8:45 Traffic is almost nonexistent and I'm making good time as I cross the state line into North Carolina.
9:10 I hit Freedom Drive headed towards Bank of America Stadium (home of the Carolina Panthers) and I see some athletes in their rides headed to the stadium as well.
9:20 Parking is filling up fast as many prospects are waiting in line with their family or coaches. Hillside High out of Durham NC has brought a huge contingent. They normally have a superb amount of talent.
9:45 It's apparent we're having a great turnout as there's a line as far as the eye can see. Some of the top athletes from South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia have shown up for the All-American Combine in Charlotte.
10:30 There's still a ton of kids in line as we've got three guys checking them in and we get them through the line pretty fast with photos, information, and height/weight measurements.
10:45 We're off. After snapping photos of some of the top players in attendance and exchanging pleasantries with some of the coaches and players in attendance we're ready to roll. Southeast Regional Analyst Miller Safrit assigns me to man the vertical leap station. I go over form and technique with the athletes and answer their questions before they test at my station.
11:07 We've got our first group of players through at each station and the leader through one group of players leaps 36.7 inches. I introduce myself to the SC players that aren't familiar with me and the whistle blows for groups to change stations.
11:35 Back at it again and I've got a quiet group of kids who aren't encouraging each other or trying to give advice on techniques to reach their highest potential. Right at the end of testing at my station I hear someone yell "We've got a burner here guys!" One of the prospects from A.C. Reynolds busts off a 40 yard dash time in the low 4.3 range.
11:59 Another group at my station and this group is clearly different from the others. Most all of these guys are cheering one another on shouting words of encouragement or trying to give some advice. Gaffney LB J.B. Shippy is showing leadership skills by leading the charge for this group emotionally. Somebody will be getting a great kid in Shippy, his demeanor and positive attitude are a refreshing change.
12:09 My next group is done pretty quickly and I've got a few kids who've jumped in the 37 inch range but Ricky Mitchell a quarterback out of High Point Central jumps a ridiculous 39.7 inches for the overall lead. Another burner is reported as yet another player runs a 4.3 into a headwind. It gets better. The wind dies down for his second run after a few minutes and he runs a 4.24. The crew and everyone within in sight is in awe after witnessing this blazing speed. He's just a junior, so college coaches will be beating this kid's door down.
Position Station Tour
We finish testing and players are assigned to coaches for individual coaching and attention. Scout has assembled a fine crew and the athletes in attendance are getting some great coaching and advice in regards to their respective positions. A glance over to the linemen and I see current Florida Gator OL Carl Johnson watching as he too was in their position a few years ago.
I started my evaluations with the defensive backs as I keyed in on Chester High School's talented duo Charles Whitlock and Terrell Springs. Anyone attempting to pass on Chester this coming season is asking for trouble. These two are on top of their game and it showed in their drills. Summerville brought two of their stars from their defensive backfield in Davon Ellington and safety Theo Simmons.
We then strolled over to check in on the quarterbacks as we had a couple of big time prospects from the Palmetto State in Conway's Dakota Derrick, Hanahan's John Carnell, T.L. Hanna's Tyler Brennan, and Richland Northeast's Ker-sean Wilson are all impressing the Scout coach in drills. Derrick is getting a lot of interest currently but Carnell and Brennan are worthy of additional looks as well. Their addition to the database is a must with some solid numbers for both last year. Carnell as many of you know led the state in passing last year. Mr. Wilson is just a rising sophomore and he will be the class of 2010 as he held his own in drills with the upperclassmen. We'll have more updates on all of these guys in the coming week or so.
From there we caught up with the wide receiver station as we checked out the footwork, route running, and all around moves by the guys from the Palmetto State. Brandon Ford of Hanahan High passes the look test with ease and he impressed us with some solid technique in his station. At 6'4 205 pounds with solid speed Ford will move to the forefront amongst wide receivers in the state this year. Another Chester product Gene McCaskill also had a good camp as he showed tremendous drive and route running during drills.
At the running backs station we checked out Chesterfield's Simpson Miller, Berkeley's Rusty Walden who transferred in from out of state, and fullback Steven Lewis out of Sumter. Miller and Walden put forth a nice effort and both listened intently to try and garner some knowledge from the Scout coaches.
The linebackers corps was the most vocal out of the entire combine and they didn't disappoint with their performance either. Aside from the DB's corps this was probably the strongest group of SC representatives in attendance. We spent a great deal of our time with these guys because some of the SC's elite linebackers were here to display their talent. Loris High standout Jonathan Willard showed why he's one of the hottest prospects in the southeast. J.B. Shippy of Gaffney has the rings to prove he's a winner but he exceled in our workouts and colleges are taking note as he told us some of the country's elite programs are now recruiting him heavily. Size has been his knock but when you see this kid in action you have to appreciate his nose for the ball and ability to make big plays all game long.
Richland Northeast's Chaz Washington had a great camp testing well in all stations and he was on a mission to show college coaches that he's worthy of some offers in the near future. We should see those offers start to roll in for Washington once he gets his ACT score back. Greenwood's Michael Coats also had a good showing in Charlotte, he'll get some looks as the year goes on. We also can't overlook Northwestern's Jerel Miller who tested at a high level which should open some more eyes for the talented Trojan.
Down in the trenches T.J. Johnson continues his ascent up the rankings. The Aynor standout was a manchild during drills. It's no wonder he's become one of the hottest recruits in the entire southeastern region as of late. Summerville's Richard Spain also had a nice combine and had a good showing in drills. Justin Lewis out of Johnsonville is another player who's stock is rising at a quick pace. Lewis has a slew of schools from the ACC and SEC chasing him and he helped his cause on Saturday.
SCPrepNation.com will have all the results for South Carolina athletes participating in the Scout.com All-American Combine Tour held in Charlotte. Stay tuned for updates with all of these youngsters as we continue to show you why we're the new leader in South Carolina high school sports coverage and recruiting.
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