Combine Tour in Jacksonville

A beautiful Sunday Morning in the Sunshine State brought us an immaculately manicured field at <b>Jacksonville University</b>, a brisk wind, and some of the fastest players in the country. We expected the players from the region to put on a show on Sunday at the <b> Combine</b>, and they didn't disappoint.

When we arrived at Jacksonville University to walk through the facilities on Saturday, we were excited to see a game field that was of the condition of the fairways of most high end golf courses in the area. Knowing the type of talent that was going to be on hand on Sunday for the Combine, we knew it was going to be a special day, and the players from Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina didn't disappoint.

C.J. Spiller of Union County was the defending champion from all of our combines in 2004. As a sophomore he ran a 4.38 forty on the grass in Gainesville, Fla, and on his first attempt with a stiff breeze in his face, he ripped off a 4.48 forty. Ben Barkin from Competitive Edge Sports was conducting the timing with me on the forties on Sunday, and after Spiller ran his time, I told him "C.J.'s going to break a 4.4 on the way back."

Spiller proved the prediction true as he timed a 4.35 in his second attempt. We knew Spiller was fast; we saw him last year. We knew he ran hard, because we logged six of his games for his Scouting Video. The only question that we might have had about him was answered on Sunday when he measured 5-10 and 184 pounds of chiseled stone. It would not be a surprise to see C.J. Spiller ranked the #1 Running Back in the South when the rankings come out in early June.

Just like Spiller set the Gainesville camp on its ear last year as a sophomore, another sophomore this year did his best to steal the show. Deonte Thompson of Glades Central measured at 5-11.5 and 183 pounds at wide receiver. He opened some eyes immediately with his first forty time of 4.50 into the wind, but then he turned around on his second attempt and clocked 4.28 on Barkin's watch and 4.29 on mine. His 4.28 shuttle time was one of the best of the day as well.

Thompson was part of the last group to run forties, and in a good natured race between the tops from the Class of '06 and '07, Spiller and Thompson dueled in a match race. Some say Spiller nosed Thompson, some said Thompson got Spiller with the lean at the end. 

The watches on both players as they crossed the finish line: 4.28

 The video and photos we will post later this week may give us the answer as to who was ahead at the end of the race, but there was no winner and loser, just two terrific prospects having a good time in front of a big crowd.

While Spiller and Thompson put on a show on Sunday, they certainly weren't the only ones to standout amongst the prospects in attendance. Here is a run down of some of the players to catch our eye on Sunday.

At the quarterback position, Thaddeus Lewis of Hialeah Miami Lakes made the trip up to Jacksonville, and his time was not wasted. Lewis showed good agility in his testing at 6-0 and 192 pounds with a 4.50 shuttle time, and he proved that he had one of the best arms in the south again on Sunday. 

Harry Betsey of East Gadsen measured 6-1 and 193 pounds and had a break out day throwing the ball. Betsey has caught the eyes of several recruiters already with scholarship offers from Georgia Tech, Illinois, and Maryland.

College coaches are going to be flocking to Florida for running backs this year. Spiller headlined a strong group that had standout numbers on Sunday. Dontae Jones of Evans High School in Orlando is a big, bruising back at 5-11 and 211 pounds. Jones turned in a shuttle time of 4.47, a vertical of 33.5 and a forty time of 4.58. 

Desmond Gee of Madison County helped lead his team to the State Title game last year, and while he doesn't have Jones' size, Gee is quick as a cat at 5-6 and 158 pounds with 4.45 quickness. Brandon James is another scatback type that had a good day on Sunday. James already has offers from Penn State and Illinois, and he turned in one of the Top 10 L-Cone times at 5-6.5 and 170 pounds and a 4.50 forty. Brandon West of Camden County High School in Georgia wasn't going to let his Florida counterparts have all of the fun. He measured 5-9 and 177 pounds with a 4.40 in the shuttle and a 40 time of 4.45.

Another big back to keep an eye on is Glenis Thompson of Palm Beach Lakes. Thompson measured a stocky 5-8 and 202 pounds, and his agility numbers were solid. He turned in a 4.58 forty time with a 33.5 vertical jump.

It's never a surprise when we come to Florida and find a wealth of talent at the wide receiver position. Several known commodities stood out on Sunday, and several new players jumped out. 

Anthony Jones of Rickards made the trip over from Tallahassee, and he was one of the most impressive campers regardless of position. At 6-0 and 166 pounds, Jones turned in a shuttle time of 4.19 and a 4.57 forty. He separated himself even more in the one on one drills to conclude the camp.

Latarrius Thomas of New Smyrna Beach had the physique of a linebacker when he walked in, and the 6-1 and 194 pound wide receiver used his strength and agility to his advantage in passing drills as he ran crisp routes and showed very good hands. 

Tony Wilson of Mainland High School in Daytona measured 5-10 and 172 pounds. He timed a 4.55 in the forty with a 4.47 shuttle time. He ran several outstanding routes and made some big plays in the passing drills that finished the camp on Sunday.

Zach Charles of Winter Haven is another Florida speedster that tested well on Sunday. Charles measured 5-10 and 165 pounds and turned in an impressive 4.20 shuttle and 4.46 forty times. 

The south is loaded with offensive linemen this year, but most of them are thought to be from the South Florida region. The prospects that came to the combine on Sunday were there to represent their region, and there were some good players to watch.

Zackery Henderson of Bartram Trail High School is the type of prospect that coaches crave. He played tight end at one point in his career, but the 6-7 and 248 pound player knows his future is on the offensive line. His 4.6 shuttle time showed the agility of a former tight end, and his frame indicates a player that will easily play his career in the 300's.

Ricardo Matthews of Terry Parker made the short trip over to Jacksonville University, and he did very well for himself. At 6-2 and 257 pounds, Matthews showed outstanding agility with a 4.72 shuttle, a 4.91 forty, and maybe most impressive a 32.5 vertical jump.

Ryan Cave made the trip from Beaufort, S.C., and he may have been the most impressive of all of the linemen in the one on one drills to conclude the camp on Sunday. at 6-3.5 and 352 pounds, he drew rave reviews from other players as well as our line coach Bob Lichtenfels. 

The offensive and defensive lines got a lot of reps in the individual portions of the camp, and the offensive linemen got to work out against some top notch players. Willie Oliver was one of several from Union County to have good showings. At 6-0.5 and 242 pounds, Oliver posted very good times of 4.97 in the forty and 4.79 in the shuttle.

Andy Lark of Oviedo was impressive when we saw him as a sophomore and he remains impressive as a junior. At 5-11.5 and 302 pounds Lark is a bull on the defensive line. With a 29.5 vertical jump and a 4.9 shuttle despite losing his footing, Lark has shown time and time again that he is going to make someone very happy on the next level. Did we mention the 4.2 GPA?

Dedric Miley from Valdosta High School is a prospect that coaches will keep an eye on. He is currently 6-0.5 and 241 pounds with a good quickness. He has the potential to play inside or outside on the college level.

While the linebacker Class of 2005 was as strong as we might see for several years, the Class of 2006 stood up to get noticed on Sunday as well. Dustin Doe of Hamilton County was one of the most impressive backers on the day coming in at 6-0 and 210 pounds. Doe turned in a shuttle time of 4.60, a forty of 4.63, and showed amazing explision with a 120" standing broad jump and a 34.5 vertical leap. 

Emanuel Cook of Palm Beach Gardens is going to make a college coach look like a genius. At 5-9 and 200 pounds, several schools may pass strictly on height, and they would be doing themselves a disservice. Cook turned in a 4.32 shuttle to go along with his 4.54 forty time and 36 inch vertical leap. He is a rock solid prospect with outstanding agility.

Kevin Alexander is the ideal candidate to explain to prospects why the 40 time can't be used alone in evaluating a prospect. At 6-2.5 and 217 pounds, Alexander turned in a respectable time of 4.95 in the forty, but it didn't begin to tell the tale. Watching him run, it's easy to see that he isn't a good starter out of the blocks, but this isn't a track team we are scouting for. From 10 yards to 40 yards he runs extremely well and is faster than his forty time would indicate, but that his scouting video shows. His other tests also show a physically gifted prospect  with a 4.6 shuttle and a very good 7.47 L-Cone. Alexander is athletic enough on the field, that he could get a shot to play some safety this year.

Andrew Trowbridge of Warner Christian is another prospect that continues to impress on the combine circuit. Trowbridge measured 6-0, and he picked up six pounds of muscle since attending the Kennedy/CES Combine in January, and he weighed in this weekend at 217. He has the ideal quickness to play middle linebacker, and he showed it again this weekend with a blazing 4.14 Shuttle.

Like the wide receivers, coaches know to come to Florida to find speed at the defensive back position, and two players that will vie for Top 5 overall at the camp were cornerbacks. 

Ryan Hill of Rickards High School measured 5-10.5 and 182 pounds and ran the fastest shuttle on the day with a 4.10 time. With a 4.53 forty to combine with his shuttle time, Hill posted some of the best numbers on the day. He is a fierce hitter that didn't get to show off that side of his game on Sunday, but he is also excellent in coverage.

Byron Maxwell of Fort Dorchester South Carolina only added to the terrific group of defensive backs in attendance, and he may have been the best of the bunch. At 6-0 and 176 pounds, Maxwell has the size that coaches are looking for, and with a 4.4 shuttle and a 4.53 forty, he has the speed as well. Maxwell was outstanding in coverage drills and represented the Palmetto State on Sunday.

Jacques Rickerson of St. Augustine was another of several cornerbacks that had outstanding days on Sunday. At 5-10 and 176 pounds, Rickerson turned in a 4.34 shuttle time to go along with his 4.43 forty.

With so many talented players in attendance on Sunday, it's impossible to write about all of them in one story. While we highlighted these players today, we will be highlighting dozens more through the week. Look for the full results from the Jacksonville Combine on Tuesday as well as photos, videos, interviews and more as the week goes on.'s next stop: Champaign Illinois, Saturday April 23. See you there.

Pack Pride Top Stories