Combines in the Deep South

Stormy weather may have slowed the arrival of some of the deep south's top prospects to Auburn, Ala. on Saturday April 30th for the Combine, but it takes more than a little bad weather to stop them.

The participants got in a full day of work thanks to Auburn University's Indoor practice facility, and there were many players that either helped improve their stock or cemented their spot at the top of the upcoming player rankings. There were talented big men, quarterbacks running 4.5's and jumping through the roof, and sophomores burning up the turf.

Two of the most impressive testing performances on the day happened to be turned in by quarterbacks. At 6-4 and 203 pounds, Earl Alexander of Phenix City turned in a spectacular 4.55 forty, and his 7.18 3-Cone time was one of the top times for any position. After he concluded his first run, I yelled over to him, "Earl, with a run like that, you just ran your way out of the quarterback position." The humble Alexander just smiled.

Another quarterback that had an impressive day of testing was Opelika's Steven Ensminger. Ensminger measured 6-2.5 and 186 pounds. He finished as the top tester in two different categories. His 4.03 shuttle was the quickest of the day, and his 39 inch vertical won that event. Ensminger looked solid in his passing, but he showed the physical tools to play another position on the next level should he need to.

A trio of Georgia quarterbacks had solid days passing the ball as well. David Cone of Statesboro has a huge frame at 6-6.5 and 200 pounds, and he showed a live arm on Saturday. Ross Applegate of Walton is another player with a big frame. Applegate stands 6-5.5 and 183 pounds. Zach MacDowell of Harrison had a solid day passing the ball as well.

Cameron Newton may have been the best overall quarterback on the day. The sophomore from Westlake showed a huge arm and has a great frame at 6-4 and over 200 pounds. His accuracy isn't where it needs to be yet, but he has a lot of time to refine his game. He will be one of many to keep an eye on for the Class of 2007.

There was some speed at the running back position as well. Michael Brown of South Cobb High School in Georgia turned in a solid 4.65 forty time despite an awkward start. Kevin Harper of Hart County had a good day in every aspect of testing. At 5-10.5 and 169 pounds, defensive back may be in his future, and he showed the quickness to play either side of the ball. Eric Relf of Carver Montgomery had a sensational afternoon as well. At 5-11 and 180 pounds, Relf had a lightning quick 4.25 shuttle time to go with his 4.65 forty. His 35 inch vertical was equally impressive.

The day at running back may have belonged to a sophomore though. Caleb King of Parkview was one of several Class of '07 participants that showed out from the "It's Never too Early" Department. King checked in at 5-11 and 184 pounds. His 4.21 shuttle time was impressive. His 6.94 3-Cone would put him Top 10 nationally. He ran a 4.49 forty that got scratched because of running in track shoes. He borrowed the shoes of another participant and turned in a 4.46. 

While we're really just getting into the teeth of the Class of 2006, there are some real reasons to already get excited about the Class of 2007. King is one reason why, and he wasn't the only one on Saturday.

The quarterbacks were helped by a solid group of wide receivers on Saturday. The best of the bunch looked like Darian Stewart of Lee High School in Huntsville. At 6-0 and 199 pounds, Stewart turned in a 4.52 shuttle to go along with his 4.62 forty time. Stewart was working out in a T-Shirt without a number and had the coaches in attendance thumbing through their rosters to make sure they weren't missing anyone. After four or five big plays, Scouts and Coaches alike weren't having any trouble remembering who Mr. Stewart was.

Steven Goulet of Dutch Fork made the trek over from South Carolina, and he showed a lot of physical potential. He made some tough catches and dropped some easy ones. At 6-1.5 and 178 pounds with a 4.59 forty, he could find himself on defense with his athleticism as well.

Michael Strickland of Walton High School in Georgia had a good overall day as well. At 6-1 and 191 pounds Strickland the measurables to play offense or defense. He had a 4.37 shuttle time and a 4.69 forty. Fittingly, he played on both sides of the ball and looked good doing both. He and Applegate should team up for a load of big plays this year.

There was no shortage of big men on the offensive line on Saturday either. Some big names performed as expected, and some new names emerged in a big way.

Maurice Hurt of Baldwin County dominated the one on one drills at the end of the day. He showed excellent footwork in a "light" contact pass rushing. Another Georgian Steven Singleton of Buford showed again why scholarship offers will be on the way. Both players competed in the Kennedy/CES Combine in January, and both players continue to improve.

