New England SPARQ combine recap
Abner Logan returns to the same combine where he had his breakout performance
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Three-star linebacker Abner Logan Jr. (Cambridge, Mass./Dexter School) was an unknown with no offers when he attended the inaugural New England Nike SPARQ combine last year. When he returned to the event Sunday he had verbal offers from four schools -- Florida International, Maryland, Massachusetts and Syracuse -- and is currently rated as ESPN's No. 25 inside linebacker.
"This was the first national exposure he got," said Dexter School coach Casey Day. "It put him on the map pretty good. I know some schools saw what he did here, saw the write-up and it was a little bit of a springboard for him. Back then he didn't know where he stood. He knows how good he is now. He belongs at the highest level."
"It was my very first event," Logan said. "I'm very grateful for everything that's happened so far."
Logan's list of offers may grow this week. He attended an invitational camp at Northwestern last week and said he could receive an offer before next weekend. The top-rated defensive player in the state of Massachusetts said he plans to attend camps at Maryland and Syracuse within the next month. He didn't participate in the showcase portion of Sunday's event because he was scheduled to attend the second session of Boston College's camp Monday. BC and NC State are recruiting Logan to play fullback.
"I'm definitely keeping an open mind to all the schools that have contacted me and are recruiting me," Logan said. "I can make a decision once I visit all the schools and talk to the coaches."
Day said Logan will have a better idea of what he wants to do by the end of July, after he has taken more unofficial visits.
We expect the decision to become harder as we feel Logan will have more offers by that point once coaches see his impressive size, speed and lateral agility in person. He is one of the better looking linebackers on the hoof in this class at a chiseled 6-foot-2, 211 pounds. He has the tapered frame to play at 230 pounds in college and keep his current speed, burst and pursuit quickness. Logan had the best SPARQ rating on the day at 96.87 which included a near 37-inch vertical jump, showing the downhill explosion this guy plays with between the tackles.
Troy Garland (Jersey City, N.J./Marist) may have been the most impressive performer in the showcase portion of Sunday's event. The 5-9, 165-pound defensive back said Syracuse is the school that's shown the most interest in him thus far. He's been to a Syracuse junior day, and attended a one-day camp there, as well.
"They're taking one corner this year," Garland said. "They told me to compete and do my best. Hopefully I can get that scholarship."
Garland said a four-day camp at Penn State is next up on his summer schedule. He looks like he is fine-tuned to make an impression in Happy Valley. The fluid New Jersey native showed great anticipation skills and quickness out of his breaks jumping routes. He was near impossible to create separation on with his ability to mirror receivers tightly out of their breaks with sharp footwork, fluid hips and great recovery quickness. Garland lacks ideal measurables and that could be his biggest deterrent when projecting him as an FBS prospect.
Strong quarterback showing
Quarterback Miles Wright (Boston/Boston Latin) was among the top prospects from the Class of 2013 in attendance. He was particularly impressive throwing vertically. His delivery is a bit long and unrefined but the ball comes off his hand with some zip and very good rotation. Wright, Boston Latin's starting QB as a sophomore, measured in at 6-3 and 184 pounds. Once he adds some size and becomes more compact in his delivery, we feel Wright will open eyes next year on the recruiting trail.
Local prospect Paul Mroz (Brockton, Mass./Brockton) said a subpar junior season may have hurt him from a recruiting standpoint. Mroz, who plays for one of the top programs in New England, attended a Connecticut camp earlier this spring and said the Huskies are the FBS program showing the most interest in him.
"UConn is looking at me, I just need to get a good highlight film this season," Mroz said. "I had an OK [junior] season, but I feel I can do better. I have high expectations and I feel like I can improve my footwork and accuracy."
Mroz had the best all-around day at the quarterback position. He demonstrated a very natural throwing motion, good arm strength and very polished footwork.
Connecticut native Kevin Peabody (Norwalk, Conn./Norwalk) needs to tighten his footwork but displayed a fluid release and got good velocity on his passes.
Chris Walsh (Attleboro, Mass./Attleboro) does not pass the eyeball test from a size standpoint but showed a live arm and can really sling it. He has a bright future, particularly if he continues to physically develop.
Offers looming for DBs?
