Day one was filled withy surprises, some good but not trend-setting and others – almost climactic. Lincoln Southwest's Baker Steinkuhler running a 4.71 wasn't expected, and it continued to reinforce my mind-set that kids are simply becoming freaks anymore.
It's like the conversations you can remember from your dad or even granddad, where they uttered in disbelief how big kids were getting, and they were talking about you. Now it's you looking at kids, and in this case, myself as well – if I was big 10 years ago what kids are nowadays is absolutely insane. There's one participant in this particular camp who hasn't even reached his freshman year of high school, yet there he was, standing all of 6 foot, 6 inches and weighing close to 250 pounds.
Yeah, kids are big.
And if that isn't a perfect segue into today's arrivals, I don't know what is. You have the literally big Trevor Robinson, who came in for the one day and no sooner than that, he was gone. But he left a nice impression as the Elkhorn standout measured in at 6 foot, 5 inches tall, while weighing 305 pounds. That didn't slow him down, though, as it hasn't for most of his prep career, Robinson reeling off a 5.31/40 and a 4.67 in the shuttle. He also added a 26 inch vertical leap.
Then you hit the figuratively big, at least in comparison to Robinson's stature, fellow Husker commit – Omaha Westside running back Collins Okafor. No, he isn't 300 pounds, but at 6 foot, 1 inch and 205 pounds, I am sure nobody who coaches him or plans to coach him is complaining. Especially not after today when Okafor torched the turf with a 4.40/40, a 4.07 shuttle and a 33 and a half inch vertical leap.
proved to certainly be |
put together, but he proved just as
definitively that he's got big-time
You'd think after what he did in both the testing and later in the seven-on-seven, would cement his worthiness even in his own mind, but ever the consummate self-critic, there are things he thinks he needs to improve. "My elusiveness and agility – those are two things you can never stop trying to improve," he said. "I need to work on my routes, I can always get better with my hands and it's just everything. I feel good about what I did today, but you don't ever get lax about your ability. You always try to get better."
Within the one-day camp, the pressure he put on himself was there, but there was a little frivolity involved as well. After all, Collins got to meet three of his future teammates, and all three of them could one day be the road graders up front as he attempts to peel off a scoring run. Even in today's age, where kids like Okafor are used to seeing bigger players, he had to admit he was in awe. "Are you kidding me? Those guys are huge and they are tops in the nation when it comes to offensive lines out there," Okafor said of Robinson, Baker Steinkuhler and Dan Hoch. "You can't go anywhere but up and down the field when you got guys like that in front of you."
Another who may not hold the status of future Husker, at least right now, but is hardly diminished in his potential when compared to the other two, is Millard North two-way-all-everything Sean Fisher. Having seen him at last year's Big Red Football School , I can say quite easily, that this kid only gets better with age.
|Sean Fisher comes down from a leaping
grab during |
That's what his team did many times, when they weren't throwing it to Omaha Westside's Tim Biere or Okafor, who was also a part of this grossly loaded team. And it often resulted about how you would expect. Fisher leaps up…touchdown, Fisher runs a crossing route…touchdown. Fisher runs a post and dives…yeah, touchdown.
It was almost ridiculous how unfair it was, and while it's probably not shocking, the Detroit Lions, which Fisher, Biere and Okafor played with today, went 1-3 yesterday and went undefeated this time around.
Yeah, I'm shocked too.
Fisher was obviously happy with their on-the-field success, but was also happy with the camp, as he, a top Division 1-A prospect with 14 written offers, sees plenty of room to improve. "There's always thing to improve on. These camps are just a way to get a refresher on some stuff, learn some new stuff and have a little fun too," Fisher said. "I get along with the coaches and I just like getting out there, learning and having fun."
With Fisher's status as the most coveted in-state recruit who has yet to commit, the Husker, Sooner and I am sure Razorback fans, want to know what's going on in his mind. Outside of the fact that his final list is composed of those three teams, the Millard North all-stater said that he's still trying to decide. "It's really those three that I would say are my favorites, but I haven't figured out yet what I want to do," he said. "You really can't go wrong with any of them, so it's tough, but not a bad problem to have."
Fisher did say of Nebraska , that when it came to pure opportunity and depth, the fact that Nebraska loses every starting linebacker, save sophomore Phillip Dillard, that certainly doesn't hurt their cause. "The depth is definitely attractive, but I'm obviously looking at a lot more than that. It's about where I feel I fit in the best, which place I am the most comfortable with and just how I eventually fit in," he said. "It's just a lot of things which I will try and get figured out before my last season of ball."
Fisher did say that he was done with the camps and he's probably not going to take anymore visits. So, while Fisher is holding on, I am sure fans of those aforementioned teams will hold on as well, eagerly awaiting his decision.
This goes back to the theme of this blog, because to look at this young man's face, you'd think he was 13. But then you figure in that he stands just a bit over 6 foot, 3 inches. Gregory-McGhee is a bit light right now, weighing in at around 175 pounds, but you watch this young man play, you can see what his potential is.
The good part for him is that most of his solid work was actually done in one-on-one situations. Often you see kids who run around really well, but once they get into contact, they aren't nearly as fluid. But that's where he sparkled, especially on offense, the Aurora , Colorado native ( Cherokee Trails High School ) moving in and out of his routes pretty well for someone so young. But for his Cougars, Kendall has a little more responsibility than just on offense, the junior-to-be playing punter, kicker, receiver and defense.
