Champaign Combine Evaluations

The weather outside was freightful, but the talent inside was rather delightful. That was the melody sung over and over again this past Saturday at the US Army Invitational Combine held in Champaign, Illinois. offers up some insights on the entire afternoon.

The times turned in at the combine will likely rank among the slowest of any of the combines this spring, but that was largely due to the slow field turf that the particiapants ran on inside the Illinois indoor practice facility.

Without having seen film to this point, it would be speculative for me to label him as either the best prospect or best athlete in attendance, but you can't arge with the results from Hinsdale South RB/LB Matt Mayberry (right). Standing at 6'1 and 190 pounds, Mayberry recorded the fastest forty yard dash with a time of 4.57, a shuttle of 4.28, an impressive time of 7.29 in the L-Cone drill, and a vertical jump of more than 30 inches.

Mayberry hasn't exactly had a lot of schools banging on his door to this point, but if his ability on the field reflects his testing numbers then that should change very soon.

It was a very impressive group of lineman in attendance, and one particular battle took place between offensive lineman Cody Faulkner and defensive lineman Aleric Mullins (left). It would be a bit of a stretch to call Faulkner the most nimble or even athletic 300 pounder, but you'll be hard pressed to find more of a road grader that can truly move the pile. Faulker clearly was the strongest in the lower body out of all the participants, and uses his hands very well. When Faulkner is able to get full arm extension on the defender, he is so strong at the point of attack with such a solid base that it is hard to get around him.

Still, if there was anyone up to the challenge or who held the ability it was Aleric Mullins. Having lived in North Carolina this past fall, Mullins has had a tough time getting comfortable in the classroom, but that is mainly due to a lack of effort. He is an intelligent young man, and he just needs to concentrate more in the classroom, and if he does, he should be one of the Midlands most highly recruited prospects.

Mullins played middle linebacker at Caruthersville as a sophmore, and it still isn't out of the likelihood that if he were to drop 15 to 20 pounds that he could play there in college. He has an explosive first step and great intensity, but will become an even more explosive athlete when he puts more time in working on the abdominal area.

St. Louis Vashon defensive end Jerry Brown was in attendance, and admitted that it was the first combine he had attended. Brown did not test out as well as he had hoped, but that largely reflected on poor preparation and experience. While running the forty yard dash, it was easy to see that with training in gaining the proper form and techinique, he could easy take .2 or .3 tenths of his time.

Watch out for Brown at tight end, though, as he worked out at both positions on Saturday, and actually looked more impressive on the offensive side of the ball. He easily had the top catch of the day when he was able to secure a pass while slipping to the ground with a defender all over him. Brown is a big target with very soft hands, and with more playing time this fall at tight end, that could become his future position.

Isiah Williams (left) was the top quarterback in attendance with Jared Funk coming in at a close second. Williams, as you will be able to view on video this week, has to have one of the strongest arms in the country with his ability to throw the ball 75 yards down the field. A good athlete, as well, Williams has a lot of work to do with his accuracy, though, and learning to put touch on the ball. He also appears to favor throwing on the run, and most colleges will surely ask to see him become more of a pocket presece in setting his hips for a strong accurate delivery rather than always trying to gunsling it.

Funk not only showed the ability to be a Big Ten quarterback, but is also an impressive athlete as well. He could definitely be a quarterback that emerges on the summer camp scene.

There were a few wide receivers in attendance, led by Kris James, Marques Wilkins, Quentin Davie and Sergio Kahn. James was a bit disappointed with his times, but no one has ever labeled him as a burner. As's Chris Pool stated, "James catches everything thrown his way." The rest of the group was solid, but there was not one participant that jumped out over the others. Tyler Epstein proved his worth as a division one middle linebacker, and displayed one of the best work ethics of the participants in attendance. Naperville North linebacker Osahon Tongo came in with a few offers already, and passed the eyeball test with how solidly built he was. He turned in one of the more impressive vertical jumps with a leap of 34 inches.

There were a few from the state of Iowa, including offensive lineman Pat Steinbach and Matt Hulbert. As well, Cedar Rapids Kennedy tight end Ben Lamaak particpated, and have a very good overall session. Steinbach is an unheard of prospect from Albia, Iowa, but standing a little over 6'7 and weighing in at 275 pounds, he is a guy to watch for this summer. Hulbert has already attracted interest from several Big 10 and Big 12 schools.

After it was all said and done, my MVP vote goes out to Caruthersville defensive lineman Aleric Mullins.

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