|ESPN.com: 2012||[Print without images]|
|Edna Karr (New Orleans) junior Noel Ellis, who's rated the nation's No. 17 cornerback by ESPN, is one of several standouts expected at the Memphis NFTC on Friday.|
The common mantra among players these days is that they don't pay attention to the recruit rankings and that their numbers on the field -- not their rating on a list -- are what matter most.
Mark Dodson doesn't exactly fall into that category. The Whitehaven (Memphis, Tenn.) junior tailback knows the rankings plenty well, taking note of those that count him out. That's why when Dodson takes part in the Memphis Nike Football Training Camp on Friday at the University of Memphis, he says he will have more than enough motivation.
"I know I'm supposed to be in that ESPN 150, so I will do whatever it takes," Dodson said. "Everything will be smooth and crisp from drill routes and, most importantly, blocking. I have a chip on my shoulder because I feel I'm underrated, but it's nothing but motivation for me."
Ranked as the No. 23 running back and his state's No. 5 recruit by ESPN, Dodson tallied more than 1,600 yards last season despite dealing with a high-ankle sprain, and he fielded offers from 11 top colleges before committing to Ole Miss in May.
Come Friday's NFTC, the 10th of 12 camps taking place nationwide through June, Dodson can claim a bit of a home-field advantage.
"Where the field is, I grew up like 10 minutes away when I was young, so it really feels like home," Dodson said. "And you don't let anybody destruct your home."
Dodson won't be the only player looking to make his mark at the NFTC. And he'll have some competition at running back from North Little Rock (Ark.) standout Altee Tenpenny.
While Tenpenny has already proven he's one of the nation's top recruits -- he's rated No. 54 in the ESPN 150 -- the Alabama commit wants to show he's back to full strength after missing all of last year with a fractured fibula and dislocated ankle. Tenpenny, who rushed for 1,151 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore, put together a solid performance at the Dallas SPARQ combine in March.
Jeryl Brazil is also hoping to open people's eyes. As a track star, the Loranger (La.) junior has claimed state titles in the 100 and 200 meters and has been clocked at 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash. While that speed opened the door for a commitment to LSU, Brazil looks to use the NFTC as a means to draw more attention to his football skills.
"I want to show everyone that I'm primarily a football guy rather than a track star," said Brazil, who played defensive back and running back last year. "I want people to know that I have more to offer than speed and that I have elite abilities and skills to showcase."
Also expected to compete with Brazil in the defensive back group is Noel Ellis of Edna Karr (New Orleans). The junior is fresh off an impressive campaign in which he posted 55 tackles and five interceptions. The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder has drawn a plethora of offers from the likes of Auburn, Florida State and Tennessee.
Both Brazil and Ellis could find themselves defending passes from Brayden Scott, a junior quarterback from Sequoyah (Tahlequah, Okla.). Scott, who threw for more than 2,000 yards last fall and has offers from Arkansas and Clemson, among others, was impressive at the Elite 11 regional in Atlanta and will look to build on this effort in Memphis.
Also keep an eye out for Trinity (Louisville, Ky.) defensive end Jason Hatcher and Memphis East (Memphis, Tenn.) linebacker Marcus Robinson. Rated the nation's No. 18 defensive end by ESPN, Hatcher, who holds offers from such schools as Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma, Michigan and Notre Dame, led Trinity to its 21st state title last season and a No. 3 ranking in the POWERADE FAB 50. Meanwhile, Robinson, who holds offers from Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Clemson and USC, among others, had 92 tackles as a junior.
As always, invites to The Opening will be up for grabs Friday. Nearly 100 players have snagged a spot at the prestigious event to be held July 5-8 in Oregon, and with a number of players bent on proving their mettle as top recruits, it should make things all the more interesting at the Memphis NFTC.