Combine: D'Angelo McCray Stands Out

JACKSONVILLE --- D'Angelo McCray is the prototype of what the late Jake Gaither wanted in a defensive lineman. The great coach from Florida A&M said he liked his linemen "hostile, agile and mobile." McCray more than lived up to that kind of description Sunday at the All-American Combine at Jacksonville University.

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The big guy from nearby Andrew Jackson High School measured 6-4 and 280 pounds on this day when more than 130 of the best prep football players from Florida, Georgia and Alabama as well as one all the way from San Diego, California, came to show off their skills. McCray ran an impressive 4.8 40-yard dash and he showed some serious agility with a 4.78 in the L-cone shuttle run.

"It was good to get out here and see how I compare to some of the best high school players in the country," said McCray, who has a 3.0 GPA in college prep courses at Jackson. He hasn't taken the SAT yet but will be taking the standardized test the first weekend in May.

He plays tight end for Jackson on the offensive side of the ball and he loves the thought of running over a poor little safety but he knows it's on the defensive side that he'll get the first shot at playing time at the next level.

"Defense will get me on the field first," he said. "I would rather play defensive end but it wouldn't matter to me where I play as long as I can get on the field. I just love to play football so I'll play anywhere they want me as long as it gets me on the field."

More than 20 offers have poured in for McCray, an impressive list of schools that includes Florida, Florida State, Miami, LSU, Auburn, Tennessee and Notre Dame. He gets plenty of letters and text messages, too.

"Coach (Greg) Mattison (Florida co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach) sends me a lot of text messages and so do the coaches at Clemson," he said. "I'd have to say Florida is probably recruiting me the hardest right now."

He's already preparing himself for a Florida-FSU battle.

"Florida is the closest to home and it's a great school, one of the best," he said. "At Florida State, they have a great environment that I really like. I'll check out all the schools that offer me and give them a fair chance, but really, Florida and Florida State are going to be at the top."

He's planning to major in business administration or some sort of business technology once he enrolls in college.

"I hope to get in the league (NFL) some day," he said. "I think that's every kid's dream but you can't count on that. A lot of things can happen to you so you have to get that degree. With a college degree I can go out and start some sort of computer business and be successful."

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For Orlando Edgewater's Lorenzo Edwards, a safety who figures to rank among the nation's hot 100 players when issues its rankings later in the spring, it is tough to keep up with who's offering scholarships these days.

"Every day I hear from some new school or some school I've already been talking to offers me," said the 6-3, 225-pounder. "I've already got offers from Florida, Louisville, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Nebraska and Miami … and a whole lot of other ones. Lately it seems I'm getting a new offer just about every day."

He ran a 4.69 40 and a 4.35 in the L-cone shuttle run Sunday but knows he could do better, especially in the 40.

"I know I can do better than that," he said. "I've got some motivation to work on my speed now and bring that time down."

He enjoyed the coaching he got at the combine but the best part was competing against athletes from different places.

"I love to compete," he said. "I loved the drills and the way this was organized. I got a chance to see how I stack up against a lot of guys who aren't from my area. I think it's a good thing to go against other people so you can learn what you need to work on."

At 6-3, 225 he is already a hard hitting Louis Oliver-type safety that puts the fear of God into anyone trying to go across the middle. His 2005 numbers were impressive for an Edgewater team that advanced deep into the playoffs.

"I had 121 tackles, 97 solo, 21 tackles for loss, five interceptions and five fumble recoveries," he said. "My goal for next year is to try to double each of those numbers."

He hasn't decided where he will camp this summer but said that he is planning to take a lot of unofficial visits in June and July.

"I'm going to take some visits this summer and I'll probably base my decision on where I'm going based on that," he said. "I want to major in architectural engineering and I want to take my time and find a school that has the best combination of football and what I'm majoring in."

Edwards has a 3.5 GPA. He will be taking the ACT on April 6 and the SAT the first weekend in May.

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Chris Forcier traveled the longest distance to get to the Jacksonville combine. He's from San Diego where he led St. Augustine to its first California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) title in 35 years. Forcier, a 6-3, 185-pound quarterback, was first team All-State in California and the most valuable player in the CIF championship game.

