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Chicago NFTC Wrap

ADDISON, Ill. – The Chicago area Nike Football Training Camp on Sunday may have been the best one yet, as the NFTC’s make various stops throughout the country leading up to The Opening.

Top50 QB Kyle Allen earned invites to the Elite 11 and The Opening this weekend.

Speaking of The Opening, seven prospects from this camp earned an invite to the prestigious event to be held at the Nike Facility on July 1-3 in Beaverton, Ore. Several others will likely get the golden ticket down the road.

The Invited

According to camp counselors, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Desert Mountain quarterback Kyle Allen turned in the best Elite 11 regional performance from across the country thus far on Friday, and then turned around on Sunday and dominated the NFTC. Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer, who works with Elite 11, said the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Allen was making NFL throws. Arizona State and UCLA are Allen’s best relationships at this point in the recruiting process, and he’s fired up about last week’s offers from Notre Dame and Ohio State. He visited Wisconsin on Saturday.

The receiver group was loaded, and three are headed to Oregon in Michigan commit Drake Harris, Iowa State pledge Allen Lazard and Braxton Berrios.

-The 6-foot-5, 202-pound Lazard may have been the best of the group. The long, tall target is a downfield threat that also uses his body well to shield against smaller corners.

-Ball skills are what stood out about the 6-foot-4, 180-pound Harris who made several difficult grabs, and like Lazard, knows how to use his frame to keep defensive backs at bay.

-The 5-foot-8, 170-pound Berrios continues to tear up the camp circuit. The explosive slot receiver gets into his route quickly and accelerates away from defenders. He said he’s completely open with the recruiting process but that Tennessee, Clemson, West Virginia and Kentucky are a few of his best relationships.

While fellow Chicago-area linebacker, in five-star Clifton Garrett, was unable to participate with an ankle injury, Top50 prospect Nyles Morgan stole the show. Very fluid in drills, Morgan was outstanding in 1-on-1s in containing running backs carrying the football in space, and then showed his range and cover ability against the running backs in passing 1-on-1s. Morgan is nowhere close to making a college decision but Florida, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt are five programs in a good spot early in the process.

Top247 RB Jeff Jones, a soft verbal to Minnesota, dominated as a runner and receiver at Sunday's NFTC.

Michigan State commit Enoch Smith Jr. is a polished defensive lineman, a powerful player that has some explosiveness to him and plays with good technique.

Minnesota running back commit Jeff Jones, a soft verbal to the Gophers, regularly beat linebackers to the edge in 1-on-1s and then dominated as both a receiving threat in the flat and getting open down field. Physically impressive as well, Jones is dangerous as both a runner and receiver.

Camp MVPs

Chosen by the staff, a few prospects doubled up here as Allen took home quarterback MVP honors, Jones did for the running backs and Morgan did for the linebackers.

Earning the medal as top offensive lineman was Michigan State commit Brian Allen. His athleticism is off the charts for the center position and he was the most dominant offensive linemen in a talented group during 1-on-1s. The 6-foot-2, 287-pound Allen has a thick build, and on top of playing with good technique, he’s a violent football player too.

Three others made a name for themselves in picking up MVP honors.

-While Barrios is headed to The Opening, it was Fishers (Ind.) High’s J-Shun Harris who was the top slot receiver on this day. The super quick 5-foot-8, 165-pound Harris has strong hands and plays with a flair. A sound route runner, Harris is a confident football player that made play after play. Ball State could be close to offering first.

-East St. Louis (Ill.) High cornerback Wilbert Jones earned cornerback MVP honors after his standout performance. A feisty player that loves to play bump coverage, the 5-foot-10, 165 pound Jones had no problem running with most of the receivers at the camp.

Indianapolis Cathedral WR Terry McLaurin proved he is one of the top athletes in the country, posting a Sparq score of 126.96.

-Similar to what Harris did at the receiver position, the defensive line group was loaded with touted prospects, however it was Romeoville (Ill.) High defensive end Anthony Love that impressed the counselors enough to take home MVP honors. Love has offers from North Dakota and South Dakota.

Sparq King

Nobody helped their reputation more than Indianapolis (Ind.) Cathedral receiver Terry McLaurin, who turned in a Sparq score of 126.96, currently a top-10 mark nationally.

The 6-foot, 190-pound McLaurin ran a 4.48 40-yard dash (against the wind), turned in a 4.2 shuttle, had an astounding 41.5 inch vertical, and threw the Powerball 41-5 as well.

The likes of Boston College, Cincinnati, Iowa, Missouri and Purdue have offered and more could be coming soon. Ohio State has been in during the spring evaluation period and invited McLaurin to camp. Tennessee is another school that has raised the interest in McLaurin.

Top Underclassman

There were a number of worthy candidates and many future blue-chippers among the 2015 and 2016 classes on Sunday, and it was Saint Paul (Minn.) Cretin Derham Hall’s sophomore Jashon Cornell standing out among the talented group.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound defensive end clocked an impressive 4.69 40-yard dash (laser-timed), and in 1-on-1s was an explosive and powerful speed rusher coming off the edge. Cornell can get to the passer in a variety of ways and is an advanced football player for his age.

Vanderbilt RB commit Mikale Wilbon pushed Jeff Jones for position MVP honors.

