June 18, 2010

Clemson camp includes nation's top two players

CLEMSON, S.C. - As colleges hold their summer prospect camps around the country, any coach will tell you that half of the battle is just getting the top players on campus. If that is the case, consider half the battle won by Clemson. This week, Clemson hosted its second prospect camp of the summer and with the close of camp on Thursday, there weren't two better players anywhere in the country than the two that were together on the Clemson campus.

On Thursday morning, Rivals.com's No. 1 prospect in the country, Jadeveon Clowney, arrived at the Clemson's practice fields in street clothes to take in the camp, visit with the coaches and mingle with other prospects. Though he didn't work out, even in street clothes, it is clear the kind of physical presence he can bring to the football field. Clowney looks his listed height of 6-foot-6, has extremely long arms and doesn't look to be maxed out physically.

Accompanying Clowney on his visit was his teammate, three-star defensive end Gerald Dixon and Rock Hill (S.C.) South Pointe head coach Bobby Carroll. Once on campus though, Clowney got the opportunity to meet one of the few defenders in the nation with his kind of prowess, Tony Steward of St. Petersburg (Fla.) Menendez. The meeting was a rare occasion when the nation's No. 1 player was on campus with No. 2.

Steward wasn't just taking the guided tour either. The linebacker with nothing to prove was proving himself once again by working out in front of the Clemson coaching staff and backing up his ranking. He does everything low, has tremendous flexibility and he can run not only with backs but with slot receivers as well.

Maybe the best quality that Steward has though is a humility and a hunger to get better. You would never guess that he is the nation's No. 2 prospect based on the way he carries himself and his willingness to learn and work.

Inside strength

In Clemson's first camp of the summer, skill positions led the way with the play of elite prospects such as Charone Peake, Sammy Watkins and quarterback commit Tony McNeal. In this week's session though, many of the best prospects were on the line of scrimmage, and several made some favorable impressions on the Clemson staff.

On the offensive side of the ball, Clemson hosted a few prospects with a lot of upside in the 2012 class but the leader of the group was a 2011 Clemson commit. Four-star commit Shaq Anthony was the most fundamentally sound prospect in the group and was the model in drills much of the day. Anthony is polished and comfortable as a pass-blocker, showing good technique and good feet.

Though he's a sound pass-blocker with good technique and athleticism, Anthony does not have the body of some of the younger prospects in his group and perhaps the player with the most upside was Oliver Jones out of Ninety Six, S.C. Jones, out of the 2012 class, has a terrific frame at around 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds. He is a little bit raw but has good feet and athleticism and is a worker. He was eager to learn all weekend as a very coachable prospect with a very high ceiling. With both Clemson and South Carolina offers already in verbally, it is clear that he has the respect of the in-state coaching staffs as well.

Another high-upside prospect out of the 2012 class is Tyler Stasky of Mt. Pleasant (S.C.) Wando. Stasky has a great tackle body at 6-foot-7, 268 pounds and good weight all-around. His feet will need to continue to improve but he plays with good leverage considering his size and looks to have a ton of potential as he heads into his junior season.

On the defensive side of the ball one of the players that looked to really wow the Clemson coaching staff was Grady Jarrett out of Conyers (Ga.) Rockdale County. Though he is slightly undersized for an interior player, Jarrett is a sturdy, physical defender with very good athleticism and a great pedigree. His father is former Pro Bowl linebacker Jesse Tuggle and his uncle is current NFL superstar Ray Lewis. Jarrett's performance was good enough to earn him an offer and Clemson's allure was enough to earn it a commitment on Thursday.

Clemson would love to see Phillip Dukes follow Jarrett's lead. Dukes, a 6-foot-3, 295-pounder, showed up on Thursday morning to work out and did a little bit of everything. He was effective on the interior showing great athleticism for a player of his size and he even put in some work with the defensive ends to further showcase that athleticism.

Other standouts on the line of scrimmage included Patrick Destefano, Martin Aiken and Kevin Dodd.

Late arrivals

A few Thursday morning arrivals gave Clemson's camp a big boost down the homestretch. Miami (Fla.) Southridge head coach Pat Burrows has been taking a group of talented south Florida prospects on an extensive college tour and the Thursday stop included a workout at Clemson. Immediately, his group of prospects made an impact, most notably four-star safety Gerrod Holliman.

Holliman was consistently around the football making plays on the ball in the air and running stride for stride with wide receivers. A versatile, hard-hitting safety, Holliman showed a lot of ability in coverage and immediately looked to be one of the top defensive backs at the camp.

Holliman was joined by his Southridge teammate, four-star corner Andrew Johnson as well as Miami (Fla.) Columbus 2012 defensive back Deon Bush and Sanford (Fla.) Seminole defensive back Deron Thompson. All three made an impact with their arrival, particularly Bush who is shaping up to be one of the top defensive backs in the 2012 class.

Some other late arrivals came from a little bit closer by when a group out of the state of Georgia showed up Thursday morning. The group was led by Georgia commit Corey Moore who continues to impress on the camp circuit. Along with Moore, speedster Nile Daniel out of Griffin, Ga. put his speed on display at the wide receiver position.

Coach Dawkins

It's always a thrill for high school athletes to get the opportunity to work with and be coached by major college coaches. At Clemson this week, the defensive backs not only got the chance to work with defensive backs coach Charlie Harbison but they also got the opportunity to work with one of his most prized pupils.

Clemson product Brian Dawkins is one of the top safeties in the NFL and an eight-time pro-bowler. This week he returned to his college campus to coach up the defensive backs and help out his old coach.

Despite his celebrity status, Dawkins was all business. He was constantly on the field teaching and coaching and even reffing games when he had the opportunity to. His presence did not go unnoticed. Players were buzzing about his appearance and about the opportunity to work with him.

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