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May 11, 2005Every college football coach heading in to last Wednesday's Elite College Combine had already heard of such top players like LeSean McCoy, Akeem Hebron, J.B. Walton and Antwine Perez. However, only a select few knew about guys like Jamie Nixon and Anthony Ferla. Here are the top 10 sleepers who emerged from the Elite College Combine.
1) DB Jamie Nixon -- New Haven (Conn.) Hyde Leadership -- Nixon came in without any offers but has since claimed verbal offers from Oklahoma, Virginia and Florida. Why? Nixon ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash on his first attempt and followed it with a 4.34, both on a slippery surface. Those who already knew that Nixon was fast (he's a track guy) found out he could play football as well as he showed good skill in drills and one-on-ones. Nixon can play tailback in college, but his size (just a shade under 6-foot-2) and speed will keep him at defensive back.
2) DB Anthony Ferla -- Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph's -- Ever see one of those hard-nosed, gritty kids that you just can't help cheering for? That's Ferla, who is a tad undersized for a cornerback at 5-foot-10 but is also a solid 190 pounds and very physical. Ferla tested very well, running a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, a 4.19-second shuttle and reached 9 feet and 8 inches in the broad jump. In the one-on-one drills, he covered both Vidal Hazelton and Kenny Britt as well as anyone and also had one of the few interceptions on the night. Virginia, UConn, Alabama and Notre Dame have all expressed more interest in Ferla since the combine.
3) DB Travon Bellamy -- Greenbelt (Md.) Eleanor Roosevelt -- Why Bellamy only had one D-1 offer (Kent) heading into this combine is a mystery even the best detective couldn't solve. At 6-foot-0 and 185 solid pounds, Bellamy looked the part of a top cornerback/safety prospect and he backed it up on the field. Working between offense and defense in one-on-one drills to get as many reps as he could, Bellamy was a standout on both sides. His 40-yard dash time was weak, but he ran in the slowest-timed lane at the combine and looks like a legit 4.55 kid. More important than numbers, he's just plain and simple a baller.
4) WR Ryan Lindsey -- Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep -- Can a kid from Don Bosco, one of the country's elite high school programs, really be a sleeper? He can if he has only one offer and many question his size. Not only did Lindsey show off an added 15 pounds of muscle since the start of last season, but he registered the fastest 40 time on the night with a 4.29. Look for Lindsey to earn quite a few more offers by the end of May.
5) DB Robert Vaughn -- North Attleboro, Mass. -- No one had heard of Vaughn (or of North Attleboro High School) before his combine performance, but they know about him now. He measured in at a chiseled 6-foot-0 and 187 pounds and registered a 4.37-second shuttle. His 40 times were not good, but that was the case with many others as well. Vaughn looked the part in one-on-one drills, although he's more of a safety than a cornerback.
6) TE John Lubischer -- Boca Raton, Fla. -- The name Lubischer is well know in New Jersey, especially on the shore where both of John's uncles went on to play D-1 football. However, to college coaches he was just beginning to gain notice. After checking in at 6-foot-4 and 246 pounds, running two 40-yard dashes in the 4.9 range on a slow surface and posting a 4.5-second shuttle, Lubischer will earn numerous offers soon. He has the frame to fill out to 270 pounds and could also play defensive end in college.
7) QB Darius Bagan -- Bergenfield (N.J.) Queen of Peace -- Attention college coaches in search of a quarterback who can also play another position. Darius Bagan could be your guy. Bagan is 6-foot-2 and a solid 217 pounds with a 4.63-second 40-yard dash, a 4.34-second shuttle and, most importantly, great touch on his long ball. Bagan also has some zip to his arm, but his accuracy on passes over 20 yards was very impressive. Add him to an impressive list of quarterbacks in the Atlantic East.
8) LB Mark Herzlich -- Wayne (Pa.) Conestoga -- The knock on Herzlich, at least on film, was that he was a bit too upright and didn't bend his knees well. However, at the combine he showed how much he's improved since last year, blanketing running backs in the one-on-one drills and earning offers from Boston College and Vanderbilt. Herzlich has also grown, now standing over 6-foot-5 and weighing 245 pounds. Can you say 4-3 defensive end?
9) OL Brandon Flanagan -- Wakefield, Mass. -- Flanagan won the outstanding offensive lineman award at the combine for his work in the one-on-ones, but measuring in at slightly over 6-foot-1 might have been more important, especially with some thinking he was under 6-foot. He's still a few inches too short for many schools who like their guards and centers to be at least 6-foot-3, but after his performance he'll get many more looks. His 4.66-second shuttle also showed his mobility, very important for an interior guy.
10) QB Drew Dudzik -- Centreville, Va. -- Dudzik isn't the biggest quarterback at just a shade over 6-foot-1 and 188 pounds, but he is very mobile and accurate. He had his best combine to date at the Elite by showing a strong arm and good accuracy while also registering a 4.59-second 40-yard dash and a 4.35-second shuttle. Clearly his 26 touchdowns against only four interceptions as a junior were no fluke.
For testing results from the combine, go to EliteRecruits.com.