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May 22, 2006

Gainesville NIKE Camp notebook

GAINESVILLE, Fla. The NIKE Camp held on Saturday at the University of Florida was arguably the best this year with a wide array of talent from in state as well as from South Carolina, Georgia and other areas. The quarterbacks led the way but every position was well represented.

Texas commitment John Brantley was easily the top signal-caller at the event. Brantley showed excellent feet and was fluid in his drops. His mechanics were excellent and he was accurate all day. Brantley is better in the pocket than on the run, but he is deadly when he has time to set. Behind Brantley, Florida quarterback Stephen Garcia and Missouri dual-threat Logan Gray were also impressive. Garcia needs work on his mechanics, but he has a very strong arm and good feet while Gray is very athletic and fast with a good arm. Garcia relies on his arm to fire the ball where it needs to be and once he learns to follow through, his potential is tremendous. Gray, who is very thin at this stage, said his top three at this point are all SEC schools Florida, Georgia and Auburn, all of whom have offered.

Speaking of favorites, defensive end Allen Bailey seems to have four schools at the top of his list. Make no doubt that Georgia will be the team to beat here if they talk to him about playing linebacker (they want him at defensive end) but Miami is currently his top school because they said he could play standing up. Florida and Alabama are also high on his list. Bailey was easily the most physically impressive player at the camp. He has long arms and is very athletic for his size and while he could project as a linebacker in some systems, it's much more likely he'll be a pass rushing defensive end.

Defensive end D'Angelo McCray worked out as an offensive lineman at times, showing off the size and strength that also makes him an excellent blocking tight end. McCray is committed to Florida but said he will look around and was recently offered by Southern Cal. He said a visit to USC is certainly an option and the only other offer he'd be as excited about would be from Texas. Clemson, Florida State and others could be in line for an official visit.

The running back position was a bit thin, but Florida commitment Chris Rainey ran one of the best 40 times at the event and showed excellent quickness. Running back Orion Ponder was also quick and 2008 tailback Jeremy Height is a future star. Height is Bailey's teammate at McIntosh County Academy and has great upfield burst.

Quite a few sleepers emerged on the offensive and defensive lines. Defensive end Daryl Hines is a physically imposing player and new to football. The big man played hoops only until recently and McCray, his teammate, said that many schools are starting to take notice of him as they've come through his school. Sebastian River High School defensive end Kendrick Washington and Kathleen High School's Victor Cason, who worked out at linebacker, are two Florida kids to keep an eye out for and Cheraw, S.C. end Cliff Matthews wasn't a sleeper heading in, but he raised his stock quite a bit from one-on-ones. He's very skinny, but has a long frame and will be a weakside pass rusher in college with his superior quickness.

On the offensive side of the line, barrel-chested lineman Chaz Hine has a pancake in one-on-ones and showed a great punch and a very physical style. South Carolina offensive tackle Chris Gray is also a sleeper, doing well against top players like Quintin Richardson.

Speaking of Richardson, the South Carolina commitment worked out at tight end for fun, but when it came to the one-on-ones he moved to the defensive line. Richardson was very quick off the ball and has a nice spin move, but his future is on the offensive line. Fellow South Carolina commitment Gary Gray was the best cornerback in the one-on-ones and has great closing speed. The duo of Gray and Richardson are working hard on wide receiver Mark Barnes, but the big wideout said he's wide open and is wondering why he hasn't received any offers from any of the big three in Florida. Barnes still has to be considered a Gamecock lean and based on his performance he'd be an instant impact player.

Quarterback Nick Fanuzzi struggled on the day, short-arming some passes and having some accuracy issues. Fanuzzi looks solid physically and has good feet, but his ball tended to wobble on his downfield passes. The Miami commitment was in with Joe Weatherford as bigger names who were a bit behind Brantley, Garcia and Gray in the "A" group. A sleeper who emerged is Robert Arnheim from Edgewater, Fla. who isn't the tallest signal-caller (looked around 6-foot-0) but has a strong arm and a nice release.

Wide receiver Dion Lecorn showed impressive speed and ran good routes although he's not the tallest guy as well. He adjusts to the ball quickly and has good hands and is very thick and strong. Lecorn is Brantley's top target at Trinity Catholic and is favoring Florida and South Carolina right now. He could end up at the same school as Garcia and the duo clicked well at times.

Defensive tackle Ian Williams from Lyman, Fla. was a bit shorter than expected and struggled a bit in the one-on-ones. Offensive guard Chris Gaines was also height challenged but he showed excellent form and was very physical.

Wideout Willie White from Kingsland (Ga.) Camden County worked out with the receivers but schools like Florida State are recruiting him as a safety. Based on his frame, White is better suited for offense and seems to prefer the position. He fought the ball at times, but is raw and super athletic.

Offensive tackle Maurice Holloway did the most bench reps at the camp and looks the part physically. He did well in the one-on-ones, showing pretty good feet and an aggressive nature.

For complete coverage of the Gainesville NIKE Training Camp, log on to StudentSportsFootball.com.



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