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April 17, 2004

Speed, skill highlight Columbus NIKE Camp

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Who said speed and skill position players are limited to the Sunshine State? After an impressive crowd of skill players two weeks ago in Miami, the NIKE Training Camp returned to Ohio State on Saturday with a bevy of blue-chip quarterbacks, receivers and defensive backs showcasing their talent and proving they, too, have what it takes to be considered elite national prospects.

While the amount of skill players didn't quite compare to Miami, it was obvious that the Midwest is not devoid of players who can sling it, catch it and flat out fly. That's especially true at the defensive back and receiver positions. Those positions were loaded with players who clocked in at under 4.5-seconds in the 40-yard dash and impressed in one-on-one drills.

Dayton (Ohio) Chaminade-Julienne cornerback Brandon Harrison clocked in at a blazing 4.28 seconds in the 40 and he was also one of the most physical defenders at the camp. He used his strong upper body, great feet and ability to close on the ball to lock down the receivers in position drills.

"I like to play physical," Harrison said. "I like to get up in the guy's face and use my strength to push him off his route. Then I can keep up with him and close and make the interception. But I love to be physical at the line of scrimmage and then let my speed take over."

Speaking of speed, nobody could believe that Lake Orion, Mich., receiver Ryan Allison clocked in with a time of 4.28 seconds, so he then tested again and clocked in at 4.31 seconds.

"It is kind of funny," Allison said. "When I was lining up at there, everybody thought they would be able to stick right with me, but I was running right past them. I guess people didn't respect my speed."

But the end of the one-on-one drills, respect has been earned. Cornerbacks often gave him a five-yard cushion instead of the bump-and-run coverage that seemed the norm throughout the camp.

At least six Division I receivers on hand at the camp, including Detroit St. Martin DePorres teammates David Grimes and Talonnie Russell. Grimes and Russell weren't the biggest, and they didn't bust out the best 40-yard dash times of the camp (Russell had a 4.5), but when it came to catching they were unmatched. Grimes had a pair of soft hands that seemed to be able to snag about every dart thrown his way. Russell put on a cut-back move on a defender after a catch that would make Barry Sanders proud.

Donald Washington III from Indianapolis Franklin Central looked silky-smooth in drills and showed why he's one of the Midwest's best receivers. Keith Massey of Columbus (Ohio) Marion Franklin had amazing ability to cut on his routes, and Otis Wiley of Carman (Mich.) Ainsworth looked the part and had several good catches, but seemed like he would be more comfortable at the safety position.


Two of the camps' biggest surprises came from Marion Franklin athlete Alex Daniels and Parkersburg (W.V.) South star Ryan Dawson, who worked with the receivers. Not much was known about either player heading into the camp, but they showed that they will be high-level recruits with their performances on Saturday.

That's especially true for Daniels. Simply put, he is a freak.

Daniels looked all of his 6-foot-3, 220 pounds and timed in at 4.5-seconds in the 40. What was even more impressive is that this big guy was out running with the receivers and beating defenders in drills. His hands weren't the best, but with his frame and ability to play all over the field, he might find a home on defense - maybe outside linebacker on the next level.

He didn't test in the bench because of a strained shoulder that he suffered in track, but there is little doubting from his physique that he would have easily put up 185 pounds more than 25 times.

Dawson timed in at 4.5 seconds in the 40 and was extremely physical and hard to match up with. You'll be hard pressed to find a better player in the state of West Virginia after seeing what Dawson did on Saturday.

At quarterback, several prospects impressed with their strong arms and good decisions.

Rob Schoenhoft of Cincinnati St. Xavier had a good camp, and his physical build is even more impressive in person than it is on film. Jackson, Mich., dual-threat quarterback Antonio Bass didn't have a great day throwing the ball, but his raw athletic ability is sickening.

California quarterback Jason Forcier and Pennsylvania star Bill Stull were also solid. Forcier rivaled Schoenhoft for the prettiest ball at the camp, and Stull looked the part of a blue-chip quarterback who is already receiving national level scholarship offers. Forcier said he's not received any offers quite yet, but it's obvious that he has what it takes to be something special.


Coming into the camp, everybody knew about Lakeview (Ohio) St. Edward offensive tackle Alex Boone, and the big guy didn't disappoint again Saturday. Well, he did disappoint himself, actually.

Boone, Rivals100.com's early pick for the top offensive tackle in the nation, ran a 5.1, which was very disappointing according to him. The Ohio State commitment did say that he's still committed to the Buckeyes, but…

"I'm a solid commitment to the Buckeyes, but I've gotten a few new offers here the last few weeks," Boone said. "I got an offer from Michigan, and I like them. And I also just got an offer from Oklahoma, so I'm going to think about that, too."

B.J. Travers of Westlake, Ohio, posted to the top SPARQ Rating in Columbus out of 250 campers with a 90.84 rating. The 5-11 , 228-pound linebacker/fullback clocked a 4.87 in the 40-yard dash, a 4.55 20-yard shuttle, posted a 35.4-inch vertical jump and bench pressed 32 repetitions of 185 pounds.

Behind Travers with a very good SPARQ Rating of 90.17 was 5-9, 186 pound running back Javon Ringer. The Dayton (Ohio) Chaminade-Julienne star had a great all-around day, shining in drills after lighting it up in the testing, clocking a 4.44 40, a camp-best 3.87 shuttle, jumping 36.9 inches in the vertical and benching 20 reps.

For expanded coverage of the Columbus NIKE Training Camp, 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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