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January 4, 2008
Big men dominate U.S. Army Combine
• Combine Photos | More Army All-American Bowl Coverage | Army All-American Bowl Rosters
SAN ANTONIO - Detroit Cass Tech defensive tackle William Campbell came to Friday's U.S. Army National Combine at the Alamodome wanting to prove a point.
Campbell, who is ranked as the nation's No. 55 player for 2009, wanted to show he deserves a much loftier ranking than what he's at currently. He set out to destroy every offensive linemen that was in his path. He did that and more. Using an array of spin moves, bull rushes and pure agility, Campbell couldn't be blocked.
Player after player wanted to test their ability against him, but it didn't matter.
"I want to be an All-American," Campbell said. "I want to be a five-star. That's basically why I came down to San Antonio. I wanted to show that I'm the best defensive tackle in the nation."
He might have just done that.
"He's got great size and great power," Rivals.com recruiting analyst Barry Every said. "I'd like to see him trim up in the belly area a little bit, but he's got it everywhere else. I can't wait to see what he looks like on game tape. He's got the potential to be a five-star guy."
Campbell wasn't surprised that things went so well, but he was surprised his success happened that easy.
"Basically every move worked," he said. "I thought this was honestly going to be harder than this. I knew I was going to do well, but I thought it would be tougher. All the training I've been doing has paid off big-time.
"My coaches really got me ready for this. I've been playing basketball, so that really helped with my quickness. I hadn't been in the weight room in a while. I was worried about my strength, but I guess it's all right."
Campbell also said the success in San Antonio was rewarding for an off the field reason. Instead of getting Christmas presents from everybody, he asked for money to afford the plane ticket and hotel in San Antonio. His church also helped him raise money to make the trip.
"I guess it was a good investment," Campbell said.
There were also several other defensive linemen that were money in the bank.
Greenville (Fla.) Madison five-star defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel also dominated. He proved that his ranking as one of the top 10 prospects in the nation is no fluke. What was also impressive about McDaniel is that he took on all comers - going against talented offensive lineman after talented offensive lineman that were calling him out.
"I just came out to play," McDaniel said. "It's fun to be out here in the first place, but you want to come out here and compete against the best players in the country. When the others do well, it just motivates me to do better also.
"My whole success was based on technique. If somebody gets up there and is kind of short and stockier, then I used my speed. And if somebody was real tall, then I came off the ball real quick on the inside."
Every said he was thinks McDaniel has a chance to be a truly special nose tackle prospect.
"He's this year's Omar Hunter, but he's in better shape," Every said. "He's powerful. He's got great technique, and he's tenacious. Kids were calling him out and he beat more than 90 percent of them. He's a mid-year graduate, too, so that means he's already squared away in the classroom."
The defensive line dominance didn't end there.
After originally being ranked in the initial Rivals100, Seattle Garfield defensive tackle Deandre Coleman was bumped out of the list because there wasn't any film available on him. However, seeing him in person on Friday was believing.
Coleman was very aggressive and only lost one of his one-on-one battles during the way. Coleman said his idol is Reggie White and he played a lot like the NFL legend with his amazing lower-body strength. After he beat a helpless offensive lineman, he walked up to Coleman and said "you're an animal, man."
Sanford (Fla.) Seminole defensive end Dyron Dye, who is 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, already has picked up offers from UCF and Florida International, but after his strong showing Friday it's clear many more are on the way.
"He has tremendous feet," Every said. "He also has a great get off. He ran a 4.8 time in the 40, and I know that doesn't sound good, but he's much quicker than that. He's the type of defensive end that Florida State used to recruit and get in their heyday."
Another defensive lineman that impressed was St. Louis Hazelwood East star Darris Ford. The 6-3, 279-pounder clocked a 5.1 time in the 40-yard dash, but was really exceptional in the one-on-one battles. Craig Drummond of Chicago Morgan Park also was quite extraordinary. He was one of the bigger linemen in the bunch, and his pure size made it difficult for people to block him. Las Vegas Bishop Gorman defensive end Justin Chaisson also had a good showing, with a good performance in the one-on-one battles.
ANOTHER MOTOR CITY STAR
Campbell was not the only Detroit Cass Tech prospect who raised their stock on Friday. Although small in stature, running back Teric Jones came up big everywhere else. His 4.47 40-yard dash time was the fastest heard about all day and he put those numbers to practice in the one-on-one drills, catching several long passes down the sidelines after leaving defenders behind.
