Linebackers highlight Durham NFTC
DURHAM, N.C. -- In a camp that featured over 200 prospects, it was the deep pool of linebackers, highlighted by Nick Dawson, Peter Kalamabyi and Kwontie Moore, that stood out at the Nike Football Training Camp at Duke on Sunday.
"It was a great group," said Chris Gizzi, one of the linebackers coaches for the Nike camp. "What was great was that a lot of the same kids showed up here that we have had elsewhere, like Nick (Dawson) and Kwontie (Moore). And they have improved. There were a lot of alpha dogs out here today."
Dawson, from a 6-foot-3, 230-pounder from Charlotte (N.C.) Berry, was voted the linebacker MVP and has a couple of favorites from his 18 offers.
"Louisville, Clemson and Tennessee are my top three schools," Dawson said. "Miami would be No. 4. They have all offered. I want to make all my official visits before I commit."
Moore (Norfolk, Va./Christian), who committed to Virginia about three weeks ago, showed why he was one of the most coveted backs from the East Coast.
"I thought I did well (Sunday), better than what I did at Georgia," said Moore, who is 6-2 and 240 pounds. "I am getting better in coverage and just more comfortable out there. I think today I had five interceptions."
Moore is excited about his future in Charlottesville and hopes to keep on improving his game.
"I can't wait to get there," Moore said. "I am a big fan of Coach [Mike] London and his staff. It's a good family atmosphere and it was a good fit for me spiritually. I know if I keep working on my game I can go in there and compete for a job. That's all I ask."
Another headliner was Class of 2013 'backer Peter Kalamabyi (Matthews, N.C./Butler), who is 6-3, 230 pounds and already has some impressive offers.
"NC State, Clemson, Duke and Michigan have offered," said Kalamabyi, who carries a 4.2 grade point average. "I think teams like Stanford and Notre Dame are close to offering me. Right now I am pretty open and I have a ways to go."
He might have a ways to go, but he impressed Gizzi.
"Of all the linebackers he was the best pass rusher," Gizzi said. "He's like a glass of water that no one can stop. He has a chance to be something else out there."
T.J. Burrell (Goose Creek, S.C./Goose Creek) not only turned heads on Sunday, but has also has the attention of some recruiters.
"I am pretty open right now," Burrell said. "Teams like Clemson, South Carolina, Duke, Vanderbilt, Illinois, Maryland and Kentucky have all offered me. I hope to narrow it down to about three schools before the season starts. Teams like Georgia Tech, Alabama, North Carolina and NC State are all showing interest."
Defensive line dominates O-line group
Jamal Marcus (Durham, N.C./Hillside), Korren Kirven (Lynchburg, Va./Brookville), Derek Dowrey (Winchester, Va./Handley) and K'Hadree Hooker (Deep Run, N.C./South Lenior) were among the defensive linemen who put on a show on Sunday, but it was Marcus who took home the MVP honors.
"He has some nice size and reminds me of some guys in the league like Osi Umenyiora," said Chuck Wiley, defensive line coach at the Nike camp. "This kid gets the job done and is very solid. Man is he fast off the edge. He has some speed."
Kirven, Dowrey and Hooker all will likely play on the inside at the next level, although Kirven is versatile enough to line up just about anywhere along the defensive front.
"The battles were good," Kirven said. "You win some and you lose some but I think I won my share. I just need to keep working on my hands and playing with more technique. I have to say we got some good coaching out here today."
Kirvin, 6-4 and 277 pounds, said he has close to two dozen offers but doesn't have a leader.
"I have 21 offers but I am open right now," Kirven said. "Alabama, Stanford, Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame are some of the schools that have offered. I should have a busy summer, as I am trying to see Penn State, Alabama, Stanford, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Virginia and Virginia Tech."
Hooker, like Kirven, has plenty of options with double-digit offers, including Auburn, Virginia Tech, Louisville, North Carolina, N.C. State, Duke, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Arkansas.
"I am cherishing every single offer," Hooker said. "Ever since NC State offered me as a sophomore I feel like I have been blessed. This is all a dream come true for me."
Just like he Drew it up
There were some surprises in the secondary, led by safety Drew Madhu (Tampa, Fla./Plant).
"The kid is so coachable," said Eugene Jackson, the Nike camp defensive backs coach. "He's aggressive back there and really plays downhill. He impressed us in drills and in one on ones."
One person not surprised is Robert Weiner, Madhu's coach at Plant.
"Drew has size [6-1, 198 pounds] and he's great against the pass," Weiner said. "As good as he is against the pass, he's better against the run. In all the players I have had a Plant he's probably the best leader.
"I have never had one like him. I bet I had 50 schools tell me they had to get with their defensive coordinator before they offer him. Teams like UConn, Stanford, Northwestern, FIU, UAB, East Carolina and Pitt all seem very close."
Madhu's Plant teammate Antonio Crawford also had a good day. Crawford has played receiver and cornerback, but this season his main focus will be on defense.
"That kid has a lot of confidence and some swagger," Jackson said. "But he's not cocky. He's fast and athletic and has good hips. He can run with just about anyone."
One of the top cornerbacks in attendance was Devontre Parnell (Winnsboro, S.C./Fairfield Central). Despite playing with a shoulder injury, he showed why he's one of the better defensive backs in the region.
"He has great closing speed," Jackson said. "He has really good feet and can flip those hips."
Steady signal callers
While there were not any big-name quarterbacks, there were plenty of prospects, including QB MVP Drew Podrebarac (Waxhaw, N.C./Weddington).
"I really felt that his intensity was the biggest thing for him," said Browning Nagle, the quarterbacks coach of the Nike camp. "He was like that from start to finish, on every play, every throw and in every drill. He threw the ball very well."