Even now, more than a few months away from actually being able to receive his first offer, Gregory-McGhee still gets the letters from as close as Colorado to as far away as Washington. Throw in Kansas State and Nebraska as well. Recruiting hasn't really even started for the young man, but from having relation hail from Nebraska , and his experience at this camp thus far, he likes what he's seen. "It's been great. Everything around here is kind of what you would expect – real nice and I really like the fact that they aren't a team that just runs all the time. I like the fact that they throw," he said.
Another new name on the watch list, but someone who is going into his senior year and couldn't care less if Nebraska throws or not, is Chaminade Julienne ( Dayton , OH ) safety/linebacker Edward Jennings Jr.
Like Gregory-McGhee, Jennings is a little light in the frame, but at close to 6 foot, 6 inches tall, this kid is still as solid as a rock. And despite that he's a little lanky
Edward Jennings Jr.
Jennings will actually play outside linebacker in a 3-4 system this year, and could see some time on offense.
Of the recruiting attention the younger Jennings has received thus far, his father said that he's gotten interest from Air Force, Cincinnati, Ohio and, of course, Nebraska, amongst others. But as odd as it may sound coming from a resident of the Buckeye State , if the Huskers come calling, the older Jennings has a strong feeling about where the younger one would like to be. " Nebraska is a great program. Heck, they are one of the best programs in the country," Edward Sr. said. "And if you watch them on defense, this team might not win every game, but they beat the hell out of anyone they play.
"They have heart, they never quit and you have to love a program like that, and the kind of people that put that into the kids. This is the reason we came down here. How can you not love what this program is about?"
After watching Jennings during today's action and a little bit from yesterday, what the dad says about the aggressiveness of his son wasn't overstated. He wasn't out there pummeling others in what is mostly a half-padded practice, but the kid goes after it until the end. If there is any one thing he needs right now, it doesn't really need a lot of analysis to figure. He's got the frame and now he just needs the size. Jennings has pretty good movement, good explosiveness and again, he's very aggressive after the ball. Now the kid just needs to put some meat on his bones.
One kid who is already pretty lean is Lincoln Southwest linebacker Graham Stoddard. He's only been on defense for a year now, but he seems to have taken to it pretty well. Over the course of the day and a half Stoddard has been pretty good in coverage, but for someone so inexperienced on that side of the ball, what you hope to see at the very least is athleticism and aggressiveness, something he has both of in abundance.
Now, Stoddard isn't going to run down Percy Harvin from behind, but a 4.57/40 is pretty darn good, especially when you figure he's 210 now, and with his frame you could throw on another 10 to 15 pounds easily and perhaps even improve that 40-time down the road. It's what has him excited about the future, and he's gotten at least some pretty good vibes from everything he's been told. "I got a chance to talk to coach Cosgrove and he said that he really liked what he's seen," Stoddard said of Nebraska Defensive Coordinator Kevin Cosgrove. "Defense is still pretty new to me, but I am getting more confident the more I do it, and obviously, Nebraska would be a really great place to play."
|Tim Biere makes a TD catch
Linebacker is a position of need, because after this year the cupboard is going to be pretty thin if the Huskers can't find a slew of youngsters to bring in. You could say of the tight end position, that when it comes to the "ideal" kind of player they want, up to now they haven't had any players at all.
Nebraska has had effective blockers who can run short routes like J.B. Phillips, Hunter Teafatiller and Josh Mueller. But they never really fit what you would call that "ideal" type of tight end for this particular offense. And with former Husker Matt Herian seemingly never coming fully back from that broken leg and new but still untested Husker Michael McNeil still trying to get healthy himself, Nebraska looks at it's situation and could very well find itself wanting.
Omaha Westside TE Tim Biere is doing what he can to try and convince the coaches that he's the kind of player they need. Biere has already done that with Kansas , Kansas State, Colorado State and Ohio , all four schools having offered him in writing. But he wouldn't mind doing it at Nebraska as well, which is the big reason why he was at this camp in the first place. "The coaches told me that if they wanted to see what I could do at this camp," Biere said. "They wanted to get a look at me in person and just see how I did. I think today went pretty well, even though there's always stuff I can work on, but I'm hoping that it was what they wanted to see."
That sounds good for Nebraska 's chances if they do indeed extend an offer, but Tim said that there are other factors at play. Yeah, it's Nebraska and sure, he's a Husker fan like anyone else, but even if the offer comes, he said he still has to think about some things. "It's not one of those things where I would commit the second I got the offer," Tim said. "There's still other stuff to think about, and I have really enjoyed getting to know the coaches from these other schools. They
|Zach Tiedgen makes a catch during|
tight end drills
If Biere doesn't work, Zach Tiedgen, a player we touched on a bit yesterday, probably wouldn't do bad. Biere stands about 6 foot, 4, but Tiedgen might actually have him by about half an inch. It is translated in his play as Tiedgen is a very physical tight ends in one-on-one situations, and when it came to his routes, moving in and out, and how he turned back up field, he did a pretty nice job. Of course, hands are always a big thing, and from what I saw from the tight ends working out today, all had a pretty good day in pulling down both the bad and good balls with nice consistency.
Like Biere, Tidgen has some offers of his own, Colorado State , Wyoming and San Diego State all having extended him scholarships in writing. He's also hearing a lot from Washington State , Arizona State, Boise State , and, of course, Nebraska .
Believe it or not those aren't all the players as we still have some to track down and run down from this first session of the Big Red Football School . It's what I meant when I was talking about big. Yeah, it's about the sheer size of the players, but it's also about the size of the group of very talented kids in this camp, both young and old. It's good, because that means you are actually getting flat feet for a reason. But it's a chore to keep track of them all. We aren't done, and we will finish up with even more players tomorrow – some you probably already know and some you may have yet to meet.
Hey, it's big. Yeah, it's big. Did I say that already?