CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Queen City plays host to the seventh Nike Football SPARQ Combine of the 2012 season. Combine attendance is expected to be high as prospects from ACC territory will compete at the Carolina Panthers practice facility on Saturday.
At last year's Nike combine stop in Charlotte, Sun Valley (Monroe, N.C.) WR Jody Fuller, a Class of 2012 South Carolina commit, secured a spot to The Opening following a strong performance. On Saturday, several standout talents are vying for an invite to this year's elite event in Oregon.
Kwamane Bowens is a rangy receiver out of Salem (Virginia Beach, Va.) that fits well in a spread offense. Bowens forms a great combo with star signal-caller Bucky Hodges. Bowens can stretch the field vertically or take a short hitch for a long score. His play is very consistent and he often makes the tough catch look easy. Boston College, East Carolina, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Virginia Tech have extended offers. His list should continue to grow with strong showings on the offseason circuit.
Richmond County (Rockingham, N.C.) OL Tyrone Crowder has a great frame for a guard even though he plays tackle for his team. Crowder excels as a physical run-blocker and consistently finishes blocks. He plays with an aggressive streak and is very tenacious. Crowder already holds more than ten offers and we will see if the big road-grader can earn the first invite for an offensive lineman to The Opening this weekend.
Hard-hitting linebacker Holland Fisher of Manchester (Midlothian, Va.) participated in the Philly Nike combine last month and showed well with an 80.46 SPARQ rating. Fisher lines up at inside linebacker, but has a future at safety or as a rover and hybrid defender. The Virginia Tech pledge committed to the Hokies over offers from Maryland, Ohio State, and West Virginia among others.
Hillside (Durham, N.C.) RB Khris Francis made himself known last year at the Charlotte Nike combine, blazing a 4.20 shuttle and jumping 35 inches in the vertical en route to a 92.43 SPARQ rating. The talented back followed up his combine effort with a 2,300-yard rushing season to go with 32 touchdowns this past fall. Francis made a commitment to UNC last month along with a teammate. Clemson and Syracuse offered, but he plans to head across town to Chapel Hill to spend his college years.
Recent Clemson commit Jadar Johnson of Orangeburg-Wilkinson (S.C.) had a productive junior year that saw him collect five interceptions on defense and catch over 50 passes for eight touchdowns as a wideout. He made his college decision this past Wednesday after receiving the Tigers' offer a few weeks ago. Although he is a capable wideout, look for him to line up in the secondary at the next level.
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