Saturday was a different tryout from years past with New Level Athletics as the popularity of the event continues to grow and players of all ages have started to realize that the event run by Kashann Simmons and Baron Flenory will definitely help to kick-start their recruiting. Nearly 300 players were in attendance and we got the chance to even get early looks at some kids that won’t be signing for another two years. Here are some of the players that really stood out at the event.
One league that is often ignored in Philadelphia is the Pub, or the Philadelphia Public League for those reading this outside of the city. Outside of two high schools, not many players are looked at hard because they don’t get the publicity they need and that will change for this article. The best player at the event and someone who I’ve been watching since his freshman year at George Washington is defensive tackle Justin Moody who literally has the physical tools to be every bit of the prospect that current Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd was. Moody even lined up in one-on-one drills at linebacker and had no problem adjusting in space to track down running backs in the open field which was very impressive. Nate Smith, a 2012 prospect from Washington was also impressive at wide receiver and could also play safety in college. He already has an offer from LSU and South Carolina has been talking to him as well.
Speaking of young bucks, there were four 2013 prospects from Northeast High School that stood out to me in drills in Laquille Nesbitt, Harold Alexander, Devon Dillard and Shimek Carter. Nesbitt did not play at Northeast last year, but he is a very smooth athlete and has great speed. He struggles a bit getting off the jam, but he’s electric in the open field. Harold Alexander is a quarterback that throws a nice ball for his age and hit his targets with good velocity. Shimek Carter looked quick and agile at running back in drills and Devon Dillard lacks great size, but had good agility and hands. One player that intrigued the heck out of me was Frankford athlete Aaron Allison. I call him an athlete because he was playing tight end and looked to be about 6-foot-2.5, 240 pounds and while he had great hands and could run, I could see him moving to linebacker or even growing into a three-technique nose tackle like Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand, who we’re all pulling for right now. He has that type of body and athleticism. Allison was one that really caught my eye as a kid with upside that is going into his senior year.
Furness had two 2012 wide receivers at the event that caught the ball well in Dante Barkley and Malakiah Hunter. Hunter made two absolutely wicked one-handed snags while running at full speed on crossing routes that made the crowd loud quickly. Nasheed Parker is a 2012 cornerback from Imhotep who has great hands and does a good job in press coverage, but I need to see him work on his hips and transition a bit more. He did stand out though. The last Pub kid that caught my eye was Eric Stieffenhofer of Central High School. He was just a very consistent receiver throughout the day.
As usual, the Philadelphia Catholic League was well represented as well and in it were two 2013 prospects that I think could end up being Philly’s finest. West Catholic running back David Williams finished his sophomore season for the Burrs with big numbers and was sensational in their State Championship win and he looked tremendous on Saturday. When I watched him the player who continually came to mind from years ago was watching former O’Hara running back and current Ohio State Buckeye Corey Brown. The other super sophomore was Cardinal O’Hara outside linebacker Brandon Chatmon. He wore number 187 on the day and it was appropriate as he killed everything. His hips are tremendous, his feet are quick and he has great agility and speed. Everyone raved about his coverage ability and if he continues at his pace, he’ll be heavily recruited.
Others that absolutely stood out were Cardinal O’Hara wide receiver Damiere Shaw who is at high-level I-AA recruit at least going into his senior year and Brandon Peoples who is being overshadowed by his cousin Desmon Peoples at Archbishop Wood, but shouldn’t be slept on. As usual, West Catholic had a plethora of talent that stood out in cornerback Kevin Malone, wide receiver Ron Womack, quarterback Jaleel Reed and linebacker Tristan Freeman. Womack made what I’d consider the catch of the day leaping high in the air while blanketed by a corner and plucking the ball which sent the crowd into frenzy. Reed is a quarterback who has a very solid arm and gets good velocity on his passes, but just needs to release his passes a bit earlier. Malone showed good coverage skills all day and had a number of pass breakups. The last is Tristan Freeman who plays defensive end for the Burrs. Freeman was No. 49 if you watched their State Championship game. He was the terror at defensive end that made a mockery of offensive tackles, but here he played linebacker and looked very fluid in the open field. He would make a very good pass rushing outside ‘backer for someone, especially in a 3-4 at the next level.
Finally, there were some kids from outside the city and an Inter-Ac prospect. Wide receiver Michael Burke showed up with a Mohawk, calves that looked more like thighs and awesome hands. The Columbia High School product immediately made me think of current Penn State player Dakota Royer when he played wide receiver for Manheim Central. They literally look like the same player on the field. Dalvin Newell, a cornerback from Ridley High School, may have been the other star of the entire event. In Newell’s three one-on-one reps he put one receiver on his knees at the line of scrimmage, another into the ground and another out of bounds into the crowd. He is an absolutely vicious player. Players thought they’d get by him without the jam, but his technique was flawless and his had an interception and two pass breakups. If Newell isn’t on the team I’ll eat my size 16 Reeboks.
Shawn Simmons from Harrisburg was catching passes with the receivers until we called him over to ask him what the heck he was doing. He has a barrel for a chest and tree trunks for legs and can move on top of it. This kid is just a great physical specimen and looks like a great plugger at middle linebacker. Norristown quarterback Shannon Mayer is only a sophomore, but he was throwing some nice balls out there and caught my eye. He still has plenty of time to grow. Kyle Bigam made his way down from Perkasie and the Pennridge High School wide receiver made a number of nice catches and looked very fluid out on the field and showed good body control. Finally, Chestnut Hill Academy Cedric Madden is going into his senior year and looked very good. The past two running backs that have come out of that program have gone Division I, so we’ll see how he does.
I’m sure there are players that played great that are left out on here, but covering that many kids in a short period of time is tough. Many of the big name players in Philly weren’t there, so that gave these kids a chance to make a name and they took that advantage. This was the best run tryout yet by NLA and Badger Sports.