This past weekend the Atlanta-area hosted the inaugural Tee Martin Playmakers' Passing Camp, which featured some of the top quarterbacks, wideouts and defensive backs in the Southeast.
With a focus on the recent trend of Division I schools adopting a variation of the spread attack, the demand is increasing for dual-threat quarterbacks. Martin's event was designed specifically to help skill players -- quarterbacks, in particular -- evolve with these advancements in football. Martin and his staff implemented agility drills, film sessions, an accuracy challenge, one-on-ones and 7-on-7 simulations over the two-day event.
"The game of football is changing and the quarterback position is adapting," Martin said.
"This camp provides a platform to allow these players to play within themselves and specifically to help some of these new-age quarterbacks, shake the 'athlete playing quarterback' moniker and advance their development at the position."
The camp featured a well-rounded roster of quarterbacks in addition to some top skill players participating in the one-on-one and 7-on-7 portions. Here are the names of those who impressed the camp staff.
2009 QB hitlist
A.J. Highsmith, 6-0, 190
QB Sugar Land, Texas/Hightower
Highsmith performed well in footwork drills and in the accuracy challenge. The Miami commit connected on 4-of-6 targets and showed a quick release. His delivery is a little unusual, but it doesn't affect his ball placement. In 7-on-7 work he displayed a nice touch and good accuracy. He is football smart with above-average instincts. He flashed some quickness and elusiveness when tucking the ball and turning up field. Highsmith is very athletic and could project at another position at the next level. So far he is the only quarterback Miami has verbally committed in the Class of 2009 and says the 'Canes coaches plan on him playing under center.
Tyler Russell, 6-4, 200
QB, Meridian, Miss.
Russell was very consistent and has the arm to make all the throws. The Mississippi State pledge looks the part with his size and presence. He looked comfortable in the pocket -- especially in the shotgun -- and has sound mechanics. He threw well when rolling out and on the run. He has good ball skills and sold his fakes well during play-action drills. He has a live ball and can fit it in some tight areas. He did a good job in 7-on-7 red zone portion. Overall, he looks like a great pocket-passer with good mobility.
Rio Johnson, 6-2, 177
QB, Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek
Johnson had a good weekend and showed well in drills and 7-on-7. He is a little raw in his mechanics, but spins it well and has some upside. He has a short memory and the ability to shake a mistake off and move on to the next play. During 7-on-7s, he forced a pass that was picked off and came back on the next series to make a nice read and find his receivers for solid gains. He relies on his ability a little too much and will take some chances. He has a confident mentality. He is quick-twitch and can use his legs. Johnson has a thin build and will need to add some weight to absorb contact. He has athletic ability and could thrive with the right coaching and system. He verbally committed to East Carolina three weeks ago.
Drew Little, 6-5, 240
QB, McDonough, Ga./Henry County
Little had a solid day Saturday, his only day at the event. The gigantic quarterback is the prototypical dropback passer. He does a good job getting the ball to his athletes and letting them make plays. In one-on-ones, he made some nice throws in the curl and post areas. His mechanics were a little rusty, causing a couple of balls to sail on him on deeper throws like the comeback. He was consistent once he settled down and found a rhythm. During the 7-on-7 session, he did a nice job on his progressions and made sound decisions. Henry County has a pair of standout pass-catchers in Jamal Patterson (Class of '09) and Markeith Ambles (Class of '10), and if Little is off-target they have the ability to snag balls outside of their catch radius. Overall he is a big pocket-passer with natural talent. Little is currently uncommitted.
Jamal Jackson, 6-4, 195
QB, Atlanta/North Atlanta
Jackson was a sleeper prospect who emerged from the balanced group. The slender quarterback followed up a respectable showing at the EA SPORTS Elite 11 regional camp in Las Vegas back in June. He has a lean, muscular frame with the ability to add bulk in a good weight program. He had the best velocity and RPMs on his ball of the camp's signal-callers. He snaps it and looked good taking his drops. He threw well on the run. In the 7-on-7 portion he tried to muscle some of his throws and will need to learn when to take something off. He has the tools to be an effective passer because of his arm strength. He will need to work on his reads and progressions; he can stare down his primary target. He transferred from Grady High following his junior season, when he battled some injuries. He is going to need to retool a few things that can be corrected with more reps, but he has the skill set and arm to be an efficient quarterback. Jackson already has the upside and with a breakout senior campaign he will attract some major interest.
