- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
BUFORD, Ga. -- The Southeast, in particular Georgia, prides itself on its football talent. When the 2013 Nike Football Training Camp tour made a stop outside of Atlanta on Saturday, the recruits who participated did not disappoint. After a competitive Saturday, dominated for the most part by the defensive line, six players earned invitations to The Opening.
Recruiting Nation’s Greg Ostendorf attended the camp. Here’s what he learned:
Headed to Oregon
There easily could’ve been more, but six players were invited to The Opening when the camp wrapped up Saturday. Defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) and linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams (Ellenwood, Ga./Cedar Grove) led the way with MVP honors at their respective positions and earned invitations to The Opening. The group who will join them in Oregon includes tight end Jeb Blazevich (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Christian) running back Nick Chubb (Cedartown, Ga./Cedartown), linebacker Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) and defensive end Gerald Willis III (New Orleans/Edna Karr).
Peach State pass rushers
It’s safe to say there’s no lack of talented pass rushers from the state of Georgia. Carter, who measured in at 6-foot-5, 228 pounds and ran the 40-yard-dash in 4.6 seconds, might be the best of the bunch, but the group as a whole looked impressive at Saturday’s camp. Andrew Williams (McDonough, Ga./Eagles Landing) showed why he is one of the more coveted prospects in the country with his performance. Sophomore defensive end Mekhi Brown (Columbus, Ga./Carver) gave Alabama fans a reason to smile with his combination of strength and athleticism. He committed to the Crimson Tide last weekend for the 2015 class. ESPN Watch List defensive linemen Dante Sawyer (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett) and Elisha Shaw (Tucker, Ga./Tucker) both attended the camp but couldn’t participate because of injuries.
With everybody talking about the defensive linemen from Georgia, Willis III made the trip from New Orleans with something to prove. He had a chip on his shoulder from the beginning, and it showed during the one-on-one drills. There wasn’t a single offensive lineman who could handle Willis III, not even top offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. (Duluth, Ga./Peachtree Ridge). The two nearly had an altercation after one of the reps. Willis III, the brother of Alabama freshman safety Landon Collins, says he’s currently favoring Florida, LSU and Texas A&M. His teammate, ESPN Watch List wide receiver Speedy Noil, also attended the camp but only played sparingly. Noil has already earned his invitation to The Opening.
Alabama LBs impress
Allen-Williams won the MVP for the linebacker group, but a pair of linebackers from Alabama also stood out -- Evans and Shaun Dion Hamilton (Montgomery, Ala./Carver). Evans surprised a lot of people with his level of play. He’s an outside linebacker prospect who looked good coming off the edge in one-on-one drills against the running backs. His overall performance earned him a trip to Oregon for The Opening. Even he was surprised when he received the news. Hamilton, the bigger of the two, is projected to play inside. For his size, he showed he could still play well in space. He plans to make his college decision Wednesday between Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee.
When it came time to hand out the MVP awards, it wasn’t a surprise when Allen-Williams, Blazevich and Carter heard their names called. However, when running back Maetron Thomas (Stockbridge, Ga./Stockbridge) and defensive back Cameron Jackson (Fairburn, Ga./Creekside) earned MVP honors, it left the media asking, "Who?" Both prospects are still looking for their first BCS offers, but after impressive camp performances Saturday, it could happen sooner rather than later. Charles Buchanon (Pleasant Grove, Ala./Pleasant Grove) also turned heads with the top SPARQ score of the day. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds to finish with an overall score of 132.21, the second-highest of the tour.