He completed 182-311 passes for 2,632 yards and 32 touchdowns as a junior and complemented the air game with 415 yards and four touchdowns. Sunday he showed speed (4.6 in the 40), agility (4.06 in the L-cone shuttle) and a strong, accurate arm.

"The 40 time is the worst I've run," he said. "I'm usually somewhere in the 4.5 range."

Forcier is in Florida on spring break because he wants to check out the University of Florida and the University of Miami.

"I will be at Florida tonight and tomorrow," he said. "I want to see what SEC football is all about and I want to get a feel for The Swamp."

He's already got offers from Nebraska, UCLA and Oregon among others but he hopes for offers from the Gators and the Hurricanes after his visits this week. In particular, he would like to see the Gators offer.

"Coach Urban Meyer recruited my brother Jason when he was at Utah," said Forcier. When Josh Portis committed to Utah, Jason turned his attention to Michigan where he signed and red-shirted in 2005. Portis, of course, changed his mind and went to Florida and Meyer is now Florida's coach.

"I like Coach Meyer and Coach Dan Mullen," he said. "If you're a quarterback you have to love the offense. I can throw and I can run pretty well, so I think I would fit in well with what they're doing."

Forcier has a 2.9 GPA that he wants to improve. He will take the SAT in May and he expects to get a qualifying score on the first try.

His big issue right now is gaining weight.

"I eat about three protein shakes and just about anything I can get my hands on but I must have really high metabolism," he said. "I'm having a tough time putting on weight but my goal is to get up around 200 before the season."

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There is no mistaking the look or the pedigree when it comes to Vincent Brown of Gainesville Eastside. There's no question that he's the son of Vernell Brown Sr. and the brother of Florida defensive back Vernell Brown. Vernell Sr. played defensive back for the Gators in the Charley Pell era at Florida and brother Vernell Jr. just finished up his career as a Gator by being named the most outstanding defensive player in the Outback Bowl. Vincent's uncle Johnell played quarterback and defensive back for the Gators as did cousin Val Brown.

Vincent was measured at 5-7, 163 Sunday. He will play quarterback and defensive back at Eastside in the fall but at the next level it's likely that he will line up as a wide receiver. He had a strained quad muscle Sunday that that didn't stop him from torching every single defensive back that tried to stay with him. He looked exceptional on a couple of post corners but it was on a couple of slants across the middle that he made defenders look really bad.

He is aware that size might be an issue with some recruiters just like it was for his brother but he believes if coaches look at what he does on the field instead of his lack of prototypical size that they will see a playmaker.

"You don't have to be the biggest one out there to be a playmaker," he said. "I like playing wide receiver but I don't care where I will play at the next level as long as I can get on the field."

He has been hearing from Florida a lot as well as South Carolina, Georgia Tech and Clemson. If he got an offer from Florida, he admits he would have a tough time saying no.

"I grew up a Gator," he said. "That's in my blood."

He has a 3.5 GPA and he's planning to take the SAT at the next opportunity.

* * *

Another big defensive lineman that made a very favorable impression Sunday was Jacoby Monroe of nearby Sandalwood. The 6-2, 283-pounder turned in a very solid 4.95 in the 40-yard dash, plus he showed plenty of strength and agility in the one-on-one drills.

Monroe said he has a bench press of 315 but his goal is to get that up to the 340-350 range by the end of the summer.

"I'm working hard to get my strength up," he said, "and I think I can lower my 40 time. I'll do all the hard work I need to do to get better."

He's heard from so many schools that he doesn't even bother to count how many but right now, Florida and FSU are tops on his list.

"Florida State probably would have the upper hand right now because that was the team I always loved when I was a kid," he said. "I'm definitely going to camp at Florida. I talk to Coach Mattison a lot. I think he's a great coach and a really nice man."

While Florida and Florida State may stand out at this point, he's keeping an open mind about other schools.

"Everything is subject to change once I make some visits," he said. "I want to find the place that I fit in the best."

Monroe has a 2.5 GPA but he's working hard to bring that average up.

