QB Aaron Murray impresses at Nike Football Training Camp in Gainesville
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It was a cold, rainy day in Gainesville on Sunday, but that did not stop more than 200 players from competing at the Nike Football Training Camp at the University of Florida. As the sun eventually shot through the sky toward the end of camp, so did the missiles launched by ESPN 150 Watch List quarterback Aaron Murray (Tampa, Fla./Plant), who was, hands down, the most impressive prospect of the day. Murray had some good competition; quarterback Eugene Smith (Miramar, Fla.) laced them up once again after competing at the Miami Nike camp the previous Sunday, as did Under Armour All-American running back Jaamal Berry (Miami/Palmetto). The day was damp and the weather may have deterred some elite prospects from attending (there were a few late scratches), but plenty of talented prospects from all over Florida and southern Georgia competed at a high level.
Even as he tossed the ball around during warm-ups, Murray's velocity and RPMs were striking. His release is arguably the quickest and smoothest in the Class of 2009; the ball zips off his hand with the slightest snap of the wrist. He led receivers on vertical routes and fit the ball into tight spots consistently all day. No, he is not 6-foot-3 and lacks prototypical Division I size. But Murray is by no means small, he is a tapered athlete with the thickness needed to remain durable in the pocket. At times, he did try to drive the ball downfield too hard and let some throws get away. Overall, Murray's accuracy, arm strength and mechanics were very impressive to see in person. This kid should challenge for one of the top quarterback spots upon the release of the ESPN 150.
Mike Gilliard LB (6-2, 205)
Gilliard looked all of 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, and this kid's long, rangy, high-cut frame is just going to explode with bulk once he enters a full-time weight-training program at the next level. Aside from physically passing the eye test, he performed well during drills that matched him up against quicker skill players in space, a perceived weakness when watching him on film. His hips, fluidity and overall range exceeded our expectation during the day.
Jon Bostic LB, (6-2, 217)
Wellington, Fla./Palm Beach Central
Bostic easily could have been the best-looking prospect on the hoof in Gainesville with his great height and thickness. Unfortunately, the ESPN 150 Watch List linebacker didn't carry his newly added weight as well as I would have liked during drills. He struggled at times breaking down in space and looked a bit stiff in the hips moving laterally. Bostic still possesses a great blend of size and vertical attacking speed, but his fluidity when trying to mirror quicker Division I skill players on the perimeter -- in both run and pass support -- is a concern.
Lamar Scruggs WR (6-3, 215)
Neptune Beach, Fla./Fletcher
Scruggs was one of the more impressive-looking kids at the camp, and he very easily could have slid in with the linebacker group and not looked out of place physically. The ESPN 150 Watch List receiver's thickness, particularly in his lower body, really stood out. This kid caught everything thrown in his direction, and it should come as no surprise; he has huge hands that make a regulation ball look like a Nerf in his palms. It should be noted that his thickness definitely aided him in breaking the press. At the same time, his blocky waist hindered some quickness in and out of his breaks.
John Drew DL (6-3, 295)
On the day, the ESPN Watch List defensive tackle showed active feet for his size and solid get-off. But he did not appear to be 6-foot-3 and more importantly, did not possess great body composition. The muscle tone should come at the next level, and with practice, Drew's already impressive footwork will continue to improve.
Greg Reid ATH (5-9, 170)
The Gator commit had an impressive camp overall. But like every prospect in attendance, Reid did show a few weaker areas when projecting him for the next level. There is no doubting the 2009 Under Armour All-American's ball skills. In fact, his soft hands, coordination and adjustment to the football were more impressive live than they were on film. Reid showed a quick burst breaking and undercutting routes, but he did struggle at times mirroring quicker receivers tightly in and out of their breaks and recovering with great deep speed. He did surprise us with his ability to press and play physical off the line. I knew Reid lacked height but was pleasantly surprised with his well-built frame.
Brandon Jenkins DL (6-3, 225)
Jenkins lived up to expectations as a speed-rusher, and his overall get-off, fluidity and bend off the edge were excellent. Although he was smooth in his movements, Jenkins appeared very lean and at times lacked great explosiveness. His ability to support the run at the next level is a concern. The ESPN Watch List defensive end played some linebacker throughout high school and should blossom at the next level as he continues to physically develop and concentrates on playing solely out of a three-point stance.
Christian James (6-3, 225)
Look for James to have a breakout season next fall, and subsequently, his stock on the recruiting trail will soar. Limited in starts as a junior because of good senior depth at Olympia High School, James showed the size, physical tools and hand technique on Sunday that should garner him some offers early next fall. He is tall and rangy but layered with good bulk, and possesses a great frame for future physical development. His quick get-off, array of good pass-rush moves and intensity to the quarterback during one-on-one drills really opened some eyes.
Billy Tucker is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. and has close to a decade of coaching experience at the college and high school level. Tucker has served as a recruiting coordinator for two nationally ranked Division II colleges. Most recently, he was the associate head coach and defensive coordinator for Merrimack College, which advanced to the Sweet 16 in the 2006 NCAA Division II playoffs.
ESPN television is currently in production on a special that will profile the top prospects at Nike and Elite 11 training camps. The information used in this article was gathered as part of the television production process.
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July 21-24: National Elite 11