By Josh ClarkSpecial to MaxPreps.com
For over 20 years, John Madden has awarded NFL players who possess the attributes (toughness, smart, skilled, coachable) he finds important with the ALL-MADDEN honor. Launched in March 2010, the IMG Madden Football Academy directed by Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke is now awarding the ALL-MADDEN honor to high school athletes across the country.
At the ALL-MADDEN CAMP athletes were exposed to a staff of former NFL coaches and players highlighting the professional-quality training facilities provided at IMG Academies in Bradenton, FL. Each athlete in attendance received a playbook diagnosing key concepts and schemes that would later be installed during structured 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 action. The two-and-a-half day camp also provided position-specific drills, classroom sessions, communication training by game on, and the boarding option for athletes during the weekend.
Selected through on-field and classroom performance at the ALL-MADDEN CAMP, the IMG Madden Football Academy will release the 2011 IMG All-Madden Team on August 15th. Before those athletes are announced, MaxPreps.com delivers to you a recap of the weekend's top performers. QUARTERBACKS
A strong group of 25 quarterbacks participated in the weekend camp with an opportunity to learn from Coach Weinke, as well as guest instructors Ken Dorsey and Vinny Testaverde.
Quarterback Steve Cluley
(Manasquan, NJ/Wall HS) was named Gatorade Offensive MVP at the conclusion of camp, and showcased great decision-making with great accuracy as the quarterback with the most success in 1-on-1/7-on-7 throughout the weekend. Cluley made great improvement with instruction provided.
A strong group of Class of 2012 quarterbacks attended, including incoming Fork Union Military Academy quarterback Mike Fafaul who is an emerging prospect to watch this fall. Others include Trenton Miller
(Palmetto, FL/Palmetto HS), Bobby Noble
(Murrysville, PA/Greensburg Central Catholic HS), Ross Pflum
(Appleton,WI/East HS), and Kyle Craichy
(St. Petersburg, FL/Admiral Farragut HS).
Several talented underclassmen attended, led by NCSA Breakout Offensive Prospect Luke Del Rio
(Jacksonville, FL/Episcopal HS), who displayed tremendous improvement from his performance at the Jacksonville Under Armour High School Training Camp. Del Rio has great football bloodlines as the son of Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio and great command in the huddle. He's an exciting prospect to watch in the Class of 2013.
Other notable Class of 2013 signal callers in attendance were Dominique Allen
(Richmond Hill, GA/Richmond Hill HS), Conor Rhoda
(St. Paul, MN/Cretin-Derham Hall), and Heath Dahlgren (Thomas Johnson). Will Edwards
(Birmingham, AL/Briarwood Christian Academy) and Colar Kuhns
(Townson, MD/Calvert Hall) represented the Class of 2014 well, and Class of 2015 quarterback Nathan Wilson will compete for the starting quarterback position at Stanhope Elmore.RUNNING BACKS
Running backs have impressive company to join alongside with 2010 IMG All-Madden Team selections Mitchell Hester and Hunter Joyer. Another impressive group of backs joined this year's camp featuring Mitchell Cunningham
(Pontotoc, MS/North Pontotoc).
"Cunningham is a big body back that has good ability with his route running and catching the football," said George Sefcik, IMG Madden Football Academy running backs coach. "He was the second fastest back we had in group, and has a great burst. He's big and strong enough to be a great blocking back."
Other Class of 2012 prospects with strong performances included Marquis Dickens
(Arcadia, FL/Arcadia Desoto HS), Chase Reed
(Ooletwah, TN/Boyd Buchanan School), and Jonathan Brown
(Euless, TX/Trinity HS). The top underclassman back in attendance was JT Evans
(Bend, OR/Summit HS) who traveled from Oregon.
"JT spent a lot of time with us this summer, and I've been impressed with him since the first time he took the field," Sefcik added. "He's a young back who has plenty of time to develop, but he's got the total package with a great frame and is on the right track to have some success."
Class of 2015 running back Robert Richmond Jr. (Springfield, MO/Willard HS) is another to keep an eye on.WIDE RECEIVERS
Gatorade Camp MVP Trenton Richmond
(Houston, TX/Klein Forest HS) stole the show over the weekend with a star performance. Listed at 5'7 and 165-pounds, Richmond made quite the impression on IMG Madden Football Academy wide receivers coach Mark Carrier.
