The most talent we've seen at any NIKE Camp so far this year was in Gainesville (Fla.). The problem for us in choosing an MVP from the camp was several players who performed well in the drills, chose not to test and our MVP is always a combination of how a player does in the testing as well as the position drills. There was one player however who shined all day long and walked away with top honors at the event.
If our Camp MVP was based soley on position and one on one drills, Ocala (Fla.) Trinity Catholic quarterback John Brantley would have been our guy. Brantley had a great day throwing the ball and in fact, is probably the best looking signal caller we've seen in person this year.
Lakeland (Fla.) running back Chris Rainey is another player we expected to have a huge day but the talented athlete scratched half of his testing marks including his 40 time that would have placed him in the top five in the camp. He also skipped part of the position drills.
A handful of talented linemen led Cheraw (S.C.) rush end Cliff Matthews, Jacksonville (Fla.) Andrew Jackson defensive tackle D'Angelo McCray and Columbia (S.C.) Spring Valley two way standout Quintin Richardson were dominant in the one on one drills but all chose not to participate in the bench press. Now you don't necessarily have to do all four testing marks to earn Camp MVP but a lineman skipping the bench is like a wide receiver or running back not running a 40, it definitely doesn't help your chances and caused us to scratch our heads a little.
The one player who did take part in everything and excelled in every facet was Darien (Ga.) McIntosh County Academy athlete Allen Bailey and as a result, he's our Camp MVP.
"That's great, I thought I did pretty well and felt more comfortable this year than last year," Bailey said. "I think I answered a lot of questions about whether I could play linebacker in college. I know everyone thinks of me as a defensive lineman in college but I really want to play linebacker and I feel I did very well at that position today."
Physically, Bailey might be the most impressive player we've seen on the NIKE tour this year. He's a chiseled 6-4, 255 pounds and was referred to by our lead LB coach Chris Gizzi as a 'genetic freak with an NFL body right now.' Gizzi rated Bailey among the top three 'backers he worked with all day and added he definitely showed enough agility and linear speed to play the position in college.
"He would be a great fit as an outside backer in a 3-4 scheme," Gizzi said. "He's really a genetic anomaly and has an incredible combination of size and athleticism. I remember working with him last year and he was much better this time around. He was more physical and more coachable as well."
Bailey clocked a 4.96-40, 4.75 in the shuttle, jumped 32 inches in the vertical and did 24 reps on the bench. His 40 time may not look that impressive, but on film, Bailey plays much faster and his vertical jump is a much better indicator of what kind of athlete he is.
"I thought my ability to cover in the one on one drills was the best part of my camp," Bailey said. "I was able to run with all the running backs and there was a lot of speed and a lot of good players out here."
Playing inside linebacker, Bailey racked up 138 tackles, 10 for loss and forced eight fumbles as a junior. He was just named a five star prospect by Rivals.com and should be mentioned among the top 15-20 prospects in the nation regardless of position.
As for where Bailey should play in college, as good as he was with the linebackers and as adamant as he is about only playing the position in college, we still feel down the line, the athletes future is on the defensive line. Bailey is 255 pounds right now and will add another 25-30 pounds in a couple of years without even trying hard. With his long arms, size and natural athleticism, we don't see any reason why Bailey can't be another Mario Williams by the time he's a college junior.
Saying that, schools recruiting Bailey need to forget even mentioning the word, 'defensive line' to him if they want to stay in this race. The athlete told us he's already eliminated several schools who were recruiting him to play on the line and a big reason Miami is on top is because they have told Bailey they want him for linebacker.
"Miami is my leader but I'm going to take all five trips," Bailey said. "Georgia and Florida are right there too, those are my top three schools and all are recruiting me for linebacker. I'm in no hurry to decide though. I'll take some unofficial trips this summer, then take my visits during the year and should be ready to decide around Christmas time."