The turnout for the annual NIKE Camp at State College, Pa. is always a strong one and this year is no exception. With a strong group of quarterbacks on hand and some talented receivers, a deep group of defensive backs will have their hands full. But it's in the trenches where arguably the best talent will be on display. With studs like defensive tackle Marvin Austin on hand, the practice field at Penn State will be shaking from the one-on-ones.
Austin, the nation's top defensive tackle, leads a strong group of defensive linemen who will be challenged by a stout offensive line unit. The Washington (D.C.) Coolidge big man will be joined by top big men like Wilmington (Del.) Howard defensive end Devon Still, Lake Orion, Mich. tackle Josh Allison, Coatesville, Pa. rush end Derrick Morgan and linemen Bud Tribbey from Richmond (Va.) Varina, Anthony Mihota from Fredericksburg (Va.) Massaponax and Brian Linthicum from Charlottesville (Va.) St. Anne's-Belfield.
Working against the defensive linemen will be a group on offense that is big and agile. Pittsburgh (Pa.) Seton-LaSalle's Gino Gradkowski is the biggest name amongst the offensive linemen but there are numerous others with D-1 offers. Pennsylvania is well represented beyond Gradkowski by linemen like Harmony (Pa.) Seneca Valley's Don Barclay, Pottsville (Pa.) Pottsville Area's duo of Gary Bardzak and Brad Hallick and Latrobe (Pa.) Greater Latrobe's Paul Simkovich. Three talented players from the Mid-Atlantic area will also test their skills as Wheaton (Md.) Good Counsel big man Nick Jenkins, Washington (D.C.) Coolidge stud Lamar Milstead and Ashburn (Va.) Stone Bridge tackle Andrew Nuss are making the trip.
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The deepest position at the event will likely be at quarterback. Two Rivals100 members, Hampton, Va. passer Tyrod Taylor and Lancaster (Pa.) Manheim Township slinger Pat Bostick, lead a group of talented signal-callers. Taylor and Bostick are favorites to make the EA Sports Elite 11 but there are many others hoping to impress. Philadelphia (Pa.) St. Joseph's Prep quarterback Chris Whitney and Bethlehem (Pa.) Liberty standout Dan Persa will be looking to represent their home state well while others come from further away. The Maryland area will have three talented gunslingers making the trip in Ft. Washington (Md.) Friendly's Joe Haden, Washington (D.C.) Dunbar's Nathan Bussey and Wheaton (Md.) Good Counsel sleeper Zack Ingle. Morgantown, W.V. quarterback Charlie Russell, a West Virginia commitment, will also be on hand and keep an eye on Altoona, Pa. star A.J. Alexander, a 2008 rising star.
The wide receiver/defensive back battles will be good, highlighted by a few big-time players on each side of the ball. New Kensington (Pa.) Valley wideout Toney Clemons, Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway's Jon Ditto and Rochester, Pa. speedster Derek Moye represent the Keystone State. Another wideout to watch is Belmont (Mass.) Belmont Hill star Corey Gatewood, a Boston College commitment. Tight ends Mark Ambrose from Mt. Carmel (Pa.) Mt. Carmel Area and Danny Parker from Wheaton (Md.) Good Counsel will also be on hand.
On the defensive side of things, Richmond (Va.) Varina safety Davon Morgan and Erie (Pa.) Strong Vincent athlete Maurice Williams lead the way. West Virginia commitment Daryl Robinson from Philadelphia (Pa.) Northeast Catholic and Jefferson Hills (Pa.) Thomas Jefferson safety Dom DeCicco will also test their skills. A 2008 player to watch for is Manassas (Va.) Stonewall Jackson athlete Ryan Williams, who should play defensive back as well.
Speaking of 2008 players, the running back position will be loaded with ones to watch. Williams' teammate at Stonewall Jackson, John Carter, leads a strong group of young running backs. He'll be joined by Plainfield, N.J. speedster Reggie Dixon, Ft. Washington (Md.) Friendly standout Joshua Haden (Joe's younger brother), his teammate Lamaar Thomas and Surrattsville, Md. back Davin Meggett, the son of former NFL star Dave Meggett. The 2007 running backs are led by Pittsburgh (Pa.) Central Catholic star Lamont Smith and Glen Rock (Pa.) Susquehannock runner Chaz Powell. Fullback Henry Hynoski from Catawissa (Pa.) Southern Columbia is the top fullback expected.
Finally, the linebacker position has some terrific prospects as well. State College (Pa.) Area Nathan Stupar is the top in-state linebacker prospect while many others are coming from different states. Forestville, Md. 'backer/tight end Devonte Campbell and Bethesda (Md.) Whitman bruiser Pat Lazear are joined by Culpeper, Va. linebacker Terence Fells-Danzer from the Mid-Atlantic area. Bryce McNaul will make the trip from Eden Prairie, Minn. and Blake Lawrence is coming from Shawnee (Kan.) Mission West to make their impressions as well.
Don't forget to visit StudentSportsFootball.com for live updates and complete reports from Saturday's NIKE Camp.