Commentary

Houston Nike combine recap

DT Anthony Smith powers his way to the top with event's best SPARQ rating

Originally Published: March 7, 2011
By Brian Stumpf | ESPN RISE

HOUSTON -- The 2011 Nike SPARQ combine tour continued Saturday at Woodforest Stadium, where more than 750 prospects from eight states braved threatening skies and high winds to test and compete for a spot in the second annual SPARQ Rating National Championship later this summer.

While the wind and rain may have caused some to stay away, it did nothing to alter the trend so far on the Nike SPARQ combine tour of linemen putting forth dominating performances, as a Houston-area defensive tackle put forth the nation's top power ball toss so far and finished with the event's top SPARQ rating.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Smith
Scott E. FinkAnthony Smith posted the best power ball toss (49 feet) of the year thus far.

Top rising senior

Anthony Smith, DT (Houston, Texas/Westfield)
Smith earned second team all-district honors last fall playing alongside recent Texas signee Desmond Jackson at Westfield and is now poised to step into the spotlight entering his senior year. While Smith lacks ideal height at 5-foot-11, 288 pounds, the athletic ability he displayed Saturday is hard to ignore. He threw the power ball 49 feet, tops so far in the nation this offseason, and also clocked a 5.01 40 time and jumped 30.3 inches in the vertical on his way to the combine's top SPARQ rating at 109.41. Baylor has already offered and Smith could see his recruitment spike.

Rising seniors honorable mentions

Jordan Bell, DB (Sugar Land, Texas/Hightower)
Bell is part of another strong Hightower class in 2012. The 5-9, 167-pounder is a two-time all-district pick and had a very good day, clocking a 4.60 40 and showing his physicality with a strong power ball throw of 36.5 feet to finish with an 82.50 SPARQ rating.

Zorrell Ezell, DT (Humble, Texas/Humble)
Although he didn't test as well as Smith did (and very few DTs nationwide can), Ezell is still a very good prospect in his own right, already holding offers from Kansas State and Baylor after earning District 18-4A Defensive MVP honors last fall. The 6-1, 261-pounder showed his quick feet with a 4.47 shuttle, while also posting solid numbers of 33.5 feet in the power ball and 25.4 inches in the vertical jump, finishing with a 70.44 SPARQ rating.

Kenny Iloka, DB (Sugar Land, Texas/Kempner)
The younger brother of Boise State standout safety George Iloka, he seems ticketed for a bright college future as well. Posted outstanding numbers after measuring in at a solid 6-1, 208 pounds, running a 4.67 40, a 4.25 shuttle and jumping 31.6 inches in the vertical for an 89.49 SPARQ rating.

Jeromy Irwin, OL (Cypress, Texas/Cy-Fair)
Irwin has emerged early on as one of the more heavily recruited offensive lineman in the Greater Houston Area, with an offer from Colorado and junior day invites from Texas A&M and Alabama. He displayed the athleticism that has helped him become of interest to so many major programs, clocking a 5.11 40 at 6-4, 288 pounds, while also throwing the power ball 36.5 feet. Irwin finished with a 75.48 SPARQ rating.

[+] EnlargeBlake Webb
Scott E. Fink Blake Webb ran the fastest 40 at the Houston Nike SPARQ combine.

Blake Webb, WR (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands)
After snagging 47 passes for 903 yards and five scores for state power The Woodlands last year, and the outstanding measurables he put forth Saturday at his home stadium might help break the ice for offer No. 1. Webb measured 6-0, 171 pounds and clocked the combine's (and tour to date) fastest 40 at 4.43, while also going 4.00 in the shuttle with a 32.2-inch vertical to finish with the second best SPARQ rating on the day at 107.52. He's already attended Texas A&M's junior day and is also hearing from Nebraska, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and UCLA early on.

Top underclassman

Justin Webster, RB (Houston, Texas/Northland Christian)
The private school standout had a coming out party at the Houston Nike Combine last year, posting a 94.05 SPARQ rating, and after rushing for 1,321 yards and 17 touchdowns as a sophomore this fall, had a very similar showing on Saturday despite much worse conditions. Webster, a 5-11, 189-pound back, clocked a 4.65 40, 4.19 shuttle with a 34-inch vertical to finish with a 93.87 SPARQ rating, the best rating for any underclassman in attendance.

