NIKE Camp - Defensive Tackles

Led by Northwestern standout Clifton Dickson, the defensive tackle position was very strong at this year's NIKE Training Camp.

While a bevvy of talented defensive ends were putting on quite a show at this year's NIKE Training Camp, the defensive tackles were quietly putting on an impressive performance as well. The DT position was led by five major Division 1 prospects.

Leading the way was Northwestern standout Clifton Dickson. At 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds, Dickson has the perfect frame to be a one-gap tackle at the next level. With a tremendous amount of athletic ability, Dickson has the body type to add another 15-20 pounds and be a very quick, penetrating 300-pound tackle at the next level.

Although it wasn't officially recorded, Dickson turned in an impressive shuttle time of 4.67 as he displayed a tremendous amount of balance and explosion as well as quick feet. During position drills, Dickson began to separate himself even more from the rest of the pack. He plays with excellent leverage and his first step is about as quick as any DT at this age and size that you'll find. And athletically, he's in another league. Afterall, we're talking about a kid that doubles as a tight end/wide receiver for the Bulls. Yes -- that's right -- a wide receiver. During 1 on 1 drills, Dickson dominated every opponent he faced, primarily with quickness and explosion. He then showed a mean streak and the ability to clog the middle when he locked up with Ely offensive lineman Andrew Bain. Dickson is a big time prospect in my opinion, and probably a Top 10 overall prospect in Florida.

It was only a couple months ago that the University of Miami picked up their first commitment of this recruiting season. Royal Palm Beach's Dave Howell had an impressive performance at the camp. He checked in at 6-foot-5 and 296 pounds, bigger than I had expected. His build is much different than Dickson, as Howell's a much thicker kid with a lot more bone girth and a wider middle. Like Dickson, he displayed an excellent amount of athleticism. He turned in back-to-back 4.84 shuttle run times before breaking into drills.

Howell looked real good during drills, primarily due to quickness and athletic ability. However, when the players broke into 1 on 1 drills, he struggled some. The first time he lined up, he was tossed to the ground by Lehigh Acres offensive lineman Mario Henderson. The second time, he was pushed three yards off the ball by another linemen, before finishing with a solid pass rush. Watching him play -- especially inside the trenches -- leads me to believe his game might translate better as an offensive lineman. Regardless, I think he's a mid to upper Div 1 prospect on either side of the football.

Fort Meade two-way lineman Andraus Grace showed up at this year's camp looking to make a big splash. After checking in at 6-foot-1 and 301 pounds, Grace ripped off a 5.20 shuttle time, displaying a decent level of quickness and athletic ability for a big man. A two-gap type of tackle, Grace performed pretty well during 1 on 1 drills, especially with his bull rush. Although he's not overly quick, nor does he have a large wingspan which might affect him as a prospect, he's very powerful kid that's very instinctive. He makes a lot of plays at the prep level. I think he's a mid level Division 1 prospect right now.

Sarasota defensive tackle Donnell Livingston is a kid that I first saw last summer at UM's summer camp. He was one of two impressive DLine prospects from the Sarasota area (along with Baraka Atkins). After a solid junior season, Livingston showed up at this year's camp looking for a breakout performance. He checked in at 6-foot-2 and 289 pounds, and clocked a 5.14 shuttle time. He plays with good leverage and a quick first step and that allowed him to win most of his 1 on 1 battles. I think he's a mid level Div 1 prospect right now.

Port Charlotte's Joe Toth is fresh off a state wrestling championship in the heavyweight division, but his focus turned to football when he showed up at the NIKE Camp. He checked in at 6-2 1/2 and 278 and ran very well -- especially when he clocked a 4.91 shuttle time. Toth is very powerful and he's active. During 1 on 1 drills, he won most of them with high effort intensity. Toth is probably a mid level Division 1 prospect right now.

Two defensive tackle prospects that were not at the camp that I am really looking forward to watching in May are Jacksonville Madarin's Marcus Thomas and Marathon's Phernando Hill.

Next up - Linebackers

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