Area football players display skills at NIKE camp

| Sunday, May 13, 2007

UNIVERSITY PARK -- Gateway linebacker Shayne Hale simply had to show up to impress scouts Saturday at Penn State's NIKE Football Camp.

The spotlight -- and 37 college scholarship offers -- already had found him

Brashear wide receiver Ed Tinker had to work much harder to create a buzz and add to his five offers.

"Coming from the city, it's pretty hard because, in the city, it's tough to have a lot of college scouts looking at you," Tinker said. "If you're from the WPIAL, if you're from Gateway or something, it's easier. Some coaches put them out there, but in the city, it's so hard to get out there. That's why I go to the camps when I can, so I can show them." recruiting analyst Mike Farrell was impressed by both players.

"I think the guy that helped himself the most today is Tinker," Farrell said. "He's pretty good. He's real fast, explosive, has good hands.

"Obviously, Shayne Hale being here, that's a big deal. Just being able to eye him up physically, because on film when we get to see him, he looks outstanding. But this is the first time being able to eye-ball him. He's a legit 6-4. He's 235. He's just a monster."

Hale and Montour linebacker Christian Wilson are considered two of the WPIAL's top six recruits in one of the most-talented classes to come out of Western Pennsylvania.

Aliquippa tight end Jonathan Baldwin, Jeannette quarterback Terrelle Pryor and Hale, all considered five-star recruits, according to, did not attend. Thomas Jefferson defensive tackle Lucas Nix and Trinity linebacker Andrew Sweat, four-star prospects, also stayed home.

In demand
Here is a list of the most-highly recruited high school football players in Western Pennsylvania:
Terrelle Pryor
A young Vince Young?
Shayne Hale
13 tackles for a loss last season
Andrew Sweat
Florida, Ohio State, USC, Penn State among suitors
Lucas Nix
Thomas Jefferson
A 6-6, 295-pound beast
Johnathan Baldwin
An inviting 6-6 target
Christian Wilson
Finally "Bound for Glory"

Farrell said there never has been a previous Western Pennsylvania recruiting class that included three five-star prospects.

"This is a rare year in Western Pa.," Farrell said. "The (top players) obviously are out there, then it's completely loaded. Arguably, you have the top quarterback (Pryor) in the country. Arguably you have the top linebacker in the country in Hale and, arguably, the top tight end in the country in Baldwin. From one area, it's really rare."

Trinity linebacker Mike Yancich was named the MVP among linebackers. Yancich has 20 offers, including Boston College, Iowa, Michigan State and Arizona.

"There is so much talent at my position, I was jut floored to get the honor of MVP," Yancich said. "If I had to pick an MVP, I didn't think it would be me. It's exciting, but at the same time, you're always kind of nervous because you don't want to be the one to get shook up or thrown off. I just wanted to compete and see where I stand."

With 45 offers, including Florida, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt and Tennessee, Wilson knows he sits at the top of many wish lists. He worked out primarily with the running backs, although he is being recruited as a linebacker.

What did it take for Wilson, who appeared to be an underachieving sophomore in 2005 in ESPN's "Bound For Glory" program, to fly above the radar•

"The people that were trying to judge me, yeah, they were Hall of Famers, but they weren't football coaches," Wilson said. "They just thought things about me. Before every game and every practice, I watched one of the episodes. It motivates me to play harder.

"Basically our coaches that we have are good coaches. I was in the weight room a lot more. After sophomore year, I started hitting the weights like crazy. Then, between the show motivating me, getting me angry to want to play hard and everything ..."

Gateway running back Cameron Saddler had a busy offseason, after picking up 12 offers and looking for more. The speedy Saddler, who said he and Hale are a guaranteed package deal, worked out with the wide receivers because he is being recruited as a receiver/return specialist.

Saddler, who was one of eight Gateway players to showcase their skills for college coaches from around the country, said he's not affected by the attention.

"No, no, no, pressure don't do nothing but bust pipes," Saddler said. "There's no need to stress over pressure because it isn't going to do anything. It's about how you perform when you step on the field."

Hopewell running back Jared Rains was recognized for his performance at a recent Nike Combine in Columbus, Ohio. That's where he posted the highest SPARQ (Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction and Quickness) rating among the 350 athletes at Penn State's camp. The skills tests were not conducted at Penn State because of a new NCAA rule that prohibits Division I coaches from testing athletes at combines and camps.

Still, with the impressive 102.41 SPARQ rating, Rains holds just one offer from Cincinnati.

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