Potential LSU prospects excel at Miami-Nike

With LSU choosing to recruit more in the state of Florida, the results of Sunday's Nike Invitational Combine were of particluar interest. <br> Among the numerous standouts from the area participating at the combine were a few athletes who are considering the Tigers.

As is typical this time of year in South Florida, a downpour hit the University of Miami grass practice fields shortly before the running tests were to be held at the second Nike Football Training Camp of the 2002 season.

You would have guessed the rain would have slowed down the times in both the 40's and the 20-yard shuttles, but you'd have guessed wrong.

The top five fastest 40's were all run in the 4.3 range and the top four shuttle marks were also scintillating, under the 4.00 second level.

Weather not withstanding, the speed exhibited on Sunday is not surprising based on the talent and past history of the camps in Miami. Unlike every other Nike Football Camp, which on average draws players from 10 to 14 different states, the Miami camps have consisted of nearly all Florida players and this weekend's camp was no exception.

That's not to say there weren't any surprises.

With all the Florida talent, one school rarely dominates the action the way the participants from Palm Bay High in Melbourne did.

The school won the 6A state title in 2000 and went 12-1 last year. Five separate Pirates - Xavier Carter, Joe Cohen, Ron Ellis, Reggie Nelson and Thomas Miller - all cracked the top five in one of the four testing categories (40, bench press, 20-yard shuttle and vertical jump) with two of the four fastest 40's coming from Carter and Nelson.

If anything, it shows Palm Bay has some horses to again be a serious factor on the football field again, if not a must-stop for college recruiters. At least 12 members of the Pirate squad are getting recruiting at this point.

Another surprise took place at the 40-yard dash stations, where two current sophomores, the afore mentioned Xavier Carter and Jacksonville Trinity Christian's Lamar Lewis had two of the three fastest times.

That's not to say the two were unknowns. Both were Student Sports Sophomore All-Americans, as Carter had 22 receptions for 584 yards last season while Lewis stepped up with several interceptions for the Conquerors in the playoffs.

What it does mean is these speedsters should be two of the most heavily recruited prospects in the nation next year at this time.

Speaking of the prolific Palm Bay group, fullback/defensive end Joe Cohen was selected as the MVP of Sunday's camp didn't do anything to hurt his stock as one of the Sunshine State's top prospects.

At last year's camp, he measured in at 6-2 1/2, 234 pounds and ran a 4.55, giving notice he'd be on the recruiting map for the Class of 2003.

This year Cohen weighed in at four pounds heavier but reduced his 40 time to a 4.47 and, according to running backs drill leader B.T. Thomas made "several circus catches in the drills. For a big guy (6-foot-2 1/2, 238 pounds), he has great body control."

The problem is where to play him. Privately, several top colleges are saying he could play one of several positions: fullback, defensive end, linebacker - and even tailback in the right system.

As for colleges, Cohen is hearing from all the big schools, but it will be hard to pull him out of Florida. The senior-to-be admits he grew up a Florida fan but now also has Miami and Florida State atop his list along with Georgia, Maryland and Tennessee.

Skipping around by position, here are just a few of the other Nike Camp participants who stood out on Sunday:

- Possessing the strongest arm of the camp, Xavier Lee of Daytona Beach-Seabreeze was a Student Sports Sophomore All-American this past year. In his first start for the Sandcrabs and passed for 317 yards and four touchdowns. His early favorites are Miami, Florida State, Florida and Notre Dame.

* Steven Moffett from Winter Park, Fla., threw for over 2,000 yards as a junior with 18 TDs and only seven INTs. He also ran for nearly 500 yards with 12 more scores. He's been offered by Central Florida and also likes South Carolina, Florida, North Carolina and Auburn.

* Patrick Carter from St. Petersburg-Lakewood is the younger brother of Auburn's Tim Carter. Patrick is on many D-I lists and lists Clemson, Michigan, Miami, Florida State and Alabama as early leaders.

* Justin Midgett was one of the top QBs at last year's Nike Camp in Miami and came back to show the size and arm strength that got him an offer to Florida, where he committed about a week ago.

* Mario Henderson of Fort Myers-Bishop Verot also came to the Nike Camp last year, when he measured in at a hefty 6-foot-6, 359 pounds. The offensive lineman hasn't shrunk and, according to one line coach, "dominated in the drills. He was the man." His early favorites: Miami, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma and Florida State.

