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May 15, 2005
Good as advertised
OXFORD, Miss. - They say there is never truth in advertising.
But at the NIKE Training Camp Sunday at the University of Mississippi there were several prospects that were as good as advertised. That group included Springdale, Ark., quarterback Mitch Mustain, who took another step toward being ranked as one of the nation's elite quarterback prospects.
Mustain timed in the 4.2-second range in the shuttle and wowed in passing drills and one-on-one competition.
His footwork was exceptional, his technique even better and he displayed a strong arm that was as strong as everybody - save Tim Tebow - so far on the NIKE Camp tour.
"A lot of people are saying Mitch is one of top three or four in the country, and I certainly wouldn't argue that today," Student Sports director of player development Brian Stumpf said.
"He's got very good fundamentals. He's a very good athlete and his throws are always crisp. He doesn't throw a lot of wobblers. He takes good quick drops and he's fundamentally sound. He's just a very complete player."
Mustain said he felt good about his day, but admits he could have done better.
"I liked what I did, and it was great to come out here and show what I have," Mustain said.
"I think I could have still done better. I know that I'm a pretty picky guy, though. But to come out here and have a lot of people watching and looking out for me, and to do a good job like I did, it makes me feel pretty good."
Jonesboro (La.) Hodge running back Charles Scott came into the camp with scholarship offers from LSU, Oklahoma, USC, Auburn, Florida, Ole Miss and Texas A&M.
The 6-foot, 220-pounder clocked in the 4.6-second range - a very good time on a somewhat slower field turf track - and couldn't be covered in the one-one-one drills.
Another blue-chip Louisiana running back also impressed with a great day of testing.
Keiland Williams, who earned all-state honors at Lafayette (La.) Northside as a junior but will transfer to Hargrave Military Academy to finish out his high school career tested off the charts with a 4.4-second time in the 40-yard dash and a shuttle time that was in the 4.3-second range.
He also did well in the one-on-ones and showed great change of directions in the drill portion of the camp.
"I still think that I could have done better," Williams said.
"But this definitely was a great day to come out here and show everybody that I'm one of the better running backs, not just in the Southeast, but also in the entire country."
Both Scott and Williams were tough to cover throughout the day, but there was an impressive linebacker group that sure gave it a go.
NIKE linebacker coach Chris Gizzie, an NFL veteran that played most recently for the Green Bay Packers, said the group of linebackers at the camp featured around eight players that have Division I potential. The strength of the linebacker position rivals the Miami NIKE Camp, which is likely go down as the top overall camp of the entire tour.
"This is as good of a group as the one in Miami," Gizzie said.
"I love the South. I don't think I'm getting soft in my evaluations. But I tell you what, Georgia had a lot of good guys that looked the part, but they didn't compete like these guys and the Florida kids and that's a big difference to me. When you get up to that next level, you want players that can compete, and you don't want guys that are not intimidated by competition. These guys have the tools and once they adjust to the speed of college football they're going to be very good."
At the top of the list for Gizzie was Jamon Hughes of Rolling Fork (Miss.) Humphries County. Hughes didn't run the fastest 40-yard dash time, clocking in the 4.8-second range, but he was extremely strong in drills and his tools are going to give a college coach plenty to work with.
"He does everything well," Gizzie said. "He was physical in the one-on-ones. I wouldn't be surprised if he's a coach's kid, or has somebody close to him that's a coach. The way he sees things and understands what you coach, he seems to know the game a lot better than others. That just makes all the angles and everything else you try to teach a kid that much better."
Martez Smith of Camden (Miss.) Velma Jackson also got great reviews after a strong day. He appears to be a true Will linebacker that could be an every down college player. Derrick Odom of Jackson (Miss.) Callaway was one of the most physically impressive looking players seen on the entire tour this spring. He was ripped like a body-builder, he has a great frame that allows him to add 25 more pounds and still run like a deer.
Roshaad Byrd of Meridian was also impressive in that group with long arms and the range to cover people in one-on-one drills like a defensive back. The coaches also pointed out at least five other guys that have solid chances of becoming legit D-I prospects by the time fall camp runs around.
At receiver it was two distinctly different players that wowed on-lookers.
Courtney Smith of New Orleans John F. Kennedy was one of the biggest receivers in camp, measuring in the 6-foot-3, 185-pound range. His speed wasn't the fastest as he clocked around a 4.6-second 40-yard dash, but his game matched his size. He was able to go up and out-jump, out-muscle and out-hustle defensive backs in one-on-one drills and looked to be a prospect to keep a close eye on this fall.
It's still unclear what he looks like on game film, but with his day on Saturday's it's clear that he has the goods to be recruited by somebody if the footage does show talent under the Friday night lights.
He might play quarterback in high school, but New Iberia (La.) Westgate star Jared Mitchell looked like a big-time receiver prospect on Sunday. His burst off the line was explosive and his routes were flawless. He also clocked in with one of the better times of the camp, coming in around 4.4-seconds in the 40-yard dash. His high school coach, Craig Brodie, calls him a threat to score on every play and if were a game he would have beaten defenders several times bad enough to run up some pretty quick points.
Several defensive backs also impressed, with a few sleepers emerging, too.
Zaccheus Etheridge of Troy (Ala.) Charles Henderson was extremely impressive in one-on-one drills with his great balance and ability to stay stride for stride with Mitchell and other elite receivers. C.J. Bailey of Moss Point, Miss., showed great footwork and was able to really turn his hips and run when he had to open up.
Destrehan, La., cornerback Jai Eugene did test well, clocking in the 4.5-second range, but he did have some struggles in the one-on-one competition and wasn't as fluid as others in the drill portion of the camp. But the building blocks are there because he definitely has the size and quickness to be a good player on the next level.
Defensive line had quite a few good looking kids as Cory Peters of Louisville (Ky.) Central and L.T. Walker of Wynne, Ark., were quite impressive. Relatively unknown defensive tackle Wes Tunuufi-Sauvao of Leesville, La., looked the part and he ran a 40-yard dash in the 5.2-second range. He'll be a name to keep an eye on the rest of the spring evaluation period.