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June 5, 2012

Underclassmen impress at Illinois Nike Camp

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Rivals.com Midwest Analyst Josh Helmholdt takes a look at some of the top underclassmen at Sunday's NIKE Football Training Camp. All prospects are in the class of 2014.

Les Miles Tiger Football Camp Top Performers
DT Michael Barwick, Cincinnati (Ohio) Summit Country Day
The 6-foot-2, 255-pound Barwick does not have ideal size for the defensive tackle position, but he is ahead of the curve from an athletic standpoint. He will probably never play above 300 pounds, but he is learning how to maximize his strength while also exploiting the speed advantage he has over most offensive linemen. Barwick's stance was too tall at times on Sunday, but he kept fighting and working his way upfield.

WR Justin Brent, Indianapolis (Ind.) Speedway
The Midwest is blessed with an abundance of wide receiver talent in the 2014 class, and Brent proved why he should be mentioned towards the top of that list. The 6-foot-3, 193-pound Brent uses his size to his advantage, but also glides effortlessly down the field. He was a little clunky in and out of his breaks, but nothing that cannot be corrected with coaching.

OL J.C. Hassenauer, Woodbury (Minn.) East Ridge
Hassenauer has been active on the camp scene this spring and his game is benefiting as a result. At 6-foot-2, 256 pounds, Hassenauer is light for an offensive lineman, but his frame is lean and should be able to add plenty more weight. Despite being smaller than most defensive linemen he faces, Hassenauer does a good job in these settings because he is a determined competitor who has solid technique.

TE Daniel Helm, Chatham (Ill.) Glenwood
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Helm was one of the breakout stars at Sunday's NIKE Camp. He has a great frame and proved to be an outstanding route runner and pass catcher. In fact, he looked like a younger version of four-star tight end Jake Butt, whom he went head-to-head with all day. Helm can split out and run as a wide receiver and should be able to handle the blocking aspects of the position once he adds weight to his frame.

RB Jeff Jones, Minneapolis (Minn.) Washburn
Sunday was the second straight day Jones was participating in a camp in the Midwest summer heat, so he did not have the same jump in his step we saw on Saturday. Still, the 6-foot, 200-pound Jones is a talented back who stands out even on his off days. Jones picked up offers from Illinois and Iowa on Saturday but still was out competing with the likes of Ty Isaac and Ezekiel Elliott, and matching up well with those Rivals250 prospects.

QB Chris Little, Evanston Township, Ill.
Little was not a prospect we knew about heading into the event, but he demanded attention with the way he spun the football on Sunday. He has decent height and a solid athletic build, though he can easily stand to add another 20-plus pounds to his frame. Still, Little had good velocity on his passes and showed the ability to hit most points on the field. His footwork and technique were solid for a young passer, and we're interested to see where he goes from here.

ATH Tommy Mister, Oak Lawn (Ill.) Richards
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Mister ran at the quarterback position, but he is likely to play a different position at the collegiate level. Mister's passing skills were not on the same level as other quarterbacks at the camp, but he has an athletic build that could allow him to play safety, wide receiver or running back in college. We did not get to see Mister run around and show off his athleticism, but several early offers suggest he can do that just fine.

LB Nyles Morgan, Crete-Monee (Ill.)
Morgan and fellow Chicago-area 2014 linebacker Clifton Garrett often get mentioned in the same sentence, and they ran alongside each other at Sunday's NFTC. Garrett is slightly bigger and more physically developed at this stage of his career, but both are promising prospects. Morgan plays with a lot of range and shows great athleticism for the linebacker position. Now he just needs a little more physical and technical development.

DT Peyton Newell, Hiawatha, Kan.
Newell's size doesn't exactly catch your eye at first glance. He played at the defensive tackle spot, but is slightly undersized for that role. However, when the action got started, Newell showed why more than a half-dozen schools have already extended him an offer. He is very quick off the ball and keeps his center of gravity low. If the offensive lineman handles his first move, Newell can come back with a second and third move to counter, while using his hands extremely well.

DE Gelen Robinson, St. John (Ind.) Lake Central
Robinson is built nothing like his brother - class of 2012 five-star basketball prospect Glenn Robinson III - or his father, who was a standout college and NBA player. The 6-foot-1, 230-pounder is a thick, strong kid with a huge upper body. He ran at defensive end at Sunday's NFTC, but could also play the middle linebacker role. Strength is certainