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July 22, 2008
Michael shines bright at Top Gun Camp
July traditionally is one of the slowest months for recruiting news, but the past few weeks have been extremely busy - especially with events such as the FBU Top Gun Showcase Camp, the EA Sports Elite 11, Florida's Friday Night Lights, Florida State's Seminole Showtime Camp and LSU's camp.
The Top Gun Camp featured one of the best collection of elite prospects ever assembled, and there were a few standouts even among the group of four- and five-star prospects.
Most observers agreed running back Christine Michael of Beaumont (Texas) West Brook was the most impressive overall player in the camp. With the ability to glide through bag drills, show great hands catching the football and dominating in the one-on-ones and seven-on-seven drills, his play definitely was something that could push him even higher in the rankings.
"He's got outstanding speed and quickness," said former NFL standout Lorenzo White, who coached the running back group for FBU. "The guys we've got here are supposed to be elite, and he's really, really shown that he's one of the best in the country. You hear about these guys and you always wonder if they're really as good as everybody says. He's all that they've talked about. I liked all the kids in our group, but he was the most impressive."
Five-star receiver Randall Carroll also was a big-time attention-grabber. Carroll, from Los Angeles Cathedral, easily was the fastest player on the field. Carroll is one of the top sprinters in California, but he's not a track guy playing football. Carroll is a football player who loves to blow past defenders with his breakaway speed. He also showed good hands for a speed demon.
"This camp was a great challenge for me because I was banged up a little bit and there was a tremendous amount of talent out here," Carroll said. "I was pleased with how I performed, sure, but I'm always my biggest critic. I know I have to do better when the season gets here."
The Elite 11 is just in its second day, but a few players already have stood out - including Mission Viejo (Calif.) High's Allan Bridgford and Tampa Plant's Aaron Murray. Bridgford won the Golden Gun Award on Monday for being the most accurate passer of the day, and Murray had great consistency throughout the day. He finished second in the accuracy contest, and showed he'll be able to make all the throws on the next level.
Florida's camp also was loaded with plenty of talent, and the prospect with the best reviews was running back Trent Richardson of Pensacola (Fla.) Escambia.
"Richardson is well put together and looks very powerful and strong, especially in the upper body," recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg said. "He runs well and was surprisingly quick and not stiff for his size. Richardson also caught the ball well. We're going to have some serious discussions about him being a five-star player."
Most agreed the top prospect at Florida State's second annual Showtime Camp was Gadsden (Ala.) City five-star cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, the No. 13 prospect in the nation. He answered any and all challenges and demonstrated why he is considered among the best players in the nation.
"There were a ton of great receivers out here. Some of them like to talk a lot, and then others just went out there and were playing their game," Kirkpatrick said of the competition. "I really had a lot of fun out here at Florida State."
Many top prospects flocked to LSU's camp, but the main headliners had to be offensive linemen Chris Faulk of Slidell (La.) Northshore and Xavier Su'a Filo of Provo (Utah) Timpview. Recruiting analyst Barton Simmons came away impressed with both, especially Faulk.
"On the day, there may not have been a better overall performance than that of Faulk," Simmons said. "He has a terrific frame (6-6/280) and has great strength and balance. He has that ability to keep his weight back and still have the strength to deal with a defensive rush. He also showed some nimble feet that don't always come out on film.
"Athletically, Su'a Filo (6-4/285) was the best lineman in attendance. You never catch him off-balance, and he is always technically sound. He had great consistency all day and looks the part of an athletic offensive tackle."
• Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith linebacker Jerod Askew has cut his list to five schools – Alabama, Maryland, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. Askew, a four-star prospect who's a member of the Rivals100, says there is no leader at this point. He has an official visit lined up for Sept. 28 to West Virginia.
• Gastonia (N.C.) Ashbrook wide receiver Jheranie Boyd has narrowed his list to 10 schools: Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, NC State, Oregon and USC. "I just visited Florida and Florida State recently, and they were both good," said Boyd, a four-star prospect who's the No. 7 receiver in the nation. "The trip to Florida was just great. That was probably my best visit yet. I was just really comfortable there."
• Michigan fans have been on pins and needles trying to figure out the status of star quarterback Kevin Newsome – is he or isn't he committed to the Wolverines? After the Top Gun Camp, he opened up a little bit about his status. "I'm committed to Michigan," Newsome said. "Me and Bryce McNeal (a wide receiver from Minneapolis Breck) were going around bragging how we're going to beat Randall Carroll, who's going to USC, and Cierre Wood, who's going to Notre Dame. We were bragging about things like that."
• Four-star outside linebacker/defensive end Keenan Graham from Las Vegas Silverado said he's sure he will take official visits to UCLA and Virginia Tech. After that, it's up in the air. "Getting an offer from Tennessee will make it even tougher naming my final three schools," he said. "I hope to see UCLA and Tennessee when they play (Sept. 1). That is a game that I definitely want to see."