- Billy Tucker, Scouts, Football Recruiting
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The Penn State NFTC featured many of the top prospects from the Northeast. This year's group had a good mix of skill prospects and linemen as well as a very solid linebacker crew.
WR Corey Smith (Akron, Ohio/Buchtel)
Holding over 15 BCS offers, Smith carried some of the biggest recruiting hype into the event and backed it up. The long and rangy athlete was crisp and smooth in his footwork, route running and caught every pass thrown his way. He showed great hands and extension, snatching the ball away from his frame. During one-on-ones, he proved very difficult to mirror with his ability to stick his breaks sharply, stop-start and accelerate to top speed quickly out of his cuts. Smith is very fluid through his hips changing direction and just a smooth athlete. He displayed his versatility also taking reps at safety and showed the clean footwork, range and ball skills you would expect. Smith is bit lean and quicker than fast, but was as advertised as one of the state of Ohio's best skill guys in 2012.
ATH Joel Caleb (Clover Hill, Va./Midlothian)
Like Jones, Caleb was another highly-touted skill prospect in attendance. On the hoof, he looks like the real deal. He's tall, high-cut with a lean, muscular body and overall a large frame for a potential receiver or safety prospect at the college level. He showed flashes of quick and fluid movements, great athleticism and made a few difficult grabs look effortless. However, his intensity wavered throughout the day; he looked to turn it off and on. On film, this guy is a gamer who makes plays happen and will mix it up physically and looks like the type of player who puts on a game face when the lights go on. Caleb was not able to show the great strength he exhibits on film at safety but the excellent range and stride were present, which should keep him in the athlete category.
ILB Abner Logan Jr. (Brookline, Ma./Dexter School)
Logan Jr. may be one of the better looking prospects on the hoof I have seen this year. Built similar to Tony Steward, the top ILB from the 2011 class who ended up at Florida State. He's big and thick but still tapered and vascular. He's only holding offers from UMass and FIU, but look for those numbers to expand during the spring evaluation period. Logan is explosive in the short-range and has great first-step burst to the ball. For a backer with such lower-body power and mass, he can move well laterally, breaks down in space and get depth crossing over in coverage. He needs a bit of technical polish and his level of competition is not very strong, but Logan Jr., who doubles as a high school running back, is a hidden gem at a smaller school in Massachusetts and physically ready to make the college jump and produce.
ILB Kaiwan Lewis (Hammonton, N.J./Saint Josephs)
Lewis' offer list is impressive, but this may not have been the best stage for him to showcase his style. He is a massive inside linebacker prospect with great thickness and actually may benefit from distributing some extra bulk. The Jersey native got better as the event went from agility drills to one on ones, where he got to play more physical and display his great strength and short-area power at the point of attack. The deceptively quick linebacker was at his best in pass rushing drills where he showed great upper-body strength and quick hands shedding and ripping through blockers. Lewis is deceptively athletic in coverage but he does lack great fluidity through his hips and is most productive filling downhill and pursuing with his intense motor, something he did not have a chance to show in shorts and a T-shirt.
DT Eli Ankou (Ontario, Canada/St. Peter's)
A bit of a sleeper early on, Ankou's stock is rising on the recruiting trail and should continue to do so as this explosive defensive tackle from Canada attends more camps on this side of the border. He has good size, but not great for the interior/ Still, he has a leaner, well-built frame with the room to add another 20-pounds at the next level. He showed good quickness and burst off the ball and was able to beat blockers with a bull rush and an effective inside counter. Ankou has strong hands he can use violently and quickly but will need to continue polishing up his technique, adding the necessary bulk and becoming more consistent with his get-off.
RB Derrick Green (Richmond, Va./Hermitage)
A Class of 2013 prospect, Green looks like a college running back right now with his thick, compact body structure and powerful base. He has that low center of gravity, good downhill burst and balance out of his cuts you look for in a college load-back. Green has quick feet for his size and runs low with very good pad level. Did well blocking and at times catching the ball out of the backfield but this is the type of back who is even more impressive with pads on getting downhill.
ATH Alex Carter (Ashburn, Va./Briar Woods)
The Stanford commit did not stand out as much as he did off film evaluation, but his great blend of size, speed and athleticism was still present at State College. This well-built athlete showed good acceleration, closing speed and the ability to open his hips, turn and run when taking reps at corner. While we were impressed with his transitional skills, it's his solid plant-and-drive burst breaking on the pass in front of him that make safety his likely spot in college, or maybe even outside linebacker if he continues to grow.
ATH Demetrious Cox (Jeannette, Pa./Jeannette)
The in-state athlete did not look like the explosive difference-maker we have seen on tape. However, he looked good on the hoof with his athletic frame and was fluid and smooth in his movements for a bigger skill prospect. Cox displayed great feet, speed and ball skills. We still feel like he play may receiver at the next level with his speed, hands and yards after the catch production.
Several 2013 prospects stood out, including tight end Adam Breneman (Cedar Cliff, Pa./Cedar Cliff), who already holds an offer from Boston College. At 6-5 he has great a frame to fill out, soft hands and looked quick in and out of his routes. ... In this current tight end class Jack Schwaba (Upper St. Clair, Pa./Upper St. Clair) has the bulk and overall size that is coveted at the position and showed deceptive athleticism as route runner. ... Eugene Lewis (Plymouth, Pa./ Wyoming Valley West) looked good at receiver with his long arms and great extension away from his frame. He has good jump-ball skills and showed solid burst creating vertical separation. ... ATH Deontay McManus (Baltimore, Md./Dunbar) was one of the more intriguing athletes to break down. He looks like a linebacker and could play there or safety in college but actually looked athletic for his size taking reps at receiver and demonstrated good ball skills. ... In the trenches, Tyrique Jarrett (Pittsburgh, Pa./Taylor Allderdice) was one of the more explosive defensive lineman in one-on-ones but we feel he will likely play offensive guard in college with good feet for a 300-pounder to pull and trap. ... Projected guard Ryan Watson (Olney, Md./Good Counsel) showed good get-off and a strong, upfield push during one-on-ones at defensive tackle, but we project his great surge off the ball will be more effective on the offensive interior. ... Fellow projected guard Treydon Hester (Pittsburg, Pa./Penn Hills) proved to be one of the better offensive lineman during drills and competitions. His lower-body looked explosive and he did a good job sitting and anchoring the bull rush.
Billy Tucker is a recruiting coordinator for ESPN Recruiting and has close to a decade of coaching experience at the college and high school levels.
Corey Smith was one of many solid prospects at the Penn State NFTC, writers Billy Tucker.