"I'd like to get it up around 3.0 or better and keep it there," he said. "I know I can do that. I'm going to take the SAT and the ACT soon."

* * *

Elvis Fisher of St. Petersburg Catholic has great size (6-4-1/2, 310), long arms and good footwork. He's hearing from Big Ten schools like Iowa and Indiana along with SEC schools like Florida. The Gators have his attention right now.

"I want to stay in the south and hopefully play in the SEC," said Fisher, who bench presses 320 pounds. "Florida's offered and they're probably recruiting me harder than anyone else along with Iowa."

Fisher hasn't taken the ACT or the SAT yet but plans to get both those tests out of the way as soon as possible.

"I want to get fully qualified as soon as I can," he said. "I don't want the pressure of getting qualified during the season. I feel confident that I'll get the test score I need when I take the tests."

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A name to remember on the linebacker prospect lists is 6-2, 213-pound Josh Cragin of Choctawhatchee who turned in a 4.56 40.

"I probably lost a couple of pounds yesterday running in a track meet," he said. "I think I'll probably play at about 220 in the fall."

Cragin played for a Choctawhatchee team that was plagued with internal problems.

"A lot of guys got kicked off the team so we ended up with a pretty bad record," he said.

Still, he turned in very respectable numbers: 86 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions and two blocked punts, one of which he returned for a touchdown.

He has gotten letters from 38 schools including Florida and Florida State. Because he has a 3.4 weighted GPA in AP courses, he's heard from Stanford and all the Ivy League schools.

"I want to play at a high level in Division I if I can," he said.

He says football is his outlet for aggression.

"I can hit people hard and clean and I can give them some pain," he said. "And it's all legal. That's why I play football. I love the hitting and I love the contact."

* * *

Lowndes County (GA) will be going for a three-peat state championship in the fall and one of the reasons the Vikings will be the odds-on favorite to bring home the big prize is its pair of bookend defensive ends, Jack Schroepher and Joe Rogers. Lowndes plays a 5-2 defense so the ends stand up and have linebacker-like responsibilities in the passing game. Both Schroepher and Rogers project as linebackers at the next level.

Schroepher is 6-1, 219 with a 3.4 GPA in AP courses. He's already hearing from Ole Miss, Central Florida, Indiana and several other Big Ten schools. He ran a 4.9 in the 40 Sunday, which was disappointing, but he proved that he's got good quickness in the L-cone shuttle when he turned in a 4.28, the best time of any defensive lineman.

"I've run a whole lot better than that [in the 40]," he said. "I just didn't run well today. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to show that I've got good enough speed."

He said that he hopes his on the field performance in the fall will merit some serious looks by SEC schools.

"I want to stay in the south if I can and the SEC is the best," he said.

Rogers is talking to Florida, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee among others. He measured 6-1-1/2, 238 Sunday and like Schroepher, he was disappointed in his 40 time.

"I didn't get a good start and I ran a 4.9," he said. "I've done a 4.69 once before and I've consistently run a 4.72 so this wasn't very good today."

Rogers did run a 4.44 in the L-cone shuttle.

The battle for Rogers could turn out to be a border war.

"Georgia probably would be my leader because they're in state," he said, "but if I'm looking outside Georgia, the Florida Gators would be my team."

* * *

Chris Batie of Gainesville High School came to the combine hoping to get his name on the national lists. He had a tremendous junior year with 1,441 yards, second in the Gainesville area only to C.J. Spiller. He knows that his size (5-6, 158) is against him but he's hoping that scouts will see his speed, strength, intelligence and game films before they make a final decision.

"I had 1,441 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns last year and I had a 99-yard kickoff return," he said. "I was second team All-State and Class 5A Player of the Year in my area. I've made 1268 on the PSAT and I'll take the SAT on April 8. I'm taking college courses."

He's on the GHS weightlifting team and working to get qualified for the state meet.

He's gotten letters from South Carolina, Florida and Georgia Tech but he doesn't have an offer yet.

"If schools look at the films and then look at some of the other things I bring to the table I think they'll see I can play," he said. "All I want is a chance."

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