There certainly was plenty of talent this past weekend in Buford, Ga., at the Atlanta Elite 11 Regional Workout and the subsequent Nike Football Training Camp. Here’s a look back at the event, along with several notes of interest on top prospects.
Nashville-area wide receiver Josh Malone could be one of the best in the Class of 2014.
One of the interesting aspects of covering camps/combines this spring is the bevy of talented Class of 2014 prospects that are showing up. Though the 2013 prospects in Atlanta were the headliners of the event, there were quite a few BCS-level prospects for the 2014 class in attendance.
We highlighted the performance of 2014 prospects Bo Scarbrough and Raekwon McMillan in our Best of Atlanta NFTC article on Saturday and yesterday, National Recruiting Analyst Gerry Hamilton took a look at 2014 quarterback DJ Gillins, who like the other two is a potential five-star prospect for the next cycle.
But there were more than just those three in attendance that we liked. Here’s a look.
Josh Malone, WR, Gallatin (Tenn.) Station Camp
Malone was likely the best wide receiver prospect among the Class of 2014 prospects at the event. It seemed like every time we turned around, he was impressing in drills or making a play during one-on-ones. We recently reviewed his sophomore film as well and think he’s got the chance to be one of the best at his position nationally during the next cycle. Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky all have issued early offers and Alabama has shown interest.
Racean Thomas, RB, Oxford (Ala.)
We watched Thomas in a game last year and came away impressed and he backed up what we saw in that game from him athletically in the camp setting on Saturday. He’s gifted physically and has excellent feet and speed. It’s shaping up to be a dynamic 2014 cycle in the state of Alabama and Thomas is definitely one to watch. Alabama, Auburn and Oregon all are showing interest in the 5-foot-11, 195-pounder.
Andrew Williams, DE, McDonough (Ga.) Eagles Landing Christian
The way Clemson 2014 quarterback commit DeShaun Watson threw the ball impressed us.
During one-on-ones, Williams won more than his share of reps and displayed a good frame and quickness off the ball. The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder also has played some offensive line in his career, but he looked more like a defensive end on Saturday to us. The younger brother of Georgia Tech defensive end Anthony Williams has a trio of early ACC offers from Boston College, Clemson and Florida State.
DeShaun Watson, QB, Gainesville (Ga.)
Watson threw the ball well during Friday night’s Elite 11 regional workout and then enjoyed an even better day on Saturday. The early Clemson commit is similar to Giddins in that he’s tall, can throw it and has good feet. We think as he continues to mature physically, he has the chance to be a special player at the college level, particularly when you consider the type of offensive system he is set to go into at CU under coordinator Chad Morris.
Demarre Kitt, WR, Tyrone (Ga.) Sandy Creek
Kitt was his normal solid self during the event. The first thing that stands out about him in this setting is his size. He’s not tall, but is a wide-bodied receiver and that allows him to matchup well physically at times. Kitt has more than two dozen scholarship offers and is an early commit to Georgia (he had a Bulldogs hat on the entire day).
Georgia secondary class
We were extremely high on the physical abilities of Georgia safety commit Tray Matthews (Newnan, Ga.) and cornerback commit Shaq Wiggins (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek) and also were impressed with four-star cornerback Brendan Langley (Marietta, Ga./Kell), who is considered a strong lean to UGA.
If the Bulldogs land Langley to go with Matthews, Wiggins, stud Florida prospect Reggie Wilkerson (Citra, Fla./North Marion), JUCO corner Steven Nelson and sleeper J.J. Green (Kingsland, Ga./Camden County), there may not be a better secondary class in the country when all is said and done.
If Georgia can add four-star defensive back Brendan Langley to its class, it is reasonable to call it the best secondary class in the country.
There are always players that surprise at these events that previously were not on the radar or who are just emerging.
Nick Colvin, WR/ATH, Bogart (Ga.) North Oconee
Colvin worked out at receiver on Saturday and at times was dominant in the one-on-one portion of the event. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder has a thick build and outstanding speed. He’s not at a school that is heavily-recruited (just outside of Athens, Ga.) and is a do-it-all type of player for his high school team who had more than 1,800 total yards last season. We were so impressed with Colvin both in person and on film that he makes a debut with a rating of 85, which is a mid three-star prospect according to 247Sports.
