Considering the uphill battle that we faced leading up to the Scout.com combine in Champaign, we left the Irwin Indoor Football Facility feeling mighty good with the talent that was on hand. In Durham and Jacksonville, the theme seemed to be speed and athleticism. It’s only fitting that the move to the Midwest featured bad weather and a little trench warefare.
Proms, track meets, baseball, bad weather, spring football games and false newspaper reports were just some of the problems that we had to deal with the past few weeks but instead of concentrating on who wasn’t at the combine, we focused on the prospects who showed up ready to compete.
There were several skilled athletes on hand and I’ll get to them in a little bit but it was the “Big-Uglies” that provided the heat on a cold Saturday afternoon.
Wisconsin must have seen something in Cody Faulkner to offer him his first scholarship. The 6-foot-4, 308-pounder, from Arcadia (Ind.) Hamilton Heights was the dominant offenive lineman at the combine, taking on all comers in the one-on-one drills.
Faulkner, a barrell-chested lineman, has a super base, quick first step and strong legs. Cody knows how to use his hands and he showed tremendous balance. Faulkner showed the best combination of strength and footwork of any of the offensive lineman.
On the defensive side of the ball, nobody was more dominant than Missouri’s Aleric Mullins. The 6-foot-3, 295-pounder, from Caruthersville, was extremely quick and explosive for his size. The lack of scholarship offers that Mullins has is baffling. Solid defensive tackles are hard to find and Mullins has the potential to be a great one.
There were several top linebackers on hand including Naperville (Ill.) North product Osahon Tongo. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder, didn’t work out as well as he would have liked but he still showed well and it’s easy to see why both Illinois and Northwestern have offered scholarships early.
Other notable linebackers with strong performances were Indiana’s Andre’ Hatchett, Michigan’s Eric Gordon and Missouri’s Aaron Cawfield.
Shannon Cobb, a safety, from Normal (Ill.) Community had a very good combine. The 5-foot-10, 202-pounder, is thick and quick. Cobb is put together extremely well and the former ‘Jesse White Tumbler’ even put on an acrobatics show after the combine.
Sophomore sensation, Jeremy Finch, showed why he’ll be one of the most highly sought after safeties in the nation next year. Physically, Finch was heads and tails above the competion on Saturday. He has the body and ball instincts of former Miami safety Sean Taylor. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder, from Indianapolis (Warren Central) has the speed and athleticim to play linebacker as well.
Last but not least, Dustin Jefferson, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound, defensive end, from Kankakee, Ill., worked out extremely well. Jefferson ran solid 40’s, on a slow track, and although he’s probably a linebacker at the next level, Jefferson decided to test himself against the offensive lineman.
Jefferson is a soft-spoken individual but I think his presence was felt loud and clear in the one-on-one drills. Dustin made up for his lack of size with a quick first step and excellent technique.
We’ll concentrate on the offensive side of the ball later today.