Commentary

Linebackers lead the way in Philly

Originally Published: March 1, 2009
By Billy Tucker | Scouts Inc.

Close to 700 potential college prospects from Boston to Virginia showcased their skills at the Nike Philadelphia combine on Sunday. The Philadelphia Eagles' NovaCare complex was a fantastic indoor facility for Sunday's event. Although a variety of East Coast states were represented, including a strong showing from Maryland and New York, the majority of prospects in attendance were from Philadelphia and neighboring south Jersey. The prospects backed up their reputation for being tough competitors.

Josh Furman, athlete, junior, Millersville (Md.)/Old Mill
Furman was one of the bigger prospects on hand Sunday in terms of offers, and he didn't disappoint with his good test scores and in-person physical stature. At close to 6-foot-2 and a chiseled 186 pounds, Furman has a very long muscular frame that hints of great physical upside, so it's more likely that this running back will play outside linebacker (or a hybrid safety position) in college. On film, he plays faster than his 40-yard dash time (4.7 seconds), making plays from sideline to sideline and flashing good range and equally impressive chase speed from the backside.

The Maryland native told us that it doesn't matter where he'll end up playing at the next level. He has received offers from Maryland, West Virginia, Vanderbilt, Pitt, Duke, UNC and Michigan. Furman posted a top-three SPARQ rating led by a striking vertical jump of 38 inches and displayed his great explosiveness. He told us the Michigan offer "was really big," and he hopes for others from similar prominent programs.

"I'm looking for a big, prestigious school and a nice college atmosphere," he said.

Furman plans on visiting Duke later this month and will attend several other junior days.

Robert Bright, ILB, junior, East Meadow (N.Y.) High School
In terms of measurables on paper, there wasn't a better prospect in Philadelphia than Bright. He posted the best SPARQ rating, demonstrating a great blend of power, explosiveness, speed and deceptive agility for a player with his great thickness. Bright was very impressive physically and, as a high school junior, is only about 10-15 pounds away from possessing prototypical Division I middle linebacker size. Bright told us an injured ankle hindered some production in the fall, and that injury might be why he has received interest from only a few programs, such as Syracuse and Rutgers. Measurements alone don't make a football player, but Bright's performance should help his recruiting stock. It's hard to imagine he can't blow up the inside run with the explosiveness we witnessed Sunday. We eagerly anticipate watching film of Bright this spring, but he may need to back up this performance with a solid camp showing in the summer and a successful fall.

Daquan Jones, OG, junior, Johnson City (N.Y.) High School
Jones was one of the larger prospects in attendance and easily could have blended in with an Eagles lineman who stopped by the NovaCare complex for an offseason workout. He looked all of his listed 6-4 and 305 pounds; he was very well layered, looking lean enough to add a bit more bulk while maintaining his good feet. He has ideal size for a Division I offensive guard prospect. Jones ran very well on Sunday, showing great athleticism for his size (5.3 40, 4.66 shuttle). The shuttle shows his potential as a short and long trapper if he ends up at guard, but don't be surprised if the quickness he demonstrated gets him a look at defensive tackle during his college career. Jones said several schools have expressed interest in his potential as a defensive lineman, and he expects a breakout year on that side of the ball in the fall.

We expected to see a higher power-ball score given his size, but the strength will come once Jones enters a full-time college weight-training program to assist his drive blocking. Jones' naturally great feet can't be coached. In terms of recruiting, the big man boasts offers from Syracuse, Rutgers, Boston College, Maryland and UConn.

"I am looking for a great education and a school that's closer to home," Jones said.

Ibraheim Campbell, athlete, junior, Philadelphia/Chestnut Hill Academy
Campbell had an impressive showing (4.58 seconds in the 40, 4.26 shuttle), which backed up our early assessment of him on film. This two-way standout rushed for 1,700 yards last season at Chestnut Hill Academy. Although he's a well-rounded back, we think his great speed and lateral quickness may project better as an off-man corner at the next level. Campbell said Minnesota is the only program to offer thus far, and it has offered him a scholarship as a running back. He'll soon attend junior days at UConn and Virginia, and we expect more offers to come.

Others who may have improved their recruiting stock

Matt Heilig, outside linebacker, junior, Harrisburg (Pa.)/Central Dauphin
One of the big surprises of the day, Heilig looked the part of a future 3-4 outside linebacker and had the SPARQ scores to back it up. Tall, long, well-built and rangy, he looks as though he still has a ton of growth left on his frame while being able to retain good feet and athleticism (4.38 shuttle, 4.89 40). Heilig may end up a late bloomer on the recruiting trail, but Pitt already has caught on (he has visited twice) and Maryland has begun to show interest.

Sean McQuillan, athlete, junior, Glastonbury (Conn.) High School
One of the more intriguing prospects Sunday, McQuillan looked good on the hoof (6-foot-3, 218 pounds) and ran very well (4.42 shuttle, 4.85 40). Although he plays quarterback, he was built more like a rangy outside linebacker and moved like one. McQuillan said he is getting recruited at both positions as well as at tight end. He is getting interest from in-state UConn and Penn State; the Huskies have asked McQuillan to visit Storrs for spring practice.

De'Vaghn Millington, safety, junior, Ridgefield (Conn.) High School
Although Millington's 40 time (4.9) wasn't blazing, he is a long strider who will provide good range as a high-point player-defender in college. He tested well in the shuttle (4.38) and vertical jump (34), showing his ability to get off the hash and over the top of routes quickly. He also has the coveted size to play down in the box. Millington will visit Boston College and Vanderbilt in the next few weeks.

Keep an eye on …

Miles Shuler, athlete, sophomore, Long Branch (N.J.) High School
Shuler is a dual-threat quarterback who posted the second-best SPARQ rating Sunday. He already has received interest from schools such as Oregon and Maryland.

Anthony Robey, running back, junior, Norristown (Pa.) High School
Robey is small, but he posted the day's best 40 time with a blazing 4.3.

Billy Tucker is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc.

Billy Tucker

Scouts, Football Recruiting
• Recruiting coordinator for ESPN RecruitingNation.
• Nearly a decade of college coaching experience.
• Was recruiting coordinator at nationally-ranked Division II colleges.