It's combine time in Florida, and we're not talking about a wheat harvest here. This is football player harvesting season in the Sunshine State.
Things heated up on the combine schedule this past weekend, one of the final big weekends on the slate as things cool off with proms and graduations oh, and of course spring football, taking over the calendar. So numerous players lined up for opportunities to showcase their talents at combines and camps all over the state, including Orlando, Jacksonville, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and the Miami areas.
One of the bigger performances was turned in by one of the smallest players at the Orlando National Underclassmen Combine. Orlando Colonial High running back Diante' Harrison, a 5-foot-7, 160-pound running back and cornerback, earned MVP honors at running back and he could not have been more happy after receiving his very first combine award.
"I'm starting to get stronger, faster and starting to hone my talents and I'm ready to play this year," said Harrison, who was named the Orlando National Underclassmen Combine overall MVP for the Class of 2012 on Sunday at Jones High.
Harrison has athletics in his blood. Brother Kevin Elliott is a talented wider receiver at Florida A&M and is heading into his senior year with the Rattlers. Harrison, however, said he won't be bragging about things to his older sibling.
"Nah, nah," Harrison said. "He's sill a lot better than I am. I'm still working to get to where he's at right now."Harrison rushed for 822 yards and four touchdowns on 125 carries last season. He also had 65 tackles from his cornerback spot. He says running back is the direction he hopes to go for his college playing days.
"To me, I believe height doesn't matter at all," Harrison said. "As long as you have the heart, power and strength, you can do whatever you want."At Sunday's combine, Harrison had a 27-inch vertical leap, a 4.29-second run on the 5-10-5-yard shuttle, a 4.7-second 40-yard dash and an 8.5 broad jump
2013 WR Nathaniel Pryor of Vero Beach continues to look good in these events. He did not earn an award at the NUC event, and can work on his hands, but he always seems to give himself a chance to catch the ball even though he doesn't have blazing speed at 4.7-seconds in the 40. He's also an excellent cover corner with good eyes for the ball.
The 5-foot-10, 165-pounder plays everywhere for the Chiefs and he has college offers from Oregon and Ole Miss.
One of the best pure position players in the state is Flagler County Fleming Island's Ahmad Walker, a specimen of an athlete who took home WR MVP honors at Orlando's NUC event. Walker reminds many people of a smaller Derrick Henry, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound running back at Yulee High. Walker is 6-foot, 200 pounds.
At the Cypress Bay High Football University camp, West Boca linebacker Juwand Blue continued to impress, at least in the combine/camp format. He 6-foot, 200 pounds, however, and college seem to be looking for a little more size at his position on the inside. Blue earned the defensive MVP honor at the FBU camp, while the offensive MVP went to Miami Gardens Carroll City running back Ernie Freeman.
Interestingly, of those top performers, only one has offers from NCAA Division I-A universities and that's Blue, who has East Carolina, Mississippi and Virginia Tech as his list.
MVPs were also crowned at the Mike Bakas 1on1 Showcase events in Orlando (OL J.T. Hamilton of Olympia) and in Jacksonville (and DB Marcus Whitson of Tallahassee Lincoln.) Hamilton has 13 offers, including the offer he picked up from Clemson this past week.
Chays@tribune.com.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun