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April 3, 2006

Junior to Watch Blog: 4/3

Note: We hope you enjoy this free story on StudentSportsFootball.com. Student Sports produces the NIKE Camps, NIKE Combines, Elite 11 Quarterback events and coverage of these elite events plus top recruiting coverage will be part of our premium coverage all spring and summer. If you haven't subscribed to StudentSportsFootball.com until now, this is a perfect time to start!

NIKE Camp registration information has been mailed out to prospects all over the country and already many are beginning to return their forms and confirm their spots for one of the 12 NIKE Camps across the country. Today the Blog continues to take a look at some of the top confirmed attendees...

*West Monroe (La.) is known for turning out some of the top football talent in the Bayou State and this year should be no different as the Rebels are loaded for 2006. Big 6-4, 290 pound defensive lineman Will Blackwell leads the returnees and figures to be one of the more heavily recruited players in the state this year before all is said and done, as Blackwell is not only a prototypical prospect with his measurables, but also gets it done on the field where it matters. Last fall Blackwell helped West Monroe to a 13-1 record, recording 80 tackles and eight sacks while splitting time between defensive tackle and end, earning Class 5A first team all-state honors. And as mentioned, the measurables are also there, as Blackwell runs the 40 in 5.0 seconds at 290 pounds and has a bench max of 325 pounds. The classroom isn't a problem either, as Blackwell maintains a 3.4 GPA and has already scored a 24 on the ACT. Offers have already come in from the likes of LSU, Auburn, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Mississippi State and some others, and Blackwell currently likes LSU, Auburn, Notre Dame, Texas and Ole Miss. He'll attend the April 30th NIKE Camp in Baton Rouge.

*Another big space-eating, blocker-consuming defensive lineman that will be in Baton Rouge on April 30th for the NIKE Camp is 6-4, 305 pound Gary McClellan out of Arkadelphia (Ark.). McClellan was a two-way starter in '05, earning all-state and all-conference honors despite being on a team that struggled to a 3-7 record. On defense he totaled 64 tackles, included 15 tackles for loss and three sacks despite constant double teams. McClellan has rare physical tools, with a reported 4.85 best in the 40 and a 365 pound bench max, and also could end up being recruited as an OL by many schools. He currently has one offer from Ole Miss and is looking forward to more after a strong NIKE Camp showing.

*The Class of 2007 is looking like another good one for quarterbacks within the state of Texas, as already more than 10 Lone Star State QBs have received scholarship offers. One of the best of the bunch is 6-3, 210 pound Jarrett Lee out of Brenham, who led the Cubs to a 14-1 record last fall and a berth in the state 4A semifinals. Lee had a huge year in '06, hitting 235 of 347 passes for 3,470 yards and 40 touchdowns with just eight interceptions, earning 4A all-state honors. The breakout season was somewhat of a surprise considering it was Lee's first at Brenham after he moved there from Brownwood, where he was coached by former Elite 11 QB Kirby Freeman's father Steve as a sophomore starter in 2004, when he threw for 1,653 yards and 12 TDs. Lee already has offers in from the likes of Nebraska, Texas Tech, Wisconsin, Kansas State, Arizona, Oklahoma State, TCU, SMU and Houston, and on tape possesses all the qualities that should make him a quality player at the Division I level. Lee currently lists Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas, Florida and Texas Tech as his top schools and he'll attend the NIKE and Elite 11 Camps on April 22nd in College Station.

*Compton (Calif.) is home to a handful of very solid college prospects. The class of 2007 as well as the class of 2008 has multiple players who will sign with a Division I college and the top player on next year's team could be two-way standout Anthony Wright. Wright, a 6-1, 180 pounder, put up numbers at both running back and defensive back a year ago but likely projects as a safety in college. He rushed for 1,020 yards and five touchdowns on offense while averaging over 10 yards a carry to go with 51 tackles and four picks on the defensive side of the ball. "I picked up my first offer from Baylor," Wright said. "I'm also hearing from USC, UCLA, Oregon, Oregon State, Arizona, Arizona State, Texas, LSU, Utah, Nevada, San Diego State and Washington. USC is my favorite school right now and I also like UCLA, Oregon, Oregon State and Arizona. I'm going to camp with UCLA, USC, Cal and Oregon and will also attend the NIKE Camp in Los Angeles in a few weeks. I want to play early in college so that will be a big factor in my college choice. Having a good relationship with the coaching staff is also important as well."

