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Monday, March 18, 2013
Lessons Learned: Orlando NFTC

By Derek Tyson & Kipp Adams

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The 2013 Nike Football Training Camp tour continued in Orlando on Saturday as several top players from the Central Florida area showcased their skills at West Orange High School. There were individual standouts at every position as well as several players who put themselves on the map with impressive performances.

Florida WR prospect Artavis Scott earned an invite to The Opening after his performance at the Orlando NFTC.
Pass-rusher emerges
One of the standout performers at the Orlando NFTC was defensive end Markel Winters (Tallahassee, Fla./Rickards). The 6-foot-3, 225-pound rising senior said he made 67 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, five sacks, three forced fumbles, and one interception last year. Winters, who has offers from Western Kentucky, Old Dominion and Tennessee State and interest from UCF, came into the event hoping to put his name out there and jump start his recruitment. During 1-on-1 drills, Winters had several in attendance checking to see who he was, as several offensive linemen with multiple BCS offers were unable to contain him off the edge. Mission accomplished.

Class separation
There were 40 quarterbacks in attendance, but throughout the course of the day, Michael O’Connor (Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academy) was a level above the rest, consistently putting the ball where only the offensive target could make a play. In fact, the next best quarterback at the camp might have been Class of 2016 prospect Xavier Gaines (Frostproof, Fla./Frostproof). That might not be an indication of the 2014 talent level of signal callers in the area, but based on Saturday’s performance, the 6-foot-5 O’Connor stood out in a class of his own.

MVP honors/The Opening invites
Offensive guard Montel McBride (Plant City, Fla./Plant City) won just about every 1-on-1 battle and took home the OL MVP award. Running back Keith Harrington (St. Petersburg, Fla./Northeast), linebacker Greg Miclisse (Palm Bay, Fla./Bayside), defensive end Markel Winters, wide receiver Artavis Scott (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake), defensive back Kyle Gibson (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) and O'Connor all won MVP awards for their respective positions. Gibson and Scott were also invited to compete at The Opening in Beaverton, Oregon in July. Florida defensive back commit Duke Dawson (Cross City, Fla./Dixie Co.) and linebacker Kain Daub (Jacksonville, Fla./Nease) were also invited to participate at The Opening.

Denzel Ward names a leader
Former Michigan verbal commitment Denzel Ward (Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academies) named Florida as his leader. The 6-foot-8, 307-pound offensive tackle will officially vist Florida for its game against Florida State in November. Ward, who is also considering Oklahoma, Michigan, Arizona State, Texas A&M, UCLA and Alabama, said he will make his final decision after he takes all five of his official visits. Ward also has an official visit set up for Oklahoma. Though Ward named Florida his leader, he said he will likely name a top five sometime during the summer.

Strong wide receiver group
The wide receiver group in attendance on Saturday wasn't filled with elite talent, but as a whole, the pass-catchers were very solid. Led by Scott, Garrett Johnson (Orlando, Fla./West Orange), Ryan Sousa (Orlando, Fla./Lake Nona), Raheem Harvey (Largo, Fla./Largo) and 2015 prospect George Campbell (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake). Sousa made several acrobatic catches during 1-on-1 and 7-on-7 drills, while Scott might have been the most consistent receiver on the day. Campbell made several nice catches including a 15-yard out route in which he dove and dragged his feet in bounds to make the catch.