I don't care. I'm still complaining.
What I wasn't complaining about, though, was that while I was grateful not to be lumbering around in pads, the kids who were there for the Big Red Football School took to the heat like it was just another day – another day for football.
I outlined a few of the players who stood out, but certainly not all of them. In fact, you could argue quite easily that the single biggest name has yet to be mentioned at all.
His name is Justin Chaisson and when he officially becomes a junior (yes, I said a junior), he'll probably have approximately 20 offers on hid doorstep…at least.
He stands 6-4 ½, weighs 255 pounds, runs a 4.7/40 and jumps a whopping 36 inches straight up. He was all-state as a freshmen while at perennial powerhouse Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas , Nevada . And after his sophomore season he was first-team all-state again…but at two positions: offensive and defensive line.
That's plain sick, and it's only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the attention he's getting, especially after camps at Oklahoma, LSU, Florida and, of course, Nebraska. And he'll be heading to USC and UCLA after this.
Remember, this young man is only going to be a junior.
Faced with the very real future of having offers from every major program, Justin is unbelievably calm. "Well, it's nice knowing that all these school have all this interest and I am just grateful," he said. "The only thing I want to think about, though, is getting better."
After notching a reported 16 sacks last year, you might wonder just how much better he can be. His coach smiled in a way that would make even the cat who got the canary envious, and you had a sense of just what that meant. "I've seen my share of great defensive ends and this guy has the potential to be one of them," Assistant coach and former 8-year NFL Veteran Lonnie Palelei said. "He's got it all and he's got a 3.2 GPA."
To talk to Justin, as you hear him reel off this wonderfully cliché' answers about taking it all in and how everyone is the same in regard to favorites, you'd forget that he still has two years of high school to play. But he does, and when it comes to recruiting, it's hard for someone to get really into it, when for him, it hasn't "officially" began. "It's great, but I am just going to take it all in and see what everyone has to offer," Justin said. "Every place I have been to has been just unbelievable. They all have great facilities, great coaches and they'd all be great places to play."
As juniors-to-be go, Chaisson is probably one of the top names you will see. But a nice athlete in his own right, and also going into his junior year is a prep who comes from a bit of a powerhouse all its own. Out of Rockhurst high school in Missouri , Nathan Scheelhaase stands 6-2 and weighs 184 pounds. No, he's not real big right now, but his frame says that he can get considerably bigger down the road.
With that little note toward his upside out of the way, the young man came in as a quarterback, but worked at a variety of positions, including defensive back. He's got very good explosion, which you can see on the field, but it's also illustrated quite well by his vertical leap of 33 inches. He complimented that with a very impressive 4.23, which is amongst the best marks I have heard for both camps, not too far behind the freakish 4.02 shuttle of Brother Rice's Caulton Ray.
But I have to tell you that outside of this kid's raw potential, and I think he certainly has some – the one thing that stood out to me was his toughness.
Sure, kids who fight through the heat and the humidity, exhibit some toughness just sticking it out and giving everything they have. But this kid had an interesting incident which allowed everyone to see just how tough he was. To explain what I am talking about, look at the following photograph:
This is a downspout which hangs on the sides of Hawks Championship Indoor Center . This is what it looks like when it's in pretty good shape.
This is what it looks like after Scheelhaase's shin collided with it after he reeled off a full out sprint into the end zone on a quarterback keeper.
The young man wasn't even down for a count of two, and he was jogging back to toward the huddle. Of course, once someone saw that his shin had a major gash in it, he was sent to the trainer, and as you would expect, he was back just as soon as they could get it cleaned up and bandaged.
As a quarterback, though, he wasn't the biggest of kids, he had a nice quick release and actually, a pretty darn good arm. I am not sure that QB is his future, but I wouldn't completely discount it. There has become an increasing demand for mobile quarterbacks, and Scheelhaase seems to have a good foundation to build upon. But I still wouldn't be surprised at seeing him on the defensive side one day, more than likely as a safety.
There's no question about this next young man being a safety, though, because that's what he is, and that's what he's going to be. Sometimes you just know, and since we met Sam Pour a year ago at this same camp, he had it written all over his face and over his freakish physique.
Well, Sam came back for round two, shall we say, and he's bigger and faster than he was just a year ago. That's not bad for a kid who like the first two players, still has two years to play ball. But it seems like Sam's been kind of a household name in Huskerland.
Pour eyes his next opponent in one-on-one drills
Based on what he did in this camp, that buzz won't stop anytime soon.
Call it youthful exuberance or whatever, but one thing I have loved about this kid since the first time I saw him, is that he takes the mistakes with a grain of salt and never gives up on a play. And today was even better, because when every player, including Sam was shot to hell from the long camp and the heat, if someone wanted a safety at a spot on the field, there he was always at the head of the line.
