The Birmingham Nike Football Training Camp was one of the more competitive events on the spring circuit, and most eyes were on the offensive and defensive lines throughout the afternoon. Elites backed up their ranking and three-stars surprised, as four state of Alabama prospects put in enough work in the trenches to punch their ticket to Nike’s The Opening this week.
Highlights from each prospect at the camp are provided below.
Daron Payne | 6-foot-3, 329 lbs | DT | Irondale (Ala.) Shades Valley
Payne is the top player in the state and it showed at times against top offensive linemen this spring, including each in-state prospect on this list. Scout is looking to see if the five-star can put together a more consistent effort this week with the pads on, in order for him to hold onto his status as a top-five defensive tackle in a loaded 2015 class at the position. Payne turns heads with power and quickness, but if he shows the ability to recover from an initial punch, he could even improve his stock among the nation’s best.
Lester Cotton | 6-foot-3, 325 lbs | OG | Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Central
One of the biggest post-fall risers on Scout with an improved body and gritty performances against Payne (photo above) and other elites, Cotton has the chance to continue his ascent towards the top guard prospects in the class. The Alabama commitment is up to No. 8 right now, but one could argue that he has been the most impressive on the camp circuit to this point.
Darryl Williams | 6-foot-3, 304 lbs | C | Bessemer City (Ala.) High
Cotton turned a lot of heads in stopping Payne this spring, and Williams capped the Birmingham event in getting the better of the five-star two of the three times they tangled. Working out as a center, Williams also had a banner day against most other opposers, narrowly losing out to Cotton for O-line MVP after the afternoon session. Williams continued his assault at several camps this summer, and now sits as the No. 10 center prospect in all the land.
Kendell Jones | 6-foot-3, 246 lbs | DE | Pinson (Ala.) Clay-Chalkville
If Williams was a surprise at the Birmingham NFTC, Jones was the mega-shock. He looked long and lean against some of the South’s best, and got to the quarterback on routine to the point that he was the only defensive lineman to learn of his ticket to Beaverton on-site. The early summer camp circuit served him well, too, and he capped one of his best efforts with a commitment to Mississippi State.