The team from the Florida Panhandle took a 33-7 victory over Duluth, Ga., High in the championship game of the Auburn's second 2005 seven-on-seven passing camp, which attracted more than 20 teams to the two-day event.
Niceville head coach John Hicks said the two days were productive for his squad, which returns all 11 offensive starters from a team that posted a 9-3 record last season.
"It is not just the passing, it is the competition," Hicks noted. "It is teaching your kids to compete and play hard, even when things don't go your way. That is really one of the main things we get out of it--as much as the actual throwing and catching."
Niceville didn't have much adversity to deal with at the AU camp this year, the fifth time the Eagles have been to the event and the first time they finished first.
"We like coming up here to play against different competiton," Hicks said. "We don't see anybody here in our area that we go against. We play four out of state games this year, but none of them are here. Our kids get really excited about it. It breaks up our summer program.
"I believe this is our fifth time we have come up here to the camp and we have never won it before," Hicks added. "We have finished second two or three times so it feels really good to win it." <> One of the best athletes at the camp was Niceville wide receiver Johnny Whiddon, who was also a standout at the Scout.com Combine in New Orleans.
"It was a great camp," Whiddon said. "Everything is real nice and put together real well. There is no laying around. You have to be ready to play every game."
Whiddon, who had been to three AU team passing camps before this year, said this is the best team Niceville has brought to AU. "We have our whole offense back from last year," he pointed out. "We came in with high hopes. We knew we had to play hard and if we did that we could come out okay."
Johnny Whiddon catches a pass in the AU camp. He showed good hands during the two days of competition.
Whiddon, who caught 39 passes for 800 yards with 12 touchdowns as a junior, said he is hearing Kentucky, Florida, Auburn and Mississippi State. "I don't have any offers yet, but I like Auburn a lot," he said.
At the Scout.com in New Orleans, Whiddon was one of the better athletes at the event. He measured 5-11, 184 and ran a 4.52 40 on a less than speedy track. He had a 32 1/2-inch vertical jump.
He plays baseball, wrestles and runs track at Niceville. This summer he is working on his football skills. "You can always get better on your routes and coming off the ball hard every play so the offense won't know whether it is a run or pass," he said. "I am working to get in top shape."
Hicks said that Whiddon is a promising college prospect. "He runs really well--it is deceiving. He runs a 4.52 40, runs good routes and has great hands. I think he is a complete player."
Niceville posted a 9-3 record last year and could do even better with so many key returnees, including 6-1, 185 John Paul Fraites, a three-year starter at quarterback, who was an All-State kicker as a junior.
Hicks and Whiddon note that Fraites, who is an honor student, has a good arm and is a good-around athlete.
Fraites, who has run a 4.59 40-yard dash, said the camp experience was a positive one. "It is different than playing a regular game, but it is good for competiton to see where you are at compared to teams around the country.
"We are going to go a passing camp in Hoover, Alabama for the Southeast Select Seven-on-Seven Camp there and the competition will be just as good there, if not better, with teams coming from as far away as Pennsylvania and all over to be in it. It should be fun."
Like Whiddon, Fraites has high expectations for his team's senior year. "We have everybody back on offense" he noted. "We should be strong."
Although Niceville won the passing camp, it is a team that does more than just throw the ball. "We are pretty much 50-50 running the ball and passing the ball," Fraites said. "We probably run the ball a little bit more than pass it."
Other players who stood out at the team passing camp include
*Myron Lewis, a wide receiver from Pompano Beach, Fla.
Myron Lewis goes high to make a catch in the Auburn passing camp.
*Eric Norwood, a tight end and defensive end from North Cobb High in Georgia.
*Asher Allen, a running back and defensive back from Tucker High, is another Georgia prep star who was impressive with his quick feet.
*Lawrence Marsh, a 6-5, 260-pounder who plays on the offensive and defensive line for Josey High in Augusta, Ga., played tight end at the camp and was one of the best athletes at the second passing camp.
Auburn's first passing camp, a week earlier, was won by a team made up of players from Glades Central High and Ely High in Florida, as they defeated another team of players who are all from Glades Central, which is located in the town of Belle Glade.