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April 16, 2004

NIKE Camp ready for third stop in Virginia

The 2004 NIKE Football Training Camp tour makes its second and third stops this weekend after taking Easter weekend off. On Sunday, April 18th, Charlottesville (Va.), and specifically the campus of the University of Virginia, will host what looks to be a star-rich NIKE Camp. More than 250 of the Mid-Atlantic's elite prospects will come from 15 different states and the District of Columbia to learn new training drills, receive expert coaching and compete against the best.

The biggest star of them all figures to be Upper Marlboro (Md.) Eleanor Roosevelt standout Derrick Williams. The 6-1, 190 pound athlete, who will also grace the cover of the 2004 May issue of Student Sports Magazine, returns to the NIKE Camp in 2004 after stealing the show as an underclassman at the 2003 NIKE Camp in Pennsylvania. He was also named as Rivals.com's national junior of the year.

All Williams did last year at the camp was clock ridiculously fast times of 4.29 in the 40-yard dash and 3.99 in the 20-yard shuttle, while also starring at both wide receiver and defensive back in the one-on-one drills. Williams, who currently sports over 25 scholarship offers and is widely regarded as the top overall prospect in the nation for the Class of 2005, will likely lineup at wide receiver again this camp, but don't be surprised if he sneaks over to the defensive side of the ball again as well to show his tremendous versatility.

Williams won't be the only top-notch receiver at the camp, as he'll be flanked by Hampton's, Va., 6-3, 175 pound Todd Nolen, who currently holds offers from both Virginia schools and Nebraska, as well as Durham (N.C.) Southern's Brandon Woods, who also has a Virginia offer.

The wide receiver group should benefit from a deep and versatile roster of quarterbacks, headed up by four instate standouts, Gretna's Vic Hall (Virginia commit), Newport News Warwick's Cody Brodus, Chesapeake Smith's Greg Boone, and Norfolk Granby sleeper Bobby Rome.

Each of the four instate quarterbacks bring a little something different to the table, but all four, especially the 6-0, 170 pound Hall, have good mobility and the ability to hurt defenses with both their arms or their feet.

Coming from out-of-state, Maryland's athletic Ike Whitaker will be looking to open some eyes, as will 6-3, 230 pound pocket passer Duran Ferguson from Kingsport, Tennessee.

The one offensive player who might be able to compete with Derrick Williams for MVP honors as well as be in the running for the top SPARQ Rating, is running back Toney Baker. The 5-10, 220 pound North Carolina native made a huge name for himself at last year's NIKE Camp in Blacksburg (Va.), earning top RB honors in the drills and testing off the charts, running a 4.50 40, a 4.05 shuttle, benching 25 reps and posting a 33-inch vertical jump, which equates to an 88.55 SPARQ Rating - which would have placed him fourth at the NIKE Camp in Miami two weeks ago.

The Ragsdale High product isn't just a workout warrior either, he gets it done in between the lines as well, rushing for 3,411 yards and 38 scores as a junior last fall. Baker will have some familiar peers at the running back position as fellow Tar Heel Staters Montario Hardesty (UNC, NC State offers) and James Arnold figure to show well. Appearances by standout Virginians Elan Lewis and Victor "Macho" Harris (who could also workout at defensive back), would only add firepower to an already loaded offensive backfield.

The offensive front will have an instate flair, with the North Stafford duo of Antonio North and Patrick Slebonick leading the way. The 6-5, 290 pound Slebonick is one of seven early commitments to the Virginia Cavaliers, while North is holding an offer from UVA, along with Virginia Tech, NC State and West Virginia.

The defensive line could be the most talented group of the camp top-to-bottom, with excellent depth at both the end and tackle positions. Sunday will be the day that Bryn Mawr (Pa.) Harriton defensive tackle Callahan Bright has his chance to cement his name amongst the nation's elite. The 6-3, 315 pound defensive tackle already has offers from Miami, FSU, Florida, LSU, Georgia and others, and a dominating performance could earn him the mantle of the nation's top player at his position.

Bright isn't the only defensive lineman with a bright future who'll be at the NIKE Camp on Sunday. It will be hard to miss 6-6, 265 pound Pat Sheil of Clifton (Va.) Centreville, who's currently holding five offers, as well as 6-5, 310 pound Camaron Thomas, who's already committed to North Carolina. Another d-tackle to watch figures to be the immovable 6-2, 335 pound Joseph Johnson of Richmond (Va.) Varina, who has offers from both Virginia and Virginia Tech.

While the interior of the defensive line is obviously well-stocked, there will be pressure coming from the outside from quality defensive ends like Jeffrey Fitzgerald, Jason Fuller (another early Virginia commit) and Centreville's Andrew Lewis. The 6-5, 255 pound Fitzgerald is one of the more heavily recruited players in Virginia, already holding offers from Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Maryland, BC, Syracuse, UConn and Nebraska.

One of Washington D.C.'s finest, Rico McCoy, will anchor the linebacker position along with Roanoke (Va.) Fleming's Darryl Gresham. Quarterback Vic Hall gets all the headlines at Gretna (Va.), but his teammate, 6-4, 235 pound linebacker Horace Hubbard is also a very good looking prospect and watch for him to make a big name for himself on Sunday.

The defensive secondary will be tested in the one-on-ones by a solid group of quarterbacks and a dangerous pack of wide outs, so look for a few new faces to step up to the challenge and make names for themselves on Sunday. One to watch is Hampton (Va.) Bethel's small but speedy 5-9, 180 pound cornerback Jamar Jackson, who's already been offered by Virginia, Virginia Tech and Maryland.

For expanded coverage of the Miami NIKE Training Camp, you should check out StudentSports.com. Access to StudentSports.com requires an additional membership. Coming Soon! The best is getting better. The Rivals.com Recruiting Database will include all authentic data from this summer's NIKE Training Camp schedule.


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