PSU Nike Camp Thoughts

FOS Editor Mark Brennan shares his thoughts and observations from the Nike Camp held on Penn State's campus on Saturday.

After grinding through video and such, some thoughts on what I saw at PSU Nike earlier today:

  • I did not realize how big Eugene Lewis is. As fast as he is, he has really long arms, big hands and huge feat. He will be a real weapon in the red zone wherever he goes. He may be 6-1 or 6-2, but he'll play much taller than that. He is well built, too. He'll be a great get if it happens.

  • Speaking of guys named Lewis, Kaiwan is definitely a beast. But I can't see him playing linebacker at the next level. He was destroying RBs in blocking drills. But he could not catch any of them in pursuit work. He is a thick kid who is going to end up as a defensive end. I really would have loved to see him playing that position instead of LB Saturday.

  • The LB MVP, Dakota Conwell, is kind of the opposite. He is really small (for an LB) and very quick. When he won his 1 v 1 battles with RBs trying to block him, it was because he was too quick for them. He just blew by some guys. Nothing wrong with that if he fills out. But he really looks more like a safety than an LB right now.

  • Look out for 2013 LB T.J. Armstrong, from Clarion. He's a little thin now but has a great frame. He owned Derrick Green, a well-built RB (also 2013) in a 1 v 1 blocking drill. Green, by the way, won the award for best Sparq score. He is another guy who impressed overall. If someone asked me which LB from the camp had the biggest upside (which nobody has), I'd say Armstrong.

  • Tyrique Jarrett is raw. But man is he big and tough. In 1 v 1s, he worked out on both sides of the line. As a DT, he pretty much destroyed everyone until he ran into Treyvon Hester, the best OL there. They had a great battle, which Hester won because he had better technique. But they kept fighting and it ended up with Jarrett planting Hester on the bag after the clock ran out. Hester got a bloody lip. The best part — when it was over, Jarrett went out of his way to track down Hester and congratulate him. Then Jarrett went to work out with the O-linemen and the two were hanging out and laughing in line together. Great sportsmanship after a nice battle. Jarrett looked good as an O-guard, too, and dominated a pretty good lineman — Canadian Eli Ankou — on one play. I know PSU has kind of avoided those Pittsburgh city schools because academics can be a real issue. But this guy might be worth taking a chance on.

  • Speaking of linemen, Ty Alt played well most of the day. I watched a lot of the linemen in 1 v 1, and he only lost once. That D-lineman (Shakyil Murphy of Williamsport) seemed to outguess him (Alt read in and the DL went out) on the play. Alt has a big square set of shoulders on him. We can only assume Bob likes him more than J.B. Walton.

  • I know I said it after the 7 on 7 coverage a couple of weeks ago, but if I were a coach, I'd offer Corey Jones a scholarship in a second (provided he is OK academically). Everyone here knows I don't often say who PSU should be recruiting. But this kid, though little, is a serious player. Every time I see him play, I'm left saying, "wow."

  • Another guy to keep an eye on is Florida 2013 LB Evan Harvey. He lived in the Philadelphia area until he was 10, when his family moved south. He's only 14 now, according to his dad. He's listed at 6-1, 190. He is quick, technically sound and fearless. He made a point of being the first LB in line for EVERY drill. All of the coaches working with the LBs knew him by his first name even when the camp started, which to me is a good sign. He was lit up in some of the more physical stuff, but overall he more than held his own. He showed up wearing a Penn State hat and said one reason he came to this camp was because he wants PSU to notice him. He's going to the Rutgers camp Sunday. This kid is really personable and brimming with confidence. Beth has his info and we'll catch up with him soon.

  • Deontay McManus was listed as a DB but worked out as a receiver. He is definitely a physical presence. At the risk of sounding too much like Joe (and with a nod to Jim Kelly), this kid should be a linebacker. I don't doubt he could be a good college receiver. But with his build and speed (and marvelous sideburns), I think he could be a great LB.

  • It is alarming how fat some of these linemen are. None of the big names. And nobody I'll mention here. But we are talking morbidly obese. At 16 and 17 I don't get how they are even allowed to play sports given the possible health risks. I'd crack wise here on how a few of the guys could have used bros (or mansseries), but this is no laughing matter.

  • Speaking of people who are (or once were) too heavy, B-Ware stopped by to check out the scene. He looks great. Said he is 320 and I believe it. I've mentioned it before, but I think this kid is ready for a breakout year. He looks like a 320-pound rock.

  • Speaking of current players, while we were taping stuff after the camp, Jack Crawford walked by. No cast or brace on his foot. I only had a chance to ask him a quick question, which was, basically: Are you good to go? He said he was ready to dive back into summer workouts.

  • As an aside, it really is nice to see how much more media friendly this event is now that ESPN is part of it. They understand that any publicity — even from semi-competitors — is good publicity. A far cry from the days not so long ago when I'd be tossed the second someone from Rivals noticed me [good thing no one ever noticed Cory ]. Anymore, it is much more friendly, and actually a chance for guys from Scout, Rivals and 24/7 to BS a little bit. Kind of like a normal sports beat, where there is serious competition but people still get along.

  • This is a really well-run event. I have no dog in the fight (Scout does not do its own combines or camps), but the organizers of this camp have dialed everything in. Good coaches. They keep to the schedule. It really seems like even if you are a scrub, they take the time to check you out and give you a chance. The thing is free for the kids, so it is a no-brainer to send junior if you think he has even a remote chance of getting to the next level. Also, PSU's football facilities people did a nice job, especially considering the outdoor stuff had to be moved to the lacrosse fields since PSU's outdoor grass practice football field is being re-seeded.

  • Remember, as an on-campus event, this was a Nike "camp" as opposed to a "combine." That meant no speed testing and such was allowed. Also, the PSU coaches were not allowed to watch in person.

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