football

Offseason now camp season for prospects

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Formanyhighschoolfootballrecruitsacrossthecountry,thereisnooffseason.
Whenthey'renotplayingfortheirhighschoolteamorarrangingvisitstocolleges,they'reoftenparticipatingincampsorvarious7-on-7tournaments.Ofcourse,it'sprettyeasytofigureoutwhysomehighschooljuniorswouldchoosetospendthespringsemesteronthecampcircuit.
GuysratedasfringeFBSprospectswanttocatchtheattentionofvariouscolleges.Two-starprospectsaretryingtoupgradetheirranking.Uncommittedplayersarestillhopingforthatdreamoffer.
Butnotalltheguysatthesecampsfitintothosecategories.Theseshowcasesalsofeatureplentyofeliterecruitswhoseeminglydon'thavemuchlefttoprove.You'llalsofindmanyguyswhoalreadyhaveverballycommittedtoaparticularschoolandapparentlywouldn'thavemuchneedtoimpressanyotherprograms.
Whydotheseprospectsspendtheirweekendscompetinginsteadofenjoyingtheiroffseason?
Togetananswertothosequestions,wetalkedtofivehighschooljuniorswhoareparticipatinginmultiplecampeventsthisspringandsummer.Oneofthemisthatclassicunder-the-radarprospectsearchingtomakeanameforhimselfandimprovehisofferlist.Theotherfourguysareallthree-starorfour-starprospectscommittedtomajor-conferenceprograms.
Eachhasadifferentreasonforhisbusyspringandsummeritinerary.Herearetheirstories.
JAKERAULERSON
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Position:Offensivetackle
Height:6-foot-5
Weight:250
Highschool:Celina(Texas)
Rating:Fourstars(No.6offensivetackleandNo.51overallprospect)
College:Texas
Seekingspringtraining
Celina(Texas)offensivetackleJakeRaulersonalreadyhasthehighrankingandmajor-conferenceoffersthatmanyofhispeersareseeking.He'stheNo.51overallrecruitinthejuniorclassandbecamethefirstClassof2013playertocommittoTexas.
Sowhyishestillparticipatingincamps?Raulersonseesitashisversionofspringpractice.
TheUniversityInterscholasticLeagueinTexasonlyallowsspringpracticeforthestate'sClass4Aand5Aschools.Celina,a3Aprogram,doesn'thaveanyformalspringworkouts.
Buteventhoughhecan'ttrainwithhishighschoolteam,Raulersonstillhasplentyofopportunitiestoimprovehisskillset.HeperformedattheDallasNikeCampinlateMarchandwillentertheRivals100Five-StarChallengenextmonthinAtlanta.
"Idon'thavespringball,"Raulersonsaid,"sothisisallIgettodo.''
ThecampsshouldhelpRaulersonrecoverfromsomeoff-fieldissuesashepreparesforhisseniorseason.Raulersonmissedthreeweeksoftrainingwhilegettinghistonsilsremovedandlost20poundsintheprocess.
"I'mstillnotatapointwhereIneedtobe,"Raulersonsaid."I'mtryingashardasIcantogetbackinthatshape."
Raulerson,whocommittedtoTexasonFeb.3,wasstillrecoveringfromhissurgerywhenheattendedtheNikeCamp.
"Hedefinitelywasalittlebitdifferentthanhenormallyis,"Rivals.comTexasrecruitinganalystBrianPerronisaid."Hedidn'tgothroughalotofthepositiondrills,buthediddoone-on-onesandplayedalittlebitontheoffensivelineanddefensiveline.Hewantedtogoagainstthebestguysandstillmorethanheldhisown."
Nowthathe'sregainedhisweight,RaulersoniseagertoshowcasehisskillsagaininAtlantanextmonth.
"Ilovehiscompetitivespirit,"Perronisaid."WhenhewasinvitedtotheFive-StarChallenge,hewaswonderingwhatotheroffensivelinemenanddefensivelinemenweregoingtobetherethathe'sgoingtogoagainst.Hewantstotesthimselfagainstthebest.''
ThecampsalsoallowedRaulersontogettoknowsomeofhisfutureteammates.Thelistof2013TexascommitmentswhojoinedRaulersonattheNikecampincludedLancasterdefensiveendDaeshonHall,DallasJesuitwidereceiverJakeOliver,FortWorthArlingtonHeightsdefensivetackleA'ShawnRobinson,BeltontightendDurhamSmythe,WhitewrightquarterbackTyroneSwoopesandHoustonCypressFallswidereceiverJacoreyWarrick.
