Sunday, April 6, 2014
Dallas NFTC superlatives
By Gerry Hamilton
DESOTO, Texas -- The Dallas area was the seventh stop in the 2014 Nike Football Training Camp tour. As is annually the case, this stop brings out a bevy of talented prospects from the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas.
Despite a chilly day and track meets that kept some talented prospects from attending, the group of talent on hand eclipsed a number of other stops due to sheer numbers of prospects with FBS and BCS offers on hand. Here are some of the event’s most notable performers in the RecruitingNation NFTC awards.
Murray stands above the rest
QB Kyler Murray and WR DaMarkus Lodge were two players that dazzled at the Dallas NFTC on Saturday.
The collection of quarterbacks at Saturday’s event was impressive, to say the least. As expected, one signal-caller stood out among the talented group -- Kyler Murray. Murray not only showed very polished mechanics and footwork as a passer, but also tremendous ball placement. The ball is consistently hot coming out of his hand, and he showed the ability to change ball speeds with both timing and accuracy.
Considering that Murray is a top dual-threat prospect who can affect the game with his escapability and possesses big-play ability with legs, his advanced ability as a pure passer is even more impressive. He features a compact and quick arm with the ability to play in near-perfect balance at all times. Simply put, there are not many holes in his game at this stage despite the fact the he doesn’t turn 17 until August, making him young for his grade.
Among the other quarterbacks that impressed was Texas Tech commit Jarrett Stidham. While the 6-foot-4, 179-pound Stidham doesn’t have the polish or experience of Murray, the two do share a couple of talents. Stidham also possesses a strong arm with the ability to make all the required throws at the next level, along with above-average reactive quickness. After he got settled in, the ball was hot coming out of his hand for the most part.
Both Murray and Stidham will play in the 2015 Under Armour All-America Game.
No need to be Hasty
The pick for top performer at running back, Baylor commit Ja'Mycal Hasty, was also a relatively easy choice. The 5-9, 190-pound back features a compact body type and quickness. Not only is he a fast starter, but he also showed the ability to quickly change direction. In this setting, Hasty’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and easily race past linebackers was eye-opening. He is a running back who has shown the ability to snatch the ball outside of his catch radius.
A second back worthy of mention isAca'Cedric Ware. Like Hasty, Ware showed the ability to make plays in the passing game.
When LSU commit Dylan Moses walks onto a football field, everyone takes notice of his advanced physique that compares closer to a college sophomore than the high school sophomore he is about to become. Whether it be at running back or linebacker, both of which he took reps at Saturday, the Class of 2017 prospect shows powerful athleticism, strong hands, playmaking ability, and the ability to play in space and close angles at linebacker.
Smooth and easy
The term smooth and easy could be used when describing wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge. There are faster receivers in a straight line, and quicker receivers in space, in the Class of 2015, but there are very few that are as smooth and complete as the highly productive Lodge. He possesses a natural feel as a route runner, comes out of breaks ready to pluck the ball out of the air and consistently hauled in passes in with his arms extended. A couple of times, he snatched balls thrown outside of his catch radius.
Another wide receiver that showed the ability to snag the ball out of the air with arms extended was Dahu Green. The 6-4, 190-pound Green made a pair of leaping catches, flashing expert timing and sure hands against attached coverage.
Upside at end
On the defensive line, a pair of end prospects stood out. Texas commitment Charles Omenihu won every one-on-one rep offered, showing a long first step and the ability to dip the inside shoulder and turn the corner. Two of his wins came against Texas A&M commit Trevor Elbert. The 6-4, 220-pound Omenihu also has long arms and the frame to add considerable strength and mass.
Bo Wallace was one of the most intriguing prospects on hand. The 6-3, 201-pound long, limber defender took reps at end Saturday, showing upside and initial quickness with the ability to change direction. Physical development will be the long-term key for the hybrid linebacker/end.
Outside linebacker Malik Jefferson was another standout Saturday. While this setting isn’t ideal for the pass-rushing outside linebacker who is at his best playing downhill, Jefferson showed his pure speed and closing ability in coverage on a number of occasions. Physically, the Under Armour All-America selection has few peers at the linebacker position with a frame that will be college ready. Jefferson is currently a well-proportioned 6-2½, 220 pounds.
Mbanasor’s feet lead the way
Early on in drill work, the feet and length of cornerback P.J. Mbanasor stood out among a talented group of defensive backs that included safety Will Sunderland, Texas A&M safety commit Justin Dunning, and Notre Dame safety commit Prentice McKinney, among others. Despite not being blessed with ideal straight-line speed at the position, Mbanasor makes up for it with very quick feet for his size and the ability to change direction. He also has impressive hands and flashed the ability to play the ball in the air.