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April 20, 2004

Breaking down the Charlottesville NIKE Camp

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - When asked if he was the top defensive player in the nation, Callahan Bright, a usually outgoing and monster of a football prospect, started to blush. He then replied with a simple yes and a sly grin.

But if you were looking for a more detailed explanation as to why that statement might be true, all you had to do was look at the day he had on Sunday at the Charlottesville NIKE Training Camp at the University of Virginia.

Measuring in at 6-foot-2 and 315 pounds, Bright said he was disappointed with his 40-yard dash time that hovered around the 5.0-second mark. But he didn't disappoint at anything else he did at the camp.

Bright couldn't be blocked in the one-on-one drills, and he had an amazing first step off of the football. He was also well put together and looked like he was able to step on the football field for any college team right this minute.

Words don't do justice just how impressive Bright looks from a physical standpoint.

"Right now I think pre-ranked as the best d-tackle in the country, but I do believe that I'm the best player in the country," Bright said after he was asked for a more detailed explanation.

"I guess I just am. I don't know why. I just go out there and play more aggressive than the other guy and try hard to be in on every play. I just try to play better than the next man."

Bright listed his most recent top five as Miami, Florida State, Florida, LSU and Texas A&M with scholarship offers from all of those teams.

Yet Bright isn't the only blue-chip recruit that is highlighted in this Rivals100.com breakdown of the third NIKE Training Camp for 2004.

Quarterbacks
Quarterback might have been where the top concentration of talent at the camp was at. With familiar names like Vic Hall of Gretna, Va., Cody Brodus of Newport News (Va.) Warwick, Ike Whitaker of Germantown (Md.) Northwest and Zack Asack at the camp, the quarterback position was loaded.

Still most of the quarterbacks didn't get to truly show at the camp what makes them the best in their area. With the quarterbacks drilling hard on passing technique, the dual-threat quarterbacks didn't get a chance to show their ability to tuck the ball and break defenses down on the run.

That's what Brodus and Whitaker especially excel at, but both still looked extremely impressive - especially Whitaker. Rivals100 has been a big fan of his ever since scouting him in person last fall. He still has a very low release point and some times a hitch in his throwing motion, but he was extremely accurate with his passes and was able to almost always put it right on the money.

Brodus has all the tools to become an elite quarterback, but he'll need to work on his accuracy and ability to know when to put the right touch on the ball. Still all of the tools are there for him to be special if he works hard to refine his game over the next few months.

Asack comes from Westmood (Mass.) Xaverian Brothers, one of the top programs in New England, and he also didn't disappoint. He was a little thin, but he did show good physical ability and was pretty accurate with his passes.

Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith standout Greg Boone was listed as a pro-style quarterback heading into the camp, but with his frame and build and rough-around-the edges passing it could easily be seen that college coaches might recruit him as an athlete. There are little doubts about his physical ability, because he was very well built and has a great frame to work with.

Camp favorite at quarterback had to go to Hall. Even though he is way under 6-feet, he did a lot of things right, showed impressive technique and did have some nice zip on the ball. Still you have to wonder with his height if teams are going to shy away from playing him at quarterback.

Yet, Hall said he wants that opportunity.

"I ignore the talk about me being too short," Hall said. "Actually that motivates me to play harder and it makes me want to get better. Basically, I just ignore it. I just like to go out there and make big plays to help my team win."

Running back
At running back it was the Toney Baker show all the time, every time.

Already considered as one of the nation's best running back prospects, Baker of Ragsdale, N.C., measured in at 5-foot-10 and 218 pounds. He had the second-best mark at the camp in the bench press with 30 reps and really excelled in the one-on-one drills.

One observer described him as being "built like a tank" and that is a very fitting description because Baker does have that extra lower-body strength and balance to push through defenders. But he still does have the speed to out run them, making him one of the more complete backs that you'll find in the entire nation.

There were high expectations of Baker coming into the camp, and he didn't disappoint at all.

Wide receiver/tight end
Just call the receiver position, the Derrick Williams position.

Ranked as the Rivals.com Junior of the Year, Williams came into the camp with a big target on his back. Everybody that was anybody wanted to line up and match up with Williams. Still the quiet and confident player from Greenbelt (Md.) Eleanor Roosevelt didn't let all that become a distraction.