"I wanted to let everyone know that I am one of the top backs in the nation," Jones said. "I wanted to show my speed and agility and show that I am a big playmaker."
The 5-9, 190-pound Jones admitted that the setup at the Army combine played to his strengths, allowing him to show off the aspects of his game he most excels at. On tape, however, Jones can be just as impressive. Either way, his showing in San Antonio is sure to raise his stock and the scholarship offers will be soon to follow. Michigan, Michigan State and Tennessee are his top three schools and all three have been in contact since the fall.
Utah isn't the first state that people think of when it comes to producing blue-chip prospects, but more and more people are becoming aware that there is plenty of talent available there. Two of the state's best juniors showed they belong among the nation's best on Friday.
Schools from all over the country have already been courting John Martinez from Salt Lake Cottonwood, and he proved again in one-on-one battles why he's already racked up offers from BYU, Oklahoma State and Oregon State and getting interest from Florida, Notre Dame, USC and others.
While he looked a little lighter than some other linemen, he was so strong and able to use his strong lower body to keep the defenders away.
Xavier Su'a Filo also had a great day. His battles with McDaniel were one of the most entertaining of the entire combine. He's got a great frame and when he fills out even more, he'll have colleges from all over the country knocking on his door.
"I've always been really high on Martinez," Every said. "But I think Su'a Filo really did well today. He battled hard, and he's got a shot at being a really good one."
A REAL CATCH
The wide receiver position brought out several very impressive prospects. Two who placed their names among the best in the country were Houston Lamar's Josh Gordon and Woodbury, N.J. speedster Shawney Kersey.
Gordon, who checks in at about 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, was the most natural pass catcher of the bunch. He possesses soft hands and fluid movement. Defensive backs were helpless to stop him all day because he would either shield them from the ball with his body or leave them behind with precise patterns. Gordon also posted one of the top vertical jumps in the entire combine.
Gordon's performance was cut short when he got nicked up halfway through the one-on-one portion of the combine, but he had served notice long before that and should be one of the more heavily recruited receivers in the country before all is said and done.
At 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, Kersey also has good size for the wide receiver position, but it is his speed that most will talk about going forward. He posted a 4.53 40-yard dash in the morning session and says he has run as low as 10.4 in the 100 meters and 21.7 in the 200 meters. Kersey does not stop at just speed, however. He made very precise cuts and got in and out of his breaks better than any receiver all day. It's no wonder in-state Rutgers has already extended a scholarship offer.
"I usually practice my route-running a lot," Kersey said. "I work on coming out of my break and speeding up and I have gotten pretty good at it. Once I get the route, I think about it and just do it."
Besides Rutgers, Kersey is also hearing from Boston College, North Carolina, Wisconsin, NC State and Syracuse, but the Orange want him for defense. Kersey would like to hear more from Michigan and West Virginia.
A NEW MAN
When Frederick (Md.) Tuscarora cornerback Dominic Clarke attended the NIKE Camp last spring he measured in at 5-9 and 163 pounds. But Clarke has obviously done some growing since then. He was as thick and muscular as a collegiate cornerback at the Army combine and even appeared to have grown an inch or two. After watching one repetition of Clarke in the one-on-ones, however, his impressive physical build quickly took a backseat to his exceptional ball skills.
In track, Clarke is more of a 200 meter and 400 meter specialist, but he has plenty of speed and explosion to play cornerback at the Division I level. Against wide receiver after wide receiver, Clarke was near perfect in his backpedal, change of direction and break on the football. He broke up several passes and intercepted at least one in the individual sessions.
"Any chance I can get to be around the ball is an opportunity to make something happen, so I just want to take advantage of it," Clarke said. "I was happy to be here and just wanted to go out there and do as much as I could. It's an honor to be here, so I just wanted to go out there and give it 100 percent. Before this I was training to get my DB skills together and practicing my 40, so I wouldn't get rusty after the season."
Very few, if any, can say they had as perfect of a day in the one-on-one session of the combine as Clarke can. He would have liked to had a redo of his 40-yard dash, though. The timers told him he was rocking in his stance, forcing them to start their watches early. He still clocked a very respectable 4.73, however.
Programs like Pitt, Alabama, UConn, Boston College, Duke and North Carolina are already courting Clarke to play for them, though none have yet extended an offer. Virginia Tech and East Carolina are two of his early favorites and he knows he wants to play where it is warm because he does not like the cold.
Josh Helmholdt and Adam Gorney contributed to this story.
• Combine Photos | More Army All-American Bowl Coverage | Army All-American Bowl Rosters