Commentary

D-linemen dominate in Jacksonville

Originally Published: March 8, 2009
By Jc Shurburtt | Scouts Inc.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Dominant defensive linemen and good talent at nearly every position highlighted the Jacksonville Under Armour Combine on Saturday at the Jacksonville Jaguars' practice facility, adjacent to Alltel Stadium on the banks of the St. Johns River.

ESPNU 150 Watch List prospects Tavaris Barnes (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast), Tavadis Glenn (Jacksonville, Fla./Terry Parker) and Louis Nix (Jacksonville, Fla./Raines) were the three headliners on the defensive line at the event.

Barnes had a tremendous showing. He measured in at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.69 seconds, the shuttle in 4.31, 7.4 in the L-cone drill and had a 32.5-inch vertical leap. His times in the 40, shuttle and L-cone all were highs for defensive linemen at the event.

Barnes also looked unstoppable during the one-on-one drills, using a variety of moves to blow past offensive linemen. He displayed advanced use of his hands, good footwork and strength. More good news about Barnes: He has a frame to get bigger than he already is, which should give him some versatility at the college level.

Barnes recently picked up a scholarship offer from North Carolina. The Tar Heels joined South Carolina, Maryland and South Florida in offering Barnes. Florida State and Florida also are showing interest.

"This combine probably will be real good for me," Barnes said. "It will probably put me out there even more."

Glenn measured in at 6-foot-5, 270 pounds and ran the 40 in 5.12 seconds and the shuttle in 4.5.

The first thing that stands out about Glenn is his enthusiasm for the game. Despite nursing an injured hand and originally thinking about sitting out one-on-one drills, he competed. Playing defensive line -- some schools like him as an offensive tackle -- he showed good feet and quickness. He's still raw and developing, and that has to be exciting for the schools recruiting him.

"It was a high level of intensity out there today," he said.

Miami (Fla.) remains Glenn's leader, and he will visit Coral Gables unofficially for the Canes' spring game. He also has nearly a dozen scholarship offers from other programs.

Glenn's good friend Nix is actually committed to the Hurricanes. Nix is an interior defensive lineman all the way. He measured in at 6-foot-3, 320 pounds and ran the shuttle in 4.6 seconds. Like Glenn, Nix brings a lot of fire and enthusiasm to football, and that will bode well for him in college. He was one of the top defensive linemen during the one-on-one drills, displaying good strength and footwork.

"It was intense," Nix said. "The way I like it."

Nix also is an ESPNU150 Watch List prospect. He said after the camp that he was still solid for Miami, but several other schools continue to recruit him.

While the aforementioned trio was excellent, they weren't the only defensive linemen who had good showings.

Defensive tackle Tramell Williams (Jacksonville, Fla./Lee) had a great day of testing and competing. The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder ran the 40 in 4.9 seconds, posted a 4.3 shuttle and was good during the one-on-ones. Williams said before the camp that his main position is on the defensive line, but he could play center on offense. Williams also has a frame that he can add weight to, so he's going to get much bigger in college, meaning he likely projects on the inside. Louisville, Rutgers, Florida State, Georgia and others are showing interest in Williams.

Travonte Boles (Vero Beach, Fla.) is a true nose-tackle type who is quick and strong enough to get past blockers. Because he's not the biggest prospect out there -- Boles stands at less than 6 feet -- he likely will find immediate scholarship offers hard to come by, but he will play college football somewhere. More than one person scouting the event made mention of his talent.

There were two underclassmen to definitely keep an eye on among the defensive linemen. Derrick Mitchell (Jacksonville, Fla./Wolfson) measured in at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds and has a lot of upside. The Class of 2011 prospect looked good during one-on-ones. Then, from the Class of 2012, defensive end Dante' Phillips (Jacksonville, Fla./University Christian) definitely looked the part, measuring in at a lean 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds. Phillips is young and looked solid for his first combine, but he is a player to keep an eye on as he develops in the future.

Defensive backs

Class of 2011 cornerback Nick Waisome (Groveland, Fla./South Lake) was the best defender at the event. He tested well, putting up a 4.5-second 40 and was nothing short of outstanding during one-on-one drills. He drew the praise of the coaches working the event and has a bright future as a prospect.

