MANHATTAN, Kan. -After the morning rain cleared, the talented players finally took the field and numerous defensive backs had the sun shining down on them, making them hard to miss.
Saturday's NIKE Training Camp at Kansas State University featured a group of talented defensive backs that stood out the entire day. It all started with the highly touted and very quick Dominique Franks from Tulsa (Okla.) Union, who posted a legit 40-yard dash time in the 4.4 second range.
Franks' pass coverage skills also were something to stare at, considering NIKE coaches were pointing him out all day during one-on-one drills.
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"I think it was real good for kids to come out and compete nationally because that's important to see how you stack up with the other guys out there," Franks said. "It also helped just learning how to refine and perfect my technique which I think I did out there.
"You never know who you'll be going to playing with in college with so it was nice to meet all these guys."
Guest coach and Dallas Cowboys cornerback Terrence Newman, a former Kansas State standout, was one of the guest coaches who raved on about the 6-foot-0, 180-pound Franks and the other talented cornerbacks on the field Saturday.
"He (Newman) really encouraged me and all of us to work on get-offs and the back peddle," Franks said. "It was stuff like that from Newman that we can take home and really work on."
Franks, however had stiff competition to be the best in one surprise cornerback who shocked and awed all day long. It was one Paul Chaney of St. Louis (Mo.) University who was making plays all day long.
His speed alone was impressive but he didn't drop the ball in pass coverages or one-on-one drills making for a successful day to say the least. On every level Chaney made top plays from beginning to finish and walked away from the camp surely to see his stock rise to super high levels.
It was hard to name just one, but as the day went along it seemed that two quarterbacks stood out. Ames (Iowa) quarterback Austen Arnaud showed off his strong arm and North Platte, Neb., sleeper Nathan Enderle also displayed solid passing skills.
Arnaud showed why he has two offers already, from Iowa and Iowa State. His size was every bit the 6-foot-3, 205 pounds. Arnaud also showed his cannon of an arm making 40-yard passes look easy.
The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Enderle already had the frame to play at the Division I level, but he came into the camp unknown at the national level. That all changed as he showed off good footwork and a knack for putting the football right where it needed to be every time.
Former all-state Nebraska quarterback and NIKE coach Mike Mancuso was blown away by Enderle, who was dead on in one-on-one drills when receivers matched up against the talented crop of corners at the camp.
"There were a lot of top notch defensive backs out there so you really had to be precise on your release and touch with the ball to get it done," Mancuso said. "Every play he put it where he needed to be and the Big 12 coaches here were pretty wide-eyed the entire time."
Luke Louderback of Stillwater, Okla., also had a nice day, making some nice throws in one-on-ones and Peculiar (Mo.) Raymore's Carson Coffman, brother of Missouri Class of 2005 tight end recruit Chase Coffman threw the ball well against press coverage.
Salina (Kan.) Central running back Jake Sharp didn't have a long way to travel to the camp, but it was well worth any amount of time he spent getting there. All day, he showed off an explosive burst and displayed a tremendous amount of speed. Sharp is the state leader in the 100 meter dash with a 10.52-second time.
That speed helped to say the least.
"I hope today that what I showed out here can help me get some more interest and maybe an offer," Sharp said. "Whichever school really liked what they saw and offered will mean a lot to me because the first one does mean a lot. It was just a real good day overall for me."
Omaha (Neb.) Millard North back Corey Young, who ran the 40 in the 4.5-second range, had an impressive showing during both the bench press and vertical testing stages of the camp.
Jeran Trotter showed well for the home state. Even though Trotter is only at 5-foot-8, 180-pound he has all the tools and a nice upside for Division I play.
"Being here today did nothing to hurt me," Trotter said. "I think I've picked up some stuff that can help me be a better player."
Kingsley Ehie of Springfield (Mo.) Hillcrest showed his stuff at both running back and wide receiver. He felt that coming to the camp and testing well was the key.
"I was disappointed because I got kind of banged up so I couldn't do as much as I would have liked," Ehie said. "But I felt like I came in and tested really well so at least I got to make my mark there."
Stephen Simmons, who made the long trip from St. Louis (Mo.) University made the best of the drive by impressing the coaches on hand. Simmons is expected to add to his lone Indiana offer after his quickness and ability was revealed in a big way, especially during the position portion of Saturday's event. Devin Cummings of Olathe (Kan.) South was another back that coaches liked.
The defensive backs may have showed their stuff, but the receivers held their own against the highly-touted defenders. It all started with impressive looking Sergio Kahn of University City, Mo., who was tough to stop in the receiver drills.
A virtual unknown, Kahn picked up his first offer from Wisconsin and after his camp performance the interest looks to be increasing. Against two defensive backs that run the 40 in the 4.3-second range, he made an explosive move off the line where the defenders had to chase him. From there he made the catch in the end zone, adjusting to the ball well.
Tyler Bullock of Lincoln (Neb.) North Star and Derrick Russell were both surprises at wide receiver. They were commended by NIKE coaches during the one-on-ones.
Russell's major strength has to be his ability to get out of his route and turn it up field after the catch, something that he learned on the basketball court.
