- Tom Luginbill, ESPN Staff Writer
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FORT WORTH, Texas -- The first round of regional Elite 11 quarterback combines kicked off with another Nike Football Training Camp (NFTC). The turnout for both events was solid, though not as many upper-echelon prospects were in attendance as expected.
Under Armour All-American quarterback Garrett Gilbert (Austin, Texas/Lake Travis) was in attendance but did not participate because he's recovering from shoulder surgery (labrum). Two other Under Armour All-Americans, OT Thomas Ashcraft (Cedar Hill, Texas) and S Craig Loston (Aldine, Texas/Eisenhower), were expected but not present; Loston had a track commitment.
Nonetheless, two very good prospects showed up out of the clear blue and performed well. Wide receiver Greg Timmons (Aldine, Texas/Eisenhower), Loston's teammate, and ILB Tariq Allen were as advertised both in appearance and performance. Wide receiver Emory Blake (Austin, Texas/S.F. Austin), the son of former NFL QB Jeff Blake, was sharp -- and so was his father, who stepped in to throw wide receiver drills and looked just as he did when he played.
Maxwell is a recent Michigan State verbal commitment who has burst on the scene. He led his team to the state championship game as a junior and his stock should continue to rise. A drop-back passer with good feet and overall athleticism, he will be a nice fit in the pro-style scheme. He showed the most consistent accuracy of the group and displayed adequate-to-good arm strength and smooth delivery mechanics. We have yet to evaluate him on film or in game situations, so we are looking forward to seeing how his performance here translates to the gridiron.
Prioleau not only looked great and physically was impressive, but he also has the potential to become a complete package both as a receiver and in-line blocker. With a thick, sturdy build, Prioleau showed good strength, adequate athleticism and soft hands. He may not be as fluid as some tight ends, but he is strong and physical and looked good splitting out wide in the receiver drills as well.
We have questioned whether Lynn could remain at cornerback in college, and after seeing him this past weekend we are now convinced he will have to move to safety unless he is in a heavy Cover 2 scheme or in press. In Lynn's defense, he has been nursing a hamstring injury, but still he does not show the hip fluidity and quick-twitch athleticism to remain on the perimeter. He plays high and lacks short-area quickness and recovery speed if caught out of position. His size and strength are both very good and he can be a physical presence, but his cover skills against top-level competition are not what they need to be for a collegiate corner.
We were really interested to see the 6-foot-8, 230-pound Osweiler in person, as his stock among college coaches on the West Coast has been rising the past couple of months. That said, the accomplished basketball player with outstanding size may find his future lies on the hard court and not between the white lines. His height is easy to become enamored with, but he displayed marginal arm strength at best and did not show the kind of accuracy necessary for a pocket passer. Granted, this was one camp session with unfamiliar wide receivers, but Osweiler is a project, to say the least.
Trice sure doesn't lack confidence. The pesky, 5-foot-10 wide receiver/cornerback spent his time on defense, where he fits best. He showed excellent quickness, toughness and a physical style that stymied most, if not all receivers he faced in one-on-one drills. He displayed quality hips, solid transitional skills and a good motor. By all accounts, he would project to be a good tackler and physical presence on the perimeter. He tends to talk a little too much on the field for our taste, but he is enthusiastic and a high-energy guy. We will have his full evaluation completed shortly.
Petty showed in person just what he showed on tape -- he is worthy of receiving more recruiting attention this summer and fall than he has been getting. He is big, strong and looks the part. A better athlete with his feet than we first anticipated, he flashes more arm strength to get the ball vertically than he is able to show in the dink-and-dunk scheme he plays in. He is a bit mechanical (as were most of the QBs), but he does have some tools.
NFTC: WR DeWayne Peace (Grand Prairie, Texas/South Grand Prairie)
Elite 11: QB Doak Raulston (Fort Worth, Texas/All Saints Episcopal)
Peace does a lot of things well; he just isn't a burner. As were Emory Blake and Greg Timmons, Peace played pretty savvy. On this day, he was crisp, ran solid routes, set up defenders with double moves and caught the ball very well with his hands both on the run and when contested. He has a lean frame that currently lacks bulk and strength, but time in the weight room should really help him, especially against press.
OK, Doak Raulston -- who the heck is that? Well, nobody including us had a player page on him until now. He surprised everybody with his live arm and quick, fluid delivery mechanics. He has just adequate height but was one of the few QB prospects present who didn't look methodical or rigid with his release. He released the ball quickly, showed good footwork and has natural wrist velocity. He is the very definition of a sleeper and at the very least, mid-major programs should be taking a peek.
Okafor, once he got going, looked very good. He initially wasn't too keen on jumping right into drills for whatever reason -- maybe he was worried about getting hurt -- but when he did, his muscular, 6-4 frame with plenty of room to go from 220 pounds to 255 looked very explosive. His appearance was as advertised. He has very long arms but needs to add significant strength to his upper body, which will come in time.
Initially Beaver looked unsure of himself and a bit shy as the Elite 11 kicked off, but as he moved into the second day and stayed for the NFTC event, Beaver began to just play and not think. His arm became more live, and you could see his confidence rise. He is still a project in the passing game, but he is one heck of an athlete and a dual-threat guy who will only improve as a passer.
Best of the Best
NFTC: WR Greg Timmons (Aldine, Texas/Eisenhower), ILB Tariq Allen (MacArthur, Texas)
Elite 11: QB Andrew Maxwell (Midland, Mich.)
This was a toss-up for us, but both Timmons and Allen are legit. They were consistent, and competed and played with high energy. This was not a combine where one position was loaded with top-tier prospects, so a few guys here and there stood out from the rest.
We have already mentioned Maxwell, but he was the most consistent and accurate of the group. This group of QBs was just above average and nobody truly separated himself from the pack. Casey Pachall (Brownwood, Texas) showed some flashes as did Drew Allen (San Antonio, Texas/ Alamo Heights). It's interesting to note that Allen does not grip the ball on the laces; instead, he grips the ball on the seams. Troy Aikman used to do this as well. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
Tom Luginbill is the national director of recruiting for Scouts Inc. Luginbill is a college football and recruiting studio analyst for ESPNU.
ESPN television is currently in production on a special that will profile the top prospects at the Nike and Elite 11 training camps. The information used in this article was gathered as part of the television production process.