I covered the quarterback group thoroughly on Friday, coming away thinking that the group was good, but not great. Apparently they were better Sunday, because both Deondre Francois and De'Andre Johnson took home invites to The Opening and the Elite 11 Finals. Francois is uncommitted, though I think Florida has a very good shot with him. Johnson is a Florida State commitment. I did not watch the quarterbacks closely Saturday because I was spending more time on other groups who did not have a specialized camp on Friday.
The running back group was very good, with several elite prospects and a number of other FBS level players.
The top running back on the day was probably Dexter Williams of Orlando (Fla.) West Orange. The 6'0, 195-pounder turned in the best SPARQ rating on the day (Nike's way of measuring several different athletic tests). He posted a ridiculous 44.5" vertical jump, showed good acceleration and change of direction, and generally caught the football as well. He holds offers from Florida, Ohio State, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, USC, Notre Dame, Miami and others.
USC is Williams' most recent offer.
"I know they love Florida boys," he said of USC. "Leonard Williams' old coach actually works over at USC, and he told me he's been keeping his eye on me ever since I was a freshman."
Williams has several schools standing out.
"USC, Ohio State, Georgia, Miami and Florida," Williams said, stressing that he doesn't have a top five, just five schools standing out.
Coach Brian White is Williams' recruiter for the Gators. Williams gets to see him quite a bit since White's son is the quarterback for the Orlando area 7-on-7 team, and NCAA rules allow parents to attend the events even if they are coaches.
"I would like to hear from Auburn, or LSU, because they have amazing running games and know how to use their backs," Williams said. He also indicated that he thinks the spread is better for him, but would like to play in a pro-style offense because it's what he ran at his old high school (Olympia, in Orlando).
Close behind him was Orlando Timber Creek's Jacques Patrick, who checked in at 6'2 and 232 pounds. Patrick has almost all of the major offers, and was hanging out with the Florida State group of commitments. He's generally considered very likely to attend FSU. He moved well for a back of his size, and earned an invite to The Opening.
De'Anfrenee McGriff, of Tallahassee (Fla.) Leon, was quite impressive. He checked in at 6'0 and 228 pounds and I believe he can eventually play H-Back at about 235-245 pounds.
"LSU is recruiting me as a safety, and Auburn wants me at sort of an H-Back/Running Back," McGrfff said of LSU and Auburn. McGriff prefers to play offense, and Florida State is recruiting him there. McGriff plans to visit Auburn, FSU, LSU and South Carolina in the spring. He said he grew up a Florida fan, but "with this recruiting thing, it don't matter, it's business."
Antonio Wimbush, of Kingsland (Ga.) Camden County, had a very good day and took home the running back MVP award.
Apopka's Chandler Cox showed the quickness that allows him to gain favorable angles and position on defenders when blocking. Chandler is very high on the Florida Gators.
Receiver & Tight End
Deondre Farrier, of Orlando (Fla.) Lake Nona, was named the receiver MVP and also earned an invite to The Opening. The Florida commit looked good in the reps I saw, but other analysts raised eyebrows that he earned the honor. Apparently he suffered from some drops in an earlier portion of the camp that I missed when I was watching the defensive linemen.
George Campbell, the incredible athlete from Tarpon Springs (Tampa) East Lake High School, caught the ball better Saturday than he has in recent years and events. Campbell earned an invite to The Opening, one of the few players in the event's history to make the trip twice. Campbell has a long way to go as a receiver, but more days like Saturday will be a step in the right direction.
Garrett Williams, of Orlando's First Academy, had another solid day. I spoke with Williams recently, and he is down to four schools: Auburn, Clemson, Florida State and Stanford. Williams is an FSU legacy and definitely has strong interest in Clemson. Stanford's academics are very attractive to him, as well. All schools plan to use him as an H-Back, and I expect a decision to come sooner rather than later.
Auden Tate, of Tampa (Fla.) Wharton, had a good day. The 6'4, 200-pounder uses his body to shield defenders, which is important because he does not have an elite top gear. Tate does have room to add more good weight and should become a force in the red zone in time.
Originally from South Carolina, Tate added offers from South Carolina and Clemson this week. He indicated that he wants to visit both schools this spring, along with Kentucky. He is in the process of planning out the visits with his parents.
But it's another school that stands out the most to Tate.
"I like Miami a lot. I like the swagger they play with," Tate said. He said that he deals with coach Scott from the Hurricanes and likes that he is a straight forward coach.
Tate would still like an offer from Florida.
