Talent emerges in South Florida
MIAMI -- Just fewer than 900 of South Florida's best came out to test and compete Saturday at the Miami Nike Combine and as always the stars came out and some unknown players emerged.
The tours second stop produced at least five unofficial SPARQ ratings over 100 as the speed and explosiveness of South Florida athletes was on full display.
If there was an unofficial MVP at the combine, it might have been St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) wide receiver Rashad Greene. Greene (6-foot, 170-pounds) ran a blistering 4.42 40-yard dash, 4.25 in the shuttle and jumped 41.0 inches in the vertical, for a 109.80 SPARQ rating.
Greene, who had 13 touchdowns last season, is already among the most heavily recruited players in the state. He said he was hearing from over 50 schools and has scholarship offers from Florida, Tennessee, Florida State and North Carolina.
"My favorite school right now is Oklahoma," Greene said. "I just like how they throw the ball and they have had some good receivers in the past few years. I like Miami among the in-state schools but I like the West Coast schools a lot too and I'm looking at Cal, USC and some others."
Robert Way (Belle Glade, Fla./Glades Central) came into the combine with a pretty big reputation and more than lived up to it. Way played defensive end last season, but at 6-foot-1, 184 pounds will likely project as an outside linebacker.
Way clocked a 4.45 40, and jumped 29.3 inches in the vertical. He is an explosive athlete with a nice frame and has a very nice upside to him. He had 20 sacks a year ago for a team that went to the state championship.
There was not a more impressive physical specimen in Miami than linebacker Nick Menocal (Miami/Belen Jesuit). At 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, Menocal ran a very impressive 4.59 40, threw the power ball 40-5 feet and had a 35.5 vertical jump, on his way to a 114.60 SPARQ Rating, which was unofficially the combine's best.
The athlete saw time at both linebacker and defensive end last season and has the size and athleticism to garner looks at both positions at the next level. Florida International is the lone offer right now but Menocal looks like a player that should be recruited at the high Division I level in the spring.
Just a sophomore, Miami Norland (Fla.) running back Duke Johnson had a very impressive day testing well in all four protocols. At 5-foot-8, 170-pounds, Johnson ran a 4.65 40, 4.47 shuttle, jumped 38.1 inches in the vertical and threw the power ball 34 feet.
Johnson got it done on the field last season as well, rushing for over 1,700 yards and 20 touchdowns. He may not have ideal size, but Johnson has two years to work on his overall strength and speed and should get several Division I looks a year from now.
The most impressive lineman of the day had to be Tarpon Springs (Fla.) offensive lineman Zach DeBell. At 6-foot-6, 257 pounds, DeBell has a prototype frame for a lineman. He has a great build, lean and not sloppy with plenty of room to add weight over the next few years.
He showed his athleticism running a 5.09 40 with a 4.84 time in the shuttle and jumped 26.3 inches in the vertical. Minnesota and Florida International have offered but DeBell should have several high majors coming after him this spring.
The breakout performer of the day might have been Edsel Caprice (Cape Coral, Fla.). Caprice is a 6-foot-2, 182-pound linebacker/rush end with the speed to play safety at the next level. He had one of the days fastest 40-yard dash times with a 4.45 and jumped 39.0 inches in the vertical, finishing with a 98.97 SPARQ Rating.
Caprice had 20 sacks last season coming off the edge and is one of those athletes that you can envision having the versatility to play several positions in college. No one has offered yet but this is definitely someone everyone should watch closely in the spring.
1. Torrey Campbell (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier), 4.41
Breakdown: 5-10, 172-pound athlete has the speed and bloodlines, as his cousin is NFL great Edgerrin James.
2. Rashad Greene (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas), 4.42
Breakdown: This already well-known prospect only enhanced his profile for colleges around the country by testing off the charts all day.
3. (tie) Hugh Graham (Miami, Fla./Northwestern), 4.44
Breakdown: This well-known track athlete could have a shot as a D-I footballer as well, possessing good size (6-0, 165) for a cornerback.
3. (tie) Javier Rodriguez (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit), 4.44
Breakdown: 5-9, 159 wideout was a key cog in Belen's run all the way to the FHSAA Class 3A state title game this fall.
1. Rashad Greene (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas), 41.0 inches
Breakdown: Dominating performance Saturday not only included top 40-time but also the combine-best vertical jump.
2. David Rivers (Hialeah, Fla./American), 39.8 inches
Breakdown: 6-0, 165-pound rising junior had a very strong day, also posting a 39-6 power ball throw and 4.7 40.
3. Stanley Fleurant (Homestead, Fla./Homestead) 39.3 inches
Breakdown: 6-3, 173-pound wideout has the look of a quality prospect, also clocking a 4.49 40.
1. (tie) Gavin Block (Miami, Fla./Dr. Krop) 4.10
Breakdown: Undersized QB showed quick feet and good competitive nature during the combine.
1. (tie) Donaldven Manning (Miami, Fla./Edison) 4.10
Breakdown: 5-10, 155 pound rising junior cornerback has a chance to be recruited strongly in Class of 2012 after big day.
3. (tie) Rashad Greene (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas), 4.25
Breakdown: Amazingly placed in the top three of three of the four testing events out of nearly 900 participants.
3. (tie) Matthew Visconti (Boca Raton, Fla./Olympic Heights), 4.25
Breakdown: Agile linebacker had solid year last fall and tested well Saturday.
Power Ball throw
1. Rafi Montalvo (Miami, Fla./La Salle), 41-5 feet
Breakdown: 6-0, 185-pound quarterback was a second-team All-Dade County performer this past fall.
2. Nick Menocal (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit), 40-5 feet
Breakdown: Chiseled 6-2, 235-pound OLB/DE was one of the day's breakout performers, also clocking a 4.59 40-yard dash.
3. (tie) Brandon Blocker (Mount Dora, Fla./Mount Dora), 40-0 feet
Breakdown: Sturdy fullback resembled a human bowling ball and was definitely one of the strongest players at the event.
3. (tie) Taylor Jobb (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas), 40-0 feet
Breakdown: The Raiders lose a lot of talent from last year's nationally-ranked team but should be okay in 2010 with players like Greene and Jobb returning.
Editors Note: All results should be considered unofficial until full results are posted later in the week.
A quick explanation of the events:
The SPARQ Rating is a scoring system designed to measure football-specific athleticism by combining results in the four combine tests: 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle, vertical jump and power ball throw.
The 40-yard dash at Nike Football Combines are timed using SPARQ digital timing. Not all players choose to test, and some have their marks scratched in individual events. The shuttle run at the Nike Football Combine is timed with stopwatches, and players must touch the lines with their hand. Not all players choose to test, and some have their marks scratched in individual events.
The vertical jump at the Nike Football Combine is measured on jump pads in inches. Not all players choose to test, and some have their marks scratched in individual events. *The kneeling power-ball throw is a test of upper-body and core strength and is measured in feet to the nearest half-foot. Not all players choose to test, and some have their marks scratched in individual events.
Greg Biggins is a regular contributor to ESPN.com's West recruiting blog and handles player personnel for the Nike Football Training Camps for ESPNRISE.com.