Cinwon Whitehead, CB, Atlanta (Ga.) Washington
Folks around Atlanta have been talking up Whitehead for some time and after watching him Saturday, we agree that he’s one of the more undervalued prospects in the state of Georgia for the 2012 cycle. He has good hips and recovery speed and during position drills showed good ball skills. Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky have shown interest and we expect that to pick up in the coming weeks.
Joshua Dobbs, QB, Alpharetta (Ga.)
Dobbs won the quarterback MVP from the coaches at the event and there is no question he’s a talented athlete, but the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder doesn’t have an extensive offer list at this time (Arizona State, Illinois, Boston College and some Ivy League programs). He’s got excellent size and throws a great ball. We think perhaps programs are waiting to see what happens with his baseball career (he’s a talented prospect in that sport as well) but if he ends up in a college football program, someone will get a steal.
LSU commit Chuck Baker, a wide receiver, should see a bump up in his rating from 247Sports in the near future.
-There may not be a better slot receiver prospect in this class than Ryan Jenkins (Marietta, Ga./Lassiter). The MVP at his position by the coaches and a top 10 prospect in the camp by 247Sports should only see his stock rise.
-We like three-star defensive back Darius Curry (Flowery Branch, Ga.), but feel like he projects best as a safety and not a cornerback.
-Quarterback Max Staver (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy) had a good day throwing the ball at both Friday’s Elite 11 and Saturday’s camp. The 6-foot-5 pocket passer has some tools to work with arm-wise and height-wise.
-LSU commit Chuck Baker (Slidell, La./Salman) impressed us with his size and athletic ability. During one-on-ones, he rarely got a good ball thrown in his direction. The future Tiger should see a couple of points increase on his current rating of 85 after we saw him in person.
-A high motor and active approach to the drills allowed defensive end David Johnson (Lithonia, Ga.) to be somewhat dominant in one-on-ones. The 6-foot-1, 253-pounder isn’t an eyeball-test guy, but in this setting is simply a dominant player. South Carolina, which has done well at Lithonia High in recent years, has offered and is the current team to beat.
-We’ve seen Georgia quarterback commit Brice Ramsey (Kingsland, Ga./Camden County) perform exceptionally well in this setting, so the bar was set high coming into the Elite 11 and the Nike Camp. He was up-and-down at times, but still displayed the quick release and accurate arm with high velocity that has him ranked among the country’s best.
-After seeing four-star Ashton Shumpert (Tupelo, Miss.) in person, we feel his best long-term position is in the secondary at safety or perhaps even at linebacker. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder impressed physically during the event. He has offers from Ole Miss and Mississippi State, along with Georgia.
-Athlete Cameron Echols-Luper (Auburn, Ala.) was outstanding during one-on-ones. Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Ole Miss and North Carolina all have offered.
-Alabama offensive line commit Bradley Bozeman (Roanoke, Ala./Handley School) held his own during one-on-one drills. We think he’s probably a guard long-term as he has the body type to be a good one.
-Offensive lineman Alan Knott (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek) showed excellent flexibility during drills. North Carolina continues to lead South Carolina for his services.
Elite 11 tidbits
From Friday’s Elite 11...
Anthony Jennings (Marietta, Ga.) was the MVP and got the invite to the Elite 11 and has had several programs stop by to check on him this week, including Alabama. ...Class of 2014 Tyler Harris (Blackshear, Ga./Pierce County) had the strongest arm of any quarterback there- you watch him on film and he makes some unreal throws. He also competed the next two days. ...Class of 2014 Shuler Bentley (Duncan, S.C./James F. Byrnes) can make all of the throws and is extremely sound mechanically. ...We liked the way Class of 2013 quarterback Parker McLeod (Marietta, Ga./Walton) threw the ball. ...Sticking with Cobb County, Ga. (where there is an exceptional amount of Division I talent at quarterback), 2014 Elijah Staley (Marietta, Ga./Wheeler) impressed with his size and you can tell the upside is there.
Gerry Hamilton contributed to this report