It would have to have something to do with the rising popularity of the camp, because this major influx of major players can't be a coincidence.
I already profiled Ray, but here are a few other names, who didn't need an entire camp to show that they were more than worthy of a second look:
Keelan Johnson – Athlete – Mesa High School ( Mesa , AZ )
6-0, 200 lbs.
Johnson is a super versatile athlete, who has the size to be considered for a number of positions. At the Nebraska camp he worked at both safety and corner. At Mesa , his head coach said that wherever they needed a playmaker, that's where he would end up playing. So, he was playing running back, receiver, safety, corner and worked in the return game on both kickoffs and returns. He's got the versatility to do just about anything and the frame to hold easily another 10 to 15 pounds, and I wouldn't imagine he'd lose much of his speed. It almost sounds like an insult to call someone "just" a nice all-around athlete, but he was, and that's no insult at all.
Colin Shumate – Linebacker – Las Vegas High School ( Las Vegas , NV
6- 7/8, 221 – 4.29 Pro Agility – 29.5 inch vertical
I was pretty eager to see Shumate after having talked to him. He's a quiet kid who has the reputation for being very aggressive on the field. In the seven-on-seven competitions, it's actually a great thing in evaluation players like him, because linebackers or really, any player who is built like his, sometimes aren't tested side-to-side as much as you would like to see. With this kind of competition, where everyone is in just a helmet, he's going to have to do that pretty much the entire length of the game.
To that end, he did a pretty good job. First, his aggressiveness was very good. He proved good to what has been said about him in that regard. He's not real explosive, but with his build I am not sure how explosive you would expect him to be. He's perhaps a bit rigid, but how fluid you need him to be could be more or less important based on the system you run. If you run a 3-4, I could see him as an ideal guy for the interior, say after he slaps on another 10 pounds, which I think his frame can hold. Start projecting him to the outside, though, and I don't think that would work very well.
Ideally, based on his frame, what I have seen from his lateral movement and how he moves around the field, he would either be an interior backer in a 3-4 or a middle in a 4-3. But how many middle linebackers are just over six foot tall?
Shumate is a pretty good athlete, but there's just a little lack of fluidity in his game which I think that would indicate to me that while Nebraska needs linebackers, Colin may not quite fit what they are looking for right now.
Steven Staggs – Athlete – Oscaloosa High School ( Oscaloosa , IA
6-2, 185 (Did not test)
Like Shumate, I was eagerly awaiting Staggs coming in for this camp. I got to see him down in Kansas City , where he absolutely ripped it up. Unfortunately for Staggs, he tweaked a hamstring at an Iowa camp, which limited him from testing, but typical to the kind of gamer he is (remember he played two games with a broken leg last year), he was OK with not testing, but you weren't going to keep him out of the drills.
And even limited this kid showed great quickness and some of the hands I expected, based on what I had seen down in Kansas City . Plus, just like I want to see with any kid, he was relentless on the field. You can tell him he's hurt. You can tell him he's limited, but the second he hits the field, he's going to try and play like it simply doesn't matter.
That's saying something in one-hand touch football, which this was, but it just played to what I expected of Staggs when he arrived.
I still find myself wishing he had been healthy for the testing, so I could see if he could duplicate just the impressive raw performance in the numbers department. But it didn't take away from what I thought was a very good performance in the seven-on-seven work that he did.
He's aggressive to be sure. He's got the frame without a doubt and he's got the upside you want to see. And healthy, I think he's got the speed, and he is someone you could put some weight on and see him keep that speed or even get faster. I like the kid a lot, and he may have the offer from Army now, but that's not the end of the story for him. I'm not sure about Nebraska , but I could see just about anyone taking this kid. I think he's got a bright future in Division 1-A, and that is on either side of the ball.
John Levorson – Crete High School ( Crete , NE )
6-3 ¼, 190 pounds – 40: 4.55 Agility: 4.3 Vert: 32
You see those measurables? Yeah, that's what I am talking about. Talk about a kid that looks good on paper, you got it with Levorson. But he's got the physique to go with the digits and turns out he's a pretty decent player as well.
The "pretty decent" is a little bit of an understatement. Again, and I know this is beating a cliché' to death, but he's one heck of an athlete. Being recruited as an outside backer, he can also play safety and you could even stick him on offense.
I like just about everything I saw out of him, ranging from his lateral movement to his explosiveness toward the ball. He's rangy and the best part about him is that he's got "upside" running out of his ears. I see this young man and much like you could see with Lincoln Southwest's Baker Steinkuhler, I could easily see a completely different player in two years from the one I see now.
Personally, and this is only going to add to the luster of an in-state class with his bordering on epic in size (For Nebraska ), I could easily see this kid getting an offer from the Huskers. But if they don't want him, some team is going to be darn lucky if they happen to get him. I think this kid is legit.
I am going to wind up this round of "getting to know….whomever" with a kid who stands 6 foot, 5 inches tall and weighs 290 pounds. Yeah, I know – you've heard those kinds of numbers before and it sounds good. Oh, and he plays for Aurora High School in Aurora Nebraska.
I know you might be thinking to yourself that the class of 2008 could be the most obscene class of in-state-studs anyone in this state has ever seen. Well, yeah, if this kid was part of that class, I could see that. Heck, I could see that without him. But he's not part of the class of 2008.
Yeah, he's going to be a sophomore.
Hailing from Harlem , New York , Andrew Rodriguez is a monster to look at him even at the wee age of 16. He's big, strong and he's only now really starting to figure out this position he'll play. Of course, you could see him play either position, and the scary part is, if you look at the rest of his family, he might even grow some more. "My dad is 6-8," Andrew said of his father, who hailed from Camden , New Jersey . "There's a lot of size in my whole family."
Well, if size matters, this kid already is a significant force and who knows how big he will get. But let's not delve into this too much. After all, he's only going to be a sophomore. But hold onto your socks, because think of him now and then project him playing three more years of prep ball.
That's just sick, and congratulations to the coach at Aurora . You got yourself a man-child
Stay tuned for tomorrow's report, as it is actually a full day of kids going at it, learning from the Husker coaches and various other coaches from around the state and around the country. And, of course, more seven-on-seven competition. Big Red Report will keep you up-to-date on who's hot, and who out of this group could potentially wearing red in the near or distant future.