San Antonio — After the conclusion of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, it was time to look towards the Class of 2007 and what better venue to do that than the U.S. Army National Combine, which was held in the Alamodome on Sunday.
While stud recruits such as Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, Calif.) quarterback Jimmy Clausen, Park (Racine, Wis.) running back John Clay, Byrnes (Duncan, S.C.) quarterback Willy Korn, Dunbar (Washington, D.C.) receiver Arrelious Benn and Texas (Texarkana, Texas) quarterback Ryan Mallett didn't participate, the combine was chalk full of National Top 100 caliber players.
Here are some players from the Class of 2007 that caught my attention during the combine:
Parkview (Lilburn, Ga.), RB
King grabbed the camp's highest honor as he was named U.S. Army Super Athlete. He and Armando Allen of Hialeah-Miami Lakes vied for top back of the day and like Allen, King abused opposing defenders in the one-on-one drills. King excelled in every drill and did it with a smooth and effortless style. This kid will battle for the top running back ranking in the nation for the Class of 2007. Of course, if the vote was cast today, I'm sure some high school defenders in Georgia would vote for King. As a junior, playing in the state's highest classification, King ran for an amazing 2,768 yards and 19 touchdowns on 346 carries.
Hialeah-Miami Lakes (Hialeah, Fla.), RB
Allen looks like Clinton Portis and dare I say it, runs like the Washington Redskins star running back. Allen is solidly built, but he's also ridiculously fast. His skills were clearly evident during the running back vs. linebacker drills. Anyone remember the Reggie Bush run against Fresno State this past year when he stopped on a dime along the left sideline and cut it back to the right on his way to the end zone? Allen did just that to one linebacker. In fact, there should have been more trainers in attendance considering how many ankles he "broke" during the day. Allen is one of the candidates for the nation's top running back in the Class of 2007. He was named Offensive MVP of the combine.
Shoemaker (Killeen, Texas), DL
Even if you just watched Joiner for a minute during the one-on-one drills, you would have come away impressed. He was virtually unblockable and anytime you can say that about someone, they deserve some ink. Joiner was named the Defensive MVP of the combine.
Piscataway (Piscataway, N.J.), OL
Davis was a beast, plain and simple, at the combine. No one could match his overall size and presence as an offensive lineman. When surveying the list of top linemen in the country next year, this guy is going to be right there at the top.
Hillside (Durham, N.C.), WR
Little showed tremendous hands and athleticism all day. Couple that with his size and you're talking about a tough matchup for defensive backs. Another thing that impressed me about Little is that he went out of his way to get in a group where he could go up against the combine's top defensive backs and when he did, he performed well. This kid loves the competition and is hungry to improve. That spells one of the nation's top wideouts to me.
Ben C. Rain (Mobile, Ala.), DB
McGaskin is a gifted cover corner with size, speed and excellent technical skills. He took every matchup like it was the fourth quarter of a championship game. He got physical and moved his hips well, keeping him in position to make a play on the ball. During one drill, he jumped between two receivers to snatch an interception. He also played well when matched up against Little. McGaskin's high school teammate, Ryan Williams, is another elite defensive back who performed well at the combine.
West Springfield (Springfield, Va.), QB
Lalich was very technically sound for a kid who's still in his junior year of high school. Every pass was a spiral and every pass had touch. He throws a good deep ball as well. Manheim Township (Lancaster, Pa.) quarterback Pat Bostick was also impressive. He was a little smaller than Lalich, but his arm was tremendous and appeared stronger than Lalich. In the three-on-three drills, Bostick opened some eyes by slinging a bullet pass in between two defenders.
Hubbard (Chicago, Ill.), RB/LB
When Hughes hit the field for the combine, I thought he was one of the All-American Bowl players. He's that physically imposing. He went hard throughout the drills and showed some nice hands in the running back vs. linebacker segment. He's an in-between the tackles runner, so the open field drills weren't the best way to showcase his talent, but you could tell just by looking at him that he's a beast. Edgewater (Orlando, Fla.) linebacker/defensive back Lorenzo Edwards was a physical specimen as well and showed off the versatility that's going to make him one of the nation's most coveted recruits next year.
Lakeland (Lakeland, Fla.)
I decided to just list the school rather than list all the players from the two-time defending state champion Dreadnaughts who made everyone take notice when they were on the field. Chris Rainey is a bit on the small side for a running back, but there's no questioning this kid can make plays. It was exciting watching him make defenders whiff during the one-on-one drills. Offensive linemen and twin brothers James and LaShawn Pouncey manhandled defenders. LaShawn is the better of the two, but both are Top 100 talents. Defensive tackle John Brown gets after it and showed why he was able to post 90 tackles (37 solo) and four sacks as a junior. Wide receiver Paul Wilson has one of the best set of hands in the country and man, can he fly. This list of Lakeland players could have been longer, but running back Jamar Taylor and tight end Jordan Hammond weren't in attendance.