The NIKE Camp in Texas every year is usually dominated by the lineman and this year was no exception. Sure there were some very talented players at other positions, particularly the wide receiver spot, but our choice as Camp MVP came down to a pair of defensive line prospects.
Heading in to the position and one on one portion of the camp, the odds on favorite to earn MVP honors was Hempstead (Texas) wide receiver Terrance Toliver. The 6-4, 185 pound athlete had a great camp clocking a 4.47 in the 40 and showing great hands in the drills. Toliver is a smooth route runner and never fights the ball. He has soft hands and things just look effortless for him on the field.
Toliver is no doubt a top 10 wide out nationally and a great prospect but when was said and done, the two players we felt had the best all around day were Von Miller and Jacody Coleman.
Miller measured in at a lean 6-3, 210 pounds and looked more like a linebacker or even strong safety than a defensive end, which is the position he chose to work out at. He tested off the charts running a 4.51 in the 40, 4.12 in the shuttle, jumped 33 inches in the vertical and did 14 reps on the bench for a very solid 79.82 SPARQ Rating.
In the position and one on one drills, Miller was a blur coming off the edge and no one came close to blocking him. We're not sure Miller has the frame to bulk up in to a full time rush end in college, but he showed enough overall speed and athleticism to make a big time linebacker at the next level if that's where he winds up.
While Miller came in to the camp with plenty of hype, Coleman was flying a little more under the radar. He measured in a rock solid 6-2, 229 pounds and much like Miller, was way too explosive off the line for any of the offensive lineman to block him.
Coleman showed plenty of speed running a 4.61-40, 4.59 in the shuttle, jumped 29 inches in the vertical and did 17 reps on the bench. In the one on one drills, we tried to find the best offensive linemen in the camp to match up with him but Coleman basically embarrassed everyone lined up across from him.
"Miller was the best kid there in the position drills, Coleman was probably the best in the one on ones," NIKE line coach John Brock said. "No one could block Coleman in the one on one drills but no one could block Miller either, they both went un-defeated, it's just that Coleman may have taken a few more reps. Both were great though and had very strong camps."
After consulting with a few more line coaches and taking another look at how the players tested, we gave the slightest edge imagineable to Miller.
"That's a great honor, when I first heard I was the MVP of the camp, I called everyone," Miller said. "I called all my coaches, my teammates, my family, I was excited. I knew there was going to be a lot of competition at this camp so I really worked hard so I could be at my best.
"I drank nothing but water, no sodas or anything and trained really hard so I would be at my peak. Overall, I was very happy with how I did. I think I probably could have jumped a little higher and did a few more reps on the bench but I was happy with how I ran. My best ever 40 time was a 4.4 but that was a hand time and this was a SPARQ time so I was very happy with everything."
As for his decision to compete with the defensive lineman rather than the linebackers?
"I'm being recruited at both position right now and it doesn't really matter to me where I play," Miller said. "I played linebacker as a sophomore and then moved to the line last year. We played a 3-3-5 so I had to go up against a guard and a tackle a lot and that's why I only had six sacks. This year, I think we'll go to a more conventional defense because a lot of teams in our league are going to a spread offense so I should have a lot more chances to make some big plays."
On the recruiting front, Miller came in to the camp with offers from Mississippi, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas Tech and Kansas State and was just offered by Nebraska earlier today.
"Growing up and especially all last year, I was a big Texas fan," Miller said. "I'm not hearing anything from them right now though so I'm wide open in terms of college favorites. I have no problem leaving the state or playing close to home, it really doesn't matter to me. I'll go play in Paris if I have to, I'm just looking for the best opportunity for me. I do want to take all five of my trips and I'm in no hurry to make my college choice."