"It was a great experience for me," he said. "It was great competition."

Waisome is likely the next Division I prospect from his high school program, which produced the likes of Florida's Jeff Demps and Class of 2009 Gator offensive line signee Jonatthon Harrison. He said Florida, Florida State, South Florida, Miami (Fla.) and Georgia are five schools he is interested in early.

Cornerback Keion Payne (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) showed off his coverage skills at the event. Payne ran 4.61 in the 40 but was excellent in other testing areas and drew praise from the coaches working the event.

Brandon Boyd (Jacksonville, Fla./Terry Parker) was excellent during one-on-one and position drills. He drew the praise of the Under Armour coaching staff following the event.

Rashad Smith (Pompano Beach, Fla./Ely) ran a 4.43 in the 40 and had several good moments during the one-on-one and seven-on-seven portions of the event. He could be the next Broward County prospect to pop up on the recruiting radar.

Safety Jameson Wright (Ft. Pierce, Fla./Westwood) was impressive at safety during the seven-on-seven portion of the event. Wright has an excellent frame and long arms and breaks on the ball well.

Safety/cornerback Okoye Houston (Pelzer, S.C./Woodmont) also had a good day. The 5-foot-11, 176-pounder posted a 4.03-second shuttle and has excellent size and athleticism. Additionally, his teammate, Treis Suber, tested well, running a 4.58 40 and a 4.12 shuttle.

Other defensive backs who had good days included Anthony Roy (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast), Class of 2011 safety Jordan Montgomery (Groveland, Fla./South Lake) and Jon Johnson (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.).

Linebackers

[+] EnlargeJustin Parker
David De Pas for ESPN.com Justin Parker is an elite prospect in South Carolina.

ESPNU150 Watch List prospect Justin Parker (Beaufort, S.C.) was the top linebacker at the event. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder did not test as well as he would have liked, running a 4.8 40 and a 4.5 shuttle, but he did lift 185 pounds 20 times during the strength testing and performed well in the position drills and one-on-ones.

"I picked up my intensity [after the 40 time] and went through it," Parker said. "I wasn't worried about the 40 time. I usually don't run that fast on turf. I'm not making excuses, but I thought I did well."

Parker also talked about traveling out of state to compete against top Florida talent.

"It's my first time being around a lot of Florida players," he said. "They really do have a lot of speed down here. Really, there are some great players. There are some of the best players around."

Parker likely will play middle linebacker in college and currently holds offers from Clemson, South Carolina, Maryland, North Carolina State and Virginia Tech.

Other linebackers who looked the part included Tony Stewart (St. Augustine, Fla./Menendez), Nordly Capi (Ocoee, Fla./Ocoee) and Alcorvus Leonard (Jacksonville, Fla./Ribault). Leonard did not work out at linebacker, but that's the position he best projects at in college.

Receivers

Years from now, people who follow recruiting may look back and see Saturday's event as the day that Class of 2012 receiver Chris Black (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) placed himself squarely on the recruiting radar. The rising sophomore ran a 4.54 40-yard dash, posted a time of 4.1 in the shuttle, and displayed good hands and advanced route-running skills for a prospect his age.

Several long-time observers of First Coast, which has produced Florida's Ryan Stamper, Florida State's Jermaine Thomas and others in recent years, believe that Black could be the best ever to come out of that program.

Brandon Matthews (Neptune Beach, Fla./Fletcher) had the best day of testing among the receivers, posting a 4.4 40, a blistering 3.9 shuttle and a 41-inch vertical leap. The 5-foot-10, 156-pounder has enough athletic upside to emerge as a major prospect, provided he continues to impress during the offseason and on the field next season.

Michael Bennett (Alpharetta, Ga./Alpharetta) was outstanding. The 6-foot-2, 187-pounder tested well, running 4.49 in the 40, and was one of the best at the event during the one-on-ones and position drills.

Bennett said that Vanderbilt is close to making him an offer and that he's been to several junior-day events, including Michigan State's and Florida State's.

A pair of receivers from Andrew Jackson High in Jacksonville, Derek Owens and Marquel Wade, were outstanding in both the testing and one-on-one portions of the camp. Owens and Wade had to leave early to get to an afternoon activity, but they were excellent during most of the camp.

