It was a very impressive group of running backs at The Opening. To, they all participated in the Nike Training Camp portion of the event that included drills and one on one sessions versus linebackers in the run and pass game. Overall, these running backs also caught the ball exceptionally well.
I thought the one prospect that had the best day was Sotonye Jamabo (Plano, Texas/West). He’s big and long at 6-foot-2, 206-pounds. At an event like this you can’t see his power but he did show very good quickness, speed and agility for a bigger back. He’s runs upright and has short, choppy steps. But he keeps his balance and has deceptive moves in tight areas. I also thought he showed a good burst of speed when he needed it and caught the ball very well. He’s the nation’s No. 2 rated running back by Scout.
The top ranked running back is Damien Harris (Berea, Ky./Madison Central). Harris is strong and compact at 5-foot-11, 198-pounds. He’s very quick and very explosive. Harris showed excellent speed and the ability to start and stop and then accelerate . He stood out during the early drills and also caught the ball well.
Another Midwest standout was Mike Weber (Detroit, Mich./Cass Tech). Like Harris, he’s stocky but even more compact. Coming into the event I studied him on film and was extremely impressed. Here, he didn’t disappoint at all. At times he made some of the linebackers look silly. He has speed, short area quickness and good explosion when he wants to kick it up to another gear. Weber was more than a challenge for the linebackers in the passing one on ones. This kid is a dynamo at 5-foot-10, 205-pounds. He’s the No. 14 running ranked running back on Scout.
“It was great to compete against the top running backs and linebackers,” Weber said. “It was a lot of fun. And to be out there with guys like Damien Harris and Jacques Patrick. I have always competed against them without ever having to really compete against them.”
Florida is well represented here at The Opening. I thought Jordan Scarlett (Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas) had the best day of the five. He looks quicker and faster than he did at the end of last season. He’s probably the best built kid here at the running back position, drawing comparisons of Trent Richardson at the same stage in terms of how his body is developed at the same stage. What you can’t see here is how powerful and strong of a runner Scarlett really is. But he did show some surprising short area quickness in the one on one run drills versus the linebackers.
"It's been great, I love the coaches and we're learning a lot of new things,” Scarlett said. “I love the competition, the linebackers, they get to talking, they're from Texas or California, you know I'm a Florida guy and I love Florida so I gotta represent."
Jacques Patrick (Orlando Timber Creek) and Mark Walton (Miami Booker T. Washington) both had their moments. Patrick is a monster at 6-foot-2, 230-pounds. He’s built more like a tight end or H-back than a running back but don’t let that size fool you. He’s a downhill runner with deceptive agility and athleticism. Patrick did have one drop in the pass game but looked comfortable running routes.
”There were some good guys out here,” Patrick said. “For me it’s just about competing with those guys. I am a four-star and I want that fifth star so I am working hard. I thought I did well.”
Meanwhile Walton is clearly coming into his own. He recently jumped a year and is now part of the 2015 class. He does a little bit of everything very well. Walton has good size (5-10/190), speed and quickness. He did some very nice things today and showed why he belongs at this event.
Jordan Cronkrite (Miami Westminster) is another good athlete at this position from the Sunshine State. I am not quite sure if he has the running versatility of some of the others. He’s more of a north-south guy with good speed but plays in a variety of different spots for his high school team.
The most explosive guy of the Florida group is Dexter Williams (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange). He had one of the highest SPARQ numbers of the camp season but was not able to participate because of a high ankle sprain sustained during his spring game. Believe it or not Cronkrite, Williams and Walton are all committed to Miami.
Nicholas Brossette (Baton Rouge, La./University Lab) had a very good day. This LSU commitment has very good size (6-0/210) and a powerful lower body build. He showed speed and the ability to catch the football, whether it was on swing routes or long routes. In fact, he had the catch of the day on a wheel route deep down the sideline. Brossette has long strides and he has sneaky, fast speed.Penn State commitment Saquon Barkley (Whitehall, Pa.) shined during the passing portion of today’s event. He looks very comfortable running routes and catching the football. He runs with good balance. I love his feet and he has good speed and a nice, quick burst when needed.
The same can be said for A.J. Turner (Clifton, Va./Centreville). He’s 5-foot-10, 187-pounds. I thought what stood out about this running back was his acceleration. This kid has good speed and very quick feet and balance.