Miami, Fla. - When you think of the college football prospects from the Sunshine State, in particular south Florida, skilled players and speed are the first things that come to mind. And there was certainly an abundance of that on hand at the Nike Football Training Camp at Barry University.
But it was the outstanding offensive line play that stole the show on this tour stop. Big high profile recruits like five-star K.C. McDermott (Wellington, Fla./Palm Beach Central), four-star Trevor Darling (Miami, Fla./Central) and three-star Isaiah Wynn (St. Petersburg, Fla./Lakewood) were all in attendance but the recruit that had the most dominating performance was center Raul Diaz (Miami, Fla./Central).
Just how good was Diaz on this day? He won the offensive line MVP honors.
“Those coaches did a great job of prepping us,” Diaz said. “There was so much competition out here, whether it was the offensive linemen or the defensive linemen. It was phenomenal. I just had a good mindset coming in and I wanted to make the most of it.”
Diaz, close to 6-foot-2 and 270-pounds, was virtually unbeatable in the one on one session. He collected at least five wins on six tries and you can make a case that on that lone loss it was more of a standoff. Diaz showed that he could sink his hips, extend his arms, move his feet and displayed an outstanding punch on each and every rep. No one had an answer for him.
“He was nasty and dominant,” said Bill Pierce, one of the NFTC offensive line coaches. “But what I liked most of all was his toughness and his pass set. And to do that against those guys was so impressive.”
While Diaz may not be the household recruiting name of those mentioned above he is garnering a lot of attention. After all, there are not that many true center prospects in the state of Florida and throughout the country. But he says he does have a handful of scholarship offers at this time.
“North Carolina State, South Florida, Kentucky and Louisville have offered me,” Diaz said. “I think FSU is close. I know I want to visit USF, Louisville, and N.C. State."
Darling and Wynn certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, both were very impressive all day, especially in the one on one drills. Darling, 6-foot-6 and 328-pounds, showed a nastiness and attitude. He’s long, moves well and looks like he’s really coming into his own, especially in pass pro. Darling is committed to the University of Miami.
Wynn, who was playing left tackle, looked equally as good or better than Darling. He’s a long 6-foot-3 and has bulked up a lot since the fall and it shows. This kid has great feet and is a mauler. He has been racking up scholarship offers since signing day and has been one of the hottest offensive line prospects from the state. Most teams are recruiting him as a guard and Wynn said after the camp that he’s even working at center. Regardless, he is showing the versatility to play almost anywhere on the line of scrimmage.
McDermott is another monster at 6-foot-6 and 280-plus pounds. He looks like your prototype left tackle with the ideal size, frame and footwork. Surprisingly, he got beat a time or two during the one on one session.
What was great about this Miami NFTC was the depth at this position. While there are always some very good offensive linemen at the top you never see the depth and quality that you saw today, as plenty of other big ugles stood out and each had some shining moments.
2014 offensive line prospects Dave Montas (Hialeah, Fla.), Michael Smith (Miami, Fla./Central), Jestin Snow (Miami, Fla./Northwestern), Joshua Addison (Miami, Fla./Central), Nicloas Linder (Ft.Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas), Kai Absheer (Ft.Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas), Nigel Kemp (Miramar, Fla./Everglades), A’lique Terry (Hialeah, Fla.), Deion Cineus (Miami, Fla./Central) and Raymond Gibson (Miami, Fla./Northwestern) all performed well.
There is no doubt that this was a stout group that got the better of the defensive linemen.
“The best thing about the group as a whole was their willingness to learn. They were all coachable and open to things we were trying to tweak and change,” Pierce said. “It wasn’t one or two of them but everyone.”
Lammons Has Big Day
Plantation (Fla.) High School never has a shortage of cornerbacks. For the 2014 class, it’s Chris Lammons turn. He blew away the NFTC coaches and had a huge day and won MVP honors for all the defensive backs.
“Lammons just has it,” said Eugene Jackson, one of the NFTC defensive back coaches. “I mean he has ‘it’. He’s the mold. He’s the type you look for. He has the confidence and that swag. I was just blown away by him.”
Jackson has been with the Nike tour for years and has coached and seen some great recruits. And there were several others that caught his eye.
“I thought Al Harris, Jr. (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) had a good day. He did some very nice things. “I really like [Nigel] Patton (Miami, Fla./Booker T. Washington). He’s a really good corner that you wish was just a little bigger. Mike Johnson (Hialeah, Fla./Champagnat Catholic) needs to work on some of the little things but this kid also has great closing speed. 175 (Bobby Stinson - Miami Springs, Fla.) is another that had a good day.”
A 2015 prospect that really stood out was safety Kendrell McFadden (Hollywood, Fla./McArthur). He’s a big and rangy safety with closing speed and super instincts for the position already. Kendrell is a cousin of former Florida State and NFLer Bryant McFadden.
Depth At Wide Receiver
As usual, there was an abundance of wide receiver talent at this Nike Camp. There were some heavy hitters and guys flying under the radar. But if you add them all up there was well over a dozen D1 receivers in attendance.
Taking home the hardware of MVP honors was Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach, Fla./Gardens), a prospect with offers from everyone in Florida, the Crimson Tide, Auburn, Tennessee, Ohio State and other big name programs.
“Dixon is the best receiver I have seen out here the last two years,” said Bucky Rogers, the wide receiver coach for NFTC. “He is definitely one of the best dudes I have seen. He’s fast and just natural. He runs good routes and has a great feel for the position. And Dixon is coachable and picks things up quickly. He also has great hands.”
Dixon was voted No. 1 by the coaches and their No. 2 was Chris Taylor (Coconut Creek, Fla./North Broward Prep ).
“He killed us,” Jackson said.
