Penn State Nike Camp Notebook (Part Three)

In part three of GoBlueWolverine's recap of the Penn State Nike Camp, we focus on the performances of three more top performers: Reggie Ellis, Shayne Hale, and Cameron Saddler.

Washington D.C. defensive lineman Reggie Ellis dominated the competition he faced in Happy Valley Saturday afternoon, and it’s safe to say that the Dunbar product has a lot of Marvin Austin in his game. Ellis has a non-stop motor and that same spirited style of trash talking that made Austin a recruit many will never forget. Ellis is eager to compete and was often seen jumping up towards the front of the line so he could get more opportunities to showcase his abilities. The 6-2, 270-pounder was cat quick off the edge, but also showed off a variety of moves when his speed was negated. The team that is lucky enough to get his commitment will also be getting a proven leader; one that demands greatness not only from himself, but also from his teammates. Now that he has a Michigan offer, the question in Wolverine-land is what position he would play if he were to pledge to the Maize & Blue. While his size suggests that his future is on the interior, his pass rushing skills are elite, making him very Lamar Woodley-esque.

Upon entering Holuba Hall, I saw a big imposing type figure stretching in the back of the building by himself while all the other campers had already headed over for drill work. This prospect turned out to be Gateway’s Shayne Hale, one of the top rated prospects in the country. When he finally took the field, he was pretty impressive. Hale moved very well on this day, showing good straight-line speed. He often was able to run step for step with the running backs in pass coverage. He used his strength many times to bump running backs off their pattern, preventing them from getting up field. His lateral quickness is one area that could use some improvement though, and running backs had more success against the big physical youngster when he didn’t get his hands on them. It’s a shame that the camp doesn’t have any running drills, because that when Hale’s at his best. Stuffing the run, and using his speed to chase down the ball carrier is his forte. Hale will have to work on his pass coverage skills if he wants to be a great linebacker on the next level.

Hale’s teammate Cameron Saddler was outstanding, as he ran by everybody that tried to cover him. The best chance a defender has of slowing down the diminutive athlete is getting physical with him. The problem the opposition is Saddler often counteracts that strategy with an array of moves that makes it hard to get a hand on him. Many liken Saddler to Chicago Bears pro bowler Devin Hester, and while I can see the similarities, it’s not the best comparison. Even if you disregard the difference in size (5-11 vs. 5-6), Hester’s top end speed and quicks are on another level. The Gateway phenom has a lot of work to do in order to become a player of Hester’s caliber. That said, Saddler is definitely a baller. His skill set combined with his return abilities on special teams make him a prospect worthy of an offer.

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