Thursday, June 24, 2010
ESPN.com Insider: Feldman
Of all the lists I've done on this blog over the past few years (and I do one every Wednesday these days), none generates as much feedback as the annual "Freaks" list. This top 10 spotlights the top workout warriors or players who often dazzle their teammates and coaches by the numbers they can put up in the weight room, on the track or in some other "wow" capacity of athleticism. And thanks to the help of many coaches, players and sports information directors around the country, we have the 2010 edition.
1. Bruce Carter, LB, North Carolina Tar Heels
This defense is overflowing with freaks (Mel Kiper thinks so too), but it's Carter -- a three-year starter at OLB who has led the nation with five blocked kicks -- who merits top freak status this year. He's part of the country's fastest linebacking corps. Carter's workout numbers are every bit as impressive as his football stats. He has set UNC linebacker records in the power clear (374) and the vertical jump (40.5 inches). The 238-pounder has also been clocked at 4.39 in the 40 and bench-presses 440. Asked which of the testing numbers he's most proud of, Carter says it's his power clean, which is tied for tops on the team with DE Robert Quinn and Zach Pianalto. "It measures the explosiveness the most," said the former high school quarterback. Perhaps the biggest freak quality of all about Carter goes back to this: We got to talking about his eating habits when I interviewed him.
"How strict are you about diet?" I asked.
"Well, not very. I eat a lot of McDonald's and fast foods, but I do work out real hard."
"Like how much McDonald's?"
"Almost every day. I usually get three double cheeseburgers, medium fries, large tea and a six-piece McNuggets. I don't think eating healthy as far as eating salads and that stuff really works for me."
Apparently that McFeast does, though.
2. Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU Tigers
Wonder why a lot of folks think Peterson is the best cornerback in the country? Get a load of the numbers he produced in the Tigers' spring testing: He went 11 feet and one inch in the broad jump (second on the team), 39 inches in the vertical (second on the team) and squatted 535 pounds (second on the team). Oh, and he also ran two 4.37 laser-timed 40s, according to LSU strength coach Tommy Moffitt. "And he weighed 220 pounds when he did that," Moffitt said. "He's 6-foot-1 and some change. The guy is a freak. Freak. Honestly, this guy would outrun [former LSU sprint champ] Trindon [Holliday] in the 40. In the 100, it wouldn't be close, and Trindon would probably get him in the 60, but in the 40, Patrick's gonna win. Trindon would be so mad if he heard me say that."
3. Allen Bailey, DE, Miami (FL) Hurricanes
Three-hundred-pound football players simply aren't put together like Bailey, who has become a fixture on this list. It also doesn't hurt that he has such a Bunyanesque background; he once killed an alligator with a shovel. Bailey led UM in sacks (seven) and TFLs (11) last season despite bouncing between tackle and end. I asked his pal DeMarcus Van Dyke, a starting CB at Miami: What's the most impressive thing he's seen Bailey do?
"I've been his roommate for three years. Our freshman year, he picked me up by my feet with one hand and hung me upside down," said VanDyke, who added that he's also witnessed Bailey power-clean 400 pounds, vertical 39 inches and run a 4.65 40.
4. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State Beavers
The former rugby star is the definition of the term "powerhouse." There's YouTube footage of him cranking out 44 reps at 225 pounds; watch that right here. OSU strength coach Bryan Miller recently told colleague Ted Miller he thinks Paea could pump out 50 reps at 225 at next year's NFL combine.
When I visited Corvallis two months ago, Paea said he used to not be anywhere near this strong. He said his bench max in high school was 205. He's not sure exactly what he could max out at now, but knows it would be over 500 pounds. "My goal is a lot of reps," he said. "I did 25 [reps] at 315 in the winter. I also told them not to record any more."
5. Nate Solder, OT, Colorado Buffaloes
It's been a tough road for Buffs coach Dan Hawkins, especially since many of his highly touted recruits have fizzled in Boulder. But don't blame Solder, an unheralded prospect, who has really developed. Solder's measurables, according to CU strength and conditioning, are awe-inspiring. At 6-foot-8, 305 pounds, he has only 6.5 percent body fat. He power-cleans 415 for three reps, hang-cleans 473 for three reps and has been clocked in the 40 in 4.91 seconds. He also has vertical-jumped 32 inches.
"At 6-8, Nate bends as well as anyone on the team," said CU strength coach Jeff Pitman.
6. Jeff Demps, RB, Florida Gators:
Not just the fastest man in college football, Demps is also officially the fastest man in college. And, so what if his winning time at the NCAA outdoor 100 meters race was "wind-aided?" Anything under 10 seconds -- wind-aided or not -- is getting you a spot on this list. All Demps has done since arriving in Gainesville is win five national championship rings.
Despite his amazing track pedigree, Demps has decided not to compete at the upcoming USA Track and Field Championships. Instead, Demps is focusing on conditioning for football and attending classes, according to UF spokesman Sean Cartell.
7. Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia Mountaineers
He's got a very, very long resume of stunning runs on YouTube back to his high school days. The 5-foot-7, 176-pound Devine is spectacular talent with heart-stopping change of direction and explosiveness. "Nobody has his change of direction," proclaims WVU coach Bill Stewart. "Nobody -- NOBODY! -- has his burst. Nobody has his strength. I don't care if they're 5-foot-11, 210 pounds. This guy is phenomenal. His bench is well in the 400s. His squat is well in the 500s. He is the strongest pound-for-pound football player we have ever had. This guy is a foot-ball player."
8. John Simon, DL, Ohio State Buckeyes
Youngstown, Ohio has produced more than its share of tough football guys. The 6-foot-2, 270-pound Simon is just the latest in an impressive line. The book on this guy, only in his second year in the program, is really something. Simon's work ethic and motor have been wowing the staff from the moment he arrived at OSU. The pace he sets in the weight room is insane, we're told; what it takes most players two hours to do, he'll do in 30 minutes. He can already do 40 reps at 225 and has run an electronic 4.8 in the 40. "He's the only D-lineman we have with a six-pack," reports a staffer. Buckeye strength coach Jeff Uhlenhake was an All-American at OSU in the '80s and spent 10 years in the NFL. "John Simon is the best total package workout guy I've ever been around, in college, in the pros, as a coach, anybody," said Uhlenhake. "He is amazing."
Jonathan Baldwin could be the first WR off the board in the 2011 NFL draft.
9. Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh Panthers
The Panthers have produced some superb receivers in the past decade, most notably Larry Fitzgerald and Antonio Bryant. Neither of those guys, for as gifted and productive as they were, are the specimen the 6-foot-5, 228-pound Baldwin is. The junior benches 360, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 and puts up the freak numbers with a 42-inch vertical and an 11-foot broad jump. More impressively, Baldwin is coming off a breakout season where he caught 57 passes for 1,111 yards and eight TDs. Buddy Morris, the Panthers' veteran strength coach, who was with the Panthers in the days of Hugh Green and some of those greats, has high praise of the big wideout. "What really stands out about him is that everything is just very natural for him," Morris said. "Things came very easy for Curtis Martin, Ruben Brown, and it's the same with Jonathan."
10a. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama Crimson Tide
The Tide has a devastating one-two punch in the backfield with Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and this rising star. Richardson proved to be quite the strongman before he ever set foot in Tuscaloosa, winning a state weight lifting title at Emmitt Smith's alma mater in Pensacola, Fla. In Tide strength coach Scott Cochran's program, Richardson has only become that much stronger. He's already touts a 380-pound power clean, a 420-pound bench and squats 600 pounds to go with his exceptionally nimble feet.
10b. Ryan Bartholomew, C, Syracuse Orange
One of the few true bright sports around this program last season, Bartholomew started at both guard and center last season. SU coach Doug Marrone, an old line coach himself, has been around some phenomenal athletic centers and has an interesting perspective of Bartholomew. "He is such a gifted athlete," Marrone said. "He's a legit sub-5.0 flat guy. (Kevin) Mawae was an (eight)-time Pro Bowler. (Jeff) Faine was the highest-paid center in the NFL. He can run like Mawae, who can really run. (Bartholomew) has all the numbers. The other big number that he will have is the Wonderlic score. He's extremely intelligent."
Marrone isn't just impressed that his center has also benched 525, but at the understated way the kid handled it. "I'd be doing jumping jacks and might have a party with a cake on it that said "525" with dumbbells on it, if I did that," said Marrone. "He's just going about his business."
Just missed the cut: Robert Griffin, Baylor, QB; Dontay Moch, Nevada, DE; Zach Brown, UNC, OLB; Jake Locker, Washington, QB; Martez Wilson, Illinois, LB; Anthony Gray, So. Miss, DL; Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State, QB; Jordan Pendleton, BYU, LB; BJ Daniels, USF, QB; Jeff Fuller, A&M, WR; Michael Ford, LSU, RB; Ryan Mallett, Ark., QB; Luther Ambrose, ULM, WR; Ronnell Lewis, OU, LB; Zaviar Gooden, Mizzou, OLB; Tyron Carier, Houston, WR; Sam McGuffie, Rice, RB; Dontell Watkins, Utah State, WR; Dont'a Hightower, Bama, LB; Jeff Luc, FSU, LB; Brooks Reed, Arizona, DE and Damaris Johnson, Tulsa, WR.
Around College Football
• Does Penn State have some upperclass talent with first-round potential? RB Evan Royster and senior offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski appear to be the most viable hopefuls, writes Jared Shanker:
"Wisniewski's a really good, consistent offensive lineman," said former NFL scout Dan Shonka. "He can play guard some teams might say, 'We love him to play center, because we're playing a lot of 3-4 teams like the [Pittsburgh] Steelers.' He can even get you a game at tackle if something happened. If one of those tackles goes down, you gotta have a guy that at least has the ability to plug the dike, and that's something Wisniewski can do."
• Former Texas DB Marcus Davis has enrolled at Oregon for summer classes, writes Ron Bellamy:
Davis, from League City, Texas, was suspended "indefinitely" and for the rest of the season last November by Brown after being arrested and charged with suspicion of driving while intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance. According to a police report in Pearland, Texas, police received a 6:48 a.m. report on Nov. 29 describing a blue SUV riding on the rim of at least one blown tire and subsequently arrested Davis, then 18. The police report indicated that the controlled substance was Alprazolam, a medication prescribed to control anxiety.
Ultimately, that charge was dropped. In December, Davis pleaded guilty to reckless driving, a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, probation for a year, fined $200 and ordered to pay court costs and other restitution and fees totalling $1,630. He was also ordered to complete 60 hours of community service; court records show that he completed the community service by late April.
Davis was the nation's No.8 ranked CB and 78th overall recruit in the class of 2009.
Frank Beamer went and got himself another elite recruit.
• A decade ago, Iowa benefitted from the grit of rugged D-lineman Matt Roth. Frank Beamer hopes the Matt Roth he just landed can have a similar impact at Va. Tech. This Matt Roth is ranked as the No. 27 DE in the country.
Roth made his choice after fielding offers from reportedly more than 25 major college programs, including South Carolina and Georgia Tech, reports Danny Klein:
He chose the Hokies after a recent visit. "I had a great visit," Roth said. "I really felt a part of the family. I had a great time up there. It's a top 10 program in the country. At the end of the day, it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up."
Roth recorded 13.5 sacks and 88 total tackles as a junior.
• Speaking of Iowa, the Hawkeyes have five commitments. Three are wide receivers, including the latest pick-up Texan Austin Vincent, who could be a "steal" as Marc Morehouse reports:
"I can see Texas not taking a look or offering him," said Vincent's high school coach. "But I really think the rest of the Texas schools lost out. He's going to be a good one."
The 6-foot-0, 172-pound Vincent ran a 4.61 40 at a recent combine.
• Nebraska has its 12th Class of 2011 commitment in towering three-star OT Zach Sterup from Hastings, Neb. The 6-foot-8, 270-pound Sterup, ranked as the No. 27 OT prospect in the country, chose the Huskers over Iowa. "I wasn't going to worry about it until the day would come that I'd have to decide where to go," Sterup told the Grand Island Independent. "I'm obviously appreciative that Nebraska did end up offering, but I understood what they were doing. I'm just glad they did."
• Marc Mustoe, an OT, who has been offered by more than half of the Pac-10, has committed to UCLA. The 6-foot-6, 270-pounder from Colorado is the country's No. 36 tackle recruit:
The ESPN scouting report: This prospect has all the tools to be a successful run blocker at the next level. We like the aggressive, tough finishing attitude he brings to the game; it's what we like to see in offensive linemen. Mustoe may need some time to grow physically and refine his techniques however early playing time is a possibility if a red shirt year is not deemed necessary. Regardless, this player should have a long and productive career at the BCS level of play."
• Jalen Schlachter is just the latest to join a large group of prospects already committed to Indiana, writes Bill Kurelic:
This was a big commitment for the Lynch and the Hoosiers because Schlachter picked Indiana over scholarship offers from Wisconsin, Missouri and Central Michigan. "I like the atmosphere at Indiana and the program is on the rise," Schlachter said. "There are a lot of good people there and the campus is great."
In recent years conference powerhouses Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan have hauled in commitments often and early. Lynch is taking a page out of the same book this recruiting season. The Hoosiers' 17 commitments represent the most of any school in the conference. The Buckeyes are second with 15.
Max Pirman, the No. 37 OLB, is the top-rated IU commit of the group.
Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser.