Iowa City Combine: Surprises

Both the top and the not-so-top performances at Saturday's Iowa City Combine were not what GoBlueWolverine expected. Here are scouting reports and interviews with our 'expected' headliners, plus three pleasant surprises.

It was a sunny spring day at the University of Iowa's excellent football facilities. All the timed drills were run on a slow fieldturf outdoor surface. Heights were measured in stocking feet, so are at least a half inch shorter than the kids self-report.

One of the headliners at the camp was Lowell, Michigan quarterback Keith Nichol. Nichol came to Iowa on Friday and attended Iowa's Junior Day, although he told GoBlueWolverine that he is still committed to the Spartans. Nichol told GBW that he measured 6-2 and 190 pounds. He did none of the testing, even though the strength of his game is speed/quickness. Nichol did participate in the QB/WR/DB passing drills. He showed a quick delivery and and made sure-and-firm throws on the shorter passes. However, with a breeze blowing into his face he struggled a bit on throwing the deep ball, with the ball wobbling/sailing some on him. We would compare his game to fellow junior Chris Forcier, although Chris has the edge on our eyes since he is BLAZING fast (By the way, Nichol was at the Elite 11 Tryout in Los Angeles last Saturday, while Chris Forcier was at the Big House watching his brother).

GBW was happy to see a large contingent in attendance from Indianapolis Cathedral High School, including safety Jerimy Finch and running back Darren Evans.

First Jerimy Finch. After watching him today the question is: is he a college linebacker? He came into the combine still feeling the effects a bit from a back injury suffered when he was rear-ended in a car accident a few weeks ago; this was his first action since then. He measured 6-1, 210 and he ran a so-so 4.8 sec. 40. In the QB/WR/DB drills he was a rugged manhandler on the shorter routes, but struggled a bit to keep up with eht faster WRs' on the deeper routes. Our comparison: a 'poor man's' Jonas Mouton (remember, there was considerable scuttlebutt last fall and winter that USC was recruiting Mouton as a LB). However, as stated, it is impossible to tell how much his back was hampering him. A couple times he looked like he was going to sit the rest of the day off, but, with the encouragement of his Cathedral coaches, he stuck it out. If his 4.8 sec. 40 is legit (remember this was on a slow track), he might make a fine WILL linebacker in college. Finch told GBW he has about a dozen offers now, from "Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, Georgia Tech, Louisville and West Virginia, plus 5 or 6 others." He told us he did not have a top 5, saying, "I'm still wide open," but that the only college he visited this spring was, "Michigan (for the January Junior Day and for the 'spring game') ... oh, and I went to West Virginia with Darren" (Evans).

Finch's teammate running back Darren Evans told GBW he has offers now from, "Purdue, Indiana, Mississippi State, Louisville, Oklahoma State and Washington," and that he has so far visited, "Michigan (for the winter Junior Day), Louisville, Mississippi State and West Virginia." Evans measured 5-11, 220 and ran a 4.7 sec. 40 yard dash. He was slipping around in his shuttles so did not record good times there. The running back drills were QB/RB/LB passing drills, and we'd call him a 'poor man's Robert Hughes': a tough, strong back, not a blazer -- but not as fast or as strong as Hughes (as we scouted Hughes at the US Army Combine).

Iowa WR Colin Sandeman from Bettendor was also an expected headliner. He measured 6-0 1/2, 190 lbs. He ran a good-not-great 4.59 sec. 20. Our comparison: a 'poor man's' Nick Sukay. He showed good speed (but not blazing like Sukay), with the strength to make the over the middle catch. He told GBW he has offers from, "Iowa, Iowa State and Wyoming ... I get letters from Michigan."

There were three pleasant surprises as well.

Ohio QB Clay Belton from Dayton Northmont. He measured 6-5 3/4, 225 lbs. The big QB reminded us of Robby Schoenhoft (the OSU QB who we scouted a couple years back on this same field): a cannon for an arm, a decent compact delivery, but with accuracy problems at times (which good coaching could correct). A raw, big-boned signalcaller with excellent potential. He has offers from Duke, Kansas State, and Cincinnati ... he has never been to Michigan.

Iowa CB Jordan Bernstine from Des Moines Lincoln. He measured 5-10, 200. He ran a 4.43 sec. 40 (the second fastest 40 of the day?) and a 4.25 sec. shuttle. In the QB/WR/DB drills his technique was very raw (read: not great), but he showed toughness and recovery speed. He reminded us somewhat of Brandon Harrison, with an extra inch in height. He told GBW that he has offers from Nebraska, Kansas State, Texas A&M, and Purdue.

The top wideout of the day: small but lightening-fast Minnesota WR David Gilreath from Robbinsdale Armstrong. He measured 5-9, 170 pounds and ran the fastest 40 yard dash of the day at 4.39 seconds. He made the DB's look bad all day with his speed and agility, even Bernstine. His dad told GBW that he has a Minnesota offer.

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