May 3, 2007

Sleepers rise and shine at Elite

WALDWICK, N.J. - They call them sleepers in the football recruiting industry. Sleepers are prospects that are under the radar, unknown and potential D-1 players that coaches and experts have been "sleeping on". At this year's Elite College Combine, sleepers like Chris Hayden-Martin were everywhere.

Hayden-Martin, from Greensburg (Pa.) Central Catholic, didn't have any BCS offers coming into the event but he could be a 10-offer kid before the end of May. Hayden-Martin has good size and runs like a deer. He's very raw, but his athletic ability and loose hips will bring in the offers.

The defensive back group was loaded with other sleepers. Piscataway, N.J. cornerback Dwayne Gratz also has good size and flashed excellent ball skills and is a D-1 player for sure. He is joined by West Orange (N.J.) Seton Hall Prep cornerback Grant Mayes, who could also play safety or grow into a linebacker. Mayes received his first offer from Illinois the day after the Elite.

Greenbelt (Md.) Eleanor Roosevelt safety Okechuckwu Okoroha had a lone offer entering the combine but he's a sure-fire 10 offer player down the line with his size and ability to run. Okoroha ran a 4.8-second 40-yard dash at the NIKE Combine in Baltimore, but he's clearly faster than that on the football field. Fort Washington (Md.) Friendly safety Devin Wallace will also have offers soon. He's very thick at 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds and showed excellent speed and change of direction.

A few linebackers looking for attention earned on the evening. New Brunswick, N.J. star Marquise Hamm could be a defensive end in the long run but right now he's an impressive-looking linebacker. Hamm has long arms and a great frame at 6-foot-4 and 210+ pounds and he moves well. Syracuse offered early and was hoping to keep him a secret but he'll have more offers quickly.

In addition to Hamm, a few others should be getting offers shortly. Irvington, N.J. linebacker Dwayne Beckford, Piscataway, N.J. 'backer Marvin Booker and Alexander DiSanzo from Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep should all be checking their cell phones often.

Brandywine, Del. defensive end Kavon Brown is a bit short, but he could grow into a 4-3 defensive tackle in the right system. He is very quick off the football. Cambridge (Mass.) Buckingham Browne & Nichols defensive end Nick Halloran did very well in the one-on-ones as a defensive end and he can also play offensive tackle. His athleticism will bring some D-1 interest. Phillipsburg, N.J. defensive end Bryce McClain is a bit undersized but he showed explosion and toughness in the one-on-ones.

There were plenty of sleepers along the offensive line led by Ansonia, Conn. offensive guard Eric Kuraczea, who apparently received three offers following the event. Kuraczea has good size and anchors well. Washington (D.C.) Ballou guard Devon Lesesne was excellent in the one-on-ones, showing good balance and an excellent punch. Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic center Steve Spada took away the Offensive Line MVP Award and raised his stock quite a bit while Patrick Neumann from Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph's Regional was also impressive and should earn an offer or two.

The wideout position was also loaded with sleepers. Bound Brook, N.J. wideout Deven Baker, Morristown (N.J.) Morristown Beard's Colin Lamond, Wall, N.J. athlete Timothy Wright and Hammonton (N.J.) St. Joseph's Norman White all raised their stock. And perhaps the biggest sleeper of all was Brandywine (Md.) Gwynn Park wideout Ronald Hobby, who was excellent all day despite no name or number on his jersey.

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