Foley, Ala.--For prospects such as Julio Jones and Glenn Harbin, Saturday's Coca-Cola Football Classic was just another day in a busy spring of football coaches checking them out on the field but for many other players it was a special time. With coaches from Auburn, Alabama, Florida, Miami, North Carolina, South Florida, Arkansas, Southern Miss and several other schools in attendance, it was a time for a prospect waiting on offers to make a move.
Julio Jones needed no introduction to the college coaches on hand Saturday.
One of those players may have been Foley defensive back Robert Lester. A player that has gotten a long look this spring because of Jones' presence at Foley and has recently received offers from Alabama, Marshall and Louisiana-Lafayette, Lester showed a physical presence not seen last season and likely raised his stock in some team's eyes. He says that having the chance to showcase his skills to the likes of head coaches Tommy Tuberville, Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and assistants like Will Muschamp, James Willis and Greg Knox from Auburn, Lance Thompson and Major Applewhite from Alabama and Joe Pannunzio from Miami was something he thoroughly enjoyed.
"It felt great out there," Lester tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "It was my first time being in that kind of atmosphere. I just went out there and did what I had to do and did my part on defense. Seeing all those coaches pumped me up a little bit."
Tuberville and Meyer chat it up on the sidelines Saturday.
Up to 6-2 and 202 pounds with a time of 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash thing spring, Lester says he has concentrated this spring on becoming a more physical football player at the point of attack. That was evident right out of the gate on Saturday as he made several big hits against Opelika in Foley's first half of football. He says he'll continue to focus on becoming a more physical player as he heads into the summer camp season.
Lester says most every school in attendance on Saturday has shown him some interest in the spring evaluation period. Because of that he says his outing on Saturday could have done him some good.
"I feel like I helped myself today," Lester says. "I really do."
While Lester needed help, Jones is already one of the nation's top prospects and had plenty of attention going into Saturday's game. In the opening contest he struggled to get off the line at times against physical Opelika cornerback K.R. Snipes but redeemed himself nicely against Theodore as he caught an 87-yard score in the second quarter for the biggest offensive play of the day.
Snipes lays the lumber on a Foley ball carrier Saturday.
Opelika was the big winner on the day as they handled both Foley and Theodore despite having to replace all 11 starters on offense and a number of key defensive players as well off last year's team. On offense the star was upcoming junior running back Dae Spence. A powerful runner with good speed, Spence will be a force for the Bulldogs this season and likely a top prospect for 2009.
Another running back looking to have a big day was Theodore's Demetrius Thomas but a lack of running room up front left him looking for holes all day long. He finally managed to get into the end zone in the second half against Fairhope for a six-yard score but didn't have the type of day he was looking for. Thomas did show good hands with several nice grabs out of the backfield.
The team with the most prospects on the field was easily the McGill-Toolen Yellow Jackets. Harbin, linebacker Adrien Cole and offensive tackle Peters Drey all played well and showed they will be worth giving a closer look in the fall. The surprise of the day came from a McGill junior though. Massive defensive tackle D.J. Fluker is a mountain of a player that is built like current LSU lineman Glenn Dorsey. Still maturing, Fluker has a chance to be one of the country's best interior defensive linemen next season.
Harbin and Fluker get pumped up before they get on the field.