I often have to go through photographs of former camps or combines, so I can recall a bit of who was there. It's just a way to jog the memory.
However, I didn't need any photos to remind me of a camp two years ago when a couple of kids really stood out:
It says something after a three-day session of summer camp is done and two of the brightest stars during that mini-event which featured over 300 kids, two of those who stood out hadn't even entered their sophomore year. It was Sam Pour, a defensive back out of Park Hill HS in Kansas City , Missouri and Gabe Lynn, another standout prospect from Jenks HS, a perennial powerhouse out of the Sooner state.
Pour came out of nowhere, basically, but with Gabe we had at least some idea of this young man's potential. After all, his older brother didn't turn out too bad.
Going into his junior year at Nebraska , Phillip Dillard is the incumbent at the middle linebacker position, and glimpses of Dillard's athleticism and more importantly, his ferociousness, give people a reason to be excited about just what they are going to see.
Gabe is a little different than Phillip in just that pure adrenaline-type frenzy. But as a dad who has watched both of them grow up and play, many of the biggest factors in their success is the same. "Phillip has always been thick, but man that kid has always been able to run and catch people from behind. With Gabe, he's obviously a different built than Phillip, but he can get down the field, too," Tyrone Dillard said. "But mentally, both are competitors, but Phil, he's about as competitive as you are going to see."
Of course, Gabe will be playing cornerback at the next level, the younger son of Mr. Dillard sporting a taller and slimmer frame than his older brother, measuring in at close to 6-1 and weighing 180 pounds. It's not all that far off from the measurements of another Oklahoma standout who was at the Nebraska camp just a year earlier than Lynn , and while he was only there for one day, Reggie Smith gave everyone a whole lot to remember.
When Gabe's father compares the two, he does it knowing what Reggie has already done, but he sees them as both similar and different types of athletes. "Around about the same age, I think they are pretty close in size, but I think Gabe probably plays a little more physical," Dillard said. "And I don't mean to say that Reggie wasn't a physical player in high school. The thing is, at Santa Fe , Reggie had to do everything, played both ways, returns – you name it. At Jenks, you don't do that.
"So, I think Reggie had to play like that, because how in the world do you keep a guy like that on the field for an entire game, and on both sides, if he's out there going crazy?"
You want to talk about crazy? Well, that's another area where Smith and Lynn seem to have a little in common. Smith went into his junior year with a very promising reputation. But his recruiting really took off toward the end of his junior year, but especially after it, leading into his final prep-campaign.
Gabe can relate, as it started with the Nebraska offer back on September the 10th of last year, and was followed almost immediately by an offer from North Carolina . Then there was a little plateau of sorts, but over the last couple of months, that attention has skyrocketed. A couple of offers now hits an estimated 13, the most recent offers coming from Miami and Tennessee, with more on the way, perhaps the next in line to offer Lynn being Florida State and Clemson.
Gabe obviously didn't expect all of this attention, but dating back to his first offer, he said he had an inkling of what might be in store for the future. "Well, you can't say that you expect anything like this. I mean what's been happening lately has been crazy," Lynn said. "It just seems like they keep on coming and then here comes some more.
"I'm not surprised by what kind of attention there is, though, because this is like my second time going through recruiting.. That's where what Phil went through, is helping me out a lot right now."
Phillip ended the season at Jenks as a U.S. Army All-American, touted by most, offered by many, but ultimately ending up in the Cornhusker state. Because Nebraska was the first to offer him, albeit from a different staff, at least early on through the recruiting process, it was thought that Nebraska might have a big edge.
A dozen or so offers later, though, and a change in Nebraska 's staff, has many thinking the tables have turned. If anything, everyone is on equal footing right now. Lynn agreed for that last part, but he said the perception which has had him a shoo-in for both Oklahoma and Nebraska , and maybe even Oklahoma State , couldn't be more wrong.. "What I keep getting are people who say that I am from Oklahoma , so I am going to Oklahoma or Oklahoma State . Then I get the people who say that my brother is at Nebraska , so I am definitely not going to schools in Okahoma," he said. "I know fans are going to make it sound how they want it to sound or something like that, but I'm seriously wide open.
" Nebraska obviously has a place for me, because they offered me before everyone else. But it's still early and I am getting all of these other offers. They must want me to offer me this early in the process. I have to give them all a good look."
You can thank brother Dillard for another valuable lesson, perhaps in life, but definitely in recruiting:
"You see all of these guys go on their first visit and think that it's tight or it's cool and commit right there. And then they change their mind," Lynn said. "You have to be patient. Every school has something to offer, but you have to choose the one which is best for you.
"Phil went through all this, so this doesn't seem all that new."
With the process, which could take as long as needed, about to get on its way, Gabe is thinking about combine's he's going to and visits he's made and has yet to make. It's a laundry list, as you would expect. "I'm going to the Scout.com Combine in Dallas on April 19th and then I am going to the Nike combine down there on March 8th," Gabe said. "And I have already unofficially visited Oklahoma , Oklahoma State and North Carolina . And I am going to Nebraska probably for a spring practice and definitely the spring game."
Consider that just the tip of the iceberg, as they say, Lynn already outlining how thorough he wants to be, but with his dad already having been down that road, Gabe's older brother having experienced it first-hand and Gabe himself vicariously living it as well, this family is probably about as prepared for the recruiting frenzy as anyone. "This being the second time around, I know what it means when September gets here. It's going to get crazy," Mr. Dillard said. "So, we are going to get out there and see as many schools as we can, so Gabe can get to know as much about them and the coaches as possible.
"With the offers he has now, I figure when it's all said and done, most if not all of the major schools will have probably offered. So, yeah, it's going to get crazy, but we hope to try and stay ahead of that over this spring and summer."
Game finished his junior campaign with 45 tackles, three interceptions and four TDs scored either on defense or special teams. Lynn 's prowess at returning the ball was very Reggie-like as well, the senior-to-be averaging a whopping 33.57 yards per kick return and an even more amazing 31.50 yards per punt return for the eventual state champion Trojans.