Many college coaches agree that skill players are key to both the offense and defense, but football games are won and lost in the trenches. The NIKE Camp to be held in Blacksburg, Va. this Sunday, April 24, will be highlighted by some terrific offensive line prospects who will be going head-to-head with terrific defensive ends and tackles. Some of the top players from Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and Kentucky will be on hand strutting their stuff. Here's a Rivals.com look at the top players to keep an eye on led by Rivals100 offensive lineman J.B. Walton.
Walton, a 6-foot-3, 270-pounder with more than 20 written offers from powerhouse programs like Florida, Georgia and LSU, is arguably the top offensive guard prospect in the country. Walton, from Indian Head (Md.) Lackey will be competing against and with fellow Maryland stud prospect Antonio Logan-El (6-foot-5, 307 pounds). Logan-El, from Forestville, Md., another Rivals100 lineman who has already committed to the Maryland Terrapins.
Other offensive linemen of note include Richmond (Va.) Hermitage offensive guard Isaiah Hinson (6-foot-3, 325 pounds) and his teammate Bryan Hall, a 6-foot-5, 310-pound offensive tackle. Both players are being heavily recruited by Virginia, Virginia Tech, Maryland and others. Rahway, N.J. offensive tackle Amen Igbinosun, a 6-foot-5, 300-pounder with interest from Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Duke and others, will also be on hand as will massive tackle Ashton Muslimani from Chesapeake (Va.) Greenbriar Christian Academy, who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 360 pounds.
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Shockingly, Muslimani is not the biggest player expected to be on hand. That honor goes to Springdale (Md.) Flowers lineman Charles Smith, who stands an estimated 6-foot-7 and weighs 374 pounds. Tackle prospect Mike Phillips from Cary, N.C. is another lineman to keep an eye on.
As talented as the offensive linemen appear to be, they'll have their hands full with a great collection of defensive ends and tackles. Six different rush ends expected to be in Blacksburg already have written offers, led by Somerset (Ken.) Pulaski Southwestern stud Josh Minton. Minton has early offers from SEC schools Auburn, Alabama, Kentucky and LSU as well as offers from Oklahoma and Virginia Tech amongst others. The 6-foot-4, 245-pounder is one the most heavily recruited defensive ends in the country. Fellow Kentucky end Luke Stocker (6-foot-6, 225-pounds) from Berea (Ken.) Madison Southern also has an early offer from Kentucky.
Other top defensive ends on hand include Richmond (Va.) Meadowbrook standout John Graves, Ashland (Va.) Patrick Henry star Marcus Anthony, Glen Allen (Va.) Deep Run rush end Sean Gottschalk and Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith prospect Brian Whitmore. Graves and Gottschalk boast offers from Virginia, Virginia Tech and other ACC schools while Anthony received his first ACC offer recently from NC State. Whitmore, considered by some as the most talented of the group, has early offers from Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Penn State, Syracuse, Maryland, North Carolina and others.
Defensive tackle Daryl Robertson from Bedford (Va.) Liberty is the top interior defensive lineman expected at the camp. The 6-foot-3, 300-pounder already has Virginia Tech and Maryland offers.
While the one-on-one drills between the offensive and defensive linemen will be of great interest, there are some quality skill players expected at the camp as well. Rivals100 running back Josh Adams. The 5-foot-11, 177-pounder from Cary, N.C. rushed for 2,884 yards and 26 touchdowns as a junior, earning offers from Clemson, NC State and North Carolina.
Fellow Rivals100 running back Evan Royster from centreville (Va.) Westfield was expected to attend but injured his knee a few weeks ago and cannot participate. The 6-foot-0, 190-pounder had 2,200 yards and 29 scores as a junior. Richmond (Va.) Varina tailback Brandon Minor will be on hand showcasing the ability that allowed him to rush for 2,091 yards and 30 touchdowns as a junior. The 6-foot-0, 203-pounder has offers from Miami, Georgia, Michigan, Virginia Tech and others.
Ahoskie (N.C.) Hertford County all-purpose back LaMarcus Bond and Fairfax (Va.) Robinson running back Lucas Caparelli will be amongst the fastest players at the event. Bond, a 5-foot-10, 175-pounder has offers from Clemson, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Michigan State, Duke and others while Caparelli has in-state offers and one from Pitt.
Fork Union (Va.) Fork Union Military defensive back/wide receiver Brandon Caleb (6-foot-3, 195 pounds), with offers from Oklahoma and others, will be one of the top skill players on hand as well as Blue Ridge, Va. safety Greg Davis. Davis, a 6-foot-2, 190-pounder with offers from Virginia, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Nebraska and others, will be participating on a limited basis due to an injury.
As always, the quarterbacks will be watched closely and this group is led by Canton (Ohio) GlenOak signal-caller Michael Hartline. The 6-foot-6, 185-pounder has early offers from Michigan State and Kent and is a candidate for the Elite 11. Charlotte (N.C.) Charlotte Christian quarterback Kelly Rawls, 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, is another to watch.
Finally, a couple of 2007 prospects will be on hand making an early impression. Remember the names Tyrod Taylor and D.J. Thomas, both from Virginia. Taylor, a 6-foot-0, 183-pound quarterback could be the next great signal-caller to come from the Hampton area. Thomas, a 5-foot-8, 155-pound cornerback is also an incredible special teams player.