Illinois NFTC Evals: The Michigan Targets

GoBlueWolverine's detailed look at the performances of Michigan's football targets at Sunday's Nike Football Training Camp in Illinois. Drake Harris, Maurice Ways, Nyles Morgan, Lawrence Marshall, and more.

Sam Webb’s Take

Drake Harris’ first camp provided only a glimpse of the ability that wowed coaches and scouts alike last season.  He didn’t get many great opportunities due to the errant passes thrown his way, but he showed enough to see why coaches and scouts believe him to be special.  Harris got on top of most defensive backs with ease.  Those that were able to stick with him did so by winning the physical battle at or close to the line.  On those occasions he was still sometimes able to win the battle by out-leaping his opponent for the ball (provided it was on target).  What was most impressive, though, may have been what he didn’t show.  At the moment Harris is an extremely slender pass catcher that isn’t well versed in the nuances of the position.  Despite that he is a consistent big play threat.  After a few years in the weight room defensive backs won’t be able to muscle him at the line of scrimmage… and when his route running becomes more refined he’ll be even more proficient at getting open.  It may be cliché to say Harris is just scratching the surface of what he can be, but that doesn’t make the statement any less true.  He is already working toward his physical improvement.  For the first time in years he won’t be traveling the country on the AAU circuit.  Other than attending Michigan’s camp and “the Opening”, Harris plans to spend a great deal of his time in the weight room.  He also indicated that he will spend ample time recruiting other prospects to Michigan… especially Jabrill Peppers.  When asked if he felt good about Michigan’s chances at landing the five-star defensive back, Harris indicated that he did NOT.  “I feel great,” he said with a smile.

Maurice Ways was without question one of the strongest receivers at the event.  He gave quarterbacks a huge target to throw at, which is probably why many of the balls thrown in his direction seemed to find their mark.  He was at his best working the middle of the field where he was able to wall defenders off with his body. And like Harris he was also able to go up and high point ball.  He didn’t get deep as frequently as future teammate, but as his route technique improves he’ll be more successful at occasionally getting a step on his opponent.  But his primary functions will likely be working the intermediate routes, being a consistent jump ball threat, and being a dangerous weapon in the redzone.  He and Harris look to be perfect complements to one another.  Physically Ways is closer to his peak than Harris, but he will experience just as much growth in his understanding of route concepts.  Another similarity is he has already caught the recruiting bug and will lend his voice to the Wolverines’ courtship efforts.  Ways’ primary target at the moment is Lawrence Marshall.  He has known the Southfield defensive end since they were AAU teammates in middle school.  Now he is working hard to make sure they become teammates again.  The effort will pick up in intensity when they both travel to Ann Arbor for a visit this weekend.

A couple of Michigan’s young receiver targets showed they will be players to watch in the coming years.  2015 Lincolnshire (IL) Stevenson standout, Cameron Green was one of the biggest receivers in attendance.  As one would expect he was able to push the smaller DBs, but he doesn’t use his body as effectively as Ways just yet.  Meanwhile 2016 Farmington Hills Harrison wideout Dezmond Fitzpatrick showed great quickness and used that trait to get off the line.  If he got a clean release he was tough to stay with.  But a 5-11 160 lbs. he was knocked off his routes at times.  With three years of high school to go he’ll undoubtedly get stronger in the coming years.

Josh Newkirk’s Take

Cretin Derham Hall (Minn.) 2015 defensive end, Jashon Cornell, is 6-foot-3, 220-pounds and is a good as advertised. While he will need to gain some weight by the time he enrolls in college, he certainly has the football attributes you’re looking from a rush end. He is fast and uses his hands well off the edge. He won the majority of his one-on-one matchups Sunday. While he didn’t win camp MVP, he made his case for the award. He is a big time talent and will most likely garner a four-star rating when the 2015 rankings come out.

Lawrence Marshall had an average camp performance in Chicago. While he’s an athletic defensive end, the Southfield (Mich.) High product seems disinterested at times. He can make an offensive tackle look foolish with his speed off the edge on one play, but then gets beat the next. He may just be a player who doesn’t get motivated for camps. He seems to play with a different focus on Fridays in the fall. 
At 6-foot-3, 229-pounds, Crete-Monee (Ill.) High 2014 linebacker Nyles Morgan is a smooth, athletic, fast and overall great athlete. Morgan lived up to his No. 5 overall LB ranking Sunday. He made play after play in one-on-ones and has the ability to cover a running back in the open field. His pass coverage skills are above average and could easily be an every down linebacker in college. He won camp MVP and will attending “The Opening” this July.

Kyron Watson out of East St. Louis Senior (Ill.) High, had an up and down Nike combine Sunday. While the 2014 linebacker looked good early, he lacked good footwork in the open field. He struggled in pass coverage drills and doesn’t possess top speed at the LB position. He is more of a run stopper at this point of football development.  He is a between the tackles linebacker and had struggles with faster running backs in the open field. While he is listed at 6-foot-1, he is closer to 5-foot-10 or 11. He has a sturdy build but doesn’t possess the speed to play the outside backer position.

Lawrence Central (Ind.) High 2014 defensive end, Gelen Robinson, is a sturdy 6-foot-2, 230-pounds and had a solid performance on Sunday. The brother of Michigan basketball standout, Glenn Robinson III, Gelen won the majority of his one-on-ones and possesses good speed and strength as an outside rusher. He will definitely need to add some size before he goes to college. But overall, he had a nice camp performance and could be a prospect to watch throughout the summer and fall.

Montini Catholic (Ill.) 2015 linebacker Nile Sykes had a strong camp performance. At 6-foot-1, 220-pounds, Sykes showcased good athleticism and power on Sunday. He moved well through the drills and held his own with Morgan in the linebackers group. He impressed with his ability to square up the running back in the open field and won his fair share of the one-on-ones. He is making the switch from defensive end this season and looks like a natural at the linebacker position already.


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