Swoopes,SealywidereceiverRickySeals-Jones,BastropcornerbackAntwuanDavisandCypressWoodsoutsidelinebackerDeoundreiDavis-allTexascommitments-areexpectedtojoinRaulersonattheRivals100Five-StarChallenge.
"TalkingtoguyslikeTyroneSwoopesandwatchingandseeinghowthey'redoingandgettingtoknowthembetterhashelpedalot,"Raulersonsaid."Itwillpayoffinthelongrun."
CHRISHAWKINS
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Position:Cornerback
Height:6feet
Weight:170
Highschool:RanchoCucamonga(Calif.)
Rating:Fourstars(No.9cornerbackandNo.159overallprospect)
College:USC
LookingoutforNo.1
RanchoCucamonga(Calif.)High'sChrisHawkinsisrankedasthenation'sNo.9cornerback.AsfarasHawkinsisconcerned,that'seightspotstoolow.
"WhatmakesmegotothesecampsismywillanddesiretobeNo.1atmyposition,"Hawkinssaid."IwanttobeknownastheNo.1cornerinthenation."
NomatterhowmuchHawkinsaccomplishes,hekeepssettinghisgoalshigher.
TheRivals250prospectselectedUSCoverStanfordonApril1afterreceivinganationalofferlistthatalsoincludedthelikesofFlorida,LSU,Michigan,Nebraska,NotreDameandOklahoma.
Insteadofsettlingthingsdownaftercommitting,Hawkinsremainsasbusyasever.HeparticipatedintheIMGMadden7-on-7WestRegionalinRedondoBeach,Calif.HewasinthePassingDownSoCalElite7-on-7RegionalatFullerton,Calif.Hewillmakeacross-countrytripnextmonthtoentertheRivals100Five-StarChallengeinAtlanta.
Hisworkispayingoff.Ateachofthe7-on-7events,Hawkinssolidifiedhisreputationasatopshutdowncorner.
"He'sultra-competitiveandsurprisinglyathletic,"Rivals.comWestrecruitinganalystAdamGorneysaid."Hedoesn'tlooklikethemostathletickidwhenhe'sjustwalkingaroundonthefield,butoncehestartsplaying,healwaysbeatsreceiverstotheball.Hehasgoodvisionwhenthequarterbackthrowstheball,andheneverreallygetsbeatonanyplay.''
ThattypeofattitudecaughttheattentionofUSC'scoachingstaff.
Buteventhoughhe'salreadymadehiscollegedecision,Hawkinsbelieveshisworkisn'tdone.
"PeopleknowmeastheNo.9cornerback,"Hawkinssaid."Ithinkthat'stoofarbackformeandmystandards.IwanttobeknownastheNo.1cornerbackinthenation."
Hecontinuestomakeacompellingargument.
HawkinsatleasthasmadeacasethatheranksamongthetopcornerbacksintheWest.TheonlyWestCoastcornerbackcurrentlyrankedaheadofhimisWestlake(Calif.)WestlakeVillage'sDashonHunt,whohasmadeasoftverbalcommitmenttoUCLA.
NowthathehasmadehiscaseatacoupleofCaliforniaevents,HawkinsiseagertoshowwhathecandoontheEastCoast.
"ThethingIlikemostabouthimishe'scompetitive,"Gorneysaid."He'llgoanywheretocompete.Henevermissesanytournamentsorcamps.Healwayswantstoprovehe'sthetopcornerbackinCalifornia.He'sconsistentlydonethatthisspring.He'sreallymakingastatementtomoveuptherankings."
QUINTONPOWELL
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Position:Outsidelinebacker
Height:6feet
Weight:190
Highschool:DaytonaBeach(Fla.)Mainland
Rating:Fourstars(No.18outsidelinebacker)
College:Florida
Provinghisversatility
QuintonPowellhasmadeanameforhimselfasadefensiveendatDaytonaBeach(Fla.)Mainland,whereplayedonalinethatalsofeatured2012Rivals100prospectandUSCsigneeLeonardWilliamslastseason.
