Quality Over Quantity

MEBANE, N.C. --- Although the number of participants was down from the previous two combines on the tour, Saturday's Shrine Bowl Combine at Eastern Alamance High School was definitely not short on talent.

Roughly 160 rising seniors participated in the combine. As many as a dozen of those participants own Division I-A scholarship offers. The quarterback group alone boasted four players who combine to hold over 50 Division I-A offers – Vad Lee, Georgia commitment Christian LeMay, Brian Taylor, and Marquise Williams.

The combine participants were tested in the 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle, vertical jump, and 185-pound bench press, plus position and one-on-one drills. The 40-yard dash was run on Eastern Alamance's track, while the shuttle was conducted in its gym.

T.J. Thorpe
Durham (N.C.) Jordan

After running a 4.51-second 40-yard dash time – which is typical for him – Thorpe surprised everyone, including himself, with a 4.39-second time.

"I knew I could run that before," Thorpe said. "Now that I'm healthy, I can turn over my speed like I want to. Not having to deal with the back problems makes a huge difference."

Thorpe, who measured in at 6 feet and 177 pounds, also clocked a 4.48-second 20-yard shuttle and benched 185 pounds 13 times.

During a recent interview, Thorpe caused a stir that made many question the wide receiver's verbal commitment to North Carolina.

"I am committed to go there," Thorpe said. "I wasn't meaning to get everybody wild'ed up with what I said. It's just one of those things where you can't just throw all your eggs in one basket. You never know what's going to happen with coaches. Like I tell every coach who comes and talks to me from other schools: ‘UNC is still my top [choice] and you'll have to beat them out.' UNC is still where my mind is. But of course, I'm going to keep listening to other schools – and the [UNC] coaches know this."

Thorpe "may" provide other schools a great opportunity to beat out UNC by taking visits.

"I may visit the few that just recently offered me," Thorpe said. "I may visit Notre Dame, I expect to get [an offer] from UCLA, and there are a few others that are showing interest."

Travis Riley
Kannapolis (N.C.) Brown

At a well-constructed 5-foot-11 and 208 pounds, Riley ran the 40-yard dash in 4.41 and 4.45 seconds.

"I kind of expected it, because I ran a 4.44 hand-timed at school about a month ago," Riley said. "And I really haven't been to any combines, so I haven't really gotten to show anybody what I can run."

Riley's impressive day didn't stop there. The tailback also posted a 4.31-second 20-yard shuttle and a 31.7-inch vertical jump, and benched 185 pounds 24 times.

"I was disappointed in my vertical," Riley said. "I jumped a 36 at school. There's a difference between the mat and the pole."

Roughly a month ago, Riley verbally committed to UNC.

"I feel like I've made the right decision," Riley said. "The coaching staff is moving in the right direction. They've got commitments from a bunch of good players like T.J. Thorpe, Eric Ebron, [Everett] Golson. As far the situation for me, they're losing four running backs, which should be good for me."

Shaun Underwood
Fuquay-Varina (N.C.)

Despite weighing close to 320 pounds, Underwood was able to rip off a 4.97-second 40-yard dash.

"I expected to run like a 5.1, because I haven't really been working on my legs," Underwood said with a big smile. "I was very happy."

Officially, Underwood measured in at 6 feet and 318 pounds. In other combine events, the defensive tackle ran a 4.87-second 20-yard shuttle and benched 185 pounds 29 times.

"It was an overall good day for me," Underwood said.

Underwood's good day wasn't limited to combine events. He also was among the standouts during the one-on-one linemen drills.

"I felt like I used my quickness as an advantage," Underwood said.

Underwood lists Penn State, UNC, and Wake Forest as his top three schools.

"At Penn State, they told me I have a pretty good chance of starting as soon as I come in there, since all the defensive linemen are graduating when I first get there," Underwood said.

"Wake Forest, I really like their [football] program and the academics they have.

"UNC, I really like the atmosphere around there and I have a pretty good connection with almost all of their coaches."

Around the end of his football season, Underwood plans to dwindle down his options to one school.

Brian Taylor
Angier (N.C.) Harnett Central

Sticking with the relatively impressive 40-yard dash theme, Taylor, considered a pocket quarterback, registered a 4.63-second time at 6-foot-2 and 197 pounds.

"I've always been pretty fast but I've always gotten bad starts," Taylor said. "I think I've gotten a little quicker off the start. For baseball I run the 60 [yard dash] and I usually have one of the fastest times at all the places [I've ran it]."

Taylor also had a 32.7-inch vertical jump and 16 bench reps of 185 pounds.

UNC remains Taylor's lone Division I-A offer. But Western Carolina has offered and several schools have made evaluation trips to Harnett Central including Duke, East Carolina, NC State and Wake Forest.

Despite the offer, Taylor, who's a diehard NC State fan, has had a difficult time bringing himself to visit UNC.

"It's still a little bit of a sore point," Taylor said. "I'm not canceling them out or anything. It's a great school, but it's tough to get up there."

