Birmingham NFTC Notebook

Daron Payne vs. Lester Cotton

HOOVER, Ala. – Several of the top prospects in the South traveled to the Birmingham area for one of the deeper Nike Football Training Camps of the spring thus far. Elites shined, emerging prospects continued to up their stock and some underclassmen stole some headlines along the way.

The skies at Hoover (Ala.) Spain Park High were clear, the sun shined despite some on and off wind, and Sunday's Nike Football Training Camp could have not been much smoother from a weather standpoint.

The battles that would ensue, however, became as competitive and as intense as it gets in the camp scene.

Trench talent shines through

On paper, the offensive and defensive lines were the most stacked up positions for the Birmingham NFTC, and it not only played out as such, but more under-the-radar talents proved they belong with the big boys on this day.

Five-star defensive tackle Daron Payne was the headliner, and he lived up to his ranking though many offensive linemen were gunning for his title as the top prospect in attendance.

Payne and four-star Alabama commitment Lester Cotton have created a camp rivalry with their one-on-one battles over the last few months, and the latest edition featured a split over two reps. Cotton, who worked at tackle, guard and center, would walk away with OL MVP honors after showcasing an excellent punch all afternoon long.

Not alone in challenging Payne, Darryl Williams was the surprise of the offensive line group. He worked at canter and guard, and was able to edge Payne in two of three reps, helping to solidify is status as one of the offensive linemen invited to Nike's The Opening.

"It's a tremendous feeling," Williams said of earning his invitation to the annual event. "It proves that my hard work has continued to pay off. Going against Payne…he's a tremendous defensive tackle.

"It was tough, but when he had the advantage I was able to get my hands on him and get better position."

Cotton and fellow four-star prospect Drew Richmond were the others from the group invited to the event. Defensive end Kendell Jones, from Pinson (Ala.) Clay-Chalkville High, was the only front-man on that side of the ball to snag an invitation.

Jones worked on the edge most of the day, getting the better of his opponents more times than not. However, feisty Vasco Curry took home defensive line MVP honors for his day's work. Ole Miss may not be the only school recruiting Memphis (Tenn.) East High prospect for long.

Offensive line coaches Montrae Holland and Jonathan Himebauch pitted the best they coached against the top talents guided by defensive line coaches Chuck Wiley and Kanard Lang to closeout the camp. The veteran staff was as animated as the prospects they were coaching, at times, making for an entertaining end of the day.

Skill shines in the sun

2016 CB John Broussard is on the rise.

The trench prospects held most of the attention, but several skill players dominated the competition en route to MVP honors, including a pair of underclassmen from the Yellowhammer State.

Phenix City (Ala.) Central cornerback John Broussard, who is no stranger to these type of events of late, took home MVP honors among defensive backs. The 2016 prospect holds an early offer from Kentucky, something that will likely soon change.

Tre Nation was the other sophomore to snag MVP honors on this day. The Leeds (Ala.) running back is coming off of a season in which he was the bellcow for a state title game participant, but he proved he can make plays in space on Sunday as a blocker and pass-catcher.

One of the linebackers that had the most hype coming into the event, Joshua McMillon, lived up to his four-star billing en route to linebacker MVP honors. He is looking to end his recruitment sometime in the fall, with plenty of SEC schools in contention for his verbal.

Similar can be said for Van Jefferson, also from the Volunteer State, also taking home MVP honors. The three-star wide receiver also earned his invitation to The Opening with the work he put in. The unanimous MVP decision for Jefferson may be equal to the one earned by quarterback Gardner Minshew out of Brandon (Miss.) High.

Defensive back Xavier Lewis of Louisiana and wide receiver Deddrick Thomas of Mississippi were the other class of 2015 prospects to earn invitations to Beaverton, Oregon for The Opening.

Jennings closing in on decision

Four-star Jauan Jennings drew a crowd when he was available for the media on Sunday. The safety projection, who says he'll play quarterback at the school he selects, is planning on committing April 7. He hasn't yet made a private decision, and says he'll select between Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Ohio State in eight days to end his recruitment.

Jennings worked out as a quarterback at the event.

Chad Simmons contributed to this report.

For all the latest news and notes from the Nike Football Training Camp, check out Scout's complete 2014 NFTC coverage. Recommended Stories

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