March 24, 2013

Rivals Camp Series Miami buzz: Grading out

MORE: Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour

Dallas Jackson is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email him your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. -- The inflation in the number of college football offers is something that is an assumed evil among prospects, as it just sounds cooler to claim 15 versus five.

With 233 players competing at the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour at North Broward Prep just outside of Miami -- many claiming offers -- it was a change of pace to hear of another number that many prospects had been accused of fudging: their grade point average.

Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High athlete Brandon Powell was among them.

"Every time I tell a coach my GPA, they don't believe me," Powell said. "They think I'm telling them a lie or something but it's true that I have a 4.1 GPA."

Powell is a 5-foot-9, 175-pound prospect with 16 offers. He said that he is wide open at the moment, but added that Tennessee, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Kentucky were four schools recruiting him the hardest.

He wants to major in business management and said a decision will come sooner than many expect.

"Since I am graduating early I have to make my decision early -- like during the season," Powell said. "I'm taking my visits over the summer and so pretty much I should have my decision made by the middle of the season."

Rivals.com regional analyst Kynon Codrington said that for a player like Powell, having his academics in order will be a major benefit.

According to Codrington, Powell has offers for running back, wide receiver and cornerback, making his ability to be on campus early an advantage that could help him lock down one of those positions.

"He is a kid that took his ACT's really early -- I think he took them twice as a sophomore to get them done -- and so getting into school was never in doubt for him," Codrington said. "Now, getting there early will be a key for him to be able to find a home and not be forced to redshirt.

"If he can show that he can play any one particular position right away then he will have his spot secured and be able to focus on that instead of shifting all around the field because he can do so much."

Powell's versatility and grades gives him an added value to college programs.

For Rivals100 defensive tackle Khairi Clark, his positional scarcity makes him attractive. His grades only increase the appeal.

Clark is ranked No. 69 in the Rivals100 and weighed in at the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour at 6-foot-2 and 325 pounds. He has received more than 30 offers but said that Miami, Florida, Notre Dame, Clemson, Georgia and Nebraska are six that he has in focus.

He said that how programs develop players at his positions will play a role in his final decision but the weight room will not be more important than the classroom.

"Academics come first -- before football," Clark said. "Without the academics you don't have football."

Clark attends Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade Madonna and his standing in the classroom is encouraging to Codrington.

"When you look at the top of the Rivals rankings the last few years they are lined with defensive linemen and schools are always trying to focus on getting solid defensive linemen," Codrington said. "Whoever can land Clark will feel great about that because of what he brings on the field, but knowing that he is at a college prep school that has been making sure he is getting all of the things he needs to be eligible only adds to that on the college's side.

"There are far too many examples of talented defensive tackles that end up having to go to prep school or junior college but Clark is a guy that can get into the school and get into the weight program right away."

On the flip side of the line, K.C. McDermott of Wellington (Fla.) Palm Beach Central plans to follow in the footsteps of his older brother -- Shane McDermott -- in enrolling early.

McDermott is the No. 50 player in the Rivals100 and said that he plans to make his college pledge next week after he visits Notre Dame. He is between the Fighting Irish and Miami -- where Shane plays center. His other brother, Tyler, played at Colorado State and is now a graduate assistant at Notre Dame.

With a relative on both campuses, it will be the intangibles that tip the scales of the 6-foot-6, 285-pound tackle.

"I am going to try to go in early," McDermott said. "My brother (Shane) did it at Miami and he felt like it was a great thing and helped him. He is going to graduate in May and he's only a redshirt sophomore."

The plan to get on campus early was no shock to Codrington.

"K.C. is a very heady player," Codrington said. "His smarts translate from the class to the field. You can look at him and see that he has the size and frame to be a starting tackle right now and if he is able to get into a school early he could compete for the early time."

McDermott said that his parents put a premium on academics and had he not had his grades in order, he would lose the chance to play.

It is a parental lesson that will carry over to the next level.

"I'm not even allowed to be out here if I have a C," McDermott said. "They definitely push the books and I push myself to work harder every day - not only on the field but in the classroom."

All Business

McDermott is an imposing figure with a college-ready body. The quiet confidence that is usually displayed by the No. 50 player in the Rivals100 was quickly transformed once the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour started.

Rivals.com Southeast regional analyst Woody Wommack took notice.

"He had great reps today," Wommack said. "He had a mean streak that I don't think we have seen before and that was a very good thing.

"He treated this like a business trip and performed very well."

His performance left him as the only player from the camp to receive an invitation to the series-ending Rivals Five-Star Challenge to be held in June.

McDermott said that he played to his potential today.

"I did everything they asked of me and more," he said. "I went out and dominated."

McDermott took home the offensive lineman MVP award and in the one-on-one session fared well against Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington defensive end Chad Thomas.

Thomas took home the defensive line MVP, but McDermott took home the bragging rights.

The two lined up head to head and McDermott fared better.

"I won," McDermott said.

Wommack said the battles between McDermott and the No. 207-ranked Thomas were intense but the willingness to take on the challenge is what helps separate McDermott and pushed him into the Rivals Five-Star Challenge.

"They probably split the reps, with K.C. winning the last one," Wommack said. "But really it was really great to see the willingness to compete and take on whoever was sent out there against him.

"K.C. looked really good today and played his way into the event."




 

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