Saddler Spices Up Pitt Combine

First-hand GBW coverage of Sunday's Pitt Combine begins. Monroeville Gateway 'athlete' Cameron Saddler was easily the most vocal guy there. Michigan's latest offered-player is full of life, emotional and effervescent ... he jumped up and down with exuberance when he made a great play, and he jumped up and down with frustration when he didn't. And - he may have been combine MVP.

First a scouting report (film/photos to come). We'd call Cameron Saddler a 'poor man's' Boubacar Cissoko. He's shorter than Cissoko -- 5-6 or 5-7 to Boubacar's 5-9 or 5-10. And not quite as fast -- he ran a very good 4.44 sec. 40. He didn't run a shuttle, but he jumped into the 3-cone ("Just for you," he told us as he hopped into the cue) and recorded an outstanding 6.87 sec. time.

As a defensive back he showed the same fast-as-lightning feet as Boubacar. I don't think we caught this on video because he only took one or two snaps as a DB. He spent most of the day alternating between mainly-wideout and some running back. As a wideout he had a great day -- he and Ohio Ath. D.J. Woods put on the two great speed-receiver performances. No defensive back could stay with him, and he hit many a deep ball 'home run'. He also caught everything thrown his way.

Was he overall MVP of the combine? If not, he was in a dead heat with one or two other guys (stay tuned).

We spoke to Cameron during the day, and he told us about his Michigan offer:

"Coach Loeffler (who recruits W. Pa. for U-M) came to our school just Friday, and he told me Michigan has decided to offer me!"

"It felt great to get a Michigan offer. Shayne and I visited Michigan for a Rose Bowl practice, and I thought I was going to get an offer in the winter. But I understand that that's how things go. I know schools are looking for that 6-foot tall guy."

I'm happy it (the U-M offer) came."

As far as what Michigan is recruiting him for, he told us:

"Michigan says they are recruiting me first as a kick returner."

Also in attendance at the combine was most of the Gateway team, including Top 100 linebacker Shayne Hale. Saddler repeated what he'd told us in the winter about he and Hale:

"Shayne and I are most definitely looking at going to the same school. We're cousins and we've always stuck together."

Michigan's offer has jumped them firmly back into the fray for Saddler (and Hale), Cameron said:

"I have a top five of Michigan, Pitt, Virginia, Syracuse and UNC. And I also have offers from Oregon, Temple and Akron."

Saddler's timetable has slowed down since we'd last talked to him in the winter however:

"I'm not in a big hurry to make a decision. I'd like to see if some of the other schools that have offered Shayne will be offering me."

"I'll take my official visits -- they will play a big role in my decision. I don't want to make an early decision and then decide to decommit from somewhere."

One more thing on Saddler: he is short, but not slight-of-build ... he plainly looks like he belongs out there with the big boys, and with his strong, compact body and quick feet he presents an ellusive target for would-be tacklers.

(Okay, two more things: another comparison for Saddler: a poor man's Deshawn Jackson ... again, maybe not quite as fast, but the two share the same effervescent personality.)

Cousins Saddler (left), Hale

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