Linemen prove to be head of the class at Nike Football Training Camp

April 28

Hylton junior Matt Burrell Jr. leads fantastic group of linemen at NFTC (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

The Nike Football Training Camp tour offers the top players in respective regions an opportunity to go head to head with some of the best talent, not akin to anything you can see during Friday nights in the fall. A good showing in an NFTC leads to an invite to Beaverton, Ore., where the nation’s best display their talents at The Opening, a four-day combine that is broadcast on ESPN.

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Centreville, all eyes were on the linemen at the Washington area edition of the NFTC. Those players didn’t disappoint, even with huge crowds surrounding them in one-on-one drills that ended the day’s action. Hylton OL Matt Burrell Jr., Gonzaga OL Richie Petitbon, Quince Orchard DL Adam McLean and Stonewall Jackson DL Tim Settle  all received invites to Oregon in late June. Former Gonzaga DB Marcus Lewis, now headed to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and DeMatha DB Tyler Green rounded out the six area juniors who punched their tickets to play in The Opening.

Below find a recap of how the area’s best gridiron stars performed:

– The 6-foot-5, 302-pound Burrell completed his one-on-one drills at the left guard position, and with a combination of quick feet and a strong punch at the line of scrimmage he was a nightmare for defensive linemen. Burrell earned MVP honors for the offensive line group after opting not to complete in any of the SPARQ (Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction and Quickness) testing that involved a vertical jump, a 40-yard-dash and other skills tests. Burrell has 42 offers and didn’t hint at when he would trim his list. “It was honor to go against some of the best defensive linemen. I’m blessed to play against some of the best. Some of the nation’s top tacklers are some of my best friends,” Burrell said.

–Petitbon went head-to-head with defenders at left guard, right guard and center. He said Saturday was his first time he played the center position, but he transitioned quickly. He sported Nike compression shorts in the drill, which drew a lot of attention from the onlookers. The Alabama commit has great feet and at 6-foot-4, 296 pounds the lacrosse player moves very well. See Petitbon below. “I’ve always watched The Opening on TV every summer and now I’ve been invited. It’s a camp where you get to see guys in full pads so it’s the real deal,” Petitbon said.

–The top two defensive linemen were Settle and McLean, with both giving the offensive linemen fits during the one-on-one drills. Settle, McLean and Burrell are very close and call themselves the “dynamic trio.” They encouraged each other throughout the workouts and shook hands after facing one another. Settle is rated as the 10th best player in the class of 2015 by ESPN, and he quickly showed why. He possesses a quick first step, but he suffered a slight leg injury in the morning session and pushed through that with a level of power that was unmatched at the NFTC. He said it was minor and will not affect him moving forward. See Settle below.

–McLean isn’t as big as Settle, but he shoots out of his stance like a cannon and has good moves to create separation from linemen. McLean also earned MVP honors for the defensive line group. The Penn State commit matched up with Burrell twice. Video is below. “We’re all really good friends off the football field. We got to turn that switch off and get to work, that was a really good thing,” McLean said.

–I didn’t get to look at the defensive backs much, but from what I took away from my short amount of time from watching Lewis and Green is they are both consistently around the ball. Green is a huge defensive back at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds and receivers struggled to get separation from him when the ball was in the air. Lewis ran a 4.54 in the 40-yard-dash and showed that same closing speed when receivers thought they had a step on him. He said he is very committed to Florida.

Bullis 2016 QB Dwayne Haskins, Jr. was the quarterback group MVP after consistently throwing great passes. Wherever coaches asked Haskins to put the ball he made it happen, and at 6 feet 2 he has been adding offers by the day. He holds offers to Temple, Nebraska, Utah, Arizona State and SMU. At the Elite 11 camp on Friday in Ashburn, he also wowed onlookers with his composure in the pocket.

Dominion 2015 LB Chad Smith earned SPARQ MVP honors after scoring the highest mark in his morning tests. Smith is 6-foot-4, 210 pounds and loves to get physical with running backs and tight ends. He ran a 4.76 40-yard-dash, 4.09 shuttle and soared to 41.9 inches in the vertical jump. His 40-yard-dash time doesn’t reflect his closing skills. He made the right play in the open field and nearly intercepted two passes when he looked like he was beat. He scored a 124.92 out of 150 possible points on his SPARQ test. Friendship Collegiate 2015 OL Quarvez Boulware also looked very good in one-on-one drills, and holds Florida State, Miami, and Auburn offers among several others. DeMatha 2016 DL Shane Simmons will be one to watch over the next two years. Remember the name. See Simmons below.

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