Through five NIKE Camps this year, deciding on who the camp MVP was following the event has always been a struggle and a one or two day decision. In fact, we still haven't decided on a camp MVP for the camp at Georgia on Saturday. The camp at LSU on Sunday was a different story and there was no doubt who the best player following the event was.
The NIKE Camp at LSU was one of the better ones we've done in some time for a lot of reasons. For starters, LSU has incredible facilities with a massive indoor stadium and four immaculate 100 yard outdoor fields. With all that field space, we had plenty of room for the campers and didn't have to worry about one position group crowding another.
We also had a relatively small group of campers, a little under 300, and there was a great flow to the event from registration throughout. Despite the smaller numbers, the talent level was great as well and the two best players we saw might have both been defensive linemen.
One of the two, Will Blackwell, is a player we had heard plenty about prior to the event and he was as good or better than the hype. Blackwell, 6-3.5, 296 pounds from powerhouse West Monroe (La.) was a monster in the position and one on one drills and definitely looks like one of the top 100 players in the country.
Saying that, the guy who had everyone buzzing and earned our choice as Camp MVP was Marrero (La.) John Ehret defensive tackle Drake Nevis. Unlike Blackwell, we didn't know a lot about Nevis other than he was an early commit to Ole Miss. He wasn't listed on a lot of early pre-season lists of the top in-state players but he sure wowed onlookers on Sunday.
Nevis, 6-1, 287 pounds first caught our attention following the testing when he clocked a 4.87-40, jumped 28 inches in the vertical and did 31 reps on the bench. That 4.87- 40 time was better than a lot of the skill players on Sunday as the Tigers new field turf was a little soft and not as conducive to a lot of blazing times.
Following the position drills, we asked lead NIKE DL coach Marty Spaulding if he had a chance to work out Nevis yet and he quickly responded with a, 'shoot, he's my top guy so far.'
So a strong showing in the one on one drills could just about up the MVP for Nevis and he put an absolute show. In fact, it's not a stretch to say that the lineman might be the best tackle prospect we've worked out at any of the camps so far. From a pure technique standpoint, Nevis is still a little raw and doesn't have a boatload of advanced pass rushing moves. What he has is incredible strength and one of the best initial bursts off the line we've seen.
In Nevis' first rep, he beat his man off the snap almost before the OL could even get out of his stance. Later on, the tackle simply overpowered and destroyed one of the better lineman in the camp stunning him with a quick shot to the chest knocking him off balance and running over him on his way to the quarterback.
"Wow, camp MVP, I would never have expected that," Nevis said shortly after the event. "I'm really glad I came out here. I had a good time, learned a lot and loved the competition. There was a lot of great players out here and I feel like I definitely held my own. I've been training hard and was happy with how I tested although I think I could have done better on the bench. I've been training with 225 pounds instead of 185 because I thought that was what we were using and I think it may have hurt my muscle endurance a little today but overall, I was very happy with everything."
As for his commitment to Ole Miss, Nevis said he's still a Rebel but will open things up.
"I'm definitely taking all five of my trips," Nevis said. "I have a lot of schools coming at me right now and this is a big decision and I want to make sure I made the right choice. Ole Miss was my first offer and I was excited about that. I like the school a lot, I like the coaches, the academics, the campus, everything. I just want to make sure I'm doing the right thing so I'm going to look around and take all my trips for sure."
A few schools Nevis said he was interested in were Georgia, Florida, Texas, LSU and South Carolina.