The 2012 Nike Football SPARQ Combine tour continued Sunday at the Nova Care Complex, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, as just under 1,200 participants were tested and competed for potential berths in The Opening. For the second combine in a row, one of the headline performers coming into the event more than lived up to his advance billing.
David Williams out of West Catholic (Philadelphia), a 6-foot-0 ½, 183-pound running back, is already a known name in the area, earning all-state honors last fall and accumulating double-digit scholarship offers already in mid-February of his junior year.
Williams is no stranger to the Nike Combine circuit, having attended the Philadelphia event each of the previous two offseasons. On Sunday he put forth his best effort yet, and may have cemented his status as the top back in the Northeast, posting the day's second-best SPARQ Rating at 111.30, which included a 4.44 40-yard dash.
"I worked with a speed coach this summer and into this season and the technique really improved my times," said Williams. "Staying low and exploding out of the gate is key. The hard work paid off and it's only going to motivate me to work harder this spring."
Williams reports offers from Notre Dame, Virginia, Wisconsin and South Carolina among others. With West Catholic closing in the midst of a wave of Catholic schools in the metro area shutting down after this school year, Williams said he is considering both LaSalle (Wyndmoor, Pa.) and POWERADE FAB 50 powerhouse and PIAA AAA state champs Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.) for his senior season.
The only player to top Williams' rating was surprising 5-foot-11 ½, 194-pound athlete Diquan Gilbert out of Communication Tech (Philadelphia). Gilbert played defensive end and some fullback last fall, helping his team to a 9-3 record. On Sunday, he helped himself with some big testing numbers, finishing with a 112.05 SPARQ Rating on the strength of a 4.76 40, a combine-best 4.06 shuttle and a 42-foot power ball toss.
Holland Fisher, an ESPNU 150 Watchlist prospect out of Clover Hill (Midlothian, Va.) came into the event already holding offers from Virginia, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, UNC and others. The 6-foot-2, 181-pound linebacker and safety posted solid marks with a 4.40 in the shuttle and 36 feet in the power ball on his way to an 80.46 SPARQ Rating.
Top Class of 2013 Performer
David Williams, RB, West Catholic (Philadelphia)
The top recruit in Philly didn't disappoint, headlined by his blazing 4.44 40-yard dash. Williams ran for nearly 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns last fall and listed schools like Notre Dame, Virginia and Wisconsin as some early standouts of his double-digit offers that also include Pitt, Maryland, Rutgers, Arkansas, Auburn and South Carolina. The ESPNU 150 Watchlist prospect looks like the strongest candidate to potentially make The Opening out of the combine's nearly 1,200 attendees.
Class of 2013 Performer Honorable Mentions
Will Fuller, WR, Roman Catholic (Philadelphia)
Fuller, an honorable mention all-state and all-region pick as a junior who has been offered by Rutgers, had a very good showing Sunday, clocking a 4.53 40, 4.26 shuttle and jumping 33.9 inches in the vertical for an 88.47 SPARQ Rating, 14th-best at the event. The 6-foot-1, 152-pounder still needs to add some weight but is productive and has the requisite speed and athletic ability to be one of the top prospects in the region at his position.
Diquan Gilbert, ATH, Communications Tech (Philadelphia)
Gilbert should turn some heads recruiting-wise with his combine-best 112.05 SPARQ Rating, but now he will need to show he can play in space to emerge as a BCS-level prospect. He showed great quickness and power in the combine testing, but played primarily with his hand down last fall and will most likely be asked to move to linebacker or safety in college.
Ryheem Lockley, ATH, Middlesex (Saluda, Va.)
Lockley isn't a big name outside of Virginia, but he should be after flashing the athleticism that has already led to offers from UVA and Virginia Tech. The 6-foot-2 ½, 217-pounder plays mostly at quarterback and safety at Middlesex and clocked a solid 4.67 40, threw the power ball 37 feet and jumped 30.3 inches in the vertical on his way to a 90.84 SPARQ Rating, which was 10th-best at the event.
Jaime Nixon-Alark, ATH, York Suburban (York, Pa.)
Nixon-Alark might be the sleeper that emerges from the Philadelphia Nike Combine. The 5-foot-10 ½, 162-pounder played both wide receiver and running back last fall and has the speed to go the distance any time he touches the ball, as evidenced by his co-event best 4.44 40-yard dash. He also clocked a 4.36 shuttle and jumped 31.9 inches in the vertical, good for an 89.25 SPARQ Rating.