"It's not always how big you are when playing receiver, but how big your heart is," commented Carrier, a 12-year NFL veteran. "Quickness is the first word to come to mind with Trenton. He can get off the line and come off the ball against any type of coverage in his face. He really grasped what was being taught all weekend, and really learned how to utilize his footwork to make a third move in his route. He's a guy coaches need to evaluate on film; not paper."Cooper Kupp
(Yakima, WA/A.C. Davis HS) and Flynn Heald
(Cedar Rapids, IA/ Washington HS) impressed Coach Carrier with their how well they utilized their size and strength coming off the ball and in their route running. Other Class of 2012 prospects in attendance were Carl Buckner
(Putnam, GA/Putnam County HS), Derek Hammann
(Dyersville, IA/Dyersville Beckman), Javier Suarez
(Oakton, VA/Flint Hill HS), Rodney Farley
(Sylvester, GA/Worth County), and Andrew Worthley
(Dinuba, CA/Dinuba HS).
Carrier noted Class of 2014 prospect Carson Jackson (Melbourne, FL/Melbourne HS) as a receiver to watch over the next couple years. Class of 2015 receivers Clark Thomas (Orlando, FL) and James Forbes (Cleveland, OH) also performed well.TIGHT END
It was a nice mixture of skill and strength at the tight end position over the weekend. Headlined by current wide receiver but soon to be tight end Gus Walley
(Richton, MS/Greene County HS), the group gave coach Daryl Jones diversity with athletes from Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, and New Jersey among a few Florida prospects.
Walley, named NCSA Offensive Team Captain, gave a verbal commitment to Mississippi State University as a tight end, and showed his upside at the position. "Gus is an athletic tight end with great ball skills," said tight ends coach Daryl Jones. "He obviously is most comfortable in a flex position, but has the frame to put on weight and physicality to stick his nose in there while run blocking."
Class of 2012 tight end Dillon Bleckley
(Clayton, GA/Rabun County HS) impressed Jones with his explosion out of a 3-point stance and was the most polished run blocker of the group. Class of 2013 tight ends Aaron Vaughan
(Lubbock, TX/Frenship HS) and Gabe Hemighaus (Bridgeton, NJ/Cumberland Regional HS) both had strong performances. "Vaughan has an athletic frame at the position, and with another year to thicken up, he should begin to receive some serious recruiting attention."
Class of 2013 tight end Damion Hicks
(New Port Richey, FL/Gulf HS) has the size and athleticism attractive to college recruiters, but may project along the defensive line.OFFENSIVE LINEMAN
Super Bowl champions Tom Nutten and Mike Gruttadauria paired up again to provide instruction to a very talented group of 15 offensive linemen led by Gatorade Offensive Big Man Iziah Sanders (Palmetto, FL/Palmetto HS).
"(Trey) is the silent assassin," Nutten commented. "He goes unnoticed until you watch him get the job done day in and day out; over and over. He has great consistency playing with proper technique, is a very smart football player, and is very responsive to coaching."
Arkansas verbal commitment Cordale Boyd
(Memphis, TN/Ridgeway HS) "is a superior athlete with superior size eager to learn and try new things. Adding a strong punch to his arsenal will make him a force for years to come," according to Nutten.Ian Koch
(Tarpon Springs, FL/Clearwater Central Catholic) and Josh Clark
(Bradenton, FL/Bradenton Christian) both impressed Nutten and Gruttadauria, and were joined by Class of 2012 prospects August Schmidt
(Lakeland, FL/Lake Gibson HS), Billy Miller
(Meridian, TX/Meridian HS), Keith Weeks
(Valrico, FL/Newsome HS), and Conor Kruger (Sarasota, FL/Riverview HS).
Class of 2014 offensive lineman Corey Martinez (Tampa, FL/Tampa Catholic) earned MVP honors at the inaugural IMG Madden KICKOFF WEEKEND in 2010, and yet again proved he can play with the best at a young age. "He's a big, young lineman with tremendous base and balance. He does not get intimidated because he understands and trusts his technique."DEFENSIVE LINEMAN
Defensive end Blake Sharp
(Columbus, MS/Heritage Academy) took home the Gatorade Defensive Big Man award, and is a promising prospect to watch this fall at six-foot-four, 250-pounds.
"Blake has the physical stature, athleticism, and body control to be a very good football player," Pratt said. "His rush techniques are capable of improving to allow him to be a top level pass rusher. He tops all of that with a great working attitude and desire to improve.
"Another guy that really impressed me with his physical ability was Evan Schwan
(Harrisburg, PA/Central Dauphin HS). Evan is a tall guy at six-foot-six with room for a lot of physical growth. He's got excellent quickness, and uses his body very well."
Pratt mentioned Lonnie Scott
(Vero Beach, FL/St. Edward's HS) as an intriguing prospect at defensive end with great growth potential. Pratt was also high on Canadian prospect Edward Godin (Quebec, Canada/Notre Dame) as a lineman who can play inside and out and plays with a great motor and intensity. Other Class of 2012 prospects in attendance: Joshua Aldrin
(Downers Grove, IL/South HS), Joseph Rush
(Tucker, GA/Tucker HS), Joey Collins
(Niceville, FL/Niceville HS) Bryce Hall
(Fort Pierce, FL/Central HS), and Tyler Grow
(Ocala, FL/Forest HS).
