Bell Among Combine Standouts

MATTHEWS, N.C. --- The Shrine Bowl Combine Tour stopped at Butler High School Saturday afternoon. Although there was a significant increase in talent from the combine held at Alexander Central a week earlier, several local prospects – such as DeVonte Holloman and Terry Shankle – were absent.

Hawatha Bell
LB, Matthews (N.C.) Butler

At last year's Shrine Bowl Combine held at Butler, several Butler players – Spencer Adams, Robert Blanton, etc. – stole the show. That trend continued with Hawatha Bell Saturday afternoon.

At 6-foot ½ and 228 pounds, Bell's first 40-yard dash run, which was conducted on Butler's track, yielded a 4.48-second time – tops among linebackers. His second run, 4.52 seconds, was good enough to rank third in the linebacker group.

"I was determined to put [my 40-yard dash time] in that range," Bell said. "I came out here and just did what I had to do to show everybody that I'm one of the best out here."

Bell went on to vertically jumped 32.6 inches and benched 185 pounds 23 times. He also clocked a very respectable 4.46-second 20-yard shuttle, which was performed in Butler's gym.

With the recent additions of East Carolina and Wake Forest, Bell's scholarship offers list is quickly closing in on double digits. He also holds offers from Illinois, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia Tech.

Bell, who is aiming to make a verbal commitment before the end of the summer, has co-leaders.

"Right now, [I'm favoring] South Carolina and Virginia Tech; they are even," Bell said. "And as soon as I go to UNC, maybe they'll be in there. I'm hoping to learn more about the academics [at UNC] and spend some time with the coaches."

Also, Bell is in the process of scheduling unofficial visits to South Carolina and Virginia Tech in the upcoming weeks.

Justin Jackson
LB, Rockingham (N.C.) Richmond Sr.

A close second to Bell's performance came from fellow ‘backer Jackson, who might have earned himself several scholarship offers today to go along with the grants he has already received from Duke and Wake Forest.

After measuring in at 6-foot and 201 pounds, Jackson recorded the day's second best time in the 20-yard shuttle – 4.15 seconds – and second best vertical jump – 36.3 inches. Both were tops in the linebacker group.

"[In the shuttle] I tried to take only three steps to the first line and just sprint out on the next one," Jackson said.

Jackson's 4.51-second 40-yard dash time was second among linebackers only to Bell. He also rep'd 185 pounds 17 times.

Currently, Jackson is on the verge of verbally committing.

"I want to commit before the season starts," Jackson said. "I'm leaning towards Wake Forest right now. I like a lot of stuff about it like Coach [Jim] Grobe and Coach [Brad] Lambert."

Ray Ray Davis
WR, Monroe (N.C.) Sun Valley

Although UNC has seven verbal commits from in-state prospects, Davis is the first and only Tar Heel pledge to participate in a Shrine Bowl Combine this spring.

Davis checked in at 5-foot-11 and 188 pounds and recorded a 4.63-second 40-yard dash, a 4.69-second 20-yard shuttle, a 29.3-inch vertical jump, and 17 reps of 185 pounds.

"I thought my forty was going to be a little lower, but it was still a good time," Davis said. "I thought I did well overall."

Regardless, Davis was among the more impressive wide receivers in attendance during passing-on-air drills showing nice hands and crisp route running.

"I was just trying to impress [the Shrine Bowl coaches] with my routes and catch everything thrown my way," Davis said.

Still firm in his commitment, Davis had hoped to visit UNC for a spring practice or the Tar Heels' Spring Game. However, weather and scheduling conflicts seem to always cancel his plans.

Davis' contact with UNC has shifted from area recruiter Sam Pittman to future position coach Charlie Williams.

"We're just trying to develop a relationship," Davis said. "He doesn't really talk about how they will use me."

Brian Johnson
DE, Charlotte (N.C.) Myers Park

At 6-foot-3 and 217 pounds, Johnson posted the best marks among defensive linemen in the 20-yard shuttle (4.32 seconds) and vertically jump (29.3 inches). He also benched 185 pounds 22 times and clocked a 4.7-second 40-yard dash.

"I ran a good shuttle, I did good on my vertical jump and my bench press, but my forty wasn't what it usually is," Johnson said. "I usually run in the 4.5-range [in the forty] – that was the last thing we did."

Some schools – including NC State and South Carolina – are recruiting Johnson as either a linebacker or a hybrid defensive end/linebacker.

Johnson has received a written scholarship offer from Miami (Ohio), while NC State has verbally offered. He is also receiving strong interest from Clemson, East Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

"My best visit has been to Tennessee," Johnson said. "I think when they offer, I'm really going to consider committing. They only have four [defensive] ends this year and one of them in graduating."

Josh Hunter
S, Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek

Hunter, who checked in at 6-foot-1 and 172 pounds, clocked times of 4.56 and 4.68 seconds in the 40-yard dash and 20-yard shuttle, respectfully. He vertically jumped 30.6 inches, but only rep'd 185 pounds three times.

"I didn't perform as well as I should have, but I think I did ok all around," Hunter said. "I haven't benched in a long time and I didn't really have the shoes for the shuttle run."

Duke and Wake Forest have already offered Hunter scholarships.

Clemson pledges Tyler Shatley and Larry Raper were on hand, but their participation was limited.

Raper attended last week's Shrine Bowl Combine in Taylorsville where he partook in all combine events, but worked out with the running backs. He returned this week, at the request of the Shrine Bowl Coaches, to work out as a defensive back.

Due to injury, Shatley only participated in the bench press (30 reps of 185 pounds) and measurements (6-foot-2 and 263 pounds).

Other Participates of Note: Nick Bratton (WR, East Mecklenburg): 6'2" 174 lbs, 4.64 forty, 4.34 shuttle, 33.6 vertical, 8 reps… Brandon Davis (TB, Charlotte Hickory Ridge): 5'11" 196 lbs, 4.58 forty, 4.57 shuttle, 36.3 vertical, 22 reps… Dominique Drake (TB, West Montgomery): 5'9" 186 lbs, 4.56 forty, 4.28 shuttle, 35.3 vertical, 17 reps… Logan Femster (TE, North Iredell): 6'4" 228 lbs, 4.87 forty, 5.4 shuttle, 23.1 vertical, 3 reps… Matt Hickson (QB, Charlotte Providence): 6' 169 lbs, 4.47 forty, 34.4 vertical… Chris Kennedy (TB, Northwest Guilford): 5'9" 170 lbs, 4.45 forty, 4.34 shuttle, 33.6 vertical, 11 reps…Will Newman (QB, Winston-Salem Page): 6'1" 169 lbs, 4.91 forty, 4.34 shuttle, 26.3 vertical, 10 reps… Matt Pickett (LB, Charlotte Providence): 6'2" 210, 4.57 forty, 4.45 shuttle, 33 vertical, 18 reps...Marke Powell (LB, West Mongomery): 6'3" 187 lbs. 4.54 forty, 4.63 shuttle, 36.3 vertical, 12 reps… Rasaun Rories (WR, Anson Co.): 6' 180 lbs, 4.45 forty, 4.38 shuttle, 33.4 vertical, 15 reps… Quin Smith (S, Lenoir (N.C.) Hibriten): 6'0" 204 lbs., 4.73 forty, 4.46 shuttle, 30.6 vertical, 15 reps

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