Monday, May 6, 2013
Finding the Future: Chicago NFTC
By Chantel Jennings
Editor's note: Finding the Future is a RecruitingNation feature that will appear throughout camps and combine season, ranking prospects strictly on their on-field performance at the particular event. It does not reflect where each will land when the class is ranked by ESPN.
ADDISON, Ill. -- Seven 2014 prospects earned invitations to The Opening on Sunday at the Chicago Nike Football Training Camp, but there were plenty of 2015 and 2016 players who also played at a high level.
1. 2015 DE Jashon Cornell 6-foot-4, 230 pounds St. Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Durham Hall
What we learned: Cornell is a long, lanky player with a lot of speed and quickness. For a 6-foot-4 kid, he has really good hips and agility, but he needs to add weight. However, he looked solid in the one-on-ones and showed why he has a big offer list already and why schools such as Michigan, Michigan State and Arkansas are also showing heavy interest.
"I'm looking for a college that has a great business program," Cornell said of what he wants in a school. "I'm also looking for a college that will challenge me as a student-athlete and help me become a better football player and student, one that will help me reach my dream, which is to play in the NFL."
2. 2016 WR Harry Ballard 6-1, 179 pounds Florissant (Mo.) McCluer North
Interest: Florida State, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Iowa
What we learned: Ballard traveled to Chicago with the hope of spreading his name a bit further than it has been so far, and the big freshman managed to do so. At 6-foot-1, he still could have a few inches to grow and he could easily put on more weight, but he can play well with his size already and in time should add the weight to play at a more physical level. "The thing that separates me from my class is my work ethic. I am willing to work hard and be the best I can be," Ballard said. "I hope coaches see that I have a passion and want to continue to work hard and to get better and better."
3. 2015 RB Alec Murphy 6-foot, 210 pounds Nixa (Mo.) High School
Interest: Missouri, Northwestern
What we learned: Murphy didn't spend last summer on the camp and combine scene and in his small town in Missouri, he wasn't seeing too much interest coming out of his high school exploits. But he showed up to the Chicago NFTC and showed out quite well. He's a shifty player who cuts pretty well. Like a lot of younger running backs, there's plenty of room in his game to develop, but he's eager to learn and was excited to be able to be around the coaches and older players at the NFTC. "What I think makes me different is that I'm there at camps and combines to learn," Murphy said. "It's great to be MVP and all, but knowledge is power and that is what matters most to me."
What we learned: Fitzpatrick, though a bit on the smaller side, ran with the top groups throughout most of the camp. He has grown three inches in the past year so he still seems to be getting used to playing in his body and while he needs to put on weight (evidenced by a few bigger defensive backs who were able to push him out of his routes), he's a guy who is already making the right moves as a prospect to be a top guy in the coming years. Fitzpatrick was on the junior varsity team at Harrison as a freshman but should be a varsity player this year and will be under the tutelage of Harrison coach John Herrington, who has coached at the school for the past 42 years.
What we learned: Beckner hardly looks like an underclassman. At 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds, he uses his body really well and displayed enough technique and skill to really get at some players in the one-on-one section of camp. If he adds another inch or two, he could easily play inside but right now his pass-rushing skills are keeping him on the strong side. It was pretty evident why five Big Ten schools threw their hats in early for this big-bodied defensive lineman.