CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolinas have steadily been establishing themselves as two of the top places in the nation to find gridiron talent, and last weekend was no exception. The Under Armour Combine tour rolled into Charlotte and showcased a strong group of prospects at the Carolina Panthers' practice facility.
The large group boasted prospects of interest at every position, and this was arguably the strongest event of the year outside Florida.
The event fielded a strong group of quarterbacks, but without question the top dog in attendance was ESPNU 150 Watch List signal-caller Christian LeMay (Mint Hill, N.C./Butler). The local product has an apparent unquenchable thirst to get better and compete. Despite a long and impressive list of offers and roster spot already secured in the 2011 Under Armour All-America Game, LeMay was out there testing and competing and seemingly loving every second of it. He proved in person what he displays on film. He is smooth in his drop and possesses a quick and equally smooth release, coupled with a strong arm. He also tested well, posting a 30-inch vertical and a 7.22 three-cone drill.
The thing that left the biggest impression on me was the intangibles he displayed. Quarterback is a position of leadership, and an ability to rally teammates, gain respect and garner confidence among your teammates can potentially diminish or override raw ability. LeMay just seems to have what you want in a quarterback, in addition to ability and skill. He is a polished young man who is easy to talk to, personable and sure of himself. In addition to that, and more importantly, he seems to gain the respect of those around him. Watching him without the ball and between reps, players seemed to gravitate to him. This event was in LeMay's hometown, so he likely has been around many of these players before, but even if that is the case the All-American still seems to have the it factor that can't be taught and reminds me of former Under Armour All-American and current USC quarterback Matt Barkley.
One of the most intriguing prospects at the event was Thompson Brown (Manakin Sabot, Va./St. Christopher). He made the trek down to Charlotte from the Richmond area to try to get his name out. The defensive end prospect is a good-looking kid on the hoof at a little over 6-foot-3 and about 220 pounds with a muscular build. As the testing went on he garnered more attention, posting a 4.59 40-yard dash, 32.5-inch vertical, 10-0 broad jump and a 4.29 short shuttle. In one-on-ones he flashed good quickness with the ability to use his hands and counter inside. He was tough to stop, but we would have liked to seen him take more reps. He has no offers and said he missed some time last season with a broken arm and his team did not fare well on the field. While interest is low at this point, he did say Boston College and Virginia have been in contact. We look forward to seeing film on him. If his play in pads matches the ability he displayed, it won't be long before more teams start to catch on.
Charlotte is known as the Queen City, but Sunday those initials could have easily stood for quarterback city because the combine fielded a fine group of under-the-radar signal-callers in addition to LeMay. One of the players who stood out was Morgan Roberts (Charlotte, N.C./Country Day), who impressed with his arm strength. He is a kid with solid height and mechanics and is capable of quickly zipping the ball into tight spaces. At one point in 7-on-7 he delivered a ball to a receiver on a curl route in traffic on a frozen rope, and one of the former NFL coaches on hand in another group saw it out of the corner of his eye and ran over to express his appreciation for the throw.
A quarterback who does not look the part but has a deceptively strong arm is Andrew Alexander (Charlotte, N.C./Ardrey Kell). The 2011 prospect is a skinny kid who could use some time in the weight room, but when it came time to throw he showed good arm strength and nice upside at the position.
Another quarterback to potentially keep any eye on is Price Litton (Charlotte, N.C./Providence Day). He has adequate height, a thick build, good strength and displayed good ability and upside.
The offensive and defensive lines did not offer a deep group, but there was some talent on hand. At the defensive end spot Desmond Floyd (Union, S.C./Union) displayed good pass-rushing ability. He has solid height at about 6-3 and 235 pounds he has plenty of room to add more bulk. He does have a good reach and used his hands well in one-on-ones to knock blockers' hands down. He said he sports six offers at this time and of those offers he has been to South Carolina, Kentucky, NC State and Duke.
