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May 8, 2005

Big House brilliance

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Mother's Day is Sunday, but the more than 420 players at Saturday's NIKE Training Camp at the University of Michigan gave mother plenty to be proud of. Blazing 40-yard dash times, new SPARQ records and outstanding performances by elite prospects highlighted the day, making the camp in Ann Arbor one of the deepest and best on this year's NIKE Camp Tour.

"When you have guys like Brandon Graham, the top player in Michigan, and then another guy like Justin Boren, who is one of the best linemen in Ohio, coming out, competing and showing why they're so highly regarded," said Brian Stumpf, the director of player personnel for Student Sports.

"We had Braylon Edwards talk to the kids after the camp, and he said that he didn't get invited to the NIKE Camp and that motivated him. There are guys that are working hard like a Braylon Edwards in high school. And if these blue-chip guys with offers are sitting at home, there are guys that are going to catch up to them. So it really shows a lot about the type of player here in the Midwest and the type of competitors these top-shelf guys are."

Graham was one of the better players in the linebacker group after putting up solid testing numbers that included a 40-yard dash time in the 4.6-second range. He said he never ever thought about sitting this one out - despite already being an early Michigan commitment.

"The NIKE Camps are all about helping you get better," Graham said. "That was what my No. 1 goal was coming into (Saturday). I have a lot of talent, but I wanted to continue to find ways to get better in everything that I do."

There were two players that actually bettered what seemed to be untouchable SPARQ score of 96.92 that was put up last weekend at the Tallahassee NIKE Camp by blue-chip quarterback Tim Tebow.

Andrew Trowbridge of Port Orange (Fla.) Warner Christian established a new high for the year with a mark of 101.81. His day included a shuttle time of around 4.0 seconds and amazing marks in the 40-yard dash, bench-press and vertical. Detroit Jesuit defensive back Ian Conyers ran the camp's fastest 40-yard dash when he was tested in the 4.3-second range. He finished second in the camp with a SPARQ score just above 98.

There were plenty of blue-chip players at almost all of the positions, making this camp one of the deepest Stumpf said.

"There was just tremendous quality at all of these positions," Stumpf said. "More than 100 college coaches came out here to see good players, and I think they're walking away happy."

Especially those that spent time with the quarterbacks, as the group of signal-callers were one of the deepest of six stops so far on the tour.

One of the biggest surprises of the day was the performance of Shoreview (Minn.) Mounds View quarterback Adam Weber. Coming into the camp, he only had one scholarship offer and wasn't as highly regarded as some of the others at the camp like Josh Freeman of Grandview, Mo., or Isiah Williams of Chicago Vocational.

Still Weber, who also impressed the night before at the EA Sports Elite 11 Regional Workout, spun the ball really well, showed very good fundamentals and displayed very good arms strength.

"There were a lot of quarterbacks here with a couple of offers, but I think Adam really impressed," Stumpf said. "In terms of arm strength, he's got that already and you can project that to the next level. He's the type of guy that can throw it in that narrow window, and he has that little something on it. But he's also a hard worker, and since he plays in a Wing-T in high school it doesn't get to show off his skills as much as it should."

Williams also blew the socks off of coaches.

"In terms of tools, Isiah Williams has got a lot of upside," Stumpf said. "He's very, very raw and he doesn't know a ton about the fundamentals at the position. But he's a good athlete, he's got a huge arm and he spins it well. He does have a natural-throwing ability and people are going to love working with him."

Freeman had his moments in camp, and he tested off the charts for a big guy, running in the 4.7-second range. Justin Burke of Lexington (Ky.) Catholic, Will Fielder of Henderson (Ky.) Henderson County and Justin Siller of Detroit St. Martin DePorres also looked good at times. Siller is a junior-to-be, so keep an eye out on him in the class of 2007.

Running backs featured several impressive looking kids, but a few new names really seemed to push their names forward as potential high-level Division I recruiting.

Cameron Mobley of Dayton (Ohio) Trotwood-Madision was smallish, appearing to be in the 5-foot-7 range, but he couldn't be covered in one-on-one drills. The coaches kept pulling him back toward the front of the line so he could be challenged, but he wasn't.

Jacob Ramsey also impressed throughout the camp, and numerous college coaches were seen writing his name down as one of the best players in the camp. The 6-foot, 200-pounder from Columbus Independence tested extremely well running in the 4.6-second range and a vertical leap of over 34 inches. He also excelled in drills and was one of the few players that gave the linebackers fits in one-on-one drills.

Receivers and tight ends featured a solid group of players, including Marques Wilkins of Decatur (Ill.) MacArthur, D.D. Hardy of New Haven, Mich., and Adrian Cannon of Auburn Hills Avondale. A few new names also popped up with solid days. Adrien Robinson, a tight end, receiver showed up late and didn't have his name on the jersey but he tested well and looked the part of a future flex tight end prospect. Anthony Daniels of Detroit McKenzie passed the eyeball test and looked to be a solid blocking tight end prospect.

The offensive line group was dominated by big men with huge frames and solid technique.

Boren, one of the most highly regarded players in the country at his position, was the talk of all of the coaches at the camp. He tested through the roof with around 40 bench press repetitions and a 40-yard dash time of just above 5.2 seconds. He displayed great strength and amazing footwork in drills, and it was easy to see why Michigan and Ohio State appear to be fighting hard to land him. Jeff Maddux of Monroe, Mich., and Ramone Johnson of Chicago Morgan Park also received high marks from the NIKE position coaches.

The defensive line was one of the thinner position groups of the camp with one of the bigger names being Aundre Henderson of Louisville Manual DuPont.

Along with Graham at the linebacker spot, coaches came away impressed with Eric Gordon of West Traverse City, Mich., and Kevin Green of North Chicago. Gordon had a great frame to fill into, and his testing marks - including around a 4.5-second time in the 40-yard dash - were impressive. Green had around a 30-inch vertical and flowed well in drills.

But it wouldn't be the NIKE Camp if a new name didn't emerge. Andre Hatchett of Indianapolis Warren Central earned raving reviews from the position coaches and they loved his hard-hitting and cat-like quickness to the football. He's got two offers on the table now, but he soon might change that after a very good day on Saturday.

Indiana was also home to one of the top defensive backs at the camp - Steve Brown of Columbus East. Not only did Brown run a 40-yard dash in the sub-4.4-second range, he also impressed during drills and then in one-on-one competition.

"Steve Brown was one of the most impressive guys at the camp, no question," Stumpf said. "He was so fast that it's amazing."

Robert Vaughn of North Attelboro, Mass., said he's still waiting for his first scholarship offer, but the past five days were good for him. He was one of the more dominating players at the Elite Combine in New Jersey and then he continued that dominance at NIKE on Saturday. His testing marks were extremely solid and his coverage skill was even better.


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