2009 Skill Players hitlist
Chris Smith, 6-1, 191
WR, Meridian, Miss.
Smith was sensational the entire weekend and impressed just as he did at the Alabama Nike Camp in May. He is well put together with long arms and great hands. In receiver drills, he was smooth and precise. He comes in and out of his breaks well. During one-on-ones, he dominated with good route running and deceptive moves. He attacks the ball at the highest point and snatches it. A couple of times he climbed the ladder to get some balls and showed good hops. He is consistent and will make the catch in traffic. He is a confident player and looking to get better. He is a good teammate with great work ethic. He took as many reps as possible and even played running back in the zone-read drill. He tried to recruit some players who impressed him to Starkville. Smith and his quarterback Tyler Russell should form a nice tandem at Meridian this fall before both heading to Mississippi State.
Brandon Smith, 5-11, 175
This national recruit did not disappoint, flashing top cover corner skills in the one-on-one and 7-on-7 portions of camp. He has room to add weight to his already chiseled frame. He is fluid in his backpedal and looked comfortable in man-to-man. In one-on-ones he was effective in press coverage but will need to keep his balance on initial contact and have consistent hand placement. He performed well in 7-on-7 red zone/goal line, breaking on the ball and getting a couple of pass breakups. He has great athleticism and recovery speed. He was coaching other defensive backs on the field. He is a good character kid and was willing to learn from the position coaches. Smith is the younger brother of Denver Broncos reserve and former UAB star quarterback Darrell Hackney.
Joel Kight, 5-9, 200
LB, Atlanta/Martin Luther King
Kight is a bit undersized to play inside, but he is fast-twitched and multitalented. The Linebacker MVP at the Alabama Nike Camp has a compact, thick build and stout legs. He is instinctive and athletic enough to cover running backs on angle and option routes. He displayed good read-and-react instincts in 7-on-7 goalline situations. He can drop back into coverage and could excel in a Cover 2 or Tampa 2 scheme. He is comfortable at inside backer with the range to cover sideline-to-sideline. He reported three recent offers from Oklahoma State, UConn and Boston College. He has a football pedigree his older brother Kelvin played wide receiver at Florida.
Darren Myles Jr., 6-1, 175
Myles is a ballhawk whether he is playing safety or corner. He covers a lot of ground and is athletic enough to roam and rob at safety. He relies on his superior athletic ability at times over his technique. He still makes plays and is always around the ball. The Alabama Nike Camp DB MVP is the son of a coach and plays like it. Myles has the smarts and speed to be a special player. He will get better at the next level where he can maximize his talent. The team that lands his services will be getting a difference-maker from the Peach State.
Rico Mack, 5-9, 165
WR, Acworth, Ga./North Cobb
Mack is a diminutive wideout with a knack getting open. He is extremely quick and can eat up a cushion. He is more of a darter than burner. He stood out in 1-on-1s making tough catches and getting yards after catch. In the 7-on-7 he found some holes and ran good routes. He will be a primary target in his offense this year. With his size he projects as a slot at the next level and could be a nice find for a lower DI or I-AA program.
Playmakers Passing Camp Awards (Selected by Martin & staff)
• Pro-Style MVP: Tyler Russell
• Dual-Threat MVP: A.J. Highsmith
• Most Improved: Rio Johnson
• Rising Stars: Jamal Jackson, West Palm Beach, Fla./King's Academy, Class of '10 QB; Mike Miller, Atlanta/Westlake, QB, Lewis Kindle; and Stone Mountain, Ga./Chamblee QB Garett Williams.
• Student of the Game: Highsmith
• Strongest Arm Award: Jackson and Little
• Champions Leadership Award: Maryville (Tenn.) QB Mark Young
Most Athletic: QB Tae Wright, Smyrna, Ga./Campbell
• The Future (Top underclassmen): QB Jake Medlock (Neptune Beach, Fla./Fletcher); QB Myron King (Mobile, Ala./Williamson) and QB Jonathan Carkhuff (Smyrna, Ga./Lovett)
• Most Accurate: Russell
• Best Footwork: Kindle