- Craig Haubert, ESPN Staff Writer
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DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins' indoor practice facility hosted one of the most anticipated Under Armour combines of the year. With South Florida being known for its rich talent pool, a big turnout of excellent talent was expected and the local prospects did not disappointment. With a roster filled to capacity, the event featured prospects that tested well, competed well and also looked the part. Here are some of the highlights from Sunday's event.
The event was not short on fine performances, but one player in particular seemed to put together an excellent outing. Wide receiver Tacoi Sumler (Miami/ Columbus) tested well, performed well and demanded attention. A diminutive receiver, Sumler proved he could make up for what he lacks in size with athleticism. The former Gulliver Prep player posted a 4.33 40 time, 6.73 three-cone drill time and showed he could play bigger than his height with a 37-inch vertical and 9-foot-7 broad jump.
However, he was just not a workout warrior. He displayed quickness in his route running and was difficult to cover in one-on-ones. In one particular instance he flashed his big-play ability by beating and turning around promising 2012 cornerback Tracy Howard (Miramar, Fla./Miramar) with a beautiful post-corner route. Sumler also displayed good hands by being able to catch the ball after he got open and his quickness can certainly make him a dangerous weapon after the catch.
Bulls on parade
One of the top programs in South Florida, and the nation for that matter, is Miami Northwestern and the Bulls were well represented at the event. In attendance was their returning starting signal caller Teddy Bridgewater, who was the best 2011 quarterback prospect at the combine. He's a good overall athlete and many feel he could fit better at another position in college, like wide receiver, and with some of his test scores he will have a hard time changing some of those thoughts. The battled-tested starter posted a good 7.25 three-cone drill and an impressive 4.13 short shuttle. While Bridgewater may have to convince some people, he is an interesting prospect at the quarterback position. His mechanics are not great and he will not wow you in basic position drills, but once it becomes competitive he seems to elevate his game. In one-on-ones and seven-on-seven he looked sharp, displaying good arm strength and accuracy. Bridgewater likely still has an uphill battle in front of him as a quarterback prospect and he did not definitively clear the air one way or the other with his performance on Sunday, but he is a winner and someone to watch closely.
One of his teammates in attendance and someone he connected with often during the competition was Eli Rogers, who is a wide receiver prospect that seems to be flying under-the-radar at this point. He does not have great measurables and did not post impressive test scores, but like Bridgewater this kid just seems to be a gamer. Rogers was in the pack during the testing, but once the competition portion began he started to shine. He seems to make up for a lack of exceptional speed or quickness with sharp route running and he also has very good hands. He was tough to cover throughout the event and remains a kid who impresses whenever we see him.
Shazier separating from pack
One of the prospects in attendance with an already sizeable amount of offers was linebacker Ryan Shazier (Plantation, Fla./Plantation) and he did his best to prove why schools have shown early interest. He has a good frame to develop and also displayed fine athleticism. The linebacker/rush end posted an impressive 4.44 40 time, proving he as the speed to play sideline-to-sideline and run with tight ends or running backs. He also showed good explosiveness posting a combine best 10-4 broad jump and a 38-inch vertical.
Shazier plays mostly defensive end in high school and though he could practice at linebacker this spring he admits he will likely be back at end in the fall. Shazier will need some experience at linebacker, but shows the tools to be a good prospect at outside linebacker. However, his experience at end could also pay dividends because he could eventually put his hand on the ground or at least be used there in pass-rushing situations.
Leave them wanting more
The event also featured some good defensive line prospects, but the defender from the trenches that created the most buzz was Nile Lawrence-Stample (Davie, Fla./ Nova). The big man who claims offers from Florida State and Colorado State should expect more interest after his performance. Weighing in at just under 300 pounds, he posted some very good test scores, including a 4.90 40. He also bench pressed 185 pounds 32 times and recorded a 7.65 three-cone drill. While he put forth a fine effort in testing, Lawrence-Stample had to leave early and did not compete in one-on-ones. In visiting with him, he felt his assets as a player were his strength and agility which his test scores would support and he wanted to improve on using his hands to take on blockers. We would have loved to seen him compete, but he certainly peaked our interest and likely that of recruiters also with his performance on Sunday, despite it being cut short.