Underclassmen honorable mentions

Hakeem Deggs, RB (Plaquemine, La./Plaquemine) Deggs lacks size, measuring 5-6, 149 pounds, but his explosiveness and athletic ability cannot be ignored. He sprinted 4.52 in the 40 and jumped a combine-high 39.8 inches in the vertical to finish with an 85.62 SPARQ rating.

Treq'uille Flowers, DB (Converse, Texas/Judson)
Tall with long arms and athleticism, its not hard to see that Flowers could really blossom into quite a player over the next two years. The 6-2, 161-pounder will need to add some weight, but he already has sneaky strength as evidenced by his 35-foot power ball toss. Flowers also clocked a 4.64 40 and 4.34 shuttle.

Jamel James, RB (Katy, Texas/Cinco Ranch)
After rushing for 1,277 yards and 17 touchdowns as a sophomore, James figures to put up even gaudier numbers this fall without SMU-signee K.C. Nlemchi to share carries with anymore. A power back who will show more football speed in pads than combine speed in shorts, James threw the power ball 32 feet, jumped 29.6 inches in the vertical and had a 4.59 shuttle.

Bryce Peters, RB (Houston, Texas/Cy Falls)
Peters had a sneaky good sophomore season last fall, leading pass-happy Cy Falls in rushing with 620 yards and seven scores, and seems to have all the measurables to emerge as a very solid prospect in next year's class. He measured a solid 5-9, 195 pounds and ran 4.72 in the 40, 4.38 in the shuttle and jumped 34.3 inches for an 84.36 rating.

Jacorey Warrick, WR (Houston, Texas/Cy Falls)
Speaking of pass-happy Cy Falls, Warrick is one reason why the Golden Eagles figure to fgo deep again in the fall. The 5-10, 157-pounder was one of the fastest players in attendance with a 4.50 40 and complemented that with a 4.32 shuttle, as well as a 33.1-inch vertical. He snagged 25 passes and scored five times as a sophomore and should be in for a bigger role this fall.

Top fives

SPARQ rating
1. Anthony Smith, DT (Houston, Texas/Westfield) -- 109.41
2. Blake Webb, WR (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) -- 107.52
3. Dillion Winfrey, WR (Little Rock, Ark./Bryant) -- 104.7
4. Justin Schindler, WR (Richmond, Texas/Foster) -- 96.96
5. Hayden Miller, RB (Kingwood, Texas/Kingwood Park) -- 94.47

40-yard dash
1. Blake Webb, WR (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) -- 4.43
2. Byron Stevens Jr., DB (Zachary, La./Zachary) -- 4.46
3. Jacorey Warrick, ('13), WR (Houston, Texas/Cypress Falls) -- 4.50
4, Dillion Winfrey, WR (Little Rock, Ark./Bryant) -- 4.51
5. Hakeem Deggs, ('13), RB (Plaquemine, La./Plaquemine) -- 4.52

20-yard shuttle
1T. Blake Webb, WR (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) -- 4.00
1T. Dillion Winfrey, WR (Little Rock, Ark./Bryant) -- 4.00
3. Braxton Brown, DB (Houston, Texas/Chester W. Nimitz) -- 4.09
4. Julian Jarrels, RB (Washington, Okla./Washington) -- 4.10
5T. Justin Schindler, WR (Richmond, Texas/Foster) -- 4.12
5T. Tyler Hewitt, ('13), WR (Spring, Texas/Oak Ridge) -- 4.12

Kneeling power ball
1. Anthony Smith, RB (Houston, Texas/Westfield) -- 49 feet
2. Hayden Lambert, OL (Aledo, Texas/Aledo) -- 41 feet
3. Korey Lewis, DB (Stafford, Texas/Hightower) -- 39 feet
4T. Marvin Taylor, DB (Houston, Texas/Lamar) -- 38 feet
4T. Chris Cooper, OL (San Antonio, Texas/Southwest) -- 38 feet

Vertical jump
1. Hakeem Deggs, ('13), RB (Plaquemine, La./Plaquemine) -- 39.8 inches
2. Evann Hayden, WR (Houston, Texas/Cy Fair) -- 37.8 inches
3. Najee Bissoon, DB (Humble, Texas/Summer Creek) -- 37.5 inches
4T. Troy Fisher Jr, RB (Katy, Texas/Cypress Lakes) -- 36.5 inches
4T. Jarrell Reed, ('13), RB (San Antonio, Texas/Brackenridge) -- 36.5 inches