Wilder leads group of talented backs
Bradenton Under Armour combine attracts some of Florida top prospects
BRADENTON, Fla. -- A group of running backs that featured some of the top prospects in the country, including versatile star James Wilder Jr. (Tampa, Fla./Plant), and one of the top 2012 prospects in the Sunshine State highlighted the Bradenton Under Armour Combine on Sunday at IMG Academies.
One of the big questions about Wilder, who has nearly 50 scholarship offers to his credit and is one of the top overall prospects in the country, is what position he will play in college. Equally good on both sides of the ball, Wilder could easily be an elite linebacker prospect as well. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder worked out at running back on Sunday and that appears to be the position he is leaning toward playing in college.
Wilder ran a 4.45 short shuttle and was impressive during position drills and one-on-one work. Combine that with the work he did on the field last season, nearly 1,000 rushing yards, going both ways and leading his team to the Florida Class 5A championship, and it's clear that he's one of the top prospects in America for the 2011 cycle.
"Coming out here was a great experience," Wilder said. "I love competition. Coming out here to compete and meet new friends and new people. Also, I enjoyed being trained by people that played in the NFL and know what it takes to make it to the next level."
"Beating them, I don't want to say it was a dream come true because we knew we could do it," Blakely said. "But everybody else didn't think so, so we put all we had into that game and unfortunately did not have enough for Plant in the finals."
The 5-8, 193-pound Blakely is a versatile back who has good hands and can play the slot if needed.
Class of 2012 standout Matt Jones (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) is a taller (6-2½) running back who is a power runner with excellent feet. He's younger, but he is a team player. When asked about his early success on the football field, he gave the credit to his offensive line.
"I just wanted to come out here and compete with everybody," Jones said. "(Wilder) is one of my big competitors in (Hillsborough County), so it was good to compete against him."
Fullback prospect Hunter Joyner (Tampa, Fla./Catholic) had an impressive showing. The 5-11, 249-pounder threw up 33 reps of 185 pounds on the bench press and broad jumped 9 feet, 7 inches. He also displayed good quickness and hands during position drills and one-on-one/7-on-7 work.
Joyner will play tailback for Tampa Catholic, which produced ESPNU 150 prospects Christian Green (Florida State) and Chaz Green (Florida) in the 2010 class. North Carolina, Louisville, Florida and Georgia Tech are the schools in the mix for his services. His brother, Kameron Joyner, plays at Louisville.
Class of 2013 running back Adam Lane (Winter Haven, Fla./Winter Haven) is the younger brother of Rutgers tight end D.C. Jefferson. Lane made some good plays during one-on-ones and shined in the position drills. He played a good bit for Winter Haven last season and is one to watch in the future.
But running back wasn't the only position that had talented prospects. Here's a breakdown of some other top players by position at the combine.
Nebraska is getting a potentially special offensive lineman in Tyler Moore (Clearwater, Fla./Countryside). Moore, 6-5, 305 pounds, had excellent testing numbers as he bench pressed 185 pounds 32 times and ran a 5.07-second 40-yard dash.
"It was a lot of fun all the way around," Moore said. "There was a lot of talent out here and it was great to compete."
Moore is a big, athletic, nasty offensive lineman. He is firm in his commitment to the Cornhuskers and should he develop like he is capable, he has the potential to continue the tradition of great lineman at Nebraska.
Zach DeBell (Tarpon Springs, Fla./Tarpon Springs) continues to be a prospect on the rise. He first impressed at the Under Armour combine on New Year's Day in Orlando and has gotten stronger (19 reps of 185 on the bench press on Sunday, compared to 16 back in January) and also looked better in the one-on-one and position drills.
"I feel like I did really good," DeBell said. "I think I have improved a lot."
Minnesota, Central Florida and Florida International have offered the 6-6, 260-pounder. He plans to visit Michigan, UCF and potentially Missouri in the near future and recently made an unofficial visit to Miami.
