Commentary

Youth is served on Day 1

The young players stole the show on the first day of the Under Armour combine

Updated: June 22, 2010, 2:24 PM ET
By Craig Haubert and Billy Tucker | ESPN Recruiting

BALTIMORE -- The Under Armour combine tour rolled into Baltimore for a full weekend of testing, instruction, and competition. With Sunday reserved mainly for testing and competition, Saturday's session allowed for more teaching instruction as well chances to showcase their football skills in one-on-one and 7-on-7 drills. It was a good turnout of talent both in the 2011 class as well as young prospects. And on the first day of the event, several young prospects started to establish themselves as prospects to watch.

Overall, the defensive backs proved to have the deepest pool of talent, highlighted by a good emerging corner prospect. Justin Motley (Virginia Beach, Va./Landstown) from the Class of 2012 caught our attention. He displayed sharp footwork and smooth transitional skills in and out of his pedal. He also displayed good recovery speed when beat and solid hand technique in press coverage for a young DB. While a feisty competitor, he will need to work to add size to his frame and develop upper body strength. He also needs to gain top level game experience.

While the secondary proved to be the top group, it was challenged throughout the day by some promising receiver prospects. Two young guys in particular grabbed our attention. The first was Da'Quan Smith (Baltimore, Md./City) from the Class of 2012. He has a large catch radius with good height and overall size for a rising junior. He also possesses big hands to pluck the ball out the air away from his frame and was able to consistently create good separation with polished route running skills. Last year as a sophomore he hauled in six touchdowns and close to 500 yards receiving. We like the versatility he showed by also being able to line up in the backfield and create mismatches in the underneath passing game.

Class of 2013 prospect Tyric Hopkins (Baltimore, Md./Milford Mill Academy) also had a strong day for a young guy. He was able to consistently get an outside release off the line using a solid combination of hand technique and quickness which allowed him to showcase his long stride. That long stride makes him dangerous as vertical runner and in addition to his speed he is also a good leaper and showed impressive overall athleticism on the contested jump ball match-up. He will need to work to become more explosive as well as filling out his lean but still young frame.

While these two stood out, the whole group benefited from some experienced championship coaching from former NFL assistant Robert Ford, who was a part of three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys. In fact, the group with Hopkins caught Ford's eye. "They're very competitive, they catch the ball very well and they have an excellent attention span," he said. "I think athletically they stake up very well against other groups around the country."

Billy Tucker

Scouts, Football Recruiting
• Recruiting coordinator for ESPN RecruitingNation.
• Nearly a decade of college coaching experience.
• Was recruiting coordinator at nationally-ranked Division II colleges.