Athlete Doug Norkett (Franklin Lakes, N.J./Franklin Lakes) had one of the top SPARQ ratings (90.81) which included a 4.31 shuttle and 32.4-inch vertical jump. The corner was aggressive and balanced pressing and quick to recover. While he may project best in Cover 2 zone schemes, he was extremely competitive during one-on-ones and overall had a strong performance.
"A lot of schools are in the picture right now," Norkett said. "My top schools are Temple, Rutgers and James Madison. Still waiting on the offers, but with time it will come if it's meant to be."
Kevin McCarthy (Hingham, Mass./Hingham) really stood out as one of the better defensive backs and overall prospects at the event. Great size, range, athleticism and ball skills were all present in the under-the-radar defensive back. We expect recruiting to heat up for this prospect, who is waiting on his first FBS offer.
"My dream is to play [at the FBS level]. I've been talking to BC a little bit," he said. "They're the main school that's recruiting me. After that it's [FCS] schools. I'm talking to a lot of the Ivies, like Penn, Harvard and Columbia. I played running back last year, but I think colleges see me more as a defensive back athletically. I feel like that where'd I'd be the best at the [FBS] level."
In the trenches
Defensive linemen Darren Moore (Mendon, Mass./Nipmuc Regional) and Jamie Holbrook (Milton, Vt./Milton) were two of more athletic pass-rushers during one-one-ones. Holbrook has a good blend of size and quickness and could develop into an FCS or higher caliber prospect with continued polish and added bulk.
Chad Woodfine (Chicopee, Mass./Chicopee) was also dominant during the one-on-one session. He's a good athlete who was quick off the mark with edge speed and strong hands. A bit raw, but is able to bend and plays with a motor.
Daniel Moloy (Westwood, Mass./Berkshire School) posted great testing numbers, including the top powerball throw of 43 inches. He certainly has a ton of tools to develop at end, he just needs to work on his flexibility and athleticism to stay there and not slide inside to tackle.
On the offensive line, Jordan Jones (Philadelphia/Northeast) showed good strength anchoring and has long arms and solid hands and feet. Nick Salza (Stratford, Conn./Bunnell) has good height and bulk but needs to work on his feet and coordination and is a likely guard at the next level. Costa Toubekis (Westwood, Mass./Westwood) lacks ideal size but showed good effort and technique.
Nine states were represented at the combine, and running back Armond McCrae (Nashua, N.H./Nashua South) was among the top players from New Hampshire.
New Hampshire and Maine are among the FCS schools that have shown interest in McCrae, who will be a senior in the fall. Both schools compete in the Colonial Athletic Association, which is widely considered to be the strongest FCS conference in the country.
Other notable performers
Deontae Ramey-Doe (Dorchester, Mass./BC High) posted one of day's best agility shuttles with a time of 4.14 and that outstanding quickness and change-of-direction skill translated onto the field. He was one of the more elusive and versatile skill prospects, taking reps at both running back and slot receiver and proving near impossible to mirror.
Fellow back Obrian Mchayle (Attleboro, Mass./Wilbraham and Monson) ran a sub-4.6 40-yard dash and had a solid performance.
A.J. Efstratios (Agawam, Mass./Agawam) did not test off the charts but when it came time to making plays and finding the ball in coverage this defensive back showed a lot of intangibles.
The top 40-yard dash belonged to receiver Jay'Len Mahan (Waterbury, Conn./Wilby) at 4.57. He along with Ty Betka (Superior, Neb./Superior) and Xavier Ferland (Cranston, R.I./Cranston West) all had good showings during one-on-ones and testing. Betka did a good job creating separation and Ferland may have the best college upside with his tall, lengthy frame combined with the quickness he showed out of his breaks and reliable hands.
Aaron Gilmore (Easton, Mass./Thayer Academy) was one of the better 2013 athletes in attendance and appears to have a very bright future ahead of him with the versatile skill set he displayed.
Corner Shawn McKoy (Port Washington, N.Y./Paul D. Schreiber) posted the best agility shuttle time of the day with a blazing 4.12. He proved to be just as sudden and quick on his feet during one-on-ones, but while feisty in coverage, he will need to overcome a major size disadvantage at the college level.
Running backs Iser Barnes (Boston/Charlestown) and Ronald Homere (Weymouth, Mass/Weymouth) posted the best vertical jumps at 37 inches each.
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. Roger Brown has covered football throughout New England since 1992. He publishes the New Hampshire Football Report and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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