It was a big day on the campus of Christopher Newport University as 250
prospective college football players gathered to compete in a series of combine
tests (40-yard dash, powerball toss, 5-10-5 shuttle and vertical jump) as well
as participating in position-specific drills, and one-on-one and seven-on-seven
Throughout the day, VirginiaPreps.com staff took in the event in search of
the next wave of football prospects.
Two teams stood out as the best represented at the event and there is little
coincidence that both are perennial postseason contenders and each is considered
a strong candidate to contend for regional (and possibly state) championships.
The Ocean Lakes Dolphins were definitely one of the most
well represented teams at the event, and that's even with Division I talent and
quarterback Lafonte Thourogood missing the event to attend an Elite 11
event down in Alabama. At first glance, there are three All-Region candidates
for them in the trenches including offensive linemen Josh Mann and Chaz Lowery along with defensive tackle Demetri McGill.
Mann, who recently picked up his first offer from ODU,
absolutely mauled defensive linemen in the one-on-one battles. Lowery is
looking better and better at each event to the point where, if he thickens up
his upper body and adds some more muscle, offers should begin to roll in.
The one with the highest ceiling of them all is McGill.
While he gets too high on occasion, he has outstanding footwork and his
quickness for a defensive tackle gives the sense that the phrase 'impact
performer' will be thrown around quite often when talking about him this season.
Both McGill and Lowery also play basketball, so they are more athletic than
most probably think.
In addition, linebacker Lamar Neal drew solid
reviews from coaches running the drills throughout the day earning all-camp
honors by virtue of his overpowering strength and ability to turn and run with
offensive route runners.
The Phoebus Phantoms, winners of back-to-back state titles,
should be in a great position for a three-peat. The program boasts two
All-State level players on the defense in defensive end Daquan Romero,
a University of North Carolina commit, and linebacker Caleb Taylor, a
Division I prospect with multiple BCS offers. Taylor participated in Saturday's
event and showed no ill affects from the knee injury the kept him sidelined most
of 2009 after being arguably the team's top defensive performer during their
postseason run a year earlier. He looked very alert, decisive and should strike
both intimidation and fear into the hearts of opponents when the Fall rolls
Another standout during drills was Tyree Lee who
fits the description of having a knack for the football and really competed well
all day. His contributions were valuable last year, but should be even more
significant next season as a player who has that rare ability to force a
turnover from the secondary.
Along the line joining Romero will be Tevin McGougan
and Jonathan McLean, a couple of returning starters from the state
title team expected to be major ingredients to another title run. Each
performing well on Saturday eanring all-camp honors giving the Phantoms three
potentially dominant players in the trenches.
Rodriguez Jones at wide receiver put up
big numbers at Denbigh and he was unanimously labeled as the best receiver at
the camp hands down - no pun intended. He was smooth catching the ball and has
plenty of confidence to match his size and body control.
While there were many "buzz' names at the event, one that
kept being mentioned was running back Jordan Broadnax from Landstown.
Profiled a week ago on VirginiaPreps.com, Broadnax will be featured in the
Eagles' offense this season vows Landstown Head Coach Tommy Reamon, who boldly
stated that "he will be a big-time player." After watching him participate,
it's hard to disagree as Broadnax was awarded at day's end as one of the
All-Camp performers from a loaded running back field that included fellow award
winners D'Wayne Windley from Grassfield and Daquan Charity of
Hampton as well as Devaul Peterson from Cox.
Of course, when you mention Reamon, attention will always
turn to the quarterback position as the veteran coach has mentored some of the
best ever from the Hampton Roads area and the Eagles lead man is excited about
the potential of Larry Joshua, his rising senior prospect who Reamon
believes has all the tools that he has seen in past protégés Michael Vick, Aaron
Brooks and others.
Cox High School in Virginia Beach is home to the only
player committed to a Division I College Football program at the Best of the 757
Combine in offensive tackle
Ross Burbank, who's headed to the
University of Virginia and the Class of 2011 prospect more than held his own in
a rugged one-on-one pit earning unanimous accolades from the coaches and staff
at the event.
The Falcons are also home to a potential breakout player in
the Eastern region or, at worst, one who certainly got his name talked about on
Saturday in Max Owens. His 4.25 forty-yard dash was the best of the
day and his 36.9-inch vertical leap put him in the top two for explosiveness.
