Combine Attracts Top In-State Players

Many of the top prospects for the Class of 2003 will be on display Saturday at Cramton Bowl in the Jackson Hospital Combine.

Montgomery, Ala.--This weekend over 200 of the top junior football players in Alabama meet for the Jackson Hospital Combine to be held at Crampton Bowl. Growing bigger and better every year, the Combine attracts coaches from around the South to Alabama so they can get an up-close view of what the state has to offer for the recruiting classes of the future.

This year coaches from every SEC school except Auburn and Alabama are expected to be in attendance as well as representatives from Middle Tennessee State, North Carolina State, UAB, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Southern Miss and Notre Dame. Coaches are only allowed one evaluation during the spring and both the Tigers and the Crimson Tide used those taking visits to the individual high schools around the state.

In perhaps the best year talent-wise in recent memory, as many as 50 legitimate college prospects and maybe more will take the field Saturday morning to show their wares to the various colleges. Without question the skill positions will take center stage and that's with good reason as several quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers have already begun to garner attention from coast to coast.

Some of the notable names expected to be in attendance at the combine include a trio of standouts from a pair of East Central Alabama schools as well as perhaps the top big athlete prospect in the entire south. Quarterback Clay Harrelson along with wide receivers Eric Brock and Jonathan Russell hail from defending state champion Benjamin Russell High School in Alexander City. Harrelson and Brock both established themselves as prospects during their junior seasons while Russell missed most of the season with an injury and will try to show the scouts what he can do on Saturday.

Clay Harrelson

Smiths Station also has three prospects that are expected to be in Montgomery this weekend led by all-everything running back/linebacker Mitchell Thomas. With the abilities to play either position, his numbers will be looked at very carefully this weekend to help coaches determine where he best fits in their plans. Tight end/defensive lineman Michael Hill will also garner a great deal of attention as will wide receiver Teon Richardson.

Eric Brock was dominant down the stretch for the Wildcats as a cornerback where he continually shut down the opposing team's best receiver.

On the defensive side of the ball up front is always where teams look for help and they should find some this weekend with Opelika's Tez Doolittle at the head of the class. Also a threat running the ball, Doolittle will give coaches the option of playing in the backfield in college but most project him as a defensive end. If he tests as well as he has in the past this will be a true coming out party for the player who has been affectionately called "a man among boys" when he's on the field.

A couple of other defenders will also draw a crowd on Saturday. Defensive tackle Melvin Scott from Charles Henderson High in Troy may have the most to gain with a strong showing Saturday. A little undersized as a junior to play defensive tackle on the collegiate level, the explosive Scott could erase all doubts just like Opelika's Tommy Jackson did in this very combine last year.

Other standouts expected to participate include quarterbacks Cole Peace from Cedar Bluff and Kelcy Luke-McKissic from Central High in Phenix City, tight end Mario Lane from Carver High in Montgomery and defensive end Marquies Gunn from Benjamin Russell.

Tiger Ticket Extra:Last year Auburn signee Montae Pitts took the Montgomery combine by storm by running sub 4.3 forty-yard dash times, the fastest in the history of the event. Every year a player comes from nowhere to get Crampton Bowl buzzing and this year will likely be the same. A couple of players to keep an eye on are linebacker Torre Rucker from Tarrant and defensive back Jeffrey Frazier from Opelika…we'll have a complete wrap-up on the weekend's events next week, including stories and interviews with some of the top performers.


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