Denzel Rice
Winston-Salem (N.C.) Carver

Still flying under the recruiting radar, Rice had one of the best overall days. Although he's not the most fluid athlete, he had great combine numbers and was among the standouts during one-on-one drills.

Rice, who plays quarterback, wide receiver, and defensive back at Carver, worked out with the wide receivers and caught just about everything thrown his direction.

In combine drills, Rice recorded a 34.1-inch vertical jump, a 4.44-second 40-yard dash, a 4.33-second 20-yard shuttle, and 13 bench reps of 185 pounds.

Other Notes: UNC offered Dominique Noble (DB, Mount Ulla (N.C.) West Rowan) a scholarship earlier this week. The tardiness of the offer won't hinder UNC's chances, Noble said… UNC verbal commitment Eric Ebron (TE, Greensboro (N.C.) Smith) showed up to the combine midway through the testing. He elected to only participate in one-on-one and position drills. Although he was listed with the tight ends, he worked out with the wide receivers… Quarterbacks Vad Lee (Durham (N.C.) Hillside), Georgia pledge Christian LeMay (Matthews (N.C.) Butler), and Marquise Williams (Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek) arrived on time, but besides measuring in, none participated in combine events… Speaking of Williams, he recently received his 18th scholarship offer – Syracuse. He says he doesn't have a set list of favorites, but likes Auburn, Clemson, LSU, UNC, TCU, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest… Lee made his all-important visit to Georgia Tech. However, his recruitment hasn't changed – Georgia Tech, UNC, and NC State are his top three, with no leader… Duke is still the only school to offer Nick Miles (DE, Mebane (N.C.) Eastern Alamance), but ECU, UNC, South Carolina, and Wake Forest have made evaluation trips to check him out… Monte Golden (DT, Jacksonville (N.C.) Northside) continues to wait for his first scholarship offer. He has fielded evaluation trips from UAB, Duke, UNC, and Texas A&M… Current Tar Heels Johnny White and Deunta Williams dropped by the combine to wait Williams' cousin perform.

Full Results from Participants of Note

Participant Pos High School Ht Wt Fty Sh VJ Reps
Kevin Asante WR Charlotte Mallard Creek 5-11 163 4.39 N/A 32.0 5
Nick Beach CB Charlotte Mallard Creek 5-10 164 4.70 4.48 34.3 7
Odell Benton LB Richlands 6-0 183 4.60 4.73 32.1 19
Demari Boswell CB Greensboro Smith 5-8 156 4.38 4.29 32.8 2
Derek Bryant QB Carrboro 6-2 232 5.11 5.04 24.0 14
Martel Campbell QB Kannapolis Brown 6-0 196 4.48 4.43 31.8 15
Zack Cole S Morganton Patton 6-1 185 4.55 4.65 32.3 12
Andre Davis WR Bunn 5-10 161 4.44 4.35 31.6 10
Alexander Dawson S Eastern Alamance 5-11 196 4.55 4.47 32.7 17
Javonte Ellison RB Eastern Alamance 5-8 160 4.32 4.01 32.4 8
Adam Foster OL Orange County 6-3 300 5.20 5.18 25.6 19
Will Fox DT Greensboro Page 6-2 273 5.39 4.95 21.4 23
Kris Frost WR Matthews Butler 6-2 216 4.51 4.29 28.9 18
Monte Golden DT Jacksonville Northside 6-0 288 5.33 4.69 24.4 31
Ethan Gradner LB Harnett Central 5-11 211 4.66 4.59 29.3 36
Chris Lampkins WR Raleigh Sanderson 6-0 167 4.59 4.34 28.2 1
Vad Lee QB Durham Hillside 6-1 190 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Christian LeMay QB Matthews Butler 6-2 189 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Alvin McLean DT Harnett Central 5-8 256 4.96 5.13 28.5 37
Nick Miles DE Eastern Alamance 6-2 230 4.79 4.73 26.9 18
Dominique Noble CB West Rowan 6-1 184 4.73 4.48 27.3 12
Torain Patterson CB Greensboro Grimsley 5-9 169 4.41 4.76 31.5 6
Jeremy Reynolds CB Greensboro Dudley 5-8 163 4.69 4.49 33.8 14
Denzel Rice WR Winston-Salem Carver 5-11 175 4.44 4.33 34.1 13
Travis Riley RB Kannapolis Brown 5-11 208 4.41 4.31 31.7 24
John Scott LB Knightdale 5-10 189 4.74 4.54 25.5 13
Jarrod Spears RB Harnett Central 5-8 179 4.44 4.42 29.0 16
Brian Taylor QB Harnett Central 6-2 197 4.63 4.80 32.7 16
T.J. Thorpe WR Durham Jordan 6-0 177 4.39 4.48 N/A 13
Shaun Underwood DT Fuquay-Varina 6-0 318 4.97 4.87 26.2 29
Jamal Williams RB Durham Hillside 5-8 174 4.50 4.40 29.7 12
Marquise Williams QB Charlotte Mallard Creek 6-2 215 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Aquez Willis WR East Chapel Hill 5-9 170 4.37 4.39 32.4 6

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