A busy and festive weekend set for Walt Disney World will be augmented by the sixth Nike Football Combine stop and the first EA SPORTS Elite 11 QB regional camp at ESPN's Wide World of Sports in Orlando (Fla.).
The Orlando Nike Combine has annually featured top talent and huge turnouts, as last year more then 1,200 prospects came out to test, compete and get their SPARQ Ratings.
Saturday should be no different, as more then 1,000 attendees are expected throughout the day, with top performers having a chance to move onto the first ever SPARQ Rating National Championship this summer at Nike in Beaverton (Ore.). The nation's top 20 SPARQ Rated-athletes through the entire 18-combine tour will be eligible for selection and several players scheduled for Saturday should have great opportunities to make this field.
One such player with big expectations is small-school standout J.J. Keels. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound running back was a Class 1B All-State pick for Florida Air Academy (Melbourne, Fla.) last year. Keels has offers from Duke and Florida International University and could raise his profile significantly on Saturday by topping his showing from a year ago, which was none to shabby with a 106.38 SPARQ Rating.
Another running back that could be right in the mix for top honors is Tampa Catholic (Tampa, Fla.) 6-0, 245 pounder Hunter Joyer, who posted a 103.23 SPARQ Rating a year ago.
Other top players scheduled to be on hand Saturday include Tampa Jefferson (Tampa, Fla.) stars Andre Davis and Ramik Wilson, Jefferson County (Monticello, Fla.) RB Devondrick Nealy, Lincoln (Tallahassee, Fla.) RB Buck Allen and Countryside (Clearwater, Fla.) DB Alex Dixon.
Sunday the nation's premier high school quarterback series takes center stage as the first of six EA SPORTS Elite 11 QB regional camps scheduled for this spring kicks off at 10 a.m. Attendees at the Elite 11 regionals as well as quarterbacks who workout at any of the 13 Nike Football Training Camps later in the year will be eligible to be selected to the national Elite 11 competition, a four-day event in Southern California that is now entering its 12 year.
The Elite 11 competition boasts alumni such as Mark Stafford, Mark Sanchez, Vince Young, and Tim Tebow.
Sunday's event figures to be headlined by the two most heavily recruited quarterbacks in the Sunshine State to this point; Miami Northwestern's (Miami, Fla.) Teddy Bridgewater and Hagerty's (Oviedo, Fla.) Jeff Driskel.
Bridgewater, a lithe 6-3, 185 pounder who earned Class 6A second-team All-State honors this fall after passing for 2,546 yards and 32 touchdowns, has starred in the camp/workout setting before, earning MVP honors at the Nike 7ON last summer, and has early offers from the likes of Miami, Florida, Rutgers, West Virginia and several others.
Driskel did not have quite the year Bridgewater did last fall statistically, but at 6-4, 225 pounds with 4.5 40-yard dash speed, there is little he cannot do on the field. His physical tools should really be on display at Sunday's event. Florida, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Auburn and several others have tendered Driskel early scholarship offers.
While those two maybe the big names coming in, a deep field should make the workout highly competitive. Others to watch include:
*Ronnie Bell, Sandy Creek (Tyrone, Ga.) - Class AAAA all-state selection from the Peach State has quick feet and a strong arm.
*Akil Dan-Fodio, Redan (Stone Mountain, Ga.) - Big and athletic 6-3, 210 pounder holds ACC and SEC offers already.
*Phillip Ely, Plant (Tampa, Fla.) - lead the Panthers to the 5A state title last fall and is the next Plant star QB following Robert Marve and Aaron Murray.
*Kevin Sousa, Lake Nona (Orlando, Fla.) - physically gifted at 6-3, 215 pounds with big upside.
*Stephen Weatherford, Land O'Lakes (Land O'Lakes, Fla.) - younger brother of former FSU QB Drew has USF and East Carolina offers.
*Quentin Williams, Jefferson (Tampa, Fla.) - earned 3A state player of the year honors last fall with over 3,000 yards and 34 TDs passing.