The sun shined brightly at West Orange High School in Orlando, FL on Saturday. With over 150 high schoolers in attendance, the Nike Football Training Camp was rife with talent from all over the southeast.
Camps, like the NFTC, allow under the radar players to shine brightly and allow those in the spotlight to prove their abilities against other top talent.
This year was no different.
The day started with SPARQ testing, where players are tested against national averages and given an overall score, which is a supposed representation of athletic ability. SPARQ testing measures the 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle, vertical jump, and kneeling powerball throw.
During the SPARQ drills, I noticed the following players immediately: Sean Smith (tight-end; Summerville (SC)); Keith Gavin (wide receiver; Wakulla (FL)); Davion Riley (tight-end; Lake Wales (FL)); Derrick Ingram (wide receiver; Tampa Jefferson (FL)); Rondarian Bell (wide receiver; American Heritage (Delray) (FL)); Milan Richard (tight-end; Calvary Baptist Day (GA)); and T.J. Harrell (defensive back; Tampa Catholic (FL)).
The top overall score was from Lonnie Marts, from Harvest Community Score, with a 116.22.
In positional drills, you can also learn a little bit, especially in footwork from defensive backs and wide receivers. When looking at wide receivers or defense backs in positional drills, you are looking at their footwork. Are they making quiet breaks and movements, or are they stomping down before cutting? When making movements, you don’t want to hear much noise. Further, look at their effort. Are they working hard or going through the motions? Do they hustle back to the line and are they listening to the coaches?
When the groups split into positional drills and pass skeletons, you were able to see who the standouts were. The groups were split with the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, linebackers and defensive backs on the main field, while the offensive line and defensive line went to the practice field (also, called the dust bowl). In positional drills, you could see who the standouts were almost immediately.
At quarterback, I saw two great quarterbacks. Michael O’Conner (IMG Academy) was the big standout and won the MVP award for the position because of it. He had a great arm, threw a tight spiral, and has great size. Xavier Gaines (Frostproof (FL)) also threw the ball well and, even though he was stuck in the pocket, looks very athletic. Brycen Lee (Lafayette (FL)) also threw great balls and was on point for most of the day.
At running back, Keith Harrington (St. Petersburg Northeast) was the biggest standout and won the MVP award for the runningbacks. The NFTC is not a camp where it is easy to shine at as a running back because there is no running, and all running backs are simply running wide receiver routes. However, Harrington showed great speed, size and catching ability.
At wide receiver, there were quite a few standouts. Artavis Scott (East Lake (FL)) ran crisp routes and had sure hands, missing (I believe) only one pass thrown his way. Scott had good speed and created good separation. Scott was named MVP of the event at the wide receiver position. Ryan Sousa (Lake Nona (FL)) was a big surprise. The 6-foot-0 receiver was looking to make a bigger name for himself and he did. He has a ton of offers from smaller FBS schools, but I believe Sousa will have a great offer sheet after the summer. He is quick, has an incredible vertical leap, and had great hands. Sousa was, in my opinion, the second best wide receiver at the event. In a close third, 2015 mega-prospect George Campbell (East Lake (FL)), played very well, as well. He had great routes, runs with a long stride, and caught everything in sight. Other prospects I noticed at receiver: Raheem Harvey (Largo (FL)); Garrett Johnson (West Orange (FL)); and Marquel Hines (Manatee (FL)).
In the linebacker and defensive back group (grouped because there was no clear positions at times), a few players really shined. Linebacker MVP Greg Miclisse (Bayside (FL)), was all over the field and likely earned himself a few scholarships. He broke up a few balls and had great range. Defensive back MVP Kyle Gibson (Armwood (FL)) impressed throughout the day, he had great speed, good hands, solid hip work and seemed to be around the ball all day. He could use some extra pounds, but he will be a great defensive back at the next level. Other players that made a big impact: Duke Dawson (Dixie County (FL)); Mikeice Adams (Kissimmee-Osceola (FL)); Jajuan Perkins (East Gadsden (FL)); and Mike Johnson (Countryside (FL)).
On the offensive line, offensive line MVP Montel McBride was likely the MVP of the whole day. He had great footwork, dominated every defensive lineman he played against, carried his weight well and occupied a lot of space, making him very hard to get around. I also liked what I saw from Siffo Pierre (Taravella (FL)). He played guard very well, especially his footwork. He dominated Markel Williams (Rickards (FL)) and had good hand placement. Other notable standouts: Brian Lucas (Ridgeview (FL)); Josh Peters (First Academy (FL)); Lonnie Anderson (Rickards (FL)); Ray Raulerson (Plant (FL)); Breht Joly (Hagerty (FL)); and T.J. McCoy (South Lake (FL))
On the defensive line, fewer players shined, but those that did were stellar. Markel Winters (Rickards (FL)) won the MVP award and won almost all of his battles. Poona Ford (Hilton Head (SC)) was just as dominant and had a great battle with Josh Peters. Anthony Ellis (Apopka (FL)) moved well and had great speed. He played with a lot of aggression. He does not have great size for the next level, but played very hard today.
Review of MVP Awards:
Offensive Line – Montel McBride
Defensive Line – Markel Winters
Running Back – Keith Harrington
Linebacker – Greg Miclisse
Quarterback – Michael O’Connor
Wide Receiver – Artavis Scott
Defensive Back – Kyle Gibson
SPARQ Winner – Lonnie Marts