Monday, May 3, 2010
Wideouts stand out at NFTC
By JC Shurburtt
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- A talented group of wide receivers highlighted the offensive talent at the State College Nike Football Training Camp on Sunday on the campus of Penn State.
Two speedy pass-catchers from New Jersey led the way among the Class of 2011 prospects.
Wide receiver Damiere Byrd (Sicklerville, N.J./Timber Creek), who was clocked at a blistering 4.26-second 40-yard dash at the Philadelphia Nike Combine earlier this spring, put his speed to use, blowing by most of the defenders he faced during pass skel and one-on-one drills. Byrd won MVP honors at receiver for his performance.
"[The day] started out kind of slow," Byrd said. "We had to wake up early, so when we first started, everybody was a little tired. During the pass [drills] and the one-on-ones, that's when everybody got going. I know basically all of the guys out here. We are all like best friends, so when we come here, we try to compete against each other. When we see each other do something wrong, we try our best to fix it. Otherwise, we are just out here trying to compete."
Byrd also showed good hands and good route-running ability, proving he was more than just a fast athlete -- he's a fast football player. Iowa, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Rutgers South Carolina, West Virginia and others have made offers to the 5-foot-9, 158-pounder. Oregon and Florida also are showing interest.
Like Byrd, Miles Shuler (Long Branch, N.J.) is a prospect that uses his speed to his advantage. The 5-11, 173-pounder, who has been clocked as fast as 4.38 seconds in the 40, is a high school quarterback, but projects best as receiver in college. Shuler was impressive at that position throughout the day. Shuler has good hands, runs good routes and displayed a smoothness during position drills and was tough to cover during one-on-ones. He said afterward that he was glad to get out and compete at the position that he plans to play in college. Oklahoma is one of the most recent offers for Shuler. It was a big one, as he grew up pulling for the Sooners. He plans to visit some schools during the summer unofficially and then decide after he's made his official visits.
Other offers for Shuler include Michigan, Boston College, Cincinnati, Rutgers, Stanford, Vanderbilt and West Virginia, among others.
Daniel Adams (Washington, D.C./Dunbar) is a big-bodied receiver who was very good during the passing drills and had plenty of highlights during one-on-ones. The 6-3, 200-pounder has good speed for a bigger receiver and showed some explosiveness. Virginia and New Mexico have made offers, but expect that list to expand as college programs begin to find out about Adams.
Just like Adams, Dexter Bridge (Berwyn, Pa./Conestoga) is a big-bodied receiver who showed good explosion, athleticism and speed during the event. North Carolina State and Illinois have made offers to the 6-2, 194-pounder, but expect more as we move forward. He's also big enough and athletic enough to play another position (strong safety or outside linebacker) in college. That's not to say he will or even could, but the athleticism is there.
Devante Waugh (Atco, N.J./Winslow Township) is a player creating a lot of buzz among college programs. Louisville recently was his first offer. On Sunday, Waugh showed good hands and route running ability and made several outstanding catches. Look for his stock to rise during the spring evaluation period.
Joe Clayborne (Philadelphia/George Washington) is a sleeper to watch. The 6-3, 200-pounder is coming off of a major knee injury but looks as though he's back to full speed. He's a smooth receiver with good hands and body control. Expect him to impress at summer camps and potentially pick up offers moving forward.
A number of Class of 2012 prospects impressed at the event.
Corey Smith (Akron, Ohio/Butchel) was dominant at times. He was extremely difficult for any defensive back to cover, showed excellent speed, hands, body control and overall playmaking ability. Depending on what he looks like in pads at game speed, Smith could potentially be one of the better receiver prospects in the Midwest for the next recruiting cycle.
Nate Smith (Philadelphia/George Washington) is an excellent athlete. He worked out at receiver and impressed by displaying a good set of hands and good speed, but the best position in college for the physical prospect likely is in the defensive secondary.
Just like Smith, Ronald Darby (Oxon Hill, Md./Potomac) is a versatile athlete. Darby worked out on offense and defense during the event and looked good on both sides of the ball. Besides his excellent explosiveness and athleticism, his willingness to get out and compete stood out throughout the day.
A quick breakdown of the rest of the standouts by position:
It's no surprise that Tanner McEvoy (Bergen, N.J./Bergen Catholic) looked a little raw -- he's heading into his first year as a full-time quarterback. But, you can see the potential. He has a strong arm and is accurate for the most part. His height and athleticism also make him an intriguing prospect at any position. Most believe he will end up at receiver in college, but you can't rule out quarterback after watching him throw.
Matt Johnson (Harrisburg, Pa./Bishop McDevitt) threw the ball well consistently and won camp MVP honors for the position. Kevin Hogan (Washington, D.C./Gonzaga) had some nice moments during pass skel/one-on-ones as well.
Artie Rowell (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) won camp MVP honors for the offensive line. The 6-2, 295-pounder holds early offers from Pittsburgh and Temple and projects as an interior lineman at the next level.
Class of 2012 tackle prospect Adam Bisnowaty (Pittsburgh, Pa./Fox Chapel) is one to watch in the next recruiting cycle. The 6-6, 275-pounder is tall and athletic with good feet. Another Class of 2012 prospect, Ryan Brodie (Long Branch, N.J.), looks the part. The 6-4, 260-pounder has long arms and good feet and, like Bisnowaty, is one to watch for the next recruiting cycle.
Class of 2012 speedster Desmon Peoples (Philadelphia/St. Joseph's Prep) displayed excellent speed and quickness during drills. He's not the tallest back out there but is elusive and fast enough to make big plays. Peoples is one to watch in the next recruiting cycle.
JC Shurburtt covers recruiting for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.