Let me start out by talking about the star of the camp… one Mr. Devin Gardner. I know I should not say anymore about him since Sam Webb has already filled you in on many of the details, but I've got to add my two-cents. This guy is a freak on the football field! To watch him throw on one play, then line up at receiver on the play, and ultimately perform better at both positions than anyone else there is just crazy. I have not seen every kid in the country, but if there is a kid that can throw it and catch the way Gardner does, I would like to see him. Devin Gardner is flat out awesome with a capital A!
Now on to one of the top match-ups I observed at the camp. Willow Run Sr. OL/DL Garrett Davis vs. Detroit Southeastern DE/LB Will Gholston. On paper, this is a mismatch. Gholston is one of the most athletic prospects in the entire country. Surely he would too much for the 6-3, 280-pound Willow Run strong man, right? Not quite. Battles aren't won on paper and Davis more than held his own against his highly rated counterpart.Gholston was a jack of all trades on the day, taking reps at LB, TE, and later defensive line.
Gholston was summoned to the defensive line group specifically for the one-one-ones. He came trotting on the field, coming from another one about 100 yards with one of the members of the Michigan State coaching staff. At first he was destroying guys, going outside and up the field at will. At the point of contact just abusing everyone he faced until Garrett Davis stepped up to the challenge.
Davis walked up and was in position to start, Gholston put down two arms and he was ready to go (for some reason I want to say "LET'S GET IT ON" but that is for the UFC). The whistle blew and Gholston went around on Davis but Davis' body and feet moved fast enough to put him great position. He got into Gholston's chest and rode him out away from the tackling dummy. Everyone in attendance was very surprised. Some even cheered for Davis because it was quite an impressive showing. Gholston was not going to take that lying down. He immediately wanted a rematch and Davis was ready willing (no pun intended) and able to take him on again.
The two young men put on quite a show for the coaching staffs of Michigan and Michigan State. I would say the battle ended in a tie. It certainly livened things up on that side of the field. The best part for me was what this camp is all about as the coaches called all the kids together to end the drill. Gholston was looking back and he saw Davis walking by. Gholston threw his hand around Garrett and the two smiled at each other. They stopped to tell each other "good job." The two were outstanding in that drill they truly brought the best out in each other.
As exciting as the battle was between the aforementioned two, watching the Michigan and Michigan State coaching staffs coexist at the event was equally entertaining. None was more exciting than "Mr. Fire & Brimstone" himself. That is what my new name is for Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson. This guy does not hesitate to let you know whose side he is on. During the drill for the O-line and D-line the Michigan State coaches were on one side coaching Will Gholston and giving him pointers on what to do. Well that didn't seem to sit too well with Fire & Brimstone, so when Gholston came over to other the side, Fire & Brimstone felt like it was his turn to go to work… and he let all those with in ear shot hear it. "Let's go Will! It's our turn to coach you now!" Then he began to give Gholston instruction on what he needed to do. Will Gholston was all ears, and Fire & Brimstone's pointers proved to be quite useful. Robinson's audible declaration surprised me (and probably everyone else) a little at first, but at the same time it let me know that there is no back-down in this guy. Fire & Brimstone has it turned on all the time and will fit in quite nicely in Ann Arbor.
Now for a few obscure prospects who caught my eye.
Jamal Hosley, Junior WR, Highland Park. What a player ! His burst off the line of scrimmage was a thing of beauty. He runs solid routes, is VERY tough and physical, and he has great ball skills. Against two of the top corners (Mylan Hicks and Dior Mathis) in the state, he showed he could still create separation. On a scale from 1 to 10, I would give Hosley an eight for his performance against them. On his first route he drew bump & run coverage from Hicks, but he got off the line with a swim move. With Hicks still in his hip pocket the ball was thrown over his shoulder and he adjusted for the catch. Against Mathis, Hosley ran an out-and-up move. Mathis was right with him but he pulled ahead slightly for the catch. Hosley is good player who we will continue to keep our eye on to see how he progresses. His most impressive trait may have been his willingness to go right at whoever was covering him, even if it was a big timer. He said to GBW, "If the best is out here, let us go at it and may the best man win." Trust me when I say Hosley won a lot.
Raymond Taylor Jr., Junior WR, Highland Park. A teammate of Hosley's… he too has a burst off the line. He is not quite as explosive as Hosley, but he gets it done. Solid route runner, physical coming off the line and he has speed. He dropped a few passes, most of which were not thrown very well. Overall he displayed very good hands. He is certainly one to keep an eye on. I don't know what they are doing over at Highland Park but it is working thanks to Coaches Robinson and Smitty and everyone else over there that I missed.
Still more to come later.