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June 1, 2013
CHARLOTTE -- The first stop of the VTO Sports Underclassmen circuit took place at Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek -- the same location of one of the stops of the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour -- and plenty of talent was on hand.
Dallas Jackson is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email him your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
While the majority of the prospects were still battling for major Division I offers and busy lining up one-day camps, Charlotte (N.C.) West Mecklenburg athlete Van Smith was only talking about one of the six schools who have offered.
"Clemson has been showing the most interest in me," he said. "I am just trying to stay humble. I didn't expect any of this to happen this early and I appreciate everything that is happening but Clemson is definitely after me the hardest."
His father, Dan, said that it was his son's work with former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Myron Bell that improved his game tenfold since his sophomore highlights were released.
Bell has a nonprofit organization (NCElitePrepFootball.com) and has been working with Van on fundamentals.
Bell said Smith is poised to explode on the recruiting scene.
"Last year, what he was able to do was all on pure athletic ability," Bell said. "He is a very humble and coachable young man and he has a lot of Pennsylvania-football in his veins. He has a killer instinct, a hunger, and a drive that you can't teach.
"He is a special talent and the kind of person you want to have around you."
Smith said that everything was happening so fast -- Duke and Vanderbilt were offers he received in the past two weeks -- that he didn't know what he was looking for in a school but that he was excited for the process to move forward.
In attendance with Smith was his teammate and Class of 2015 cornerback Dominique Williams. The 5-foot-7, 160-pound player just added his first offer from Duke. The rising junior said that he was pleasantly surprised, but was expecting the offer from the ACC program. Williams plans on going to camps at Virginia and Cincinnati this month and added that a trip to Princeton isn't out of the question. He carries a 3.8 GPA and his only B was in Spanish.
One player who stood out -- and above -- the rest at the combine event was Mallard Creek class of 2016 defensive end Josh Brown. Brown measured a bit taller than 6-foot-3 and passed the eye test as he was close to 200 pounds as a rising sophomore. With size-14 shoes and a laser-timed 4.69 in the 40-yard dash, the athleticism was on display. Brown has no offers, but said his wish list was West Virginia, Clemson and Florida State. His coach, Mike Palmieri, said if Brown kept working he could be among the top players at his position come his senior year.
Class of 2016 running back Benjamin LeMay was another player to show his agility and speed at the camp. The 5-foot-9, 207-pound prospect from Matthews (N.C.) Butler said that his recruiting was starting to really heat up, and Mississippi State was the one he felt was the most active right now. The younger brother of current Georgia Bulldogs, Christian and Uriah LeMay, Ben said his brothers are not pulling him to the SEC program but allowing him to do his own thing. Right now, that means a scheduled visit to Clemson and a dream school list of Ohio State, Florida State and Clemson.
Concord (N.C.) High athlete Keenan Black made himself known this weekend. The Class of 2016 dual-sport athlete started on the varsity as a freshman in the defensive backfield, helping the team to the state finals against Havelock (N.C.) High. He was also a major contributor on the basketball team, which went 24-3 and made the regional semifinals. Black plans to make his first camp trip to Wake Forest.
Class of 2015 defensive back Jalen McClinton is predicting his first offer to be coming soon and he is figuring it to be Georgia Tech. The 5-foot-9, 179-pounder from Charlotte (N.C.) Christian said that he believes the ACC program will be his first offer and that it will be quickly followed by Duke. Also on his radar are North Carolina and Michigan. He plans on camping at all four schools and added that he would love to work his way onto the radar of the Georgia Bulldogs, where his teammate Jeb Blazevich is committed.
Savannah (Ga.) Country Day School wide receiver Demetris Robertson has made his summer calendar known and there are stops at four major programs on the itinerary. The 6-foot, 164-pound prospect from the Class of 2016 will head to Georgia on June 9 and Florida on June 15. He has planned dates for Georgia Tech and South Carolina in July.
Class of 2014 wide receiver Cole Wilson made the 280-mile trip from Harlan (Ky.) Senior and was very impressive. The 6-foot-2, 188-pounder received his first two offers recently from Charlotte and Marshall, but believes more are on the way. He is planning stops at Kentucky on June 8 and Tennessee on June 14. He ran a 4.6 laser-timed 40-yard-dash on Saturday, and with solid showings at both SEC locations, he could continue the move up the board and gain recognition and offers before his senior year begins.
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