Nike Camp Impressions: Defense

This year's Nike camp in Miami was loaded on the defensive side of the ball with playmakers. Names like Jeffrey Owens, Neefy Moffett, Spencer Adkins, Ricky Jean-Francois and Avery Atkins all were in attendence. Here are my thoughts on their performances.

Defensive Line

There were four kids that I think UM fans should know about. Jeff Owens (6-1, 263, average build) showed good quickness off the ball and outstanding strength in the weight room. He claims to have done 36 reps at 185 but I didn't see that transition onto the playing field. He's active and will be a prospect though. Although he'll play linebacker in college, Northwestern's Dustin Forston showed why he had over 20 sacks as a junior. At 5-11 and 208 (athletic, compact build that will likely fill out in the 5-11, 230 neighborhood), he made nearly every opposing OT look silly today. His speed getting up field is scary. They have a kid that plays on the other side, last name King, that's a little similar. Forson ran well, did 18 reps, and displayed a tremendous amount of athletic ability. His motor never stops running, he's very passionate, wants to learn, wants to go against the best. After the first time he ran past an opposing OT untouched, he started calling out some of the big name kids -- and continued dominating. The question there is whether or not he'll be able to adjust to playing in space and with his athletic ability, I don't see why that would be a potential problem. He's simply a pure football player that plays 100 miles per hour. Piper's Vladimir Richard (6-3 1/2, 255) will be a 275 pound kid some day. His footwork, balance, and athletic ability is outstanding as a combo for a kid that size. He's a quiet, fairly laid back kid that wants to compete. I think he could develop even more of it. Once he develops that nasty attitude that all great DL have, the sky could be the limit. He does more on accident than most kids do on their best days. Boyd Anderson's Gerald Williams (6-4 1/2, 226) passes the look test. He has the frame to be 6-5, 270 in a few years. He projects as a D-End but spent the day with the linebackers ("that's where I'll be playing this season so I needed to learn it"). He has quick feet and is clearly a major prospect. Saving the best for last, the best DL prospect on the field today was Carol City's Ricky Jean-Francois, who is a cousin to Bryan Pata. He checked in at 6-3 and 241 with very little body fat. He has long arms, huge calves, narrow hips, and the look in his eyes like he's ready for business on the field. He's exceptionally quick off the ball, plays low, and really gets after it. He's effortless in drills that most kids struggle with right away. In 1 on 1s, he got beat to the ground on his first one and that seemed to piss him off, so he came back and dominated the next several. He's a big, big time prospect.

Linebackers

The deepest position at the camp, there were several kids to keep your eyes on. Both Neefy Moffett (6-1, 215) and Spencer Adkins (5-11 1/2 and 226) were total freaks. They're both dominant d-ends in high school but worked out today at LB -- their likely destination in college. They're both really hungry out there and high motor guys. If anyone has watched Naples or Palm Bay play lately, you see what I mean. Athletically, they're both off the charts. Both ran low 4.5s, and Moffett even had the highest vertical jump of the day at 39 inches.

After a drop off, several other kids stood out. Northeast's Dimitri Stewart (6-2, 199) is a nice looking athlete and has the perfect body to carry a lot more weight, while maintaining speed and quickness. Elijah Hodge (6-0 1/2 and 195) is the real deal too. When I tried telling people on here last year when Pig Smith had people convinced that UM had offered him that he was not a UM type of player, I also stated that the best LB at Dillard is a Jr. Well, that's Hodge. He's a great athlete, has a real nose for the ball, and brings a lot of mental toughness to the position. He'll be a 6-1, 220 with great instincts and quickness in a few years. Deerfield's Wendy Napolean (6-1, 221), Centennial's Jamar Chaney (6-0, 210), Rockledge's Johnny Holmes (6-1 1/2, 213), and Tampa Hillsborough's Brandon Lattimore (6-0, 234) all looked impressive at times but are not the caliber of prospects as the first four kids I mentioned here.

Defensive Backs

There were lots of good athletes here. The 2 best I had seen leading up to the camp did not show up (Kenny Phillips said he had to work and Bryan Evans from Ed White couldn't make the 6-hour trip). However, several good ones did. The best prospect, in my opinion, was Mainland's Avery Atkins. He was 5-11 and 182 and did really well athletically. He ran a 4.45 and dominated every drill. Once he develops a little more competitiveness and drive to be the absolute best, he can be the same caliber of prospect as some of the state's top cornerbacks that have come out over the last 4-5 years. He's a big time kid already. Tampa Jefferson's Devin Giles (5-11, 157) is a little thin right now but he runs really well and knows how to mix it up. He's coming off a big year, too. After the state games last year, I said the best DB at Pace is a Jr. Well, Quentin Andrews was at the camp today. At 5-11 and 190, he looked very impressive. His instincts are incredible and he has a swagger about him that separates him really quickly. Apopka's Eric Sledge (6-2 1/2, 180) is a cousin to Aaron Jones and has a lot of upside. He can play WR or FS. His feet move well for a big kid and he's a tough, physical kid that's also a very good basketball player. Cross County's Paul O'Hara (5-11, 215) is a major RB prospect but worked out mostly with DBs today because his coach wants him to learn more about that position, something he'll play for the first time this year. He's a good athlete that struggled through drills but also showed up a little under the weather. Killian's Demtrice Morley did well in drills, ran fairly well, and looks like his best days are ahead of him in the secondary. Dorian Monroe (6-0, 180) has outstanding ball skills, worked out at both WR and DB and may even project better on offense.

Edison's Chris Chancellor (5-9, 153) is a Div 1 prospect. Central's L.D.Highsmith (Ali's brother) at 5-9 and 169 slipped on his 40s today but ran a sub 4.4 at the NIKE Combine a couple months back. Mandarin's Gerrod Sinclair (6-0, 208 came all the way from Jacksonville and showed why he's one of the top safety prospects in No. Fla.

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