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March 28, 2005

Blowing up at NIKE

When the NIKE camps kickoff in just under two weeks at the University of Miami, everyone will be watching for and asking about the performance of guys like Sam Young, Kenrick Ellis and Brandon Heath. The big names are fun to watch, but last year proved that it's the guys you don't know as much about that end up making the biggest impression.

Going into the Miami NIKE camp last year, very few people had heard of Miami (Fla.) Killian defensive back Demetrice Morley at all. He had recently picked up his first offer from N.C. State, but at the camp he had his coming out party when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds, the shuttle in 4.31 seconds and showed off a 35-inch vertical jump.

After the camp Morley went on to pick up offers from Miami, Florida, Florida State, Tennessee, Georgia and others before eventually signing with the Vols in February. He debuted as the nation's No. 93 player in the initial Rivals 100. After a huge senior season and great performances in the CaliFlorida Bowl and the U.S. Army All-American game he finished with a five star ranking and was the nation's No. 21 player overall.

At last year's Baton Rouge NIKE camp one prospect that many fans and even college coaches knew little about was Hattiesburg, Miss. inside linebacker/defensive end Charles Burns. Going into the camp he had no offers and very little interest.

Burns posted a 5.03 second 40-yard dash, a 4.47 second shuttle time and a 28-inch vertical jump. He later went on to pick up offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Southern Miss and West Virginia before he signed with Mississippi State.

One final example of how many doors can open up for prospects just by attending the NIKE camp is that of Atlanta (Ga.) Douglass defensive end Roderick Battle, who attended last season's NIKE camp at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

Battle had no offers and was only receiving mail from Vanderbilt going into the camp. Within one month of the camp Battle had picked up scholarship offers from Georgia, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia Tech and South Carolina. Battle eventually chose the homestate Bulldogs and finished with a four star ranking and as the nations No. 9 weakside defensive end.

Each year the NIKE camps get bigger and bigger and more and more prospects attend the camps. In just 13 days the first one will kick off at the University of Miami and you can bet you'll hear all about the top prospects, but don't be surprised if the next Demetrice Morley pops up.


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