LBs emerge at UA combine
Muldrow, Gray among players who stood out during Atlanta UA combine
ATLANTA -- Several talented linebackers were on display Sunday during the Atlanta Under Armour Combine at the Georgia Dome.
Edward Muldrow (Snellville, Ga./South Gwinnett) showed why his offer list is at double digits. The 6-foot-3, 191-pounder had an outstanding day of testing, running a 4.63-second 40-yard dash, a stellar 4.19 shuttle and 7.09 L-cone. The shuttle and L-cone both are important for a linebacker because they measure change of direction and lateral movement.
During position drills, one-on-ones and seven-on-sevens, Muldrow showed off that athleticism. He moves well laterally and has good coverage skills and recovery speed.
On the recruiting front, South Carolina, North Carolina and Clemson (no offer) are Muldrow's top three. He holds several other offers from schools such as Florida State, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Troy. Muldrow had been leaning toward making a commitment in recent weeks but has decided to wait until after the spring evaluation period.
Troy Gray (Acworth, Ga./North Cobb) was one of the surprises of the camp. The 6-foot, 212-pounder tested off the charts, posting a 4.53-second 40-yard dash, 38.5-inch vertical, 4.25 shuttle and 7.29 L-cone. Gray also was impressive during position drills, one-on-ones and seven-on-seven work. He has outstanding speed and athleticism, and as long as his play on the field backs up his outstanding combine showing (he says he had more than 120 tackles last season), look for him to be one of the prospects who emerge from the Atlanta area in the 2011 class.
Gray, who was an all-county selection last season, already has an offer from Toledo and is expecting a number of programs to drop by his school this week to check up on him.
Michael Peek (Loganville, Ga./Grayson) has returned to the area after spending last season out of state. He was impressive during testing and one-on-ones/seven-on-sevens. Peek put up 24 reps of 185 pounds and ran a 7.09-second L-cone. Peek, who had 75 tackles in his sophomore season at Grayson, is an excellent inside linebacker prospect who should see his stock rise in the coming months as the spring evaluation period marches on and summer camps at various colleges are in full swing.
Marcquis Roberts (Powder Springs, Ga./MacEachern) moved well laterally during position and one-on-one drills and posted a solid 7.32 L-cone. The 6-foot, 204-pounder holds one scholarship offer from South Carolina.
Tucory Rhodes (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County) was another linebacker who did some good things in position work. The 6-1, 200-pounder also broad-jumped 10 feet, 8 inches.
Every time we see Kevin Sousa (Lake Nona, Fla./Lake Nona), he improves. During Sunday's event, Sousa was by far the best quarterback prospect, showing off a big arm and improved accuracy.
Florida International remains his only scholarship offer, but a number of programs are starting to show interest. The spring and summer should bring more scholarship offers as other quarterback prospects begin to commit elsewhere.
Martay Mattox (Athens, Ga./Clarke Central) is accurate with his passes and had some nice moments. South Carolina and Maryland have offered, and Tennessee is starting to show interest. Mattox also ran a 4.6 40 and showed he is athletic enough to play multiple positions.
Waller is a major sleeper
Safety Darren Waller (Acworth, Ga./North Cobb) is an impressive athlete. The 6-4, 203-pounder ran a blistering 4.4 40 and had a 36.5-inch vertical, 4.5 shuttle and 7.34 L-cone. Waller reported a Kentucky offer and says he's getting looks from Purdue, Georgia Tech and Georgia, among others. He had 122 tackles last season.
Safety Pat Martin (Greenville, S.C./J.L. Mann) continues to impress at every combine/camp he attends. The 5-11, 200-pounder ran a 4.25 shuttle and a 7.22 L-cone, so his testing numbers were solid all around. His performance in the one-on-one and seven-on-seven portions of the event, however, were what stood out. Similar to his showing at the VTO Elite 100 Combine on April 3 in Charlotte, N.C., Martin did not allow many receivers to get off the line of scrimmage against him and showed excellent instincts when the ball was in the air to knock down passes.
On the recruiting front, Tennessee offered this week, and Martin says he plans to release a top-five list next month. LSU, Minnesota, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arkansas and a host of other schools have offered him.
Cornerback Ra'Chard Pippens (McDonough, Ga./Ola) did good things. The 6-1, 178-pounder was solid in coverage and had a 7.2 L-cone time. Pippens recently picked up an offer from Stanford, and Harvard is starting to show interest as well. South Carolina and Northwestern had previously offered.
Defensive back Denzel Nkemdiche (Loganville, Ga./Grayson) suffered a strained hamstring and did not participate in all of the combine, but he measured in at 5-11 and 198 pounds. He will have to find a position in college but is a good all-around football player with high character.
Calvin Caldwell (Greenville, S.C./J.L. Mann) isn't the tallest cornerback on the field, but he's fast and strong and battles hard. He had some nice moments during seven-on-seven work.
Sleeper end emerges
Defensive end Trey Grissett (Warner-Robins, Ga./Houston County) is another potential sleeper to watch. The 6-3, 228-pounder was impressive during one-on-one and position work and posted solid testing numbers, including a 4.97 40-yard dash and a 7.55 time in the L-cone. North Carolina State, Navy and Mississippi State are among the programs showing interest in him. He had 58 tackles and six sacks last season.
Defensive tackle Blake Burks (Hoover, Ala./Hoover) measured in at 6 feet, 293 pounds and claims an offer from Air Force.
Young receivers shine
A pair of 2012 prospects turned heads.
Jaydrick Declouet (Patterson, La./Patterson) is an explosive player. He's extremely quick and has good hands. Samson Baldwin (Greenville, S.C./J.L. Mann) runs good routes and has excellent quickness, and he showed an ability to break open a number of times.
Also, keep an eye on Will Hudgins (Loganville, Ga./Grayson). Hudgins plays tight end for his high school team but is better suited to play fullback in college. He has good hands and runs good routes, and he can block.
JC Shurburtt covers recruiting for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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