Class of 2011 shines at Army combine
SAN ANTONIO -- Luckily the U.S. Army combine was held indoors at the Alamodome as the weather is frigid down here this week. Inside, where the temperature was more bearable, there was a good turnout as several hundred kids, including some talented 2011 prospects, from all over the country participated in the event.
Making the rounds
There were a couple of participants at Friday's event that also took part in the Under Armour combine last week in Orlando. One who stood out was quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty), whose stock has started to skyrocket. He is a good looking prospect at the position with nice size (6-foot-2, 224 pounds) and excellent athleticism. He has great feet and is fluid and quick in his drops. He has a quick release and displays nice zip on the ball. The Florida native was tops among the quarterbacks in attendance and was just added to the 2011 Under Armour Game roster.
Defensive tackle Desmond Jackson (Houston/Westfield) is another prospect that followed up his strong performance in Orlando with a good outing here. Always easy to find with his signature glasses and upbeat personality, the Texas native once again displayed good explosiveness. He competes with a good motor and in one-on-one drills he was quick out of his stance and very violent with his weapons when taking on blockers. He was a dominant presence in the pass rushing drill using quickness and power to frustrate blockers. He does not have great height or listed bulk, but he is a thickly built kid who displays the tools needed to be a disruptive presence in the trenches.
Another defensive lineman who is making the rounds is Sam Harvill (Springdale, Ark./Shiloh Christian). He is a physical player who shows a competitive nature. He has garnered attention for his prowess in the weight room and will display that strength in his attempts to bull rush. While he will also try and be active with his hands, he lacks ideal size. No doubt he is a strong kid, but size could be a concern. Harvill is an interesting kid and someone we will look forward to evaluating further.
Offensive tackle prospect Watts Dantzler (Dalton, Ga./Dalton) is hard to miss at about 6-foot-7, 315 pounds, and he was easily spotted again this week. A kid with monster size, he just seems to get the job done. He uses his hands well to punch, moves his feet well enough to stay between the rusher and quarterback, and keeps a solid knee bend. It's early in the process, but Dantzler comes across as a player who could be a real solid and dependable right tackle at the college level. We look forward to seeing how this big boy runs block.
Locking it down
There were a couple of good defensive backs who stood out at the combine. One likely already familiar to recruiting fans is Wayne Lyons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Dillard). He possesses good size and a physical nature which he displayed when pressing receivers. He is good with his hands and was able to re-route receivers coming off the ball. He showed good feet and solid fluidness in staying with receivers. He may be best suited for safety or as a cover-2 corner at the college level. He was best challenging receivers, but did flash some trouble when he had to turn and run with faster wideouts and had adequate make-up speed. Overall, Lyons had a strong day and in the right fit is a good defensive back prospect.
A pleasant surprise was Jacquese Kirk (Jasper, Ala./Walker) as the ESPNU 150 Watch List prospect had a very good outing. He catches your eye with good height and a long and rangy frame and reminded us some of former Alabama corner prospect Dre Kirkpatrick. Kirk looked good on the hoof and also played very well. He displayed fluid hips to open up and run with receivers. He had very good feet and was able to blanket wideouts on their routes. He also displayed excellent feel and did a good job of not only covering the man, but playing the ball. He has an aggressive nature and that cost him on one play as he bit on a stop-and-go and got beat. Overall, we were very impressed with the tools of Kirk and he is player to watch as his stock is sure to rise.
A player who caught my eye this fall when I attended one of his games was Delonte Hollowell (Detroit, Mich./Cass Tech). He lacks ideal size, but is a good athlete and once again put forth a good performance.
The combine may have been void of any dirt or mud as it was indoors, but the hogs were well represented with some good offensive linemen in attendance. The top dog was Bobby Hart (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St Thomas Aquinas). The offensive tackle needs to add bulk, but he has a good frame and a competitive spirit. Hart continually jumped in to get reps and looked good each time. He does a good job of using his hands and plays with knee bend and a good base. He has the ability to get set quickly, make contact, and mirror rushers. The rich get richer as Hart is transferring from Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons to Saint Thomas Aquinas, and the Raiders are getting a good offensive line prospect.
A prospect who got a ton of reps and displayed very good upside was Greg Robinson (Thibodaux, La./Thibodaux). A good looking player on the hoof, he showed flashes but is a kid who needs to keep developing his technique. He was competitive, physical and was great at using his hands and reach to punch. If he could get a clean shot he was tough to beat, but if he didn't he could struggle. He tends to bend at the waist and coming from a program that runs the wing-T, he is likely not used to one-one-one pass blocking and it showed. The tools are there to work with though.
Aztec, New Mexico, is not a place likely familiar to many recruiters, but offensive tackle Matthew Hegarty is a kid who could force coaches to pull out their maps. With a good frame he needs to add bulk and continue to fill out, but he was good with his hands and at one point displayed the ability to snatch the rusher's hip and steer him away from the dummy. He displayed good feet, though he did tend to get over extended at times. He had a knee brace on his right knee, which seemed to be bothering him, but overall had a good outing and is someone to keep an eye on.
Some other lineman who caught our eye included Spencer Drango (Cedar Park, Texas/Cedar Park), a tall lean tackle prospect who needs to add bulk, but displayed good technique. A guard prospect to keep an eye on is Alex Mitchell (Portland, Ore./Jefferson) as he did a real good job with his hands and being able to move his feet and mirror.
There were a couple of receivers who caught our eye, including ESPNU 150 Watch List athlete Brandon Cottom (Newton, Pa./Council Rock). He worked with the receivers and displayed good hands, consistently catching the ball away from his body. He also did a good job of using his big frame to shield defenders. A possible under-the-radar receiver is Tray Becton (Memphis, Tenn./Briarcrest Christian), who displayed good speed and quickness in his route running. A prospect who ran with the receivers, but is likely headed for a career at tight end in college is M.J. McFarland (El Paso, Texas/Eldorado). He has good size with the frame to add more bulk with time in a college weight program. The big guy also displayed good straight-line speed.
The one-on-ones for both groups drew a big crowd and several prospects stood out. One was the super athletic James Wilder (Tampa, Fla./Plant), who split time between the defensive ends and the linebackers/running backs. Down with the lineman the Watch List prospect looked good on the hoof, showed nice quickness and the ability to use his hands and power to defeat blockers. P.J. Jones (Tupelo, Miss./Tupelo) caught your eye with his muscular build. During his reps he showed a great motor, but was also wild and needs to work on his pass rush arsenal and develop a plan. Defensive end/tight end Charlie Hopkins (Spokane, Wash./Gonzaga Prep) has a long frame and a nice reach. He has plenty of room to physically develop and displayed good upside at the end position. A prospect who grabbed our attention with his get-off was Darrell Kelly-Thomas (Lufkin, Texas/Lufkin). He has a good frame, displayed good consistent quickness and used his hands well to punch and separate from blockers.
Craig Haubert is the recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. and has more than a decade of coaching experience. Gerry Hamilton contributed to this report.