* Jerome Springfield of Leigh High in Lehigh Acres weighed in at a hefty 6-foot-7, 310 pounds and along with Aubrey McFadden of Jacksonville-Andrew Jackson, provide the prototype of the ideal 6-foot-6, 310 pound plus offensive tackle. Springfield likes Miami, Florida A&M, Penn State and North Carolina while McFadden lists LSU, Maryland and South Carolina, who've offered, along with the instate D-I powers.

* Defensive lineman Stanley McCarver from Ft. Lauderdale-Dilliard had an "eye-opening performance" according to one coach running the drills. He weighed in at 6-3, 225 pounds and ran a 4.6. McCarver plays defensive tackle and offensive guard for Dillard and has been relatively overlooked, which should change now.

* Andre Caldwell from Tampa-Jefferson had 52 catches for 1,162 yards and 16 TDs as a junior. The younger brother of Florida wideout Reshe Caldwell, who just finished up at Florida, Andre was one of the stars in the receiver drills. He likes Miami, Florida State, Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma.

* Palm Bay's Reggie Nelson proved that he's in an elite class on Sunday. The Student Sports All-American is on everybody's list and only confirmed his elite status with an awesome performance in the tests and in the passing drills.

* This position was highlighted by John Beason of Chaminade-Madonna High in Hollywood, Fla. Already offered by Virginia Tech, a linebacker coach called him "the real deal." Along with the Hokies, he likes Miami, Florida State, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and LSU.

Defensive Backs:
* While there were too many great ones to name, one who stood out was Jimmy Sutton from Boca Raton. Sutton had one of the day's best verticals and also shined in the coverage workouts. He lists Miami, Florida, Texas, Boston College and N.C. State as his early five.

Finally, putting into perspective the most recent Nike Camp, Brian Stumpf of Student Sports, the National Player Personnel Director, said it best.

"Year in and year out , we've come to expect Florida and the Miami area in particular to produce talent that's as good, if not better, than anywhere else in the country. We've been to Miami every spring since 1998 and I can safely say this year's camp was the best we've seen in South Florida in the five years we've been producing the Nike Camps."

TOP TESTING MARKS at Miami (unofficial)
note: heights & weights taken at Sunday's camp

1) 4.34 --- David Marrero (St. Thomas Aquinas, Ft. Lauderdale FL), 5-9 1/2, 177 RB
2) 4.35 --- Xavier Carter (current so.) (Palm Bay, Melbourne FL), 6-2 1/2, 190 WR
2) 4.35 --- Lamar Lewis (current so.) (Trinity Christian, Jacksonville FL), 5-7 1/2, 177 RB/DB
4) 4.37 --- Reggie Nelson (Palm Bay, Melbourne FL), 6-0, 174 LB/WR
5) 4.39 --- Rashaun Grant (Jefferson, Tampa FL), 5-10 1/2, 181 RB/DB

1) 37.1 --- Jemmy Jasmin (North Miami Beach FL), 5-7, 154 WR/DB
2) 35.6 --- Akim Lannaman (Suncoast, Riviera Beach FL), 6-1, 190 RB/DB
3) 35.5 --- Jimmy Sutton (Boca Raton FL), 5-10 1/2, 168 DB
4) 35.3 --- Ron Ellis (Palm Bay, Melbourne FL), 5-11, 173 RB/DB
5) 35.2 --- Kenny Scott (Sea Breeze, Daytona Beach FL), 6-1 1/2, 173 WR

BENCH PRESS (reps of 185 pounds)
1) 32 --- Andrew Bain (Ely, Pompano Beach FL), 6-3, 343 DL/OL
2) 27 --- Joe Cohen (Palm Bay, Melbourne FL), 6-2 1/2, 238 DE/FB
2) 27 --- Jim Dervil (Barron Collier, Naples FL), 5-11, 192 LB/RB
4) 26 --- Luke Lathan (Clay, Green Cove Springs FL), 6-5, 282 OL
4) 26 --- Ronnie McCullough (Hillsborough, Tampa FL), 6-0, 208 LB
4) 26 --- Steve Rissler (Riverview, Sarasota FL), 6-3, 309 OL

1) 3.90 --- Jimmy Sutton (Boca Raton FL), 5-10 1/2, 168 DB
2) 3.92 --- Thomas Miller (Palm Bay, Melbourne FL), 6-2, 182 DB
3) 3.96 --- Jimmy Carson (John Carroll, Ft. Pierce FL), 5-9, 173 RB
3) 3.96 --- Justin Poma (John Carroll, Ft. Pierce FL), 5-10, 190 RB
5) 4.03 --- Joe Scola (Charlotte County, Punta Gorda FL), 5-9 1/2, 167 WR

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