The combine in Jacksonville this past weekend was a great experience. It was my first one, and it was set-up better than I had imagined. Having UnderArmour there gave it some legitimacy. On hand were approximately 200 prospects, all looking to do their best in hopes of gaining some exposure. Many players did well, but there were a select few who NoleDigest felt did very well.
Jaccobi McDaniel was in attendance, but he was there to give support to his fellow Madison teammates. He decided to not work out because of being sore from the weightroom and baseball.
"Everything has been going well. I'm not participating today because I've been working a little too hard in the gym. I'm kind of sore. I didn't want to come out and injure myself. I've been playing baseball too. That's something I've always done and grew up playing, so it's going to be hard to cut loose."
Much has been made about Scout.com's ranking of Jaccobi in their first edition of the Scout 300. Many other services rank him as a top 10 prospect, so it raised some eyebrows when he came in at number 22. For Jaccobi, it gives him some added motivation.
"Like my coach says, I'd like to see a lineman who can dominate on both sides of the ball like I can and plays the level of competition that I play. All it does it give me more motivation to show what I can do. I am not real happy about it."
Speaking of Madison, two players that did very well in testing and drills were running backs Chris Thompson and Cory Akins. At 5'8", maybe the biggest eye-popping thing Chris did was jump 42 inches in the vertical jump. He ran a solid 4.5 40 and 4.4 seconds in the shuttle. In the drills, he showed the explosiveness that makes him a highly regarded prospect. In one-on-ones, he made a linebacker look silly on a wheel route. The humble prospect only wants to build upon his performance.
"I think I did well, but I want to continue to improve. There's been a lot of improvement still. I basically want to just get better and will work hard doing that."
While Cory Akins is sometimes overshadowed by fellow running back Chris Thompson, he is beginning to show that he is a high level prospect in his own right. Akins turned what may be the best 40 times for all the running backs there. He ran two 4.47 40's, and added a 40 inch vertical jump, a 4.22 shuttle time, a 9'5" broad jump and a 7.3 second L-cone. At 6' 200 pounds, Akins showed he too is very explosive. In the drills, he ran very well, showing great feet and movement that looked effortless. While we missed him in the one-on-ones, he's the one offensive prospect who did the most for himself at the combine.
While watching the guys warm up, there was one player that passed the eyeball test in an impressive fashion. Galatian King, a defensive end from Ware County in Georgia, was the best defensive line prospect there. It may not have been close, either. At 6'3" and 265 pounds, he ripped off a 4.9 40 and dominated the drills. One thing that catches your eye looking at King is his footwork. Guys at this stage who are his size usually aren't as agile as Galatian. King said that while he doesn't have any offers, schools like Clemson, Florida, Florida State and Western Kentucky have been in contact. He had the Scout.com national guys buzzing, and out of all the prospects on hand may have done the most for himself this weekend.
With Florida State's need for safeties this season, they've offered many from across the country. Two of the recruits were there in Jonathan Scott and Gerald Demps. Jonathan Scott looked all of the reported 6'3" and 190 pounds. He tested well, running the 40 in 4.65 and had a 10'4" broad jump. He showed good agility for his size with a 4.5 second shuttle. Watching Scott you can see the tools are there, but he has some growing left to do. At times he did very well in the drills, but sometimes tried to anticipate too quick in the one-on-ones. I took a minute to ask him about his time in Jacksonville, and to see if the Noles were still his team.
Scott says FSU is still his team
"I think I am doing pretty good here. I've tested well, but I am trying to show up in the drills and one-on-ones. Right now FSU is still my team, but Florida is coming up. My older brothers are talking to me about the process. Kenny wants me to go somewhere other than Georgia Tech. James is trying to get me to Ohio State. But, I like FSU and Florida, so I'm going to have a tough decision to make."
Gerald Demps measured in at around 5'10", but has a solid frame. What was interesting was seeing Demps' teammate and Florida commitment Greg Reid. Reid is smaller than I thought coming in at 5'9". Demps looked like the better prospect on this day. He looked a little stiff at the start of the drills, but he looked good as the day went along. Look for an update from Demps soon.
Another safety that looked good was Mike Jones from Orlando Edgewater. The thing that caught my eye about him was his look. He measured in 6'2" and 197 pounds. He moved very well for his size and was able to really open up his hips when turning in coverage. He showed good ball skills during the day, and dominated the guys he went up against in one-on-ones.
One prospect that I really liked was Monterius Love from Rickards High. While he ran a 4.6 in the 40, his 4.1 shuttle time showed his great change of direction. He showed some explosiveness jumping 9 feet in the broad jump, also. But where he excelled most was in the drills and in the one-on-ones. He has great hips and it looked effortless when he was moving around. He was very light on his feet. He never bit one the fakes in the one-on-ones, and if I am not mistaken, didn't let a guy catch the ball. While he may not get recruited by the Big 3, he showed immense talent and just how talented the state of Florida is.
E.J. Carter, who plays defensive end for Dr. Phillips in Orlando, showed that he has the ability to play linebacker in college. He has the size at 6' 220 pounds, and showed the speed to make plays during the drills and testing. What I thought was impressive was the 4.28 shuttle he ran. This is a guy probably isn't going to be recruited by FSU, but he was one of the top linebackers there.
Overall it was a great day. Guys like Marquerious Myers from Camden County in Georgia, Jarkevis Fields from Sanford, FL and Austin Williams from First Coast in Jacksonville looked good in drills and testing. The talent on hand showed why Florida and Georgia are two of the most heavily recruited states in the nation.