SAN ANTONIO - Olney (Md.) Good Counsel defensive back Kendall Fuller had already received his invitation to the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl prior to this year's Army National Junior Combine, but he still made the trip to San Antonio to back up his selection.
The 6-0, 185-pound Fuller's performance more than justified his Army All-American status, and he came out of the event as the overall Combine MVP.
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"Fuller lived up to the five-star hype," Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell remarked. "He didn't get a ton of reps but of the six or so he did get, he almost had a pick and was beaten only once on a great play by the wideout. His instincts are excellent and no one was allowed to play press coverage, which is his strength. He also ran a 4.5 40 on a slow turf which is impressive because he has good size for a corner."
Fuller's MVP performance began when he clocked the 4.50 electronically timed 40-yard dash on what has always been known as a slow surface at the Alamodome. He then went out and won five of six repetitions in the wide receiver-defensive back one-on-ones, an exercise that heavily favors the offensive player.
"The thing that impressed me most was his timing once the ball was thrown and how quickly he broke on the ball," Rivals.com West Coast analyst Adam Gorney observed. "There was not one rep I saw where Fuller would have been flagged for pass interference. Too many times in combines cornerbacks get extra physical with receivers and it's not a fair fight. Fuller used his hands well and was always right on time to knock the pass away.
"I only saw one player catch a ball on him all day and it was a fantastic, acrobatic reception where Fuller was in almost perfect coverage."
Fuller highlighted a deep group of defensive backs, with Miami (Fla.) Columbus' Jesus Wilson, Immokalee, Fla., cornerback Mackensie Alexander and New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr's Noel Ellis each making their own cases for combine MVP.
Fuller's smooth, fluid style, playmaking ability and feel for the cornerback position have earned him double-digit offers from the nation's top football programs with more than a year remaining before he can officially sign his letter of intent. Opposing teams showed the junior respect this past season, rarely testing his side of the field. He still ended up with three interceptions on the season, including one he returned for a score.
Playing at Good Counsel has certainly benefitted Fuller's development. He learned under 2011 U.S. Army All-American cornerback Blake Countess as a sophomore, and has gone head-to-head every day in practice against 2012 five-star wide receiver Stefon Diggs for the last two years.
"I don't think I would be as good as I was if I wasn't going against people like Stefon," Fuller said. "We both teach each other different things. He'll learn stuff from my view, from playing corner, and I'll learn stuff from him playing receiver. We're both just working and going against each other."
Of course, Fuller has plenty of potential mentors right in his own family. His oldest brother, Vincent, spent six seasons in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans, and two more brothers, Kyle and Corey, play for Virginia Tech. The Hokies are a strong contender for the younger Fuller as well, but he is undecided on his college future at this time.
One thing that is decided is that Fuller is going to make a strong case for the top spot at a loaded cornerback position in the class of 2013, and his MVP performance in San Antonio only bolsters his résumé.