He came out in the testing phase of the camp best time of 4.31 seconds and then he single handedly dominated the one-on-one drills. While playing wide receiver, numerous defensive backs lined up to cover the speedster only to be embarrassed by double moves, slants and fly patterns. Williams beat nearly everyone in his way and showed why he already has 30-plus scholarship offers.

What's even more impressive about Williams (6-0, 189) is his quiet confidence. He doesn't showboat and he knows that he's the best of the best.

"I believe that I'm the best in the nation because I work hard at it," he said. "So it's supposed to happen if you work hard at. I'm most proud of my speed. I can see things real fast, and it helps me react before the other guy gets a chance to even think about it."

Two other receivers/athletes that impressed were Brandon Woods of Durham (N.C.) Southern and Tarvis Scott of Adairsville, Ga.

Woods was one of the most vocal players at the camp and backed up the smack talk with big game. He was so physical that it was tough for cornerbacks to match up with him at the line of scrimmage and he showed a good burst of speed when he accelerated through routes. With his frame, though, he could even end up on the defensive side of the ball at safety.

Scott came up from Georgia and proved that he'll be one of the better pass-catchers in the state as a senior. He's still long and lean at this point - even almost a little lanky - but he did run very fluid routes and with his tall frame he was easily able to out jump defenders for the football.

Offensive line
Clifton (Va.) Centreville offensive tackle Pat Sheil appeared to be the class of the offensive line. He has amazing feet for a guy that's in the 6-5, 6-6 range and he was extremely impressive in one-on-one drills.

With a still slender and well built frame, it's easy to think of him weighing 280 pounds some day in the future and still having that amazing footwork.

"I like to compete," Sheil said. "I absolutely hate to lose, and I'm intense and I don't like to get beat."

Add that all together with his physical tools and Sheil might just develop into a blue-chip offensive lineman by the time he's finished.

Defensive line
Bright wasn't the only defensive lineman that looked impressive.

Players like Jeffery Fitzgerald of Richmond (Va.) Hermitage, Virginia commitment Jason Fuller of Virginia Beach (Va.) Kempsville and North Carolina commitment Camaron Thomas of Robbins (N.C.) North Moore were all very impressive.

Thomas might have been the second-best defensive tackle at the camp, and he was explosive off the snap and would use his big frame and great footwork to get past the lineman. Fitzgerald just looks the part of a pass-rushing defensive end and he did show a great ability to blow past blockers. And Fuller, once he fills out, will be the tough as nails defensive lineman that you crave to succeed in college football.

Linebackers
This was another one of the solid positions with good quality players throughout the group. But the highlight of this position had to be Darryl Gresham of Roanoke (Va.) William Fleming.

For weeks, Fleming coach Larry Bishop was telling Rivals100 that Gresham was going to blow up at the camp, and that's exactly what he did. Not only did Gresham look the part, he played the part and was an extremely vocal leader in the drills.

"I ran a 4.7 in the 40, a 4.3 in the shuttle and my vertical leap was 26.5 inches," he said. "We did a bunch of individual drills too and I thought I did well."

He sure did.

And it's no surprise that he has early offers from Maryland, Virginia and Virginia Tech and is getting nation attention from a who's who of college football in the East and Southeast.

Other linebacker that impressed included Beau Reed of Rumson (N.J.) Fair Haven, Dominique Midgett of Greensboro (N.C.) Dudley and super junior-to-be Micah Johnson of Alexandria (Va.) West Potomac. Keep your eye on Johnson, because he is likely going to be one of the nation's best recruits in the Class of 2006.

Defensive backs
Hampton (Va.) Bethel cornerback Jamar Jackson was one of the few defensive backs that really impressed.

Jackson is an athletic cornerback with excellent instincts and good ball skills. On one play, he made an excellent read during one of the one-on-one drills that led to an interception. He can play physical or finesse, whatever is needed.

For expanded coverage of the Charlottesville NIKE Training Camp, you should check out StudentSports.com. Access to StudentSports.com requires an additional membership. Coming Soon! The best is getting better. The Rivals.com Recruiting Database will include all authentic data from this summer's NIKE Training Camp schedule.


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