Matt Prince (Bradenton, Fla./Manatee) has a chance to emerge as a Division I prospect with continued improvement and a big senior season. The 6-3, 250-pounder has a good frame and good feet and caught the eye of the Under Armour coaching staff. Arizona, Ohio University, Florida State and Miami are showing interest.
Class of 2012 prospect Josh Clark (Bradenton, Fla./Christian) has good size (6-4, 312 pounds) and played with good toughness and effort during position drills and one-on-ones. He currently has a bench press max of 295 pounds.
Ja'Juan Story (Brooksville, Fla./Nature Coast) is a fast-riser in recruiting circles. The 6-3, 190-pounder holds recent offers from Florida State, North Carolina, Kentucky, South Florida, Marshall, Florida International and others. After his performance on Sunday, that should come as no surprise. He put up the combine's top 40-yard dash time at 4.57 seconds (the times were slow across the board on Sunday because of a strong, shifting wind) and also was impressive during one-on-ones, making one catch where he overpowered a defensive back that was draped all over him.
"This was my first combine, so I think that I did very well," Story said.
Dante Campbell (Clermont, Fla./East Ridge) also had some good moments. He's a 6-4, 176-pounder who some local high school coaches in Central Florida have raved about. He had 37 receptions for 753 yards and four touchdowns last season. Rutgers and UCF are among the schools showing interest.
Other wide receivers who had their moments include Jeffrey Schofield (New Smyrna Beach, Fla./New Smyrna Beach), Chris Moore (Tampa, Fla./Jefferson) and Quinton Bundrage (Bradenton, Fla./Manatee)
Quinton Pompey (Bradenton, Fla./Manatee) has the athleticism recruiters look for in a major defensive line prospect. The 6-2, 256-pounder was impressive during one-on-ones and was tough to block because of a variety of moves that he used. Pompey is getting interest from a number of Division I programs.
Defensive tackle Dalton Wertz (Arcadia, Fla./Desoto) was impressive during one-on-ones. The 6-1, 289-pounder battled hard and is strong (29 reps of 185 pounds on the bench press and has a max of 355 pounds). Wertz had 64 tackles and eight sacks last season and was a second-team all-state selection. South Florida, Western Kentucky, Texas Tech and Florida State have expressed interest.
Class of 2012 standout Earl Moore (Tampa, Fla./Hillsborough) already holds a verbal scholarship offer from Florida State. The 6-1, 253-pounder is athletic for his size and age and it is going to be interesting to see how much progress he has made at this point next year when he's a rising senior. Moore was a second-team all-conference selection as a sophomore.
Brodrick Lee (Tarpon Springs, Fla./Tarpon Springs) also had his moments. The 6-1, 300-pounder needs to continue to work hard in the weight room, but has drawn attention from several Division I programs after a good junior season.
Keith Lewis (Tampa, Fla./Freedom) has a lot of upside. The 6-foot, 205-pounder showed good lateral movement ability during the 7-on-7 portion of the camp and broke up several passes. Given his athleticism and instincts that he displayed Sunday, it's not a surprise he claimed offers from Wake Forest, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa State, South Florida and Duke.
Cornerback Nick Waisome (Groveland, Fla./South Lake) continues to show he's not afraid to come to combines and compete. Waisome was the top defensive back at the event and played well during one-on-ones and 7-on-7s.
"Things went smooth," Waisome said. "I just love to come out and compete. Every combine you work on the little things. It's a chance to go out and go against that top receiver you've been hearing about."
The 5-10, 170-pound Waisome has already been named to the 2011 Under Armour All-American Game.
Tyjaun Frey (Ocala, Fla./Trinity Catholic) was impressive. He ran a 4.31-second shuttle and had good moments during one-on-one and 7-on-7 work.
The Under Armour coaching staff felt like Trenier Orr (Ocoee, Fla./Ocoee) had the tools to be a Division I prospect. Stephan Martin (Auburndale, Fla./Auburndale) also had some impressive moments as well.
JC Shurburtt covers recruiting for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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