The Pittsburgh Under Armour/Scout Combine was a gathering of great athletes. The event, held at the UPMC Sports Complex, featured tremendous talent, especially at the skill positions.
Highlighting the event was the workout of star linebacker Dorian Bell. The Gateway star is one of the top prospects in the country, but his performance in Pittsburgh was ultra impressive. Bell competed in the one-on-one drills like a young rookie trying to earn a special team job in the NFL. He took reps at every linebacker spot, and played everywhere on offense. Bell is a kid that just loves to compete, and it showed. In my experience, a great talent, that loves to work, will rarely fail. I expect great things from Dorian Bell in the future.
Another star linebacker was Ohioan Chris Snook [Medina Highland]. Snook would get my vote as the Combine MVP. He tested really well, running a 4.6 forty on a very slow track. Consider that Cleveland Heights blazer Brian Underwood ran a 4.62, and you get an idea of how impressive Snook's time was. Snook dominated in one-on-one's, making three interceptions and showing off his superior athletic ability. At this point in time, I would rank Snook as the second best linebacker prospect in Ohio, behind only Storm Klein. Snook is a Big-10-caliber prospect.
I was extremely impressed with the quality of talent at quarterback. Maryland's Emmanuel Yeager was better than advertised. He had a rocket for an arm and got better as he took to the coaching he was receiving. Every year I try to find the best quarterback prospect in Ohio. Last year I really liked Zac Dysert and Zack Stoudt, and both ended up at Division-I colleges. This year my early money is on Patrick Nicely of Willoughby South. Nicely was exceptional, making all the throws a quarterback needs to make. He has good size, arm strength, and just enough mobility to be effective outside the pocket. Nicely has a few early MAC offers, but I see him as a Big-10 prospect. He is a kid I will follow very closely in 2008. D. J. Barney, Strong Vincent,Pa., had a nice day and showed a live arm and made throws when he needed to. I liked Barney's game a lot and will watch for him in 2008.
The best wide receiver might have been Pickerington Central's Patrick White. White doesn't have 4.4 speed and he's not 6-foot-3, but he knows how to get open and he NEVER drops the football. White makes the easy catches and he makes the tough catches look easy. He is a classy receiver and has a mature approach to his craft. He can play college football at a high Division-I level. Corey Brown of Gateway,Pa. is another top college prospect. He battled through an injury and illness to show his high skill level. Brown is similar to his teammate Dorian Bell, in his love to compete with top talent. I see Brown as a cover corner at the next level, but he is also being recruited as a wide receiver.
Two Ohio linemen stood out as prospects to keep an eye on, Brian Smith [Walsh Jesuit] and Adam Scheid [Avon Lake]. Smith showed excellent quickness and had great footwork. Scheid passes the look test and was impressive in every drill. Another impressive lineman was Maryland's James Lewter, a teammate of Emmanuel Yeager at Ballou High School in Washington D.C.
Penn Hills [Pa.] linebacker Dan Mason looks like an NFL player right now. He passes the eye test with flying colors and looks like a solid middle linebacker prospect.
I had never heard of Arthur Fontaine of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, but I know all about him now. He is a big, fast, physical tight end prospect in the mold of current Pittsburgh Steeler Heath Miller. Fontaine has numerous offers, including Boston College and Maryland. Fontaine is very raw, but very talented. I would not be surprised to see him in the NFL some day. The fact that he flew from Massachusetts to be here is impressive enough.
The most interesting part of the event was the impressive play of the 2010 attendees. This was the best group of underclassmen I've ever seen at a camp/combine event.
Heading the list was Youngstown [Ohio] Ursuline defensive end Jamel Turner, one of the top junior prospects in the state. Turner worked out as a linebacker and was impressive with his superior athletic ability. It was easy to see the skill level that enabled him to record 25 sacks as a sophomore. Turner is also a great student and a leader on his team. He will be one of the more heavily recruited Ohio players next year.
Turner's teammate, DeAndre Harris, might have been the fastest defensive back. He ran two 4.55 forty-yard times and showed well in coverage. Harris is well put together and his head coach, Dan Reardon, raved about this youngster. I expect big things from Harris in 2008 and beyond.
Boardman [Ohio] defensive end J.T. Moore is a long, physical specimen that I just saw on film this week. His film is special and so is Moore. He started both ways as a sophomore at Boardman and showed well in his first combine experience. Moore is 6-foot-3 and weighed 225-pounds. He will be a top recruit in the 2009 class.
Hampton [Pa.] defensive end Jordan Paskorz looks like a college player, not a sophomore in high school. He was clearly the most impressive 2010 kid there. He moves well, has great size and appears to be a kid that will attract national attention. He was advanced from a skill level perspective, and has a great size/speed combination. Had college coaches been allowed to attend the event, Paskorz would have left with offers.
Opposing Pennsylvania coaches beware if you have McKees Rocks/Sto-Rox on your schedule. The 2010 class duo of quarterback Paul Jones and wide receiver Andrew Carswell will be lighting up the scoreboard in 2008 and 2009. Jones has great size, speed and arm strength. His skills are raw, but when he puts it together, he could be a national recruit. Wide receiver Carswell was the best wideout in Pittsburgh not named Patrick White. If a draft of all players would have been held, I might have taken Carswell as the first wide receiver. He and Jones form a powerful combo and it will be fun to watch the two of them develop.
The surprise player of the entire camp was Lexington [Ohio] athlete Courtney Avery. Lexington head coach B.J. Payne has been raving about this youngster since he started at quarterback as a freshman. Avery is also a great basketball prospect, in addition to being a 3.9 student. Avery played cornerback for the first time on Sunday and took to the position easily. His hip turn is off the charts and he has natural covering ability. I would not be surprised to see Courtney Avery be recruited by the likes of Ohio State and Michigan. Courtney Avery was special playing in space and those type athletes are in high demand to defend the spread offenses.
The next Under Armour/Scout.com Combine in the area will be held in Cincinnati on May 17th.