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January 8, 2002While the seniors were stealing most of the headlines this past weekend at the U.S. Army All-America Bowl, around 100 of the nation's top players for the Class of 2003 were on hand for the U.S. Army Combine.
Those that made the trip to San Antonio, Texas, didn't disappoint either.
One of Rivals100.com favorite juniors made it to the event and didn't disappoint - Whitney Lewis of Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure.
Everybody knows that Lewis is Lorenzo Booker's teammate, but on early film review and from his performance at the combine on Saturday, it's clear that he's going to be one of the nation's best of the best for 2003.
Whitney said he is projecting himself as probably a safety on the next level, but also wouldn't mind getting the ball in his hands quite a bit - which is something he has the explosion ability to do from watching him workout this weekend.
Lewis was clocked in at 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash and came away with an impressive vertical leap that was almost 40 inches. It's easy to see why Lewis is already getting tons of interest from some of the top teams in the country.
"I'm already getting a lot of mail," Lewis said. "I'd say my top teams right now - and it's early - would be USC, Florida State, Miami and Texas."
But Lewis wasn't the only impressive junior on hand.
The player that passed the eyeball test probably the best was Hillsboro, Texas, junior running back Richuel Massey. The 5-foot-11, 220-pounder looked like former Concord (Calif.) De La Salle standout Kevin Simon in appearance and backed it up with one of the most impressive workouts ever seen in person.
Massey turned in a 4.4-second time in the 40-yard dash and then did 35 reps of 185 pounds on the bench press to finish with the high of the combine. He walked around the entire time with ankle weights on and simply looked intimidating enough to make you not want to tackle him.
Massey turned in an impressive season on the field with 1,700 yards rushing and 2,000 all-purpose yards. It's that type of season that has already garnered attention from Texas, Alabama and Florida.
"I really like Texas," Massey said. "I've always dreamed about playing there."
Another Texan that impressed with Cameron, Texas, standout athlete Billy Pittman. People have been talking about him for quite some time and the reigning district MVP is already getting attention to play quarterback, running back or receiver.
"I'm looking at Texas, Texas A&M, Syracuse and TCU," he said. "Those are the ones that are already sending stuff."
Shreveport (La.) Evangel Christian has become a D-I football factory and Evangel is set to roll out two more blue-chip recruits off the assembly line in the Class of 2003.
Receiver Tristen Ross, who is 6-foot and 180 pounds, impressed at the combine with a stellar 4.4-second time in the 40-yard dash. He said he's already getting serious attention from both Tennessee and Oklahoma.
The Vols have already talked to him about offering a scholarship and he said the Sooners would offer if he came to camp in Norman.
Chadrick Johnson of Evangel is also another impressive looking prospect. He said he projects himself as a safety on the next level, and he more than passed the eyeball test at the combine.
"I'm really good friends with the Pitman family and know Chance Mock from the times I've been up to Austin for games, so Texas is going to be high on my list," Johnson said. "But Jonathan (Wade) is talking to me hard about going up to Tennessee with him next year.
"And put Oklahoma on there too. My idol is Roy Williams, so I will probably check them out this summer."
The Southeast was also represented by Hoover, Ala., cornerback Labrose Hedgeman. Hedgeman looked good in drills and said he's already getting regular mail from North Carolina, Auburn, Alabama and Southern Miss.
A name out West to keep your eye on is Rafael Rice from Santa Ana Mater Dei. He looked good in drills and came away with 31 reps in the bench press.
"I'm a power running back," Rice said. "I rushed for 1,200 yards this year and 20 touchdowns."
Rice is already getting mail from Nebraska, Boston College, Michigan, Oregon and UCLA.