May 4, 2007

Elite College Combine Hot 11

WALDWICK, N.J. - The Elite College Combine has come and gone for the 4th consecutive year and once again the top players stood above the rest.

Led by quarterback E.J. Manuel, there are many big names on the Elite College Combine Hot 11. However, there are also some surprises.

Elite College Combine Hot 11

1. E.J. Manuel, Quarterback

The Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside quarterback reminded a lot of people of a younger version of JaMarcus Russell at the event, although more polished at the same stage. Manuel was head and shoulders above everyone else and drew the most attention of college coaches.

2. Lamaar Thomas, Athlete

Thomas, from Fort Washington (Md.) Friendly, worked out with the wide receivers and flashed his quick feet, sharp cutting ability and excellent hands. Thomas looked like he was toying with opponents at times, adding extra cuts to routes to keep things interesting. He is a very good receiver and super quick.

3. Reggie Ellis, Defensive tackle

Ellis was too big and strong for linemen to handle in the one-on-ones and showed some good agility and quickness for a bigger man. His bull rush was unstoppable but he also showed a nice outside pass rush and some polished moves. The Washington (D.C.) Dunbar big man raised his stock quite a bit.

4. Reuben Johnson, Cornerback

Johnson isn't the biggest cornerback, but he can run with anyone, gets his head around well and makes a play on the football. Johnson, from Atco (N.J.) Winslow Township, has excellent instincts and he doesn't commit too early. He also has solid ball skills.

5. Okechuckwu Okoroha, Safety

Okoroha comes from D-1 factory Greenbelt (Md.) Eleanor Roosevelt and has emerged as a potential 10-offer player. He has good size, runs well in coverage and is physical. He's also long and makes plays on the ball with good instinct.

6. Masengo Kabongo, Defensive tackle

The Fairfield (Conn.) Fairfield Prep tackle has above average athleticism for his size and a quick first step. He's not a fit in a 3-4 defense it seems because of his frame, but as a 4-3 defensive tackle, Kabongo could be a star.

7. Patrick Neumann, Offensive lineman

Neumann has a very good frame to add weight and he proved he was physical in the one-on-ones. He uses his hands very well, stays low and anchors well. The Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph's Regional standout stood up to much bigger prospects and more than held his own.

8. Josh Haden Running back

Haden is certainly better in pads, but he still showed off his quick feet and his burst in workouts with the running backs and wide receivers. His hands are solid and we know he's strong and he uses his lack of height to his advantage by playing with great leverage and balance. Haden and his Fort Washington (Md.) Friendly teammate Thomas are neck-and-neck in ability.

9. Morgan Carter, Wide receiver

The Woodbridge (Va.) C.D. Hylton athlete showed off his athletic ability and pure physical skills in the one-on-ones. Carter is very raw and needs a year with a JUGS Machine, but his physical attributes and hustle make him a very intriguing prospect.

10. Dwayne Beckford, Linebacker

Why Beckford has no D-1 offers at this time is a mystery to many, but he won't be without an offer for too long. Beckford has a muscular, squat frame and he runs very well. In coverage, his quickness truly comes out as he has rare closing speed. The Irvington, N.J. product was the best linebacker at the event.

11. Art Forst, Offensive lineman

Much was expected of Forst at the event and to some he disappointed a bit. But let's not get crazy. The Manasquan, N.J. tackle is 6-foot-7, 315 pounds and raw. He improved in the one-on-ones as they progressed and looks to be coachable. And you can't teach that size with those feet. Once he gets coached up and becomes more physical, he could be special.

Mike Farrell can be reached at


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