Sunday, March 24, 2013
Lessons Learned: Charlotte NFTC
By Miller Safrit and Kipp Adams
CORNELIUS, N.C. -- The 2013 Nike Football Training Camp tour continued in the Charlotte area on Saturday as many top players from the Carolinas and beyond showcased their skills at Hough High School. With deep running back and linebacker groups set to go head-to-head, the weather ultimately might have been the big winner. In spite of cold temperatures and a chilling rain, several players earned MVP honors and many more stood out.
Recruiting Nation writers Miller Safrit and Kipp Adams attended the camp. Here is what they learned:
With temperatures 20 degrees below average and rain coming down at an angle, all of the 205 participants willing to brave the elements quickly made an impression, but making the biggest impression might have been an offensive lineman, as Bentley Spain (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) showed off a much-improved body and an aggression that helped him register several pancakes in one-on-one drills. Spain, who missed much of the 2012 season with an injury, is expected to make a commitment this spring coming from a list of LSU, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Stanford, and Virginia.
While Spain was one of the top overall performers, he also received positional MVP honors for the offensive line. Other positional honors went to quarterback Will Grier (Davidson, N.C./Davidson Day), running back Caleb Kinlaw (Goose Creek, S.C.), wide receiver Dominique Heath (Hopewell, N.C.), defensive lineman Enoch Smith, linebacker Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley), and defensive back M.J. Stewart (Arlington, Va./Yorktown). While there was no time for invitations to The Opening on Sunday, they should be announced later in the week.
While Kentavius Street (Greenville, N.C./Rose) was not on the preliminary roster, a late decision to make the five-hour drive to the Charlotte NFTC led the ESPN Watch List defensive end to turn heads until the updated roster was distributed. Street, who holds offers from most schools in the region, dominated the few opportunities he had in one-on-ones and showed off the elite footwork to combine with his 265 pounds to make him one of the top defensive ends in a strong group of defensive linemen.
Deep with backs
Heading into the Charlotte NFTC, the running back and linebacker positions were expected to have quality groups, and both lived up to expectations throughout the position drills and into team drills. Led by positional MVP Kinlaw and ESPN Watch List running backs Elijah Hood (Charlotte, N.C./Catholic) and Donte Thomas-Williams (Durham, N.C./Hillside), the group also had impressive prospects in C.J. Fuller (Easley, S.C.) and underclassmen Bryce Love (Wake Forest, N.C./Rolesville), Antonio Williams (New London, N.C./North Stanly), and Robert Washington (Huntersville, N.C./Southlake Christian).
Not to be outdone, the linebackers loaded up with upperclassmen with multiple ESPN Watch List members in Christian Miller, Chris Register (Greensboro, N.C./Dudley) and Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County).
Following the tour
Four players with impressive days also had long trips, as quarterback Chris Durkin (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline) and Enoch Smith made the drive to Charlotte as part of tours to college campuses while defensive tackle Poona Ford (Hilton Head, S.C.) and wide receiver Ryan Sousa (Orlando, Fla./Lake Nona) made the trip after also impressing at the Florida NFTCs last weekend.