Owens ran a 4.59 40 and had the best L-cone drill time at the camp -- a blistering 6.77 seconds. Wade ran a stellar 4.47 40-yard dash.

When the position and one-on-one drills came around, both looked quick, with good hands, and ran excellent routes. A host of schools, including Illinois, Georgia, South Carolina, South Florida and some in-state Florida programs are showing interest in the pair.

Kadron Boone (Ocala, Fla./Trinity Catholic) came to the event and definitely looked the part, measuring in at 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds. Boone also showed good athleticism during the testing portion of the event, running a 4.28-second shuttle. Boone was outstanding in the drills later. Like Owens and Wade, Boone had to leave early with some teammates, but was excellent while he was there.

Florida has offered and is considered the team to beat, but he recently picked up an offer from Texas Tech. Reportedly, the Red Raiders are giving him a lot to think about in terms of their offensive system.

South Carolina commit Sean Tapley (Jacksonville, Fla./Raines) did not have the best 40 time (4.66 seconds), but he was stellar in all of the other testing. He ran a 4.15 shuttle and was a hundredth of a second behind Owens in the L-cone drill (6.78 seconds). He ran smooth routes and displayed excellent hands during one-on-one and position drills.

Tapley recently picked up an offer from Illinois, and other schools such as LSU and Florida are showing him attention.

Leon Shorter (Fort Pierce, Fla./Westwood) is a tall, leaping receiver who is smooth in his route running and has good hands. He shined during position drills and the one-one-one portion of the combine. Shorter has a Louisville offer, and many other schools are showing interest.

Markis Merrill (St. Augustine, Fla.) had a big performance Saturday. He ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash and looked excellent all day. Expect interest in him from colleges to continue to pick up.

Marcus Newman (Jacksonville, Fla./Potters House) has some potential. He tested well, with a 4.56 40, and has a big frame. He could be a player who emerges later in the process.

Quarterbacks

Clint Trickett (Tallahassee, Fla./North Florida Christian) was the best quarterback at the event. Trickett has a good arm and displayed a good understanding of where to go with the football. He tested well, too, posting a 4.03 shuttle and 4.89 in the 40.

"This is the first combine that I've been to that I have run at," Trickett said.

Trickett, the son of Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett, talked about the offense he runs at North Florida Christian.

"Wake Forest would be a good team to compare us to," he said. "We do the zone, we do the spread, and we do a lot under center. We do a lot of different things."

Other quarterbacks who caught the attention of coaches and observers at the event were Frank Snead (Alachua, Fla./Santa Fe) and Parker Welch (Jesup, Ga./Wayne County).

Offensive line

There aren't many offensive linemen in the country who look like Florida commit Ian Silberman (Fleming Island, Fla.). Silberman measured in at 6-foot-5, 260 pounds and is one of the top offensive line prospects in the Southeast for the 2010 class.

"There was a lot of talent out here," he said. "I thought it was pretty good. It's definitely the best camp because in Jacksonville you have some of the best prospects in the country."

Silberman showed excellent feet and technique during the one-on-ones and as long as he develops, the Gators have a special player on the way.

Other offensive linemen who had a good showing included interior lineman Jon Sauls (Springfield, Ga./Effingham County). Sauls played strong during one-on-ones and had a 4.6 shuttle time. Another to keep an eye on is Keenan Kelly (Ocala, Fla./Trinity Catholic). Kelly put up solid testing numbers (including a shuttle in the 4.6 range) and is a long snapping specialist, increasing his value to college recruiters. Greg Ramsey (Middleburg, Fla.) checked in at 6-7, 320 but needs a lot of development to be able to play at the Division I level.

Running backs

Demetre Baker (Orange Park, Fla.) is an outstanding athlete. He was the top running back prospect at the event. The 6-foot, 200-pounder ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash and also had a stellar broad jump of 10 feet, 5 inches.

Duane Brady (St. Augustine, Fla.) also impressed during testing. He ran 4.56 in the 40.

JC Shurburtt covers recruiting for ESPN.com. He can be reached at jcsespn@aol.com.