"It comes natural because when I play basketball you are taught to get up there and snap down the rebound," Russell said. "I'm always looking for that so it helps me in football."
Niles Brinkley of St. Louis (Mo.) Beaumont who stands at 5-foot-11, 180-pounds always saw himself on the offensive side of the ball and Saturday was proof of that confidence. One-on-one drills were again the specialty of this receiver.
Though there weren't many tight ends that showed up for Saturday's NIKE Training Camp, Sioux City, Iowa, prospect Kyle Bennett was at the forefront. His extremely quick feet and explosive nature made him an exciting prospect to watch.
The key thing for Bennett was getting his name out there because until now many college coaches had not get a chance to see his abilities.
During offensive line drills, three prospects made their case to uphold the Midwest tradition of outstanding offensive lineman. Matt Hulbert, who holds an offer from Kansas, showed good feet and quickness for his size, which is truly remarkable considering he stands 6-foot-7, 270 pounds.
A few of the one-on-ones were against some pretty sized defensive lineman, but Hulbert held his own.
Also, Myron McKinney of Oklahoma City (Okla.) Putnam City North turned some heads during position drills and head on contact. His strength is just one of his many talents and he even got the best of one of the top defensive lineman at the camp during one-on-ones.
"This camp was really good," McKinney said. "We had good position coaches position for the drills and the competition level was really good. There were good players here at all positions to go against in the one-on-one drills."
Like the rest of the positions, the defensive line had some well-known names and some surprises. The play and sheer power of Webster Groves (Mo.) Rivals100 defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn, a converted linebacker playing his first year at defensive end, was impressive with his sheer power and play.
Clayborn has already has accumulated offers from Kansas, Michigan State, and Missouri. It shouldn't stop there because Clayborn was only stopped once and showed just a desire to get to the ball every time. The 6-foot-3, 260-pounder was put back into the heat of the one-on-one drills over and over again just to see how many times he could dominate consistently.
Chad Roark of Ada, Okla., got to show his talents on both the offensive and defensive line where he showed good ability to do both. However, it was on defense where he felt like he showed his stuff the best.
"I thought I did pretty well and I didn't lose one battle in the defensive one-on-ones," Roark said. "I think I showed how well I used my hands on defense and I really think I have that quickness to play defense. The one-on-ones were my favorite to get that chance to go against the competition."
Roark was not the only Oklahoma defensive lineman to make a big splash on Saturday.
Moore (Okla.) two-way standout Dulani Stephens showed off his long arm span in making some big plays in one-on-ones. Though Stephens doubles as a linebacker in high school, he obviously can play off the edge after impressing many during the drills.
Joe Cason of Runnells (Iowa) Southeast Polk looked like a man on a mission during linebacker drills. His footwork was something to be in awe over and he looked the part of a great weakside linebacker with great speed for a bigger body type.
Fighting with Cason for the top linebacker spot was Luke Schuckman of Wichita (Kan.) Bishop Carroll. Schuckman was going at it with Cason in one-on-one drills all day. One specific battle proved to be quite heated and showed the level of high competition at the spot.
Paul Homer of Omaha (Neb.) Millard North also felt like he did well in the position drills against the likes of Cason and Schuckman.
"I think I did pretty well overall," Homer said. "My testing wasn't something I was very happy with, but once we started doing regular linebacker work I thought I did pretty good."
In addition to Franks and Chaney, other corners who displayed outstanding skills included Chris Carney of Denver (Colo.) Mullen, and Terrell Carr hailing from Sand Springs (Okla.) Charles Page.
Chaney, who has yet to receive his first offer, was under the recruiting radar before Saturday, but that should change soon. Showing blazing 4.3-second speed and breaking up passes all day in one-on-ones, this Missouri corner soon should find himself the recipient of multiple offers. There were two specific instances were the pass was not only broken up, but the ball was swatted 10 yards out of bounds with authority.
No one could cover Chaney and there wasn't one person in the place who wasn't in awe of his abilities. Oklahoma's Carr was impressed by the competition and his own performance among the talent rich pool of DB's.
"You can see what you're really standing on as a player versus all the great athletes out there," Carr said. "They didn't really want me to play too much man, but when I did get up on the press it was something that I really excelled on. You can learn a lot from guys like that so we all bonded well together."
Carney was also impressive to watch with a big frame to work with and his size only was only matched by Lawrence, Kan., standout Nathan Hickey who was well above the 6-foot-2 mark and looked excellent in position drills.
Devon Ford of St. Louis (Mo.) Affton was the most impressive in stature with a huge upper body and very physical looking arms. Those arms and his speed armed him with the ability to get to some pass breakups faster than others.
Ray Trice showed why he has the ability to play both linebacker and cornerback with his 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame and speed. Trice ran in the 4.5-second range during his testing so there is nothing lacking in Trice's makeup.
The defensive talent continued with R.J. Lawson from Riverside (Mo.) Park Hill South, Justin Stewart of O' Fallon (Ill.), and Marty Rodgers of Webb City (Mo.) also standing out during defensive back drills.