COMBINE: D-Linemen Steal The Show

BOCA RATON --- From an individual perspective, Saturday's All-American Combine at Florida Atlantic University was the Chris Rainey Show, but if you're looking for one group that stood out the most, look no further than the defensive linemen. The collection of big, strong and athletic defensive linemen at this combine might have the best group that has participated in any event this spring.

There were plenty of linemen that made an impression but four really stood out in terms of size, speed and agility.

The best was Torrey Davis of Seffner Armwood. The 6-5, 290-pounder was practically unblockable in one-on-one drills. Davis showed tremendous quickness off the snap and the ability to get leverage on every offensive lineman he went up against. This is a defensive tackle that is going to spend more time in offensive backfields than some tailbacks.

Ian Williams of Longwood Lyman (6-2, 300) won the Purple Heart Award. He ran and participated in all the drills even though he had a broken toe. Williams showed nice quickness and tremendous upper body strength. He is a two-gap guy that is going to make running up the middle very difficult.

Defensive end Jabaal Sheard (6-4, 245) of Hollywood Hills is a long-armed terror of a pass rusher. His first step is tremendous and he's got 4.7 40-speed. Sheard ran through both the L-cone and 3-cone shuttles faster than a lot of defensive backs.

Adewale Ojomo is a 6-3, 220-pound defensive end prospect from Hialeah that is going to be on everybody's radar. He's a defensive end in high school that could possibly play a strong side linebacker at the next level. He has 4.6 40-speed and a real motor. He's a leader, too. He was quick to get to the front of the line for every single drill Saturday. Kids just seem to follow him.

MOVING ON UP: Three players who really helped themselves with standout performances at the combine were PK Yonge corner/safety Moses Parker, Coconut Creek Monarch tight end Anthony Middleton and Trinity Catholic wide receiver Patrick Nelson.

Parker really caught the eye of several coaches the way he negotiated the L-cone shuttle in a very fast 6.81 seconds, one of the five best times at the combine. Parker, who is 6-0 and 175 pounds, has a long, lean body. He could easily gain another 20 pounds of upper body muscle without threatening his speed in any way.

Middleton is 6-5, 200, with wide receiver speed and moves. He's got a frame that could fill out to 240 easily. He caught everything that was thrown his way and looked very good running post corner routes. He plays tight end in high school but at the next level should be an H-back/slot receiver.

Patrick Nelson is the younger brother of Florida receiver David Nelson. He's 6-4, 193 right now but it is a very skinny 193. It's not difficult to imagine him at 6-6 and 230-ish within a couple of years. Patrick was nursing a sore quad muscle but that didn't prevent him from turning in a very respectable 7.35 on the L-cone shuttle or from beating some very fast corners on slant routes in the one-on-ones.

A NAME TO REMEMBER: He couldn't run or participate in any of the drills because he's recovering from a hamstring pull, but Tampa Newsom's Chaz Hine looked like a man among boys. He measured in at 6-4, 299 and that's a body with serious definition. He's got huge arms, a big chest and he's narrow at the waist and hips. He caught the eye of every college coach in attendance.

Hine says his dream school is the University of Florida which has already offered him a scholarship --- but just not a football scholarship yet. He sang for the chair of the music department at Florida last spring and he was offered a full scholarship to come to Gainesville to further develop his considerable talents singing opera. Yeah, that's right. Opera. He's a talented performer who has had singing leads in musicals and leads in school plays. He's got a stratospheric GPA.

Hine will be the subject of a Gator Country feature later in the week. His ideal situation would be to combine performing arts with football. He already benches 350.

QUARTERBACKS: Miami commit Nick Fanuzzi (6-3, 205) has a very quick release and plenty of self-confidence. He looked best throwing slant and out routes but had some inconsistent throws on the deep ball. He throws a real rope on the 15-yard out route.