"I'm good friends with Vernon [Hargeaves], and I was talking to him over spring break and he told me Florida was a good atmosphere and a good program," he said.
Tate says he would like to commit near the end of summer.
Deion Cain, of Tampa Bay (Fla.) Tech, had a very nice day and it was a bit surprising that he did not receive an invite to The Opening. His most recent offer was from Georgia. He checked in at 6'2, 192, which is a good height for him to come in at. Cain runs smooth routes and is further along as a receiver than someone who plays predominantly quarterback would typically be.
Cain recently visited Florida.
"The visit to Florida was great, it was better than I expected it to be," he said. "I got a look at the new offense, and it was quite impressive."
Cain's recruiter at Florida is Joker Phillips, and Cain said that the visit improved his relationship with him.
Florida State has long been in the picture for Cain, ever since he burst on the scene at their summer camp in 2013.
"I talk with them a lot," Cain said of Florida State. "I'm building my chemistry up with coach Fisher. I already had good chemistry with [receivers coach] Dawsey." Cain declined to name a leader, but said Florida State was high on his list.
Cain plans to decide at the end of the summer.
Ray-Ray McCloud III, of Tampa (Fla.) Sickles, showed his usual quickness and change of direction, catching the ball well. He's a bit of a hybrid receiver/running back, and his abilities after the catch are quite good. McCloud plans to see Clemson, Florida, Miami, UNC, Notre Dame, Ohio State and UCLA in the spring and summer before making a decision.
Florida commit Tristan Payton, of Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast, had a good day. He's has good strength to get off the press, can elevate to catch the ball and is very competitive.
Nate Craig, of Tampa Catholic (formerly of Pasco County), was arguably the top underclassman at the event. Craig is a national recruit who is on pace to end up with more than 40 offers. He is an impressive 6'2, 195.
Martez Ivey, of Apopka, is one of the top offensive tackles in the country. He told me that he recently counted up his offers and he thinks he has 41 at this time, including the entire SEC. Ivey enjoyed his Alabama visit, and he plans to visit Florida and perhaps Auburn again over the summer. He also mentioned that he would like to visit LSU and South Carolina if he gets the chance. Ivey wants to wait out his recruitment until after he is done with all five of his official visits.
I thought that Ivey did well at the event. He is apparently coming off some sort of knee procedure, but did not seem limited. He has freakishly long arms on his 6'6, 280-pound frame, and it was good to see him do pass protection drills, since he rarely pass protects in his high school's offense. He is an elite prospect.
Abdul Bello, of Montverde (Fla.) Academy, was extremely impressive. Bello, who is new to the United States and the game of football (Nigeria native), has played only six games of American football and had never been to a camp. He is, in a word, raw. But you just can't teach 6'5, 295 with tiny, flexible ankles and a fierce punch. The coaches at the event were very impressed with how quickly Bello picked things up and tried them out. I truly believe Bello has the potential to be a five-star when all is said and done.
"It went pretty well," Bello said of his first camp experience. "I have so much to learn and improve upon."
Specifically, Bello wants to work on his kick slide and learn to better use his excellent athleticism in pass protection.
Bello's most recent offer is Georgia, which is added to a list including Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Maryland, Miami, Missouri and Tennessee.
Bello recently took trips to Florida, Florida State and Alabama, but had trouble pointing out what he saw as differences in the schools, saying that they have much more in common than they do different.
Bello does not claim any favorites and is not in any hurry to decide. He said it is important for him to make the right decision, and he is focused on finding a good education and a good business program. Bello said he wants to start a business in "wholesaling."
Christian Pellage, of Brooksville (Fla.) Nature Coast, again had an impressive day. Pellage holds more than 20 offers, including Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami and others. His most recent was Arkansas.
Romelo Burke, of Sarasota (Fla.) Booker High School, was the best guard in attendance.
Jake Fruhmorgen, of Tampa (Fla.) Plant, didn't participate since he's recovering from shoulder surgery, but we did chat about his recruiting.
Fruhmorgen just returned from a trip to Clemson.
"Clemson was a cool place. A little different, a small town feel," he said. "Good coaches and good people."
Fruhmorgen is close with Dustin Frye, the Clemson offensive line graduate assistant. Fruhmorgen said that Clemson is a good distance from his Tampa home (about nine hours), and that the drive was not that bad.
Florida, Alabama and Michigan are all still standing out to him quite a bit, and he is visiting Florida next week. Fruhmorgen has yet to see the new Florida coaching staff in action, and is excited to see them.
He plans to commit within a few weeks. At this time, I expect it to be Clemson as the Tigers did an excellent job on his visit.