Ebenezer Ogundeko, DL, Thomas Jefferson (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Ogundeko recently landed his first offer from Syracuse and showed that more could be on the way with a stellar testing day in Philadelphia. The 6-foot-2 ½, 227-pound defensive end had one of the day's top power ball tosses at 42 feet, and also ran a solid 5.04 40 and 4.69 shuttle for an 87.39 SPARQ Rating. Ogundeko earned second team all-borough honors from The New York Daily News last fall.
Top Underclass Performer
Nick Johnson ('14), RB, Manassas Park (Va.)
He's not the biggest back at 5-8, 155 pounds, but Johnson is a freaky athlete and if not for some slips in the shuttle he may have had one of the day's top SPARQ Ratings. Johnson ran 4.55 in the 40, jumped 36.5 inches in the vertical and threw the power ball 35.5 feet. The rising junior had some big games last fall in a backup role at running back and can also play corner.
Below is a list of top five performers from each testing category. Stay tuned to ESPNHS.com and the Nike Football SPARQ Combine homepage the rest of the week for more coverage from the Philadelphia Nike Combine.
Philadelphia Nike Combine Top Fives
1. Diquan Gilbert, ATH, 5-11.5, 194, Communications Tech (Philadelphia) – 112.05
2. David Williams, RB, 6-0.5, 183, West Catholic (Philadelphia) – 111.30
3. Jacob Simons, QB, 6-2.5, 183, Barrington (R.I.) – 108.33
4. Connor Bor, DB, 6-0, 201, Bishop Eustace (Pennsauken, N.J.) – 102.51
5. Dan Hare, DB, 5-10, 187, Kennard-Dale (Fawn Grove, Pa.) – 96.90
1. Jaime Nixon-Alark, WR, 5-10.5, 162, York Suburban (York, Pa.) – 4.44
1. David Williams, RB, 6-0.5, 183, West Catholic (Philadelphia) – 4.44
3. Sherman Alston ('14), RB, 5-5.5, 148, St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.) – 4.45
4. John Kim, DB, 5-10, 166, Pennridge (Perkasie, Pa.) – 4.50
5. Curtis Sutherland, DB, 5-8.5, 155, Branford (Conn.) – 4.52
1. Diquan Gilbert, ATH, 5-11.5, 194, Communications Tech (Philadelphia) – 4.06
2. Terry Brown, RB, 5-10, 184, Plymouth-Whitemarsh (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.) – 4.07
3. Justin Causa, RB, 5-11, 178, Wyomissing Area (Wyomissing, Pa.) – 4.19
3. J.T. Ventura, RB, 6-1, 180, Hollidaysburg (Pa.) – 4.19
5. Terrell Huff, DB, 5-11, 175, Windsor (Conn.) – 4.21
5. Terrance Toney, DB, 5-11.5, 162, Middle Township (Cape May, N.J.) – 4.21
Kneeling Power Ball toss
1. Connor Bor, DB, 6-0, 201, Bishop Eustace (Pennsauken, N.J.) – 44'
2. Danny Hoffer, QB, 6-0, 201, Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.) – 43.5'
3. Diquan Gilbert, ATH, 5-11.5, 194, Communications Tech (Philadelphia) – 42'
3. Ebenezer Ogundeko, DL, 6-2.5, 227, Thomas Jefferson (Brooklyn, N.Y.) – 42'
3. Marcus Shider, WR, 6-0, 192, Bishop Ford (Brooklyn, N.Y.) – 42
3. Shakir Soto, DL, 6-3, 229, GAR Memorial (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) – 42'
1. Alex Kasirye, DB, 5-7.5, 165, Lowell (Lowell, Mass.) – 39.1"
2. Donte Golson-Goodson, DB, 5-9.5, 167, Perkiomen Valley (Collegeville, Pa.) – 38.6"
3. Nicholas Johnson ('14), RB, 5-8, 156, Manassas Park (Va.) – 36.5"
4. Aaron Bailey, RB, 5-4.5, 155, Penn Hills (Pittsburgh) – 36.1"
5. Connor Bor, DB, 6-0, 201, Bishop Eustace (Pennsauken, N.J.) – 35.8"
5. Sloane Thomas ('14), RB, 5-6.5, 177, Imhotep (Philadelphia) – 35.8"