Podrebarac, 6-2 and 185 pounds, says he doesn't have any offers at the moment but that could happen this summer.
"I came out here ready," Podrebarac said. "I knew I had to pick it up. I want to prove to everyone that I can play quarterback at a high level. Teams like Southern Cal, Duke, NC State, Clemson, South Carolina, Wake Forest, Hawaii and ECU are all recruiting me. I plan on camping at most of those schools this summer to prove to them I can play."
Podrebarac narrowly edged out Caleb Rowe (Blue Ridge, S.C./Greer) for top honors. Regardless, Rowe had a very good day, showcasing a big and accurate arm.
"We were calling him 'Red,'" Nagle said. "It was close between him and Podrebarac. "He has a good arm and threw the ball very well today."
Like Podrebarac, Rowe is still awaiting his first scholarship offer, even after throwing for over 3,000 yards and 27 scores last fall as a junior.
"I thought I did well," Rowe said. "I felt good. I am starting to get a lot of interest from teams like Maryland, NC State, Wake Forest and FIU."
Rising juniors -- Bucky Hodges (Virginia Beach, Va./Salem) and Riley Ferguson (Matthews, N.C./Butler) -- and rising sophomore B.J. Nagle (Memphis, Tenn./Briarwood Christian) also made their presence felt.
"I did well but I need to work on my drops," Hodges said. "They have to be deeper, especially for a guy my size [6-5½ and 213 pounds]. So far Virginia, Virginia Tech and James Madison has offered me while teams like Rutgers, Notre Dame and Ohio State are showing interest and recruiting me. I want to get out and see them all this summer."
Ferguson was the MVP at the Nike camp in Athens last month and had another solid day.
"Riley played well," Nagle said. "He continues to show improvement and does so many things well."
Nagle's son, B.J. is still a freshman, but he throws the football with a lot of velocity, just like his old man did. The younger Nagle also plays baseball.
"The big thing with B.J. is the transition from one (sport) to another," Nagle said. "It's so different in throwing a baseball and throwing a football. He's got to be able to mesh that better. But when he does throw the football he can really hum it and he has great footwork already."
Running back standouts
It was a good crop of running backs in Durham, led by MVP and Virginia Tech commit J.C. Coleman (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Smith).
"I thought I had a good day," said Coleman, who is 5-6 and 170 pounds. "I think I surprised some people with my ability to block in pass pro. They don't think I can because I am a smaller back. But I like to mix it up. I can catch and run the ball too. I think I really fit in well with what they do offensively at Virginia Tech. I fit their scheme and think if I keep working I can get some quick playing time."
Another impressive running back was Todd Gurley (Tarboro, N.C./Tarboro), who is 6-1 and 196 pounds.
"This is my first time at any event like this and I thought I performed well," Gurley said. "The coaches were great and I picked up on a lot of little stuff. They gave some great tips."
Gurley won the state championship in the 110 hurdles (14.73) and is a recruit who has has so much recent interest that he's lost count of how many schools have offered.
"So many schools have been by the last few weeks that I can't even keep track of them," Gurley said. "North Carolina, Duke, ECU, NC State, Auburn, Minnesota and others have offered me. I can't remember the others. Teams like Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Virginia are also showing a lot of interest. I think Notre Dame is close to offering. Right now though North Carolina is my leader. I just have a good relationship with those coaches, especially their running backs coach."
Bullocks takes top honors
Wideout Darren Bullocks (Raleigh,N.C./Southeast) lives just down the road and the short trip was worth it for the 5-11½ 180-pounder as he took home the MVP honors.
"This was a great experience," Bullocks said. "I was really working hard on my routes, especially coming out of my breaks. I thought I played pretty well."
Bullocks doesn't have any scholarship offers, but he says there are a host of schools actively recruiting him.
"Virginia Tech, Clemson, Duke and East Carolina are all recruiting me pretty hard," Bullocks said. "I want to check them all out this summer, especially Virginia Tech."
Another gifted receiver at the camp was Clemson commit Germone Hopper (Charlotte, N.C./Berry).
"[Clemson] made me feel like part of the family from the very start," said the 6-foot, 165-pound Hopper. "I love them. And I think I will do well in that offense. I will play the slot and run the ball on reverses and speed sweeps. I can't wait. They want to get me the ball in open space."
• Wide receiver Jody Fuller (6-foot, 205 pounds) has offers from South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Miami, but right now one stands out.
"I am leaning to South Carolina but everyone else is pretty close," Fuller said. "They are recruiting me the hardest and I have a real good relationship with those coaches."
• Kedrick Davis (Charlotte, N.C./Berry) won the state 100 meters on Saturday, running a blazing 10.47. He's also a good receiver who picked up scholarship offers from North Carolina and Kentucky last week.
• Wide receiver Jay Jay McCullough (Fort Mill, S.C./Nation Ford), 6-4 and 230 pounds, picked up a Miami offer last week.
• Wide receiver Mark Irick says he has scholarship offers from Kentucky and Virginia Tech, while NC State, South Carolina, Georgia Tech and ECU are all showing interest.
• Phillip Williamson (Durham, N.C./Charles Jordan) recently committed to North Carolina.
"They were always my childhood favorite," Williamson said, who also had offers from Auburn, Duke, Maryland and Clemson. "I committed to them the night they offered. It's like a family there. They want me to play strong safety."
• Tight end Terrence Knox (Concord, N.C./Concord) says he has scholarship offers from North Carolina, Wake Forest and Louisville, while he's drawing interest from Tennessee, Duke, NC State, Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia.
"North Carolina is my favorite," Knox said. "I like how they use their tight ends and it's a family atmosphere there."
• Running back D.J. Goodman (Greenwood, S.C./Greenwood) says he's drawing interest from NC State, Maryland, Illinois, South Carolina and Georgia.
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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