"I had an opportunity to work extensively with Class of 2013 defensive end Sam Hartung (Bowling Green, MO/Bowling Green HS) this summer," Pratt added. "He came back to the ALL-MADDEN CAMP and performed very well. He has a high upside with an athletic frame, long arms, and plays very quick, very angular covering a lot of space. He's a promising prospect to keep an eye on."LINEBACKER
Perhaps the most talented prospect in attendance at the ALL-MADDEN CAMP was linebacker Shakeel Rashad
(Jacksonville, FL/Episcopal HS). A verbal commitment to the University of North Carolina, Rashad earned Gatorade Defensive MVP.
"Shakeel was in his own league as an explosive athlete with a lean frame to easily sustain his athleticism at a much larger weight," said IMG Madden Football Academy instructor Adam Behrends. "He's a great leader and competitor aiming to be the best in everything he does. Anytime we matched him individually on a tight end or running back, he took them out of the play."
"Darnell Davis, Jr. (Avon, CT/Old Farms School) was a very impressive performer. He's great mobility for his size, and really has improved his ability to play low," Behrends added. "He's going to be a prospect to watch this fall."
Class of 2012 linebackers Kenny Murphy (Tatnall, GA/Tatnall HS) and Ryan Riedel (Cabell, WV/Midland HS) both showed they will receive division one interest this fall. Coach Behrends also mentioned Class of 2012 linebackers Larry Alston III
(Cliffwood Beach, NJ/Matawan Regional HS) and Joshua Hyde (San Antonio, TX/Smithson Valley HS) as strong performers.
"Josh Banderas (Lincoln, NE/Southwest HS) is a Class of 2013 prospect who has a shot at being highly recruited, and the same can be said with Zacchaeus Glazier (Owasso, OK/Owasso HS) in the Class of 2014. Brian Lee Paterson (Tampa, FL/Tampa Jesuit) ranks as one of the premier long-snappers in the Class of 2013."DEFENSIVE BACK
One of the best performances from an underclassman came from Allen Hall
(Laurel, MD/St. Vincent Pallotti HS) who before the weekend never played a snap in the defensive backfield. Named the NCSA Breakout Defensive Prospect, Hall made quite an impression.
"I told him for never having played in the secondary, he stood out amongst a group that has played in the secondary their entire lives," said IMG Madden Football Academy defensive backs coach Michael Hawthorne. "He's a smart football player eager to learn and improve, and he was very receptive to coaching. It's scary to know how talented he is, but yet raw, and how much better he will get with experience and technique."
"A close second to Allen was safety Jarrod Barnes (Westerville, OH/Worthington Christian) who stayed on the field for nearly 25 consecutive reps at one point before I finally had to take him out. He plays linebacker in high school, but is a college prospect at safety. He's got great size, plays physical, and covers a lot of ground."
A local prospect Brian Ragone (Sarasota, FL/Out of Door Academy) proved again to be among the best with his ball skills and technique. A deceptive athlete, Ragone is a playmaker who should attract several Ivy League and FCS college recruiters. Hawthorne also mentioned Richard Allen (Metarie, LA/John Curtis Christian) as a Class of 2013 prospect who offers plenty of versatility in the secondary.Marcus Leslie
(Miami, FL/Coral Reef HS), Christopher Murphy (Harrison, GA/Harrison HS), and Casey Gunderson (Sarasota, FL/Riverview HS) are all Class of 2014 defensive backs that could be next in line for ALL-MADDEN honors. Hawthorne also mentioned Class of 2015 defensive back Andrew Ashley (Laurel, MD/St. Augustine HS) as one to watch.KICKERS/PUNTERS
Throughout the weekend, kickers and punters were integrated into structured competitive action performing in front of all positions and coaches. Headlining the group was senior Aleem Sunanon (Orlando, FL/Olympia HS).
"Aleem is a combination guy that can handle all three responsibilities: field goals, punts, and kickoffs," stated IMG Madden Football Academy instructor Brandon Kornblue. "Aleem has really improved his ability punting, and is consistently getting a hang time of 4.5/4.6. His recruiting interest continues to pick up."
"James Lincoln (Ocala, FL/Trinity Catholic HS) is another senior that will attract a lot of interest as a kicker. He has a strong leg, is consistent, and offers a lot of mental toughness. His older brother went through the recruitment process and played at a very high level at Tennessee so James has gained a lot of experience learning from his brother's journey."
Class of 2012 kicker Lakota Thomas (Tampa, FL/Robinson HS) showed he will receive FCS recruiting interest with potential to attract FBS recruiters. Bryce Greene (Tampa, FL/Tampa Jesuit) projects more at the Division II/Division III level.
For more information on the IMG Madden Football Academy, please check out imgacademies.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.