The Scout Team: Best spring performances

Su'a Cravens

The Scout Team takes a look at some of the most eye-popping performances from recruits around the country this spring.

The national recruiting analysts will answer questions about the 2013 recruiting class season in a feature called "The Scout Team." Each week, we'll look at a different topic. The national analysts include Scott Kennedy (Director of Scouting), Chad Simmons (South), Allen Trieu (Midwest), Greg Powers (Midlands), Bob Lichtenfels (East), Greg Biggins (West) and Brandon Huffman (West).

  1. What's the single most impressive performance by a recruit you've seen this spring?
Scott Kennedy
Scott Kennedy (Director of Scouting):

Spring and Summer camps can be deceiving for scouts in that almost without exception all of the events are shorts and t-shirts and make it difficult to replicate the physical nature of the game of football. This is especially true for the linemen. The most popular method of having linemen compete is a pass-protection drill that heavily favors the defensive linemen. There is no threat of a running play, double team, play action, etc. It's basically 3rd and 15 every play with just one man in front of the defender.

Ira Denson impressed more than one of our experts this spring.

Typically if an offensive lineman is simply able to hold his own in this drill, he's a better than average player.

Ira Denson of Madison County High School in Florida didn't just simply hold his own at the Orlando Nike Camp last month, he dominated everyone put in front of him, including four-Star defensive tackle Caleb Brantley. This isn't an indication that Brantley may have been rated too high -- he tossed other players around like rag dolls throughout the camp and was making a push for defensive MVP, right up until he ran into Denson on four consecutive plays.

Before the Nike Camp, Denson had offers from Florida International and Western Kentucky. Once the video from his performance went viral, Denson had offers from Florida State, South Carolina, and Tennessee before the week was over.

Here is a look at him in action from the Nike Camp last month that was one of the best offensive line performances I've seen in 10 years of Scouting these spring and summer camps.

Follow ScoutKennedy on Twitter

Chad Simmons
Chad Simmons (South):

Ira Denson is an offensive lineman out of Madison County (Fla.), and he put on a show at the Orlando Nike Football Training Camp this spring.


Send us an email and ask your question for the analysts, and it just might get answered in next week's recruiting Q&A feature. Ask away!

He was relatively unknown entering that camp, but has since picked up offers from FSU, Tennessee, and others. He won each 1-on-1 battle I saw, including around 10 against four-star defensive lineman Caleb Brantley, who is committed to Florida.

I liked how he went about his business that day, just letting his performance do the talking. He just dominated on that afternoon in Orlando and that was the most impressive performance I have seen to date.

Follow ChadSimmons_ on Twitter

Bob Lichtenfels
Bob Lichtenfels (East):

One prospect who impressed not once, but at two separate events was Pittsburgh (Pa.) Perry traditional Academy 2013 safety/wide receiver DaRon Clark. I had never seen a clip of film on him. To be honest, I had no idea as to who he even was. He was in nobody's database. So, yes he really did come out of nowhere.

DaRon Clark

At both 7-on-7 tournaments in which I saw him, he led his team to the semifinals. He is very raw and -- to be quite honest -- is not even close to being a polished player on either side of the ball, but he made circus catch after circus catch.

He is a long, lean 6-foot-3 and has to have a close to a 40" vertical. Multiple times on both sides of the ball we saw him sky over defenders and make amazing grabs out of the sky. If he goes to a few one-day college camps, someone will jump on him just due to his freakish athletic ability.

Learn more about DaRon Clark, including his schools of interest, right here.

Follow BobLichtenfels on Twitter

Greg Powers
Greg Powers (Midlands):

Robbie Rhodes, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound wide receiver from Fort Worth (Texas) Southwest High is a player who is really rising up many recruiting charts as analysts and coaches have been able to see him for the first time.

There were a plethora of superstar talents on the fields at the DFW stop for the Under Armour Sevens Throwdown, but none will quite grab your eye like Rhodes. He is really put together. A prospect who raises the curve for the eyeball test at receiver. Long arms, big hands, a thick chest and strong legs.

Robbie Rhodes

On film he shows an ability to make huge scoring plays. In a single game last season he scored seven touchdowns, but you cannot truly gain a sincere appreciation for him until you see him with your own two eyes. He gets off the line extremely quick and his top-end speed is verified with elite level track times. He runs crisp routes, has solid hands, and can high-point the ball. He is also a leader and works well with his teammates.

Currently, Rhodes is rated as the No. 31 WR in the country, but will be moving up the charts.

Follow GPowers79 on Twitter

Allen Trieu
Allen Trieu (Midwest):

He's a somewhat obvious choice, but Jaylon Smith really impressed me at the Adidas Invitational. I knew he was special, but he took it to another level on that day. What really put it over the top was when he started playing corner and was shutting down wide receivers in one-on-ones, making interceptions as a cover corner. That's impressive athleticism for a 6-3, 220-pound kid.

Jaylon Smith

The other kids there were in awe of what he was doing and so were we. He was a five-star already, but this proved that he belongs right at the top. He has the potential to play a lot of roles for the school he chooses.

Follow TrieuA on Twitter

Greg Biggins
Greg Biggins (West):

The single best performance I've seen this spring was Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta athlete Su'a Cravens' dominant showing at the New Level 7-on-7 tournament in Las Vegas. Cravens was an all-state linebacker last year but there was some doubt whether he could make the switch to safety in college.

Su'a Cravens

Cravens played safety all tournament and was not only the top defensive player by a wide margin, he played receiver on offense and might have been the best player on the offensive side of the ball as well. Cravens answered any questions some had about his ability to play in space and defend the pass. He was always around the ball and made several acrobatic interceptions.

At receiver, he was his team's go-to guy every time they needed a big play. He flashed great hands and the speed to get deep, and his body control in jump-ball situations was incredible all tournament long.

Follow Greg Biggins on Twitter

Brandon Huffman
Brandon Huffman (West):

Tulare (Calif.) Mission Oak linebacker Kevin Palma was the runaway winner of the linebacker MVP honors at the Oakland Nike Football Training Camp. And had their been an overall camp MVP, Palma would have probably run away with that too. After narrowly missing the linebacker MVP award at the SoCal NFTC, Palma kicked it into overdrive for the Oakland NFTC, and from beginning to end was not only the best linebacker there, but may have been the best player there, period.

Kevin Palma

Whether it was blowing by running backs in the pass-rushing drills (not unlike what he did at Cerritos last month), breaking up passes in the skelly or his quick pursuit to the ball-carrier in pursuit drills, Palma was stellar in every facet. While he's only got three offers for now, Palma won't be in single digits for long. He's one of the best linebackers we've seen this entire spring, and we think he's definitely a double-digit offer guy.

Follow BrandonHuffman on Twitter Recommended Stories


42 Fans online
    Join The Conversation