s staff plenty of motivation to encourage a decision.

The 4.2 caravan

Another pair of Memphis teammates that made the trip to Oxford worthwhile was Brian Kimbrow and Will Redmond out of Memphis (Tenn.) East. Kimbrow’s speed has been well-documented and though he is at a camp nearly every weekend, he has yet to clock a hand-timed 40 that has been outside of the 4.2 range. Prior to the Ole Miss camp, the two stopped at Mississippi State and Redmond joined his friend and teammate below the 4.3 threshold, clocking a 4.29.

Brian Kimbrow showed the ability to play wide receiver at Ole Miss.

That speed showed up during the drills and one-on-one session as well. Redmond worked out primarily at cornerback and showed some of the best make-up speed of the event, making it clear that vertical routes are tough to come by on his watch.

Redmond came to the camp in hopes of earning an offer. Prior to the camp he listed Tennessee and Ole Miss as two schools that he hopes will add offers to his quickly growing list. With Saturday’s effort, Redmond gave the Ole Miss staff plenty to think about.

Kimbrow already hold an Ole Miss offer along with offers from most of the rest of the major programs in the southeast. When Houston Nutt extended that Ole Miss offer, he may have had visions of former Ole Miss all-purpoe back Dexter McCluster dancing in his head. Kimbrow certainly has the speed and make-miss ability to compare to McCluster. On Saturday, he showed that he has the pass catching ability as well.

Too small to be an every-down SEC back, Kimbrow displayed extremely impressive route-running ability and sure hands throughout Saturday’s workout. That added dimension to his game could allay a lot of size concerns that any college coach may have. He showed that he can legitimately line up as a true wide receiver or slot in certain situations.

Kimbrow also hopes to team with Will Redmond on the next level and Vanderbilt has been in great shape for his recruitment. A camp circuit that includes upcoming trips to Notre Dame, Clemson, North Carolina, Tennessee and Nashville to see the Commodores could continue to add wrinkles to a list of options that isn’t shortening.

A big Hill found

If you’re in the presence of Collierville (Tenn.) St. George’s offensive lineman Brandon Hill you will know it. It is hard to miss 6-foot-6 and 379 pounds which is what his height and weight was recorded as at Ole Miss. The problem is not many coaches know where to find him.

Hill was previously at Memphis (Tenn.) Manassas but he transferred to St. George’s three games into his junior year and was forced to sit out the rest of the season. Consequently, everything from mail to calls to visits has often gone to the wrong school and there has been very little film of Hill to distribute. Despite that, he still holds offers from Memphis, Nebraska, Southern Miss and Ole Miss.

Brandon Hill weighed in at 380 pounds and still showed good feet.

If you actually are lucky enough to see Hill in person, it’s hard not to come away impressed. Amazingly, even at close to 380 pounds, Hill carries his weight extremely well. At that size, he shows remarkable feet and good balance as an offensive lineman. Hill will also camp at Mississippi State, Southern Miss’ satellite camp and Georgia. He’s likely a big guard on the next level and whoever lands him will have stolen one of biggest sleepers in the southeast – literally.

Quick Hitters

- Among the biggest names in attendance was Oxford (Miss.) Lafayette athlete Jeremy Liggins. Liggins could project to tight end, defensive end, linebacker or even defensive tackle on the next level but he is also a very accomplished quarterback on the high school level and quarterback was where he chose to work out on Saturday. As a passer, Liggins showed some real ability and actually had the strongest arm in the camp. He’s the type of athlete that can flick the ball 50 yards with ease and it seems to be a realistic possibility that Liggins is a quarterback on Saturdays.

- If Liggins had the biggest arm in Oxford, Ole Miss commit C.J. Beathard may have shown the best touch. The Franklin (Tenn.) Battle Ground Academy product puts the ball in good spots and throws a catchable pass. He may not come to Ole Miss college ready, but Beathard looks like he can develop into a very nice passer.

- Long Beach (Miss.) High School linebacker Richie Brown is hitting the camp circuit hard to try to earn more offers to add to a list that already includes schools like Kentucky, Mississippi State, Stanford and Southern Miss. His performance on Saturday should help his quest. Brown was among the top linebackers in the testing with a 4.5 40, 34 inch vertical, 4.18 shuttle and a standing broad jump at just under 10 feet.

- Along with Beathard, two more Ole Miss commits were in attendance in Batesville (Miss.) South Panola teammates Temario Strong and Isaac Gross. Gross, a four-star listed Alabama and Mississippi State as the only two schools that he is still communicating with as an Ole Miss commit. He worked at defensive line and though he is very undersized, he shows terrific get-off and athleticism.

- The Houston Nike Camp dubbed Ruston (La.) High School safety Cyril Noland as its defensive back MVP and he picked up where he left off at Ole Miss. Of all of the safeties in attendance, Noland showed the most consistency in both 1on1s and position drills.

- Noland is not the only Ruston defensive back whose stock is on the rise. Cornerback Kentrell Brice has landed several offers of late due to his size and physicality. He was also in attendance in Oxford and was another prospect that had a solid afternoon. Among Brice’s early offers are Indiana, Nebraska, Memphis and Tulane.

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