Orlando NFTC Notebook

There was a lot of great talent and competition at the Orlando Nike Football Training Camp today, including a huge battle between offensive tackle Martez Ivey and defensive end Byron Cowart. 11 Opening invitations went out after the camp and there were some very good performances at all the positions.

Kissimmee, Fla. - It was a great day for a combine in sunny central Florida, as many of the Sunshine State's top football prospects over the next three classes battled and competed on Austin Tindall Park outside of Orlando at the Nike Football Training Camp.

One of the most talked about position groups of the day was the offensive linemen. You don't hear that that much in Florida, as this state is not known for the big uglies. But this next crop of 2015 recruits has some pretty good ones at the top, led by five-star prospect and the nation's top recruit, Martez Ivey (Apopka, Fla.).

One of the NFTC offensive line coaches is Montrae Holland. Holland played at nearby Florida State and for several seasons in the NFL. He said nothing but glowing things about Ivey.

"He's so physical and so darn athletic," Holland said. "And I loved his attitude. He has that ‘I can't be beat attitude'. He always wants to win. That kid hated when he got beat. He's so long and has good, natural strength. And he can bend. He just needs to get bigger (6-5/270) and get in that weight room. He has a serious future in front of him if he works at it."

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Abdul Bello (Monteverde, Fla./Monteverde Academy). He's a mountain at 6-foot-6, 300-pounds. But he's so new to the game, having just starting playing in October of last fall. Still, Bello has collected a truck load of offers from teams like Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia and others.

"He's just raw," Holland said. "But he has an impressive body and athletic skills and ability. He can move and he's strong. But he's a stranger to this game. He just needs to get the experience and work. I think he will be fine."

Christian Pellage (Brooksville, Fla./Nature Coast) was another big name in attendance. But the winner of the MVP award was Romello Burke (Sarasota, Fla./Booker). He's a 6-foot-1, 295-pound offensive guard prospect who showed he's got a mean streak and the talent to compete.

"Boy, he's nasty, nasty, nasty," Holland said. "He's so focused and not afraid to battle. That's the kind of kid you have to have in the huddle and on the line of scrimmage. That kid made it a point not to get beat today and that's exactly what he did."

Cowart vs Ivey
Calling out Ivey
One of the best moments of this camp is always the one on one sessions between the offensive and defensive linemen. It's not for the faint of heart.

And it seemed that today, Byron Cowart was on a mission. This four-star standout from Seffner (Fla.) Armwood is one of the very best defensive ends in the country and he came to this camp with a chip on his shoulder.

It didn't start out to well for Cowart, as he was defeated on consecutive reps by Mirko Jurkovic (Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academy). We all kind of stood there in shock. To be honest, it looked at though Cowart was pressing.

But those two defeats just ignited a fire. He then moved inside to defensive tackle and won a few reps. He switched back to the other end spot and won a handful of reps. In fact, Cowart finished with more reps than anyone. He was in game mode.

Then he called out No. 190 across the field.. That jersey happened to be worn by none other than Martz Ivey. Cowart wanted Ivey one on one. He knew the Apopka star would be in attendance. He even watched video of him in action previous to the camp.

Cowart got his wish, as they were matched up on three consecutive plays. It got tense, as Cowart whipped Ivey on the first rep with pure speed. Ivey was visibly mad and called Cowart back to the line of scrimmage. There, Ivey buried Cowart in the dirt. The third rep was kind of a standoff. So there you have it. But it was a good few minutes at this NFTC.

"That dude (Ivey) pushed me," Cowart said. "I wanted him out here to see what I can do. I am not the most social guy but I wanted him. I wanted him one on one. I love to compete. He's good but I feel like I got him."

Cowart was impressive and earned a lot of praise from his position coach, former NFLer Chuck Wiley.

"Byron has natural speed and natural athletic ability," Wiley said. "He can play with his hands. They are strong hands and he practically broke my shoulder off in one of our drills. But he's a live player that really picked it up today. He has some raw things that he needs to work on but he's working hard to learn. I told him some things, taught him some things and he listened. He's going to be successful because of all the things I just said and he's coachable with a great attitude."

Deon Cain
Wide receivers once again
It was a stellar group of play makers on the perimeter, as the wide receiver position was by far the deepest of the day at this event. Standouts like George Campbell (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake), Deon Cain (Tampa Bay Tech), Ray McCloud (Tamp Sickles), Nate Craig (Tampa Catholic), Deondre Farrier (Orlando Lake Nona), Kalif Jackson (Jacksonville Neptune) and a handful of others all made plays all over the field.

The winner of the MVP was Florida Gator commitment, Deondre Farrier.

"I have seen Deondre a few times," said Bucky Brooks, the wide receiver coach for NFTC. "He's a technician who works hard. He's finally putting it all together and he's so competitive. He's prepared and he really stood out today."