AlthoughPowellhasprovedhispass-rushingskillstimeandtimeagain,healsounderstandsthathisfutureisatoutsidelinebacker.SoeventhoughPowellalreadyisafour-starprospectwhocommittedtotheUniversityofFloridaonFeb.18,hestillenteredcampseasonwithsomethingtoprove.
"IwantedtoproveIcanplaybothwithmyhandinthedirtandthatIhavetheabilitytodropintocoverage,''Powellsaid.
Powellsaidhe'dheardplentyofdoubtsabouthispass-coverageskills.Muchoftheskepticismcamefromhispeers.
"Alotofthemsay,'Hecan'tplayincoverage,'andthingsofthatnature,"Powellsaid."[They'dsay],'WhyisFloridarecruitingyou?'ItmademeworkhardertoshowIdidhavethatability."
Therearen'tnearlyasmanydoubtsabouthimnow.
PowellsharedthelinebackerMVPawardattheRivals/VTOcampinWinterPark,Fla.HealsoparticipatedinanIMGMadden7-on-7eventinBradenton,Fla.Throughoutthespring,hehasshownpass-coverageabilitiesherarelyhastoutilizeinhighschool.
"Helookslikeanaturalbackthere,"Rivals.comFloridarecruitinganalystChrisNeesaid."He'sverycomfortable.Hedoesagoodjobgettinginandoutofhiscuts.Hehasgoodacceleration....IthoughtattheFloridaVTOhewasbyfarthebestlinebackeronthefield.''
That'swhatmadethisspringsoimportanttoPowell.
Powellalreadyhasprovedhe'sanelitepass-rushingdefensiveendatthehighschoollevel,butheisn'tbigenoughtoplaythatpositionincollege.PowellcurrentlyislistedontheRivals.comdatabaseas6feetand190pounds.Whilehecertainlycouldadd30-35poundsafterarrivingincollege,Powellisbestsuitedtoplaylinebackeratthenextlevel.
Thisspringrepresentedhisbestchancetoshowalltheskillshe'llneedforhisfutureposition.
"I'mnotsurethisyearinhighschoolhe'llbeusedasalinebacker,"Neesaid."Wemightonceagainseehimliningupasadefensiveendandrushingofftheedgeandusinghisspeed,whichisagreatqualityhehasandsomethinghe'sbeenverygoodatdoingforyears.ButwhenhereachesFloridaorwhereverheendsupultimately-rightnowobviouslyhe'scommittedtoFlorida-whenheendsupthere,he'sgoingtostandup.He'sgoingtobealinebacker.
"Youwanttoknowifaguywhoshouldbeanoutsidelinebackerhasthecapabilityofplayinglaterallytothesidelinesanddroppingbackandkeepingupwitharunningbackortightendastheygodownthefield.''
Nowweknow.
DANNYETLING
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Position:Quarterback
Height:6-foot-3
Weight:200
Highschool:TerreHaute(Ind.)South
Rating:Threestars
College:Purdue
Wantingthatfourthstar
TerreHaute(Ind.)SouthVigoquarterbackDannyEtlinghadn'treallythoughtmuchabouthisrecruitingrankingbefore.Nowhe'seagertoearnafourthstar.
Thecoachesathisfutureschoolemphasizeditsimportance.
"PurduekindofshowedmeifIcouldgotothesecampsandgetmyrankingup,itwouldkindofhelpwithrecruitingandeverything,"Etlingsaid.
Theideaisthatthepresenceofafour-starquarterbackrecruitinPurdue'sclassmightpersuadeotherprospectstohopaboard.Etling,currentlyathree-starprospect,justmightgivePurdueachancetotestthattheoryout.
EtlingboostedhisstockquiteabitwithimpressiveperformancesatElite11campsinDallasandColumbus.MorriscommittedtoPurdueonApril17,aftertheDallaseventbutbeforehisbreakoutperformanceinColumbus.
AttheColumbuscamp,hegaveMichigan-boundfour-starprospectShaneMorrisofWarren(Mich.)DeLaSallequiteachallengeinthecompetitiontodeterminetheevent'sMVP.Morriseventuallyreceivedthehonor,butEtlingprovedhispoint.
"He'sagreat-sizedkid,"Rivals.comMidwestrecruitinganalystJoshHelmholdtsaid."He'sallof6-3,reallythick.Helookslikehecancertainlytakeapunishingandprobablygetoutandmoveonhisown.Hehasthesizecomponent.Hehasverycleanmechanics.Histhrowingmotion,hehasaniceandquickdelivery.Iwasveryimpressedwithhisfootwork.Hegetsintohisdropsveryquicklyandstaysbalanced.Fromatechnicalstandpoint,he'svery,verycleanandwellaheadofthecurve.''
