- Gerry Hamilton, ESPN Staff Writer
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DAVIE, Fla. -- Heading into Sunday's Under Armour combine, defensive linemen were expected to grab the headlines. Less than an hour after the beginning of testing, the day turned into the Ryan Shazier Show.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Shazier (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation) has been on college coaches' radar since his junior season, during which he had more than 80 tackles and an eye-popping 19 sacks. That production was followed by offers from the likes of Florida, Florida State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Wisconsin and South Carolina among others. On Sunday, Shazier showed exactly why he is quickly becoming one of the most heavily recruited prospects in the country.
Shazier, simply put, put on a testing display that will be tough to match for any linebacker from coast to coast. He clocked a blistering 4.44-second 40-yard dash to go with a 4.56 pro agility shuttle, a 7.56 L-cone, which is used to test change of direction and quickness, and a best-of-the-day 38-inch vertical and 10-foot, 4-inch broad jump. The South Florida defender also added 11 reps of 185 on the bench press.
"I think I did real well," Shazier said. "To me, I think I was one of the best players out there, but there is always room for improvement. I expected to test well. I know I'm a 4.4 guy, but I didn't expect to run in the 4.4s today."
The drill work and seven-on-seven that followed were more important for Shazier. He posted his gaudy numbers for Plantation playing defensive end, but he is beginning the process of moving to linebacker, where he will play at the next level.
He quickly displayed the same quickness, smarts and motor at linebacker as he has at end.
"I think I did real well at linebacker. I had one interception in seven-on-sevens, and nobody caught a pass on me in drills, so I think it went real good," Shazier said.
Although Shazier stole the show, he wasn't the only top-notch performer. Here is a look at some of the standout players on defense.
Tackle Nile Lawrence (Davie, Fla./Nova High) was right there with Shazier as one of the event's top performers. No player in attendance was more impressive on the hoof, and he backed up his first impression with a show of explosive ability for an interior prospect.
Lawrence checked in at 6-1, 297 pounds, recorded a combine-best 32 reps of 185 on the bench press, clocked 40-yard dash times of 4.90 and 4.98 and a head-turning 7.65 L-cone time. He displayed elite-level quickness for a tackle prospect, the ability to change direction, flexibility and explosive power.
The lone disappointment for Lawrence was having to leave early before he could continue the show in offensive line-defensive line one-on-ones. Still, the small sample was enough to see why Florida State and Colorado have extended offers.
Another top defensive tackle prospect on hand was Patrick Williams (Davie, Fla./University School of Nova). The 6-foot, 267-pound Williams displayed an explosive first step, balance, lateral quickness and active, quick hands dominating the competition in one-on-one drills.
Williams, who excels academically at the prestigious school, bench-pressed 185 pounds 19 times and ran an 8.2 L-cone despite battling a leg cramp the second half of the day.
Florida State, Georgia, Wisconsin, Clemson, Connecticut and Florida International have offered Williams a scholarship. The list of suitors is expected to more than double during the spring.
Elkino Watson (Miami/Booker T. Washington) was another top defensive tackle in attendance. The 6-1¼, 282-pound Watson was impressive in testing, running a 5.22 40, 7.97 L-cone and 4.94 pro agility shuttle and doing 18 reps of 185 pounds on the bench press.
In one-on-one drills, Watson was the most aggressive lineman with his hands and showed a quick first step with the ability to beat his opponent with a power bull rush or a quick and explosive series of movement. Alabama, Florida, LSU, Florida State and Vanderbilt are recruiting Watson.
Dinsdale Jackson (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage) was another tackle who showed well in drills and testing. The 6-1½, 269-pound Jackson recorded a 5.09 40 and 5.03 pro agility. LSU, Wake Forest, Miami and Florida State are showing interest in Jackson.
Ruben Carter Jr. (Miami/Jackson) was one of several impressive defensive end prospects. The 6-4, 263-pound son of former Tennessee State basketball player Ruben Carter displayed impressive strength and power off the edge. He recorded a 4.94 pro agility shuttle, 8.09 L-cone time and 29-inch vertical and bench-pressed 185-pounds 16 times, which is impressive considering his long arms. A move inside at the next level is probable. Georgia Tech, FIU, Rutgers and Louisville are recruiting Carter.
Jonathan Harris (Boynton Beach, Fla.) also oozed potential at end. The 6-3½, 211-pound Harris posted a 4.56 pro agility shuttle and used his long arms and nonstop motor to impress in one-on-one drills. South Carolina has offered with Miami, Tennessee and Florida among others showing interest.
