CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – On one of the last Nike Football Training Camp stops of the year before the summer culminates in The Opening, a small group convened on the campus of the University of Illinois. Though the numbers were limited, including a defensive back group that consisted of only 16 players, the decision as to who should make the top ten was as difficult as ever.
Jayme Thompson flies around the football field.
We take a look at the top performers from the day’s competition with full knowledge that a number of other prospects had performances worthy of inclusion.
1. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Crete-Monee – No wide receiver present on Sunday caught the ball with the kind of effortless ease as Treadwell. He inhales the football, making the routine catch look the way it should and adding plenty of spectacular catches to his resume as well.
Treadwell – who possess very good top-end speed and smooth route-running ability – showed the ability to lay-out for footballs on vertical routes and high-point footballs in jump-ball scenarios. In a year in which there aren’t a lot of no-doubt type receiver prospects, it’s hard to imagine many receivers better than him.
2. Jayme Thompson, S, Toledo (Ohio) Central Catholic – Thompson has the hands of a defensive back – and I say that as a former defensive back. But there is nothing else that he’s missing.
The Ohio State commit has great size, he’s explosive and quick twitch, he shows the versatility to line up at cornerback and he displays a great attitude and mentality. Despite limited numbers among the defensive backs, Thompson was eager and ready to take almost every rep.
Though he is the only defensive back to appear on this list, many more were deserving including Michigan commit Jourdan Lewis, Minnesota commit Keelon Brookins and uncommitted, unoffered Kierre Rhodes.
3. Ty Isaac, RB, Joliet Catholic – It’s hard to know what to make of Isaac. The USC commit is massive. Listed at 6-2, 215 in the 247Sports database, 6-3, 230 isn’t out of the question. At that size, you really don’t expect Isaac to have the ability to be adept at running back-specific movements but he is.
Isaac can catch the ball extremely well, he’s great at putting his foot in the ground and making decisive cuts and he actually was one of the top performers in the open-field drill, a drill tailor-made for smaller backs. Isaac is in the same boat as Derrick Henry in the 2013 class as a huge back that may outgrow the position but has freakish ability.
4. Elijah Daniel, DE, Avon (Ind.) – There were a lot of great looking defensive linemen to watch on Sunday and through the first portion of the camp, there wasn’t necessarily a whole lot that Daniel did to separate himself from the crowd. Then one-on-ones began.
During one-on-ones, Daniel was almost unblockable. He has incredibly powerful, quick-burst movements off of the snap, he shows quick strong hands that he uses effectively and he is violent towards the quarterback.
5. Tyler Lancaster, C, Plainfield – The Midwest is teeming with elite offensive linemen in the 2013 class. Many of them were competing on Sunday but Lancaster had arguably the best day of any of them.
Lancaster was the only true center at the event so he was snapping the ball all day in one-on-ones and he was gladly taking the accompanying reps. He also rarely lost those reps. Unlike most centers that are squatty and short-armed, Lancaster has good length for the position, showed good feet and really reacts well to both power and quickness from the defensive line. With a handful of MAC offers in tow, Lancaster looks like a steal.
6. Danny Etling, QB, Terre Haute South (Ind.) – Purdue commit Danny Etling is currently rated on 247Sports as the No. 43 pro-style quarterback in the country. We are currently wrong and we will quickly fix it. Etling is an elite passer with all kinds of arm talent that made every throw you could want on Sunday.
It was the third consecutive Nike event that Etling has shined. He first had a great day at the Columbus Elite 11, followed that up with a good Columbus Nike Camp and then for good measure took home the quarterback MVP in Illinois. A firm commitment to Purdue, Etling is Big Ten ready.
7. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, John Burroughs School (Mo.) – ‘Complete’ is a good adjective to describe Elliott. He really eats up ground in a hurry and can make decisive cuts at full speed. Elliott catches the ball really well out of the backfield and he was as effective as anybody in pass blocking.
There really didn’t seem to be many holes in Elliott’s game and the Ohio State commit looks like a candidate for a rankings bump. His performance on the day won him the running back MVP award and an invite to The Opening.
8. Steven Elmer, OT, Midland (Mich.) – There were major offensive line prospects all over the field on Sunday and Elmer was certainly one of them. Elmer has some of the longest arms you’re going to find and he has great feet and athleticism at the position. Though he wasn’t often tested on speed rushes, if a defender gets into Elmer on the interior, his size and strength engulf defenders and stop them in their tracks. A Notre Dame commit, Elmer has a very high ceiling.
9. Clifton Garrett, LB, Plainfield (2014) – One of several good underclassmen in attendance on the Illinois campus, Garrett was the best linebacker in several different scenarios. He was unshakeable in the open field, he showed great pass-rushing skills but maybe the most impressive was his ability to backpedal, turn his hips and find vertical receivers with real ease.
Garrett is rated as the No. 2 outside linebacker in the country by 247Sports for the class of 2014 and he did nothing to hurt that ranking.
10. Jeff Jones, RB, Minneapolis Washburn (2014) – Despite a loaded running back group, Jones was consistently one of the top performers if not the best at any given drill. He has a great running back frame that looks capable of 3-down work. Jones is a wide receiver out of the backfield in pass-catch settings, he’s a high-energy, high-effort prospect and he seems to love to compete and work.
Already ranked in the Top100 for the class of 2014 on 247Sports, Jones will be a nationally recruited prospect out of Minnesota.