Last season, the defensive back recorded 21 tackles, four pass breakups and two
interceptions. Expect those numbers to rise a little bit in 2010, and perhaps
the Falcons, one of the top teams in the region when it comes to the special
teams department, will put his speed to use in the return game.
Deveron Lucas-Jeter could be a versatile piece of
the Western Branch defense as they look to have a bounce back season from their
4-6 mark in 2009. Lucas-Jeter caught the eye of a few onlookers and Bruins
head coach Scott Johnson may have the luxury of moving him from the secondary
(safety) to defensive end as a pass rushing threat since they feel rather
confident in their secondary, led by rising senior prospect Travis
Another player from Western Branch who definitely appears
to be a prospect down the road is Class of 2012 offensive lineman
Jordan Veal. Last season, Veal lined up at right tackle and started every game
for the Bruins, but , this year, he will make the move to left tackle, and while
offenses aren't necessarily built around one lineman, Veal is a player with
all-district potential. He has great feet, long arms, and though he can improve
on his strength some, still has superb technique. Maryland and Virginia Tech
have reportedly expressed early interest, and his offer could be only months
A sleeper team this season may be the Tallwood Lions from
the competitive Beach District. With the brother combo of quarterback
Robert Brown and wide receiver
Eric Brown, the Lions ought to have good
The signal caller was the most fluid quarterback at times
and found all-camp wide receiver William Penn throughout the day as the speedy
wideout showed quickness and showed promise in the drills session. Along
with Brown and Salem transfer
Zachary Sessoms, coach Thad Harold should
see a significant upgrade at the receiver position which can certainly help
improve their offensive productivity. Harold wants to see his field general be
more mobile this season, too, and he looks to have more poise and comfort
heading into his senior season knowing the job behind center is his.
All linemen that started a year ago up front return with
the exception of one and they'll be led in the trenches by
Myles Robinson (about 6-4, 314), a player Harold thinks has a shot to develop
into a I-AA level prospect.
While it wasn't an overly deep or talented group of
quarterbacks, one for the future to keep an eye on is Temuchin Hodges
(aka "Bucky") from Salem. At 6-foot-4, approaching 6-foot-5 by the time the
Fall comes, he's got great height to be a next-level prospect. Like most young
quarterbacks, he needs work on his mechanics, throwing motion and where he holds
the ball, but his delivery is solid and, two years from now with added strength
and maturity, he'll probably be among the state's most sought after by the
colleges at his position. However, it is worth pointing out that he is a pretty
good basketball player, too, so if he grows a couple more inches and continues
to progress in that sport, his future may be on the hardwood instead.
Charles Clark of Kings Fork High School is a Class
of 2013 player who will be picking up a lot of recruiting attention over the
course of the next three seasons as he was physical in one-on-one drills from
corner spot, used his hands extremely well and with his long and lean build,
could develop into a prototypical college-ready secondary player by the time his
senior season rolls around.
Darius Jennings of Oscar Smith, a returning
starter in the Tigers secondary, showed outstanding recovery ability, never quit
on any play in the one-on-one and seven-on-seven competitions and did a great
job or re-routing receivers. In addition, he posted the top vertical jump
of the day with a 41-inch explosion.
Another potential on the rise prospect resides at
Kecoughtan High School in Hampton.
Aaron Matthews had limited touches a
season ago, used mostly as a backup running back, on screen passes and in the
return game on special teams but, if Saturday's combine was any indication, his
chances to be a playmaker for new Head Coach Scott Woodlief are very good. The
Class of 2011 Warrior had the top overall NIKE SPARQ score from Hampton Roads
prospects at 97.02 and showed enough athletic ability to be an impact player at
running back, wide receiver (probably in the slot), in the defensive backfield
or returning kicks and punts.
One sleeper candidate to keep an eye on is Bethel's
Kendel Montgomery who connected on a couple of deep balls. If the Bruins are
to continue making noise in the Peninsula District and hoping to make deep
playoff runs, the development of a playmaker under center could make a huge
impact on the program's success.
DeQuan Turner of Matoaca ran aggressively
throughout the day and gives the Warriors a go-to guy returning in the backfield and that is a program who will use their tailback as evidenced by his 35-carry, 170-plus yard effort in the program's win over Dinwiddie last season.