Defensive linemen on display
Veteran college, pro, and Under Armour All-American defensive line coach Rex Norris was spoiled with a pretty solid group of prospects to work with on Sunday. One who performed well in one-on-ones was Elkino Watson (Miami/ Booker T. Washington), who said one of his strengths was his quickness off the ball and he displayed that. He was also very active with his hands, consistently using them to work past blockers. He claims no official offers at this time, but that should change before too long.
One prospect that had an up-and-down day was Patrick Williams (Orlando, Fla./University). He suffered a cramp during his 40 time and was sidelined for most of the testing, but was able to return for the one-on-ones and took reps on both sides of the ball. He was active with his hands at defensive tackle and showed good upper-body strength. At guard he needs to learn to anchor, but he was able to get his hands on and mirror defenders. The younger brother of former Under Armour All-American and current Miami Hurricane Dyron Dye, Williams is also strong in the classroom and a versatile, well-rounded prospect.
A defensive end prospect that looks good on the huff is Jonathan Harris (Boynton Beach, Fla./Boynton Beach) and while he displayed good tools we would have liked to seen him take more reps in one-on-one drills.
Can't hardly wait
While we are still early in the evaluation process for the 2011 class, some of the talent in attendance for the 2012 class is already getting us excited.
WR Avery Johnson (Pompano Beach, Fla./ Ely)
One of the top performers, regardless of year, was Johnson. The younger brother of current LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson is making his impact on offense. With good size and a nice wingspan, he offers a big catching radius. He also has very good hands, which were like suction cups as he snatched the ball out of the air. He displayed good speed with a 4.44 40 and athleticism with a 4.18 short shuttle, as well as a very impressive 6.66 three-cone drill. Johnson certainly served notice that he is one of prospects to watch in next year's class.
QB Abe Coleman (Hialeah, Fla./American Senior)
He looks to be a promising prospect to keep an eye on. In drills, he displayed good arm strength and put some nice zip on the ball.
DE Jelani Hamilton (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./ Saint Thomas Aquinas)
Saint Thomas Aquinas is a program with plenty of excellent 2011 prospects, but in attendance was also a promising prospect for next year. Hamilton was a good looking kid physically who caught our eye. He has a frame to keep adding bulk and did well in one-on-ones by showing good power and the ability to use his hands.
DE Patrick Miller (West Palm Beach, Fla./ Dwyer)
Another program with good 2011 prospects, but was represented by a promising 2012 prospect was Dwyer. New transfer Miller is a tall and lean kid with a great frame to develop. He worked out at defensive end where he said he will likely play this season, but offensive tackle could be his ultimate destination.
Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./ Saint Thomas Aquinas) is one of several top 2011 prospects on the Raiders roster. He took part in the combine and performed well displaying excellent straight-line speed with 4.43 40, as well as good athleticism and explosiveness with a 6.94 three-cone drill time and a 36.5 vertical. ... Harmon Brown (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. / Boyd Anderson) performed well at cornerback. He was physical with the receivers, displaying the ability to get hands on and alter their routes. He also displayed the ability to quickly stop and stay with receivers on underneath routes and looks like he could fit well as a Cover 2 corner at the college level. ... An interesting 2012 prospect to monitor is defensive lineman Alfredo Richards (Miami/ Booker T. Washington). He spent most of his childhood in the Bahamas and since returning to the states a year-and-a-half ago has been playing basketball. This will be his first season on the gridiron and he needs work, but has good size and showed some flashes. ... It was not an overall strong outing for the offensive line, tight end or running back positions.
Craig Haubert is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. and has more than a decade of coaching experience.