Clearwater Central Catholic quarterback Andrew Nowels (6-4, 206) shows plenty of touch. He's already fully qualified and will probably be an early entry wherever he goes. Florida and Florida State are recruiting him. Both parents are FSU grads so that might seem to give an edge to the Seminoles even though he says that everybody is pretty even now. The school to watch is Ohio State, which has made a very big impression with him.

Edgewater quarterback Robert Arnheim (6-2, 190) doesn't have the strongest of arms but he's accurate and has a very high football IQ. Don't be surprised if he's a safety at the next level and a very good one.

Jupiter's J.B. Clark (6-3, 205) probably showed the strongest and most consistent arm of any quarterback at the combine. He can make all the throws and he looks like a pure pocket passer.

Vantavious Askins of Okeechobee is a name to remember although perhaps not as a quarterback at the next level. He's long, lean and has a strong arm but he's got a lot of mechanical issues that will have to be worked out before he plays quarterback at the next level. He's too fast and too athletic to keep off the field, though, so don't be surprised if he's signed by some school that will find a position for him to play.

FACES IN THE CROWD: Florida safeties coach Doc Holliday, who was a legendary recruiting figure in south Florida when he was at West Virginia and NC State, was there. Holliday is almost like a rock star with players and their parents. Everybody knows Doc.

Among the many college coaches in attendance were the familiar faces of Jon Hunt, Robert Gillespie and G.A. Mangus. Hunt, who played and coached at Florida, is the offensive line coach on Steve Spurrier's staff at South Carolina. Gillespie, a former Gator tailback in the Spurrier era, is the newly named running backs coach at South Carolina. Mangus, a backup quarterback in the early Spurrier years at Florida, is the offensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee State. Mangus was the head coach at Division III Delaware Valley State, where he went 33-4 after a 2-8 first season.

Georgia, Alabama and Auburn each had two coaches at the combine while LSU had one. There were also coaches there from Bowling Green, Duke, Connecticut, Rice, Memphis and Central Florida.

MEANWHILE AT BELLE GLADE: None of the kids at Glades Central were at the combine because Coach Willie Snead had a full contact scrimmage Saturday night. The Raiders will play their spring jamboree game Thursday in Daytona Beach against Mainland.

On hand for the Saturday night scrimmage were Coach Jim Leavitt of South Florida and Ole Miss offensive line coach Art Kehoe as well as coaches from Pitt and two or three other schools.

The big name attraction at Glades Central is wide receiver Deonte Thompson, who is a legitimate 10.3 sprinter but he's not the only big time prospect. Bookend tackles Jatavious Jackson (6-4, 280) and Ernest McCoy (6-6, 340) are big, strong and athletic linemen with very quick. Defensive backs Damien Berry (6-1, 220) and Johnny Dixon are hard hitters with tremendous speed. Quarterback Bryan Mann is a lefty with a big time arm.

The highlight of the scrimmage Saturday was a pass that Mann completed to Travis Benjamin. Mann couldn't find a receiver so he bought time by scrambling to his left. He saw Benjamin break free so he launched a perfect spiral that didn't have a hint of wobble to it that Benjamin caught on a leap at the three. The pass traveled 73 yards on the fly. Mann is 6-3, 195, with excellent speed and elusiveness to go with the arm.

Thompson has added about 15 pounds since he first burst onto the scene last spring at a combine in Jacksonville. He's as fast as ever but he's running more polished routes now and he shows he has much more than speed. This isn't a track star that is trying his hand at football. This is a legitimate, big time football player that is also a track star.

Jackson is the more polished of the two linemen. Put 20 pounds of upper body muscle on him and he'll start somewhere. McCoy just plays hard and runs into people. They fall down and he keeps running. He'll learn technique and strength and conditioning coaches will make him flexible enough to turn him into a real athletic freak.

Berry has speed to burn to go with his 220 pounds. He just looks like a playmaker. Dixon hits as hard as anyone we've seen in quite a while. He is an intimidating hitter.

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