From the home state, there were players that flashed a lot of potential. At 6-7 and 278 pounds Heath Batchelor of Hayeyville has a terrific frame. His other measurables were just as impressive. Batchelor turned in a 4.79 shuttle time and a 5.13 forty.

The offensive lineman that may have helped himself the most was Garrett Anderson of Dutch Fork High School in South Carolina. At 6-4 and 264 pounds Anderson was the only player over 235 pounds to break 5.0 in the forty yard dash, and Anderson and his family were understandably excited when the time of 4.98 was called out after his second run. Anderson also turned in a 4.69 shuttle time that rivaled a lot of the linebackers. The most unhappy group about his performance may have been West Virginia. The Mountaineers were the first team to offer Anderson a scholarship. After his performance at the Combine on Saturday, they won't be the last.

Some players that could end up on the offensive line in college made the defection to defensive line to help bolster an already strong group. Colbert County's Jemarcus Ricks was one of the most impressive big men we've seen this year. At 6-3.5 and 283 pounds, Ricks worked out with the defensive linemen and dominated the position on Saturday.

Ricks was joined on the defensive line by another player that could star on either side of the line. Kiante Tripp of Westlake measured 6-5 and 245 pounds and worked at defensive end on Saturday. His 33.5 inch vertical jump was as impressive as his 5.03 shuttle. Tripp and his Westlake teammates made the journey to Auburn after holding their spring game on Friday Night showing a special dedication.

Tripp was one of several Westlake players to standout on Saturday. Morrice Richardson measured 6-2 and 228 pounds. His 9-6 inch broad jump was one of the best on the day. After a night of playing both sides of the ball in his spring game, Richardson was a standout at defensive end all day on Saturday.

Another local product that put on a show on Saturday was Daphne's Bryant Turner. Unstoppable in the one on ones, Turner's 4.5 shuttle quickness translated to making life miserable for the offensive linemen trying to stop him on Saturday.

J.D. Lott of Briarwood Christian in Birmingham was one of the best testers of the entire day. At 6-3.5 and 212 pounds, Lott worked out with the defensive ends, but he showed the skills to be a linebacker. Lott had a 4.67 forty, a 4.43 shuttle, a 35 inch vertical, and a 9-9 broad jump. Each of his tests put him at the very top nationally amongst linebackers should that end up being his collegiate position.

Speaking of linebackers, or running backs, or defensive ends, or wherever he decides he is going to end up playing his collegiate ball (for the record, lists him at linebacker), Bo Harris of Heritage showed once again why he is being considered one of the Top 5 prospects in the state of Georgia. At 6-2.5 and 214 pounds, Harris turned in back to back 4.65 forties. Those times were impressive, but his 10-3 broad jump was the tops on the day. His 35.5 vertical placed him at #2. Combine Kid? Check the tape.

Devon Stallworth of Daphne was another player that showed why Daphne is always one of the toughest teams in the state of Alabama. The 5-10 and 207 pound linebacker showed excellent quickness in all of his tests.

The defensive backs showed out in a big way on Saturday. There was speed and athleticism from sideline to sideline many coming from the Peach State. Some of the Peach State's finest included Carson Hill of Baldwin and Abram Gordon of MLK. Kimble Waylon of South Cobb turned in one of the fastest times on the day with a 4.44. Aaron Gibson of Creekside had a solid day as well.

Mario Fannin showed on Saturday why some schools will just tell a kid they want to recruit him, and they don't care at what position. The term "athlete" was coined to describe such a position, and Fannin defined the position on Saturday. If he wasn't throwing a touchdown, he was catching one. Once he had done both of those, he made some great plays on defense. Fannin's likely destination on the college level will be defensive back, but he certainly fits the "athlete" mold.

More super sophs included Eric Berry of Creekside and Addison Williams of Banneker. Williams turned in the fastest forty time on the day with a 4.42, and Eric Berry was one of the most impressive athletes of the entire camp.

It was a day that started with a heavy thunderstorm, but the lightning was delivered by some of the top prospects in the south at the Combine in Auburn on Saturday. We got a great look at the Class of 2006 and a quick peek into the future with 2007. Top Stories