Taylor, 6-foot-1 and 168-pounds, has offers from UMass, Ohio, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Marshall and Toledo.
“Taylor has great speed,” Rogers said. “He’s smooth and very polished.”
Steven Ishmael (North Miami Beach, Fla.), Jimmy Bayes (Immokalee, Fla.), Stanley Clerveaux (North Miami, Fla.), Corey Holmes (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas), Ryan Sousa (Orlando, Fla./Lake Nona), and Kaian Duverger (Green Acres, Fla./John I. Leonard) all did well.
There were a few underclassmen that stood out as well like 2015 wider receivers Shawn Burgess (Coconut Creek, Fla./Monarch) and Da’Vante Phillips (Miami, Fla./Central). Both of these players will be national recruits. They have size, speed, good hands and athleticism.
The top tight end in in Miami was a 2015 recruit as well in Devonaire Clarington (Miami, Fla./Southridge). He’s 6-foot-5 and 226-pounds. He already has offers from Alabama, Miami and Michigan. He has a great frame, great length and soft hands.
It was a pretty deep linebacker pool with guys like Richard Yeargin (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./University School), Xavier Preston (Jensen Beach, Fla.), Sharrief Rhaheed (Ft. Pierce, Fla./Central), Tevin Evans (Miami,Fla./Booker T. Washington), and Harrison Rodormer (Boca Raton, Fla.).
Yeargin won MVP honors. This kid has great size (6-4/210), is long, athletic and can really run. He’s competitive and played well in coverage. Preston and Rhaheed both attended yesterday’s combine in Orlando as well as today’s in Miami. They were both terrific on both days. They each showed that they are rangy downhill linebackers that can attack quickly. Then you have Evans. He’s a little bit smaller (6-0/215) but has unreal speed, both north-south and laterally. Rodormer was perhaps the camp surprise at this position. He’s look about the same size as Evans and showed good speed, athleticism and did well playing in coverage toward the end of the day.
Yearby Being Yearby
Miami commitment Joseph Yearby (Miami, Fla./Central) was out there in action and he was just his normal brilliant self. In one on one drills against some very good linebacker prospects he was almost untouchable. In one drill where the running backs would take a toss pitch toward the sideline on the short side they were instructed to get by linebackers. The linebackers were to close the gap on the ball carrier and make the play. On several occasions Yearby would leave the ‘backer grasping for air.
Yearby isn’t the biggest back. He’s not the fastest or even the quickest. But he does everything well and he plays with great instincts, balance and his feet are incredible.
In a normal year, he’s the top running back in Florida. But you have another special back from the state this season in Sony Michel (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage). Both are five-star recruits, with Michel ranked No. 2 overall while Yearby is No. 4. Michel was there to watch as a spectator and didn’t perform because of a slight hamstring injury.
Other notable running backs that had good days were LaJuan Hunt (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./University School), Dalvin Cook (Miami, Fla./Central), Mardre London (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas), E.J. Elian (Loxahatchee, Fla./Seminole Ridge). 2016 running back Mark Walton (Miami, Fla./Booker T. Washington) is one to watch for the future. He already has very good size and great skills at the running back position.
In a surprise position move Cook took some reps at safety and looked good on that side of the ball.
Thomas and Clark
Two of the biggest names in recruiting from south Florida are defensive end Chad Thomas (Miami, Fla./Booker T. Washington) and defensive tackle Khari Clark (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna). They are both the top players at their respective positions in the state and Clark is actually the top d-tackle in the nation.
You can see that Thomas has bulked up but still has a very long way to go to fill out his long frame. He’s rangy, athletic and is a good pass rusher off the edge. Meanwhile, Clark looks like your prototype nose tackle for a 3-4. He’s compact and very powerful. He’s quick for a big man but could be even quicker if he shedded some weight in the middle. No doubt Clark is a force on the inside.
Thomas edged Clark and the others for MVP honors for the defensive line group.
It was somewhat of a surprise that there wasn’t more depth at this position. There typically is at this event in Miami. Having said that, a few more guys had good days like defensive ends Gerald Nisbett (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and Michael Smith (Miami, Fla./Northwestern). A surprise name was defensive tackle Darrell Beard (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.). Believe it or not this kid is a hockey player in south Florida. He showed some skills and great strength.
Sean White (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./University School) took home MVP honors once again. He did a year ago as well. He has good size and a strong and accurate arm. He was clearly the top signal caller there. Miami commitment Alin Edouard (Hialeah, Fla.) did some nice things. He has a good arm that can get stronger. Edouard just needs to continue to work on the little things and develop his game. An intriguing prospect is Trayon Gray (Miami, Fla./ Carol City). He’s built like a strong safety but has the athleticism of an athletic receiver. In fact, Scout.com has him listed as a four-star receiver. He was at the Miami NFTC playing quarterback because that’s the position he will play for his high school team. The funny thing is the kid has a strong arm and he can really spin the football.
Hall of Fame Advice
One of the more interesting tidbits of this combine was that future Hall of Famer Warren Sapp was there helping with the defensive linemen. Sapp was vocal and giving advice to all the recruits. When they did well he let them know. When they made mistakes he let them know. Sapp was involved, teaching and giving tips on technique, the use of their hands and strategies in rushing the passer. The players all took to him and it was fun to watch it all unfold.
The Opening Invites
Seven more invitations to The Opening went out today to Isaiah Wynn, Joseph Yearby, Dalvin Cook, Chris Lammons, Richard Yeargin, Johnnie Dixon and Chad Thomas. They gave out four yesterday in Orlando and 19 total are now out. The Opening with be at Nike headquarters in Oregon this summer.
For more from the 2013 Nike Football Training Camps, check Scout.com's
Nike Football Training Camp Coverage.