Jarran Reed (Goldsboro, N.C./Goldsboro) is a promising defensive tackle prospect who performed well in one-on-ones. He is a big kid at about 290 pounds, but carries his weight well. When rushing the passer, he did a good job of attacking half-a-man and using his hands to try to club by blockers. He also displayed the ability to get his hips turned and get skinny to work past. Reed has no offers at this time but is a big man to keep an eye on.
On the offensive side of the ball, Jason Rexroad (Little River, S.C./North Myrtle Beach) came away as the top lineman. He performed well in one-on-ones and took reps at tackle, but he will likely project to guard in college. He has a fairly thick build at 273 pounds but will need to keep adding bulk. He did display the ability to get set quickly and play with knee bend. Rexroad also punched well and moved his feet, but he needs to work on sitting back more and staying balanced. He said he has a written offer from Florida International and verbal offers from a trio of other schools.
Dinwiddie on display
The event also featured some potential sleeper prospects who traveled from outside the Carolinas. Two teammates from Dinwiddie Senior High School in Virginia had solid days. Quarterback/athlete Chris Hall passed the eye test with an athletic, rangy build at 6-3, 230 pounds. He worked with the quarterbacks and while he is a bit of a project -- especially with his release -- you can tell he is working to be better at the position and did flash some good ability and upside. However, you can't help but imagine that he will eventually end up at tight end or defensive end. He has no offers but did say he is hearing from Virginia Tech, Virginia and Georgia Tech. He is looking for an opportunity at quarterback but said the Hokies have brought up tight end.
Hall's teammate, Darec Brooks caught the eye of former South Florida coach Jim Leavitt. He was impressed with the undersized but athletic outside linebacker prospect who currently has no offers.
Safety prospect Mike Brown (Pickerington, Ohio/Central) also tested well. The defensive back posted a 4.67 40, 30-inch vertical, a 9-5 broad jump and an impressive 6.97 three-cone drill. No offers yet for Brown, but he said he is hearing from several schools.
ESPNU 150 tight end Drew Owens (Charlotte, N.C./Ardrey Kell) took part and is an impressive-looking kid with good size for the position. It seemed he did not get many balls thrown his way in 7-on-7, but he runs good routes. With several offers on the table, he said a top five at this point would include NC State, South Carolina, Clemson, North Carolina and Wisconsin. ... A promising 2012 prospect in attendance was wide receiver Jody Fuller (Monroe, N.C./Sun Valley). With an athletic build, he displayed quick and strong hands. He does need to be a bit more consistent. ... A physical linebacker prospect in attendance was Colton Walls (Charlotte, N.C./Latin), son of former NFL tight end Wesley Walls. It should say a lot about the physical nature of Walls' game when it was apparent in a non-padded combine setting. He exhibited good straight-line speed, posting a 4.88 40 and also displayed good power and explosiveness. At one point he so violently jammed a running back in one-on-one drills that he sent him flying back behind the line of scrimmage. He said he has no offers but a top four of North Carolina, Clemson, Duke and Vanderbilt. ... A potential under-the-radar cornerback in attendance was Jerrell Armstrong (New Bern, N.C./New Bern) who has marginal size on paper but is a rangy, well put together kid in person. He posted a 4.45 40, a 34.5-inch vertical and displayed smooth hips in coverage. ... Some other prospects who did well include wide receiver and North Carolina commit T.J. Thorpe (Durham, N.C./Jordan), who had a good day testing and catching the ball. Linebacker Ralph Cooper (Winnsboro, S.C./Fairfield Central) also has a solid all-around showing. 2012 defensive back prospect Xander Maddox (Charlotte, N.C./Latin) posted a 4.47 40. While LeMay garnered most of the attention, his younger brothers -- 2013 wide receiver prospect Uriah LeMay and 2016 prospect Benjamin LeMay -- were also in attendance.
Craig Haubert is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. and has more than a decade of coaching experience.