LAS COLINAS, Texas – Nike NFTC’s bring out the top talent from the Dallas/Fort Worth area and South Region on an annual basis, and Sunday may have been the best turnout to date.
2014 CB Cedric Collins was stellar in drills and coverage on Sunday
The field included eight members of the 247Sport National 100, and nearly 20 from the Top247 with the cream certainly rising to the top in a setting in which names not on the national radar usually blow up and jumpstart a recruitment.
With so many talented prospects from the class of 2013, and 2014, on hand, picking a group of standouts proved to be extremely difficult. Here are 20 that definitely made their mark.
Cedric Collins, CB, Dallas (Texas) Skyline, 2014
One of the top prospects in the class of 2014 on hand Sunday was Collins, and he certainly backed up his growing reputation as shut down, pure corner. The 5-foot-9.5, 170-pounder flashed his very quick feet and change of direction ability in every drill, as well as in the one-on-one setting. Kansas State, Baylor, Texas A&M and SMU have already verbally offered the uber talented sophomore.
James David, LB, Rockdale (Texas), 2014
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound instinctive linebacker continues to impress in settings where he can show his ability to turn and run. In the pursuit drill against the running backs, he and camp MVP Mike Mitchell were the two best and reacting to the ball carrier, taking good and angles and getting to the ball in a hurry. Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas A&M have already showed interest.
John Diarse, WR/ATH, Monroe (La.) Neville
The LSU commitment again showed that he is one of the more versatile prospects in the 2013 class. The 6-foot-0, 205-pounder worked out exclusively at safety Sunday, and proved he can track the ball from hash to boundary with the type of reactive quickness needed on the next level. The No. 140 prospect in the country was also one of the most impressive prospects physically at the event.
LaQuvionte Gonzalez, ATH/WR, Cedar Hill (Texas)
If an award was given out for the best feet at the loaded event on Sunday, it would have gone to the Texas A&M commitment, without question. His electric foot quickness showed up from the start in drills and carried over to the route running portion of the combine, as well live bullets. The 5-foot-11.5, 170-pounder is not only one of the top slot receiver prospects in the 2013 class, but also one of the nations very best return men.
Rami Hammad, OG, Irving (Texas) High
An underrated recruit, Hammad showed toughness and the ability to use his hands to keep the defender neutralized. His ability to move laterally was better than expected, but it was his ability to lock up with defenders and use strength and quickness to mirror them on a consistent basis in one-on-ones that stood out. Baylor, Oklahoma State and North Texas and a growing list of others have either offered or are showing serious interest.
Laurence Jones, S, Monroe (La.) Neville
In a group of talented class of 2014 prospects on hand, Jones stood out both physically on the hoof and athletically. The high school cornerback that projects to safety, or even outside linebacker long term, impressed with his ability to turn and run for his size. He also showed the ability to close on the ball in front of him very well for a player that is 200-pounds. An area Jones can improve is finishing plays at the highest point.
LB/DE Mike Mitchell took home linebacker MVP honors Sunday with a blend of power and speed
Chris Laviano, QB, Hicksville (NY) Holy Trinity
Laviano was one of the top performers at Saturday’s Elite 11 in Cowboys Stadium, and backed it up on Sunday. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder proved to be in total control, even in the fast paced NFTC setting. His ability to work through drills, and everything else thrown at a quarterback on Sunday with a cool demeanor and calmness impressed before a pass was released. When it was time to put the ball in the air, the throws were consistent and the reads drew praise from instructor Trent Dilfer. Rutgers remains the pro style quarterback’s lone offer, but expect that to change this spring.
Eldridge Massington, WR, Mesquite (Texas) West Mesquite
In a group of exceptional receiver prospects on the Cowboys practice field, it was difficult for some to stand out. That wasn’t the case with the 6-foot-3, 203-pound Massington. His ability to snatch the ball out of the air with the arms extended impressed, along with his underrated ability to sink his hips and get in and out of cuts. The Top247 prospect picked up an offer from UCLA mid-week, as he closes in on 20 verbals.
Mike Mitchell, LB/DE, Plano (Texas) Prestonwood
One of the top athletes on hand Sunday, regardless of position, was linebacker MVP Mike Mitchell. The 6-foot-4, 222-pounder with sub 4.6-speed and a 38-inch vertical leap, showed his elite athleticism throughout the four-hour event. His ability to close angles on running backs was especially impressive, as is his quickly growing offer list that is nearing 20. The lone question that remains about the Top247 prospect is will he play linebacker or defensive end at the next level.
Jake Oliver, WR, Dallas (Texas) Jesuit
Oliver earned his invite to The Opening on Sunday with a solid performance, as always. His feet were some of the best of any receiver on hand, and certainly the best of the big receivers. When the ball is in the air, he snatches it out of the air with attitude, and showed the ability to adjust the hands to balls thrown low or high. His body control sets him apart from the majority of receivers in the 2013 class. The Texas commitment stands a shade under 6-foot-4, and weighs 203-pounds.
Scott Pagano, DT, Honolulu (Hawaii) Moanalua
Pagano traveled to Dallas from the “Big Rock” and did nothing but add to his growing reputation as one of 2013’s most underrated prospect. He showed a quick first step, both active and quick feet in drills, the flexibility and agility to change direction and work down a line of scrimmage and the strength to take on and control every lineman that lined up against him throughout the day. Pagano will visit a number of schools this week while in Texas, including Texas today. Programs such as Oregon, Washington, UCLA, Nebraska, Arkansas, BYU, California and a number of others have offered.
Torrodney Prevot, DE, Alief (Texas) Taylor
Prevot took home the defensive line award on Sunday, which was not a surprise. His blend of first step quickness, change of direction ability, long arms, ability to turn the corner with a low inside shoulder and closing speed make the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder one of the top edge prospects in the 2013 class. LSU and Texas A&M are out in front at this point, with many others giving chase.
Maurice Porter, OT, Missouri City (Texas) Marshall
Porter has been a fast rising prospect in the Lone Star state in recent weeks, and his quick rise among the nations best continued on Sunday. The 6-foot-6, 280-pound right tackle prospect put together a dominant performance in one-on-one’s engulfing the opponent with a powerful initial punch and the feet and strength to control sudden change of direction and finish plays. He stoned would be bull rushers, and showed the foot quickness and lateral agility to slide and protect on outside speed rushes. Baylor, West Virginia, Colorado and Houston have offered. Look for the offer list to quickly get to double digits in May.
Jake Raulerson, OL/DL, Celina
Raulerson had every reason not to compete, but the Texas commit was intense from start to finish and demanded reps on both sides of the ball against the camp's top performers. He showed a natural kick-slide at left tackle and consistent effort in drills from start to finish. It was his first competition since surgery to repair a deviated septum in late February.
Texas commitment A'Shawn Robinson proved to be too much physically for any guard
A’Shawn Robinson, OT/DT, Fort Worth (Texas) Arlington Heights
In terms of raw tools there might not be a better line prospect in Texas for 2013 than the 6-foot-5, 315-pound Robinson. He's quick out of stance and not only can use lateral quickness and body control to slither by defenders, but his natural strength and power are unmatched in this type of setting. When he was locked in and focused on dominating drills, there wasn't a more impressive defender up front on Sunday.
Ra’Shaad Samples, WR, Dallas (Texas) Skyline
The highest of highs and very lowest of lows were on full display Sunday. On a day in which Samples was backing up his impressive and quickly growing offer list, the standout junior suffered broken ankle early in one-on-one’s. Before the injury that sent a complete quiet over the event full of energy, Samples was proving to be one of the very best route runners on hand, as well as showing elite timing and the ability to snatch the ball out of the air at its highest point.
Maurice Smith, CB, Sugar Land (Texas) Dulles
The 5-foot-11.5, 178-pound versatile defensive back continues to show that he has the ability to play corner at the next level. On Sunday, the Houston area product was the best in one-on-one coverage using a combination of strength and quickness in press coverage to disrupt timing, the reactive quickness to break on the ball and make a number of pass break ups and the ball skills to finish at the highest point. The result of Smith’s impressive day – an invite to The Opening in July, which was the reason why Smith made the four plus hour trip north. Programs such as Alabama, Oklahoma, Baylor, LSU, Arkansas, Texas A&M and many others have offered.
Durham Smythe, TE, Belton (Texas)
The Texas commitment was the best tight end on hand Sunday, and proved it on the field. The 6-foot-5, 227-pounder Smythe showed quick feet, the ability to get in and out of breaks and a body that is steadily developing with the frame to carry more than 250-pounds. Smythe, who will not turn 17 until August, also showed the soft hands and ball skills that jump out on junior video.
Vincent Taylor, DT, San Antonio (Texas) Madison
Taylor had a good day showing quick hands and the ability to get skinny in the hole on his pass rush moves to get by the defender. Maybe the most impressive thing was that Taylor did it at 277 pounds. He's finally starting to add weight, but his body is still a long way from developing and his leg structure leads you to believe the athletic tackle might have more upside than initially thought.
Altee Tenpenny, RB, Little Rock (Ark.) North Little Rock
While Tenpenny is still working his way back to 100%, his toughness, competitiveness and competitive spirit get’s him on the list. Along with the afore mentioned, his terrific running back body type and the same impressive feet and lower body strength that have been on display before also impressed Sunday. The Alabama commitment remains one of the class fo 2013’s top running back prospects, despite the season ending injury in 2011.
Jeff Howe contributed to this report.