Baltimore was the last stop on the 2009 Under Armour combine tour. The concluding event was well-populated by regionally sought-after prospects as well as a few nationally regarded ESPNU 150 Watch List members. We filled our notebooks with evaluations and also some inside recruiting news.
ESPNU 150 Watch List corner Jordan Haden (Ft. Washington, Md./Friendly) was in attendance Friday night but did not participate. We still had a chance to catch up with the recent Florida pledge on what went into his decision to choose the Gators.
"My brother [Joe] is there so I was able to get a real [honest] feeling about Florida," Haden said. "On visits to other schools they show you just the good stuff; with Florida I was able to stay with my brother a lot and see what it was really like."
Aside from being a great fit for him off the field, Haden is looking forward to the challenge of playing for the defending BCS National Champions, who boast a relatively young and very talented defensive secondary. He said the Gators are recruiting him to play safety but the coaches think he is a versatile athlete who could also get a look as an underneath corner.
"I know it's going to be good competition but there is going to be competition wherever I go," Haden said.
The Maryland native, who has another older brother, Josh, who is playing running back for Boston College, sounded very solid with the Gators, saying he did not plan on visiting any other schools in the future.
Josh Furman's (Millersville, Md./Old Mill) elite testing marks Friday night should help his recruiting stock continue to soar. The projected outside linebacker, who also stars as a running back, said he currently holds offers from the in-state Terps, Michigan, Pitt, North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma and Syracuse.
Expect SEC programs to start showing interest because of Furman's perimeter speed; Tennessee was in before the combine Friday, probably to give the long, rangy athlete an eyeball test. So what is one of the top 'backers in the state of Maryland looking for in a program?
"I'm looking for a good college atmosphere with players who are like a big family," Furman said.
Furman has no leaders at this time and plans to take all his visits.
Zack McCray (Lynchburg, Va./Brookville) was another top performer Friday night. With his great size, room for physical development and overall athleticism we saw, it's no wonder he told us he currently holds 13 scholarship offers.
McCray mentioned offers from LSU, UCLA, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Tennessee and Clemson but has no official top five at this time.
"By the time the end of May comes I am hoping to have a top five or six," McCray said. "I want a school I can fit in at and feel comfortable [for] four [or] five years with good coaches, players and surrounding people."
McCray visited Tennessee during his spring break and also attended North Carolina's spring game.
Malik Stokes (Philadelphia/Northeast), brother of 2009 ESPNU 150 wide receiver Je'Ron (Michigan), showed good skills to develop as a spread quarterback at the next level. He is hoping a change in his current high school offense could help spark his recruitment.
"We are going to be more of a passing offense next year which should help; I want to prove to everyone I can QB," stated Stokes. "I think tearing my meniscus also hurt me because I did not have as much stats."
Stokes said he currently holds offers from Akron and Pitt but has been receiving a lot of interest from Tennessee, Auburn, North Carolina and Nebraska.
Corner Don Hursey (Washington, D.C./Howard D. Woodson) has good underneath skills that have already been noticed by North Carolina (his only offer). The solidly built perimeter defender said West Virginia, Virginia, UConn and Maryland are also showing heavy interest.
We had a chance to catch up with defensive end Javarie Johnson's (Washington, D.C./Dunbar) coaches in Baltimore about their physically freakish perimeter defender. Johnson holds more than 10 offers from some of the bigger Big Ten, ACC and Big East programs. His coaches feel that a lot of SEC schools will be coming by this spring and subsequently making offers once they see his impressive, "non-exaggerated" physical measurables in person.
The biggest surprise of the event was receiver Tehvyn Brantley (Durham, N.C./Mount Zion Christian Academy). Despite his shorter measurables, we expect recruiting to heat up for this explosive skill player. It appears he hasn't slid under the UCLA Bruins' radar.
"Right now I have Central Michigan and Buffalo, but UCLA is ready to offer," he said.
Billy Tucker is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc.