There was a noticeable energy Friday night for Minnesota's Senior One Day Camp. Over 100 recruits gathered at TCF Bank Stadium, and they all seemed eager to showcase their skills before entering their final year of high school.
With every athlete trying to earn a late offer, senior camps always have a few players that have been flying under the radar. I believe Friday's camp was no exception.
The most impressive performance of the day came from Montini Catholic (Ill.) linebacker Nile Sykes. Measuring in at 6-foot-1.75, 216 pounds, Sykes brought an impressive pairing of size and speed. Not to mention he jumped out immediately in every drill.
During a pass protection drill/blitz pick-up drill, Sykes not only over-powered running backs attempting to block him - but also made them literally whiff on multiple occasions. For a player who appeared to be one of the physically strongest at the camp, his footwork really seemed to set him apart.
Sykes played defensive end the past two seasons, but is transitioning to linebacker for his senior year. He's received offers from Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Syracuse, and Cincinnati, and says he's receiving interest from Tennessee, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
Another impressive physical specimen Friday was Vanier (Montreal) defensive end Julien Kafo. Kafo has good size (6-foot-4, 245) but, like Sykes, jumps out with his speed.
He showed tremendous explosiveness in pass rush drills, an area that he says is his strongest. The Canadian has fielded offers from several schools, including Ohio State, Iowa, UConn, and Pittsburgh.
Kincaid (Tex.) defensive back Thomas Dillon was noticeable in early-camp speed drills, but due to some hamstring tightness, sat out activities with shoulder pads. Still, Dillon's agility stood out, and in his limited action he was the focus of praise from several separate coaches.
The 5-foot-11, 185 pound Dillon committed to Wake Forest earlier this week.
Finally, the "sleeper" recruit coming out of Friday's camp is Newark (Oh.) quarterback Grant Russell. Though he's received no offers so far, Russell has great size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds), impressive arm strength, and solid, fluid mechanics. He throws a great deep ball, and, perhaps more than anyone else at the camp, repeatedly commanded my attention with his play.
Russell is receiving attention from multiple MAC schools, including Kent State, Toledo, and Ball State.