Etling'sperformanceinthesetwocampshascausedadramaticchangeinthewayhe'sregarded.Etling'shighschoolteamwent3-7lastfall.Eventhoughhehadsomeoffers,Etlingdidn'tthinkhewasgarneringmuchattention.
"NobodyreallyknewwhoIwasuntilafterIwenttothesecamps,"Etlingsaid."Ikindofwantedtoprovemyselfinasense.I'mgoingtobeaBigTenquarterback.IfeellikeIwasn'tquitegettingtherecognitionIthoughtIdeserved.''
Hesureisgettingitnow.
EtlingmadequiteacaseinColumbusthathemeritsthatfourthstarthatPurdue'scoachesapparentlywanted.ThegoodnewsforPurdueisthatEtling'srisecoulddrawotherrecruitstotheBoilers.ThebadnewsisthatitalsoalreadyhascausedrivalschoolstopaymoreattentiontoEtling.
"Ithoughtcommittingwouldkindofsealthedealandthatnobodyelsewouldtalktome,butit'sjustkindofampeditupforme,"saidEtling,acousinofformerPurduelinebackerJoeHolland."TheywanttoknowhowstrongIam[inmycommitment].Ifeelprettystrong.IwouldsayaslongasPurduedoesn'tdoanythingtomakemedecommit,I'mprettysoldonPurdue.''
EVANENGRAM
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Position:Tightend
Height:6-foot-3
Weight:207
Highschool:PowderSprings(Ga.)Hillgrove
Rating:Unranked
College:Undecided
Needingmoreoffers
Allbutoneoftheprospectswe'veprofiledinthisstorywerethree-starorfour-starrecruitswithverbalcommitmentstomajor-conferenceprograms.
PowderSprings(Ga.)HillgrovetightendEvanEngramistheexception.
Engramdidn'thaveasingleofferfromacollegeprogram-FBSorFCS-beforeparticipatingintheNewLevelAthleticsElite7v7andtheRivals.com/VTOSportsElite100Georgiacampthisspring.
"Overmypastthreeyearsinhighschool,I'vekindofbeenflyingundertheradar,"Engramsaid."IthinkIhavethetalenttogetoutthereandcompetewiththetoptalentinthecountry.Ijustwantedtogetoutthereandshowcasethosetalents.IthinkIdidthat.IthinkIraisedmystock."
Hesuredid.
Atbothevents,Engramcontinuallyshowcasedthetypeofpass-catchingabilitythatcouldhelpincreasehisprofile.
"Hecanstretchthefieldnicely,"Rivals.comSoutheastrecruitinganalystKeithNiebuhrsaid."Herunssmoothroutes.Andbecauseofhissize,thequarterbackcanputitinplaceswhereotherguyscan'tgetit.Hecangoupandgettheball.He'sgotagreatsetofhands.He'sreallyasmoothreceiver.He'satightend,butherunsrouteslikeareceiver.''
Engram'sperformancehelpedhimearnacoupleofoffersfromFBSnewcomerSouthAlabamaandFCSprogramFurman.Buthestillwantedmore.EngramwasworkingtowardanofferfromanSECoranACCschool.
ThatfinallyarrivedlastweekwhenWakeForestcamethroughwithanoffer.
"Itwashuge,justtogetrecognitionoranofferfromaBCSschoollikethat-WakeForest-withtheirsuccessinfootball,"Engramsaid."Itwasreallybigformycoaches,myteammatesandmyfamily.Iwasveryexcited."
Engramplanstocontinueworkingthecampcircuitthissummerinhopesoflandingmoremajor-conferenceoffers.Heplanstodecideonaschoolmidwaythroughhisseniorseason.
Hejustmighthaveafewmoreoptionsthanheevercouldhaveimagined.
"Youcaneithergetexposedatthesethings,oryoucanriseabovethecompetition,"Engramsaid."IthinkIwentoutthereanddidwhatIcoulddo.Itendedupbeingagreatthingforme.''
SteveMegargeeisthenationalcollegecolumnistforRivals.com.Hecanbereachedatsmegargee@rivals.com,andyoucanclickheretofollowhimonTwitter.
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