The one wide receiver that Brooks gushed over more so than any other was McCloud. He's not even a wide receiver. He plays running back in high school but projects the highest as receiver.

"Boy he's just a natural. He's a natural athlete," Brooks said. "That kid is as natural as they come. To make a switch and just show up to something like this and do that? He's so darn explosive and just has a feel for the position. In the right system he will be one dynamic player in college."

Like McCloud, fellow Tampa native Deon Cain plays another position (quarterback) for his high school team, not wide receiver. But he has been impressive at that position so far this off-season, impressing everywhere he has been.

"He's sure advanced for playing the position part time," Brooks said. "It looks as though he was born to play the position. He's a natural flanker."

George Campbell
Of course George Campbell has been a big name in this state for a few years now. He's another player that Brooks raved about today.

"George has everything you look for in a wide receiver," Brooks said. "He has all the tools. He makes plays and looks like a guy that can play at the next level. He has so much God given ability. He just needs to maximize it."

Jackson from Jacksonville was one of the camp surprises. He stood out as one of the best all day.

"He surprised me and I know he has a few offers," Brooks said. "He will get some serious interest this spring [May]. He's a big bodied kid who can take over. He runs good routes and can catch."

Craig burst on the scene as a freshman. He's in the Class of 2016.

"That kid is just so smooth," Brooks said. "He's fluid, fast and caught the ball well. He makes plays effortlessly. He was really impressive."

Dexter Williams
Are you kidding me?
West Orange (Fla.) four-star running back had quite the day. He had arguably the best day of anyone at this NFTC and earned an invitation to the Opening after his performance. Williams also blew up the SPARQ testing a he posted some ridiculous numbers.

Williams ran a laser 4.57 forty and a 4.01 short shuttle. He threw the power ball 36'6". Williams had a vertical jump of 44". He had a SPARQ rating of 131.37. That's the second highest mark of the camp season so far.

Also shining at the running back position were standouts Jacques Patrick (Orlando Timber Creek), De'Anfernee McGriff (Tallahassee, Fla./Leon), P.J. Simmons (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby), and fullback Chandler Cox (Apopka, Fla.). The winner of the MVP award was Antonio Wimbush from Kingsland (Ga.) Camden County.

Cecil Cherry
The Golden Tickets
11 invitations went out today at this NFTC. It was announced at the end of the camp that Dexter Williams got an invite. Afterwards, quarterback DeAndre Johnson (Jacksonville First Coast) and Deondre Francois (Orlando Olympia), running back Jacques Patrick, wide receivers George Campbell, Deondre Farrier, and Ray McCloud, offensive tackle Martez Ivey, defensive end Byron Cowart, and linebackers Cecil Cherry (Frostproof, Fla.) and Sherrod Pittman (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) all received invitations to the Opening.

Safety Derwin James (Haines City, Fla.) had previously been invited.

Speaking of James…
James and George Campbell were two juniors that participated at the Opening last July. Even with an invite already in hand James came out and stood out big time today. This Florida State commitment had a very good day.

"He's a man among boys," said Geno Jackson, one of the defensive back coaches for NFTC. "He's so big, so physical and so fast. He needs to work on loosening those hips a little bit but he shows so much ability. That overshadows some of his weaknesses as a player."

While James is a five-star prospect and a known commodity, a few unknowns caught the attention of Jackson in Kenyatta Anderson (Gulfport, Fla./Boca Ciega) and Dante Thomas (Orlando Wekiva).

"Anderson can probably be a safety but he has nice size for a cornerback," Jackson said. "He really was good for most of the day and he can fly to the football. But he got tired towards the end and lost some of his technique. Thomas is a guy I really like a lot. He looked good and can really move around."

Another standout was Aaron Covington (Seffner, Fla./Armwood).

"He has good hips and feet," Jackson said. "And he can attack the football. But sometimes he's a little too aggressive."

Other notables
In regards to the linebackers four stood out with solid days. Cherry, Pittman, Shaq Quarterman (Orlando, Fla./Oakleaf) and Carson Lydon (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) all had some very good moments but also got beat.

Pasco (Fla.) defensive tackle Andrew Ivie had a great day in one on one sessions. He's not the biggest tackle out there but he used his get off and power to handle most of the interior offensive linemen he faced and won more battles than he lost.

Tampa East Bay defensive end Marques Ford is another one that had an impressive performance in the one on ones. He easily defeated Ivey in the first of their two reps with a pure speed rush. He's an underrated recruit from this state.

Defensive tackles Johnny Footman (Winter Haven, Fla.) and Darius Smalls (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) are two huge recruits that are both powerful, have pretty good get offs and they know how to use their hands.

Tampa Freedom defensive end Scott Patchan also looked good early in the one on one sessions.

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