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May 2, 2013

Rivals Camp Series: N.J., Pittsburgh wrap

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.

The most recent stops on the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour were New Jersey and Pittsburgh, and for the first time the offensive linemen were the talk of the weekend.

Piscataway (N.J.) High hosted the Newark event on Saturday with the action moving east to McKees Rocks (Pa.) Montour -- just outside of Pittsburgh -- on Sunday. While the weather conditions were different in the two stops, the outcome in the trenches went unchanged.

Rivals.com Midwest recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt said that the performance of the group was something he'd never seen before.

"Those kids stole the show and flat-out dominated," Helmholdt said. "Offensive linemen are at a serious disadvantage in camps and I can really only think of maybe two defensive linemen who could say they won the majority of their reps.

"It was the most dominant group of offensive linemen that I can remember at a regional camp -- or even a national one."

The main statement-maker from the weekend was Red Bank (N.J.) Catholic offensive tackle Quenton Nelson.


Nelson entered the event as the No. 66 player in the Rivals100 and No. 8 offensive tackle nationally.

Rivals.com Mid-Atlantic recruiting analyst Adam Freidman said that from what he saw, Nelson will be climbing the charts. What he took away from the in-person evaluation was that Nelson is a college-ready prospect.

"Nelson was spectacular," Freidman said. "He had really impressive lateral movement and was more patient than I was expecting. He would wait to deliver a punch but when he did it was well-timed and very effective."

Nelson, whose play earned him a trip to Solider Field in Chicago for the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in June, committed to Notre Dame on Wednesday night.

Nelson was not the only impressive OL in Newark as Olney (Md.) Good Counsel guard Sam Mustipher also drew praise.

The two paired up in most every drill and worked side by side during the one-on-ones.


Freidman listed Mustipher as the No. 3 offensive lineman at the New Jersey event and said he still has some work to do, but he has the technical skills to correct the flaws.

[ Analysis: Farrell on Nelson picking Notre Dame ]

"I think physically he was improved," Freidman said. "He trimmed off some bad weight and transformed his body.

"His technique will come around as he progresses. The things he does are easily correctable."

The second day of the weekend in Pittsburgh brought out not only more top-end talent but also several quality linemen.

It also added a lot of mass.

"It was just a physically impressive group," Helmholdt said. "Not sure I can think of a group that had the size of the collection we saw in Pittsburgh. There were just so many kids over 6-5, 300 pounds."

The list included 6-foot-9, 307-pound Josh Krok of Niles (Ohio) McKinley; Pittsburgh (Pa.) Baldwin sophomore tackle Sterling Jenkins, who measured in at 6-foot-8 and 305 pounds and Bethel Park (Pa.) High tackle Mike Grimm stretched the tape to 6-foot-7 and weighed 315 pounds.

While Joe Lowery of Tallmadge (Ohio) High didn't reach 300 pounds, he did make his presence felt at 6-foot-7 and 285 pounds.

Camp MVP Marcelys Jones of Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville was able to hide among trees at 6-foot-4 and 325 pounds, as was No. 4 performer Nathaniel Devers of Massillon (Ohio) Washington who came in at 6-foot-3 and 265 pounds.

Jones impressed the analysts with his play on the day. Helmholdt took special notice.

"He was a big question mark coming in because his junior film looked very uninspiring and he looked like a kid who was uninspired to be out there," Helmholdt said. "He was physical and had really quick feet. If he applies himself, he could become a very special offensive lineman."

Members of the Rivals250 took home the hardware on both days, but the players who were flying below the radar boosted their stock and landed offers.


One day after being listed as the No. 2 underclassman at the camp, Jenkins added his first BCS-level offer from West Virginia.

Friedman predicted a similar fate for Wallingford (Conn.) Choate Rosemary Hall center Connor Dintino, Elyria (Ohio) Catholic tackle Dakota Tallman and Class of 2015 guard Matthew Jones of Hubbard (Ohio) High.


The performance of the players in the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour has resulted in many offers. Helmholdt said that is one of the fringe benefits for the players to give their all on the field.

"The buzz built at the camp by a position group will filter down to the individual," he said. "Coaches watch the film and they monitor what is written. It isn't just (the analysts) that want to see the kids compete and those who stand out see an immediate reward."

The last regional camp takes place this weekend in Chicago, where another group will make headlines and land offers. Some -- such as Nelson and Mustipher -- will be asked back to Soldier Field for the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge.



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