Shrine Bowl Combine Breakdown: Defense

Pack Pride was on hand as close to 100 of North Carolina's best prospects competed for a spot in the 2006 Shrine Bowl. In this article we break down the defensive standouts and give insight as to where NC State may stand with several.

You know it's a deep year for talent in North Carolina when a likely four-star prospect with offers from several national-caliber programs is upstaged by a virtual unknown on the recruiting trail. But during drills at the Shrine Bowl Super Combine held at UNC this past Saturday, that's exactly what happened when DT Sam Jones from Fuquay Varina stole the show and, on this day, looked more impressive than likely All-American Tydreke Powell from Hertford County High School. At nearly every position, names that have become familiar with recruiting analysts had solid showings while several new prospects emerged and they too will likely become solid division one prospects as the year progresses. Pack Pride breaks down some of the standouts from this weekend's event.

Fuquay-Varina DL Sam Jones

Although Sam Jones from Fuquay Varina High School came into Saturday's combine as a virtual unknown on the recruiting scene, he had more than a few asking where this talented big man has been all spring. The 6-5, 262 pound rising senior has a tremendous frame that could easily hold 20-30 additional pounds. Although his 5.2-second 40-yard dash wasn't necessarily eye-popping, Jones was a playmaker on defense and moved extremely well along the line of scrimmage. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Jones could play offensive tackle in college, but he told Pack Pride he's hoping to stay on defense. NC State has offered and is definitely one of the top schools on his list.

Another player that really impressed on the defensive front was DL Kyle Linny from Alexander Central High School. The 6-2, 283 pound prospect has a perfect build for nose tackle, and he showed a relentless style and the ability to routinely disrupt the offense. He seemed to be all over the field on several plays. NC State has offered and Linny is going to be a steal for some lucky program this year.

West Rowan DE/OLB Tristan Dorty

The player that several of the high school coaches in attendance on Saturday raved about was DE Tristan Dorty. He looked great in one-on-one drills and, at times, seemed unstoppable going up against some of the state's top offensive lineman. In fact, he was one of the only linemen to get the best of OL Landon Walker. He moves extremely well and played with a non-stop motor. Virginia has offered, but NC State may be close. Dorty, at 6-1, 230 pounds looks like he could be one of the state's fastest rising defensive ends headed into the 2006 season.

NC State commit DE Linwan Euwell, 6-1, 206 pounds with 4.6-second speed in the 40-yard dash, appeared somewhat out of place as an OLB. He plays exclusively defensive end for Southwest Edgecombe, and he didn't look comfortable at OLB. However, he showed impressive agility and explosiveness in drills. While his current size indicates a possible linebacker at the next level, Euwell has a frame that looks more like that of a future defensive end. He has long arms and is rangy and with practice, will have a chance to shine at the outside linebacker position at the Shrine Bowl should he be selected.

Although Travian Robertson from Scotland County didn't participate in hitting drills, you could sense during agility workouts that this is a talented defensive end. He has extremely quick feet and solid technique although he has been away from the game now for better than six months. It will be fun to watch Robertson this year when he's completely healthy and he certainly has the potential to emerge as the state's best defensive end. He currently favors South Carolina and NC State and could make a college decision in the very near future.

Scotland DE Travian Robertson

Since hitting was not allowed, at least for the most part, that meant it was somewhat difficult to assess the linebackers. One player that certainly looked solid to us was UNC commit Albert Craddock. Although somewhat slight in his lower body, he is tenacious and showed a nasty streak that impressed us.

Another LB that certainly looked solid in our opinion was 6-2, 228 pound Damian Thornton from Hibriten High School. His 40-times this spring have not been spectacular but he was all over the field Saturday and was a vocal leader on the defense. Physically, Thornton looks like he's ready for college ball now but coaches may have some concern with his speed. His ability to make plays on this level looked solid, however.

One other linebacker that caught our eye was Sam Battle from Southwest Edgecombe High School. Although his height may be a concern at 5-10, 241 pounds, Battle is a playmaker and is an outstanding MLB. Grades are reportedly a concern, but he looked solid playing with some of North Carolina's best.

CB Marcus Gilchrist from TW Andrews is the most highly rated defensive back in the state this year, but he did look human on the couple of plays where he got beat. However, he has all the tools that college scouts look for with outstanding speed, quickness and hips. Gilchrist also has a physical streak that was impressive.

NC State commit Chris Culliver didn't get a lot of work but was impressive at times going one-on-one against opposing receivers. He has a tremendous build for the safety spot, and his speed is unquestionable. No one's stock has risen more over the last month.

Not much has been said about East Wake DB Dominique Ellis but he definitely caught our eye in one-on-one drills. He showed solid coverage skills and recovery speed and backed that up with an impressive vertical jump. At 5-11, 180 pounds and 4.57-second speed in the 40, schools may want to see more of Ellis in camp this year.

Matt Thompson from Eastern Alamance and Justin Byers from Vance also looked solid in coverage. Thompson may not have the speed for safety on the next level and may project better as a weakside linebacker if he can put on the necessary size. Byers boasts an NC State offer but it's unlikely that will be his last when he hits the camp circuit this summer. He has a solid build for corner and shows impressive quickness and recovery speed.

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Tomorrow we will take a look at some of the best offensive performers.


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