Patrick Miller (Palm Beach, Fla./Dwyer) was one of the top 2012 prospects on hand. The 6-6, 229-pounder has very long arms and good feet. He flashed pass-rush ability off the edge at end and the ability to change direction with a 4.6 pro agility shuttle. Miller will play some tight end for Dwyer next season after a transfer from Benjamin High.
Keep an eye on 2012 end Jelani Hamilton (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas). Hamilton checked in at 6-3¾, 245 pounds, and tested well with a 31-inch vertical, 15 reps of 185 pounds on the bench, a 4.9 pro agility shuttle and a 7.76 L-cone time.
The safety position was well represented on Sunday and featured a lot of versatility. Jeremy Cash (Plantation, Fla.) has impressed before and did so again Sunday. The 6-0½, 185-pound Cash clocked a 4.58 40, 4.44 pro agility shuttle, 31-inch vertical and 9-foot, 6-inch broad jump followed by a physical and fast showing in one-on-one and seven-on-seven action.
Cash has offers from Miami, Florida State, Ohio State and North Carolina. Florida and many others are also coming on.
Gerod Holliman (Miami/Southridge) was very impressive in the testing portion, clocking pro agility shuttle times of 4.27 and 4.33 along with an L-cone time of 7.29 and 16 reps of 185 pounds. The 5-11½, 188-pound Holliman displayed impressive reactive quickness breaking out of a T-step and the ability to quickly close on the ball in front of him.
Nick North (Hollywood, Fla./McArthur) was another downhill safety who tested well. At 6 feet, 186 pounds, North posted a 4.41 shuttle, 7.63 L-cone, 33-inch vertical and 15 reps on the bench press at 185 pounds. He showed the ability to change direction in coverage and a feel for making a play on the ball in the air with timing.
A fourth safety who impressed was Rontavious Atkins (Pahokee, Fla.). Atkins, who stands 5-11 and weighs 169 pounds, posted 15 reps of 185 pounds on the bench press. Wake Forest has offered with UCLA, Nebraska and Georgia Tech showing heavy interest.
At corner, Harmon Brown (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Boyd Anderson) proved to cover like a blanket in drills. The 5-8, 152-pounder with a 32.5-inch vertical jump covered and moved without wasted motion and showed impressive quickness and reaction. He quickly closed on plays in front of him and showed the ability to open up his hips and speed turn on the deep ball.
Andrew Johnson (Miami/Southridge) was another impressive corner. The 5-8½, 161-pound Johnson clocked an impressive 4.55 40, 4.34 pro agility shuttle and jumped 31. He followed those gaudy numbers up with impressive coverage in seven-on-seven drills because of his quick feet and reactions and good closing speed.
Jabari Gorman (Pace, Fla.) also impressed in coverage. The 5-9¼, 164-pounder posted a 4.44 pro agility shuttle, and the quickness and change of direction carried over to one-on-one drills.
Keep an eye on 2012 corner Tracy Howard (Miramar, Fla.). The 5-foot-10, 158-pound Howard was impressive in man-to-man coverage and posted a 7.52 L-cone time and a 31½-inch vertical.
Kent Turene (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Boyd Anderson) was one of the more impressive-looking prospects at first glance. At 6-1½, 226 pounds, with long arms and a strong proportioned body type, the hard-hitting linebacker turned heads. He was slowed by a nagging sprained ankle but still posted a 4.66 pro agility shuttle, 7.73 L-cone time, 28.5-inch vertical and 9-foot, 4-inch broad jump. He has offers from Nebraska, Illinois, FAU and FIU.
Turene's teammate at Boyd Anderson, Shaun Ward, took reps at linebacker and defensive end. At end, the 6-foot, 218-pounder was a blur off the edge with the quickest spin move of the day. At linebacker, he moved downhill on plays in front of him very well. Ward has a verbal offer from Miami with interest from around the region.
Conard Johnson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Dillard) was another impressive linebacker. While undersized at 5-9¼ and 209 pounds, he moves very, very well and is an ultra-aggressive defender. Johnson recorded a 4.36 pro agility shuttle, 7.13 L-cone and a 34½-inch vertical, and he bench-pressed 185 pounds 24 times. His ability to change direction was very impressive throughout the day.
Gerry Hamilton has covered recruiting in Texas and the Southwest for more than a decade. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.