Sam still doesn't top six foot, but he found himself playing guys like Omaha Westside's Damon Bechtold who stands 6 foot 3. And as Damon himself said, that kid gave as good as he got. "I didn't realize he was that young. Yeah, that kid is good," Bechtold said of Pour. "He's going to be a good one."
Don't tell that to Sam, though, because he's automatically quiet and reserved when you talk to him, and he's just as modest about what he does. Maybe he's taken a page from the book of one Phil Elmassian in that he knows no matter how good he is, he's never going to be perfect.
But Sam has taken this second camp in stride, and what he loves about this second go around is that he knows he's better than the first time he came to Lincoln . "I feel good about what I have done, but I know I have a lot of work to do," Sam said. "I work hard to get better, and I feel I have done that. Now I need to get even better for next time."
At this point of his development Sam already shows a lot. What he'll need to improve upon, and he's certainly got the athleticism, desire and time, is that he's just got to get a bit faster and work on his adjustments to the ball while trying to shield the defender. The slants are almost impossible to cover, so I won't hold it against him getting beat on those, and he certainly had his share of bigger receivers to cover as well. Also, these drills put him strictly in man coverage, which he definitely won't see as much of at the next level of play. Whether or not that will be Nebraska , Sam isn't saying, but seeing as how he's not even eligible to get an offer yet, I figure there's no real rush to find out.
Damon Bechtold wouldn't mind finding out, at least from someone at this point, that he's got what it takes to play Division 1-A. And I have to admit that I liked his performance during this camp.
He's invariably going to be compared to teammate and fellow tight end Tim Biere, who is already sitting on a couple of offers. I think that in this particular camp he did a very nice job in being very comparable, and at least to me, in some ways he was a bit better.
Biere is a bit bigger, with a little more upside when it comes to his frame. That basically means you can see him holding more weight, but without necessarily losing that much speed. While Bechtold is a bit slighter, standing 6-3 and weighing about 215 pounds, his frame is such that you could throw 15 more pounds on him – maybe 20, and good S&C should keep him running about the same velocity.
Right now Bechtold runs a 4.7, and at his size that simply won't do. But if he can indeed add that kind of weight and still keep that, then you've got something for sure. But that kind of weight doesn't get added during a senior season of high school, unless it comes from the Taco Bell school of weight-gain. That will take time, and it's going to be up to a school to take the risk that they can add the weight and keep the speed. I like Bechtold's attitude, and he certainly played aggressive all day during one-on-ones. His route running was good and when he got a chance at a ball, he almost always brought it in.
Damon is a good prospect, but his physical development and how much time it takes to get him there is what a school will have to weigh when thinking about him in their system.
One young man who went and found a system which fit him was Geneva High's Durron Wayne. Wayne said that when he was scouting out opportunities for himself and getting some time doing what he likes to do, he scouted out Fillmore Central High in Geneva , NE. Playing both ways for the Panthers Durron said that he totaled over 800 yards on the ground and served in the return game, ending up honorable mention all-state by both the Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha World Herald.
If there is one test the kid most certainly passes, it's the eyeball test. Wayne stands just over 6-1 and weighs 193 pounds. And his 4.63 isn't all that bad, but he'll obviously want to improve upon that as well as his 27 inch vertical, if he's going to get the kind of recruiting attention he's trying to get.
When you play the positions he's projected to play, coaches look for a lot of things which they won't have to necessarily teach. Explosion and pure speed is one of them, and the vertical tests the first, and the 40 is the given standard in testing the second.
You could say that the kid might have the instincts to play, so speed isn't always everything. If we were talking about linemen, I might be inclined to agree. But if you are projected to play corner, safety or even outside linebacker, your instincts won't amount to a hill of beans if you can't track somebody down. Taking great angles is all well and good, but if you are doing that to make up for speed you lack, you are always having to stay one step ahead, so you don't get two steps behind. In Division 1-A, that's not a winning formula.
Wayne has a great frame, and if he can improve his quickness over this next year to the point he's at least in the mid-4.5 range, I think they you will start to see a few teams give him a hard look. He plays hard, which is great, and his mobility is pretty good as well. Now, he just needs the wheels.
And I'll wheel this blog out and say that tomorrow will be a wrap up, but don't think that there won't be at least one or two other names to throw in. That's the both great and horrible thing about trying to cover 400 kids on your own. There's never a minute you don't look around and see someone new. So, stay tuned as Big Red Report rolls on during the 2007 Nebraska Summer Camps and day three of the second session of the Big Red Football School .