Early offers have come in from the likes of California, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, USC and Vanderbilt. Cornell has already been invited to play in the 2015 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Around The Camp

-The Hoosier State represented well. Besides McLaurin and Harris, strong performances were turned in by fellow receivers Austin Roberts and Cameron Polk, as well as defensive end/outside linebacker Gelen Robinson, 2015 safety Mykelti Williams and running back Taylor Sanders. …The 6-foot-3, 212-pound Roberts ran a 4.51 electronically timed 40-yard dash and had a 36-inch vertical. In 1-on-1s, he did a nice job of getting off press coverage and sucked in every pass thrown his way. Offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Louisville, Miami, Ohio State and Stanford are standing out. …The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Polk ran away from defensive backs and got it done on short, intermediate and deep routes. Louisville may be the team to beat with Northwestern showing strong interest. …There wasn’t a quicker player rushing off the edge on Sunday than Robinson, who favors Illinois and Purdue early in the recruiting process, but is also excited about his latest offer from Vanderbilt. …The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Williams has a chance to be a national recruit in the 2015 class and showed strong cover skills for a safety. …The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Sanders is a strong runner on Friday nights. He’s been using the camp and 7-on-7 circuit to show he’s capable catching the football as well, evident again on Sunday.

-The running backs group was stocked full of BCS backs. Jones was the star, but Vanderbilt commit Mikale Wilbon was close behind. Wilbon has great feet, runs low, and during 1-on-1s, he had the catch of the day with an awesome one-handed downfield grab over a linebacker. …Iowa State lean Tommy Mister could play a number of positions on the next level, and was one of the top running backs on Sunday carrying the football and making linebackers miss in space. …Niles (Ill.) Notre Dame standout Chris James was another quick and powerful back with good speed that showed he could be a threat in the vertical passing game as well. Iowa has moved into his top three along with Michigan State and Pittsburgh. …A few underclassmen that stood out were Natereace Strong, Andrew Dowell and Alec Murphy in the 2015 class, and Brison White in the 2016 class. White is a teammate of Cornell’s at Cretin Derham Hall and has a chance to be special.

-Lee’s Summit (Mo.) Senior linebacker Jimmie Swain impressed with his ability to play in space, while East St. Louis (Ill.) High’s Kyron Watson is a physical player better suited for a game in pads, however on this day he was able to frustrate running backs by getting them off their route. He also had several bat downs. Swain visited Northwestern on Friday and is high on the Wildcats, Kansas State and TCU. Watson favors Michigan with Kansas rounding out his top two. Nile Sykes is going to be an outstanding outside linebacker/defensive end hybrid. The 6-foot-2, 223-pound Sykes has long arms and frustrated quarterbacks with his length during 1-on-1s. He also made plays in the open field. Iowa State, Illinois and Indiana are recruiting Sykes the hardest.

-On the defensive line, Smith Jr. got The Opening invite but many others showed out as well. Crete (Ill.) Monee defensive end Chris Slayton has a chance to shoot up the rankings, making a case for himself as the top player at his position in the state. At 6-foot-5, 235-pounds, he has a great frame, is a twitchy player and gets better every time we see him. …At 6-foot-6, 270-pounds, Billy Hirschfeld was as impressive looking a prospect you could find at the camp and he was dominant during 1-on-1s. …Hiawtha (Kan.) Senior Top247 defensive tackle Peyton Newell was the quickest interior linemen, and is very powerful. The 6-foot-2, 266-pound Newell turned in a 4.3 pro-agility time. …Southfield (Mich.) High Top247 defensive end Lawrence Marshall was another quick edge rusher that has the frame to add serious bulk. …East St. Louis 2015 defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. was an extremely impressive underclassmen both physically and athletically. He’s on track to be a top recruit nationally.

-Flip over to the offensive line and Wisconsin commit George Panos stood out at the guard position. The 6-foot-5, 290-pound Panos began 1-on-1s with a pancake of Ohio State commit Dylan Thompson. A physical football player with good feet. …Michigan State offensive tackle commit Chase Gianacakos continues to impress with his length and movement. …Both Frank Ragnow and Tanner Farmer had a nice day in 1-on-1s. …JB Butler of Joliet (Ill.) Catholic had his way with some of the more touted interior defensive line prospects and continues to prove he’s a Division-I talent. Of the underclassmen, Springfield (Ill.) Sacred Heart-Griffin’s Quinn Oseland has a chance to be one of the state’s best in 2015.

-Trent Dilfer called the receivers as impressive a group that he’s seen on the NFTC circuit this year. Besides the players already mentioned, prospects that competed at a high level included Michigan commit Maurice Ways, Ole Miss pledge Sammie Epps, Jauan Wesley, 2015 prospect David Dowell and 2016 standout Desmond Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick also impressed as a receiver at the Elite 11 on Friday and will the Farmington Hills (Mich.) Harrison standout is quickly emerging as a guy to keep an eye on nationally.

-A few of the defensive backs that were able to hold their own with the receiver group besides the MVP Jones were Alim Muhammad, Lamar Dawson, Jamal Baggett and Dre Brown. Brown is a 2015 prospect with offers that is making a smooth transition this camp season from running back to defensive back. Muhammad is another that likes to play press coverage and can really flip his hips. Dawson and Baggett were seen making several plays on the football.

-While Allen stole the show at the quarterback position, another West Coast arm in Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei’s Jack Lowary is a guy that will garner Division-I interest down the road. A big, strong kid that spun it well and accurately.

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