*Fort Washington (Md.) Friendly QB Joe Haden continues to be a hot item on the recruiting scene, as the 5-11, 190 pound athlete is adding new offers by the week. "Joe has picked up new offers from Ohio State, Boston College, NC State, Maryland and Michigan State in the last two weeks. He is up to 15 offers," reports Haden's father Joe Sr. Haden, who threw for 1,959 yards and 22 touchdowns while also rushing for 478 yards and six scores as a junior, will attend the NIKE and Elite 11 camp in State College on May 6th.

*Another top quarterback who will compete and learn on May 6th at both the NIKE and Elite 11 camps is Bradley Starks out of Orange (Va.) Orange County. Starks is similar to Haden in that he is a tremendously gifted athlete playing the quarterback position, with reported 4.4 speed in the 40, but Starks is in a taller, more slender 6-3, 180 pound mold. Starks had a huge year in 2005, earning all-state and all-region honors and leading his team to an 8-2 mark, throwing for 2,300 yards and 30 touchdowns while also rushing for 715 yards and 11 more scores, accounting for an incredible 41 touchdowns in just 10 games. That performance was no shock to local observers, as Starks has been a starter at QB since his freshman year and put up big numbers as a sophomore as well, throwing for 2,400 yards and 19 scores while rushing for 545 yards and 6 TDs. Starks currently has two offers in from West Virginia and Temple, and a long list of favorites that include the Mountaineers, Virginia, Florida, Tennessee, Kansas State, Maryland, Iowa State, Auburn, LSU and North Carolina.

*It's looking like a deep year for offensive lineman in California this year. One lineman drawing heavy attention right now is Anaheim (Calif.) Servite standout Garett Pendergast who is sitting on one offer and has five schools that stand out right now. Pendergast, 6-4, 270 pounds is a player who is beginning to emerge as a major prospect and is hearing from schools all over the region and beyond. The lineman played guard for the Friars last season earning 1st team all-league honors in what was arguably the toughest league (Serra League) in the state. On the recruiting front, Washington was the first school to offer Pendergast and he's drawing heavy interest from several schools all over the country. "Most of the Pac-10 are sending letters and I'm also hearing from Tennessee, Boston College, Fresno State, Colorado State and several others," Pendergast said. "USC is my top school right now. They have been my favorite since I was a kid and I've always followed their program closely. I also like Oregon, Colorado State, Boston College and UCLA, that would be my top five right now." Academically, the lineman is carrying a 2.8 GPA and said he's waiting for the results on his most recent SAT attempt. Pendergast is not sure what team camps he'll attend but he will be at the NIKE Camp in Los Angeles on April 15th.

*A breakout season last fall has led to one scholarship offer and hopefully more are on the way for Seguin (Texas) safety Desmond Jackson. Last fall the 6-1, 195 pounder recorded 70 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, three sacks and intercepted seven passes in 11 games, earning all-area and all-district honors. Jackon, who reports a best of 4.49 in the 40 and a 36-inch vertical jump, also caught the eye of the coaches at Oklahoma State, who recently became the first college to offer him a scholarship. Currently Jackson likes the Cowboys, Texas, LSU, Alabama and Iowa and he'll attend the April 22nd NIKE Camp in College Station.

If you are a coach or parent that would like to get a top junior involved with the NIKE Camps,
NIKE Combines or Elite 11 Quarterback events, or featured on the Junior to Watch Blog, email Brian Stumpf if you are located in the Eastern or Central part of the country ([email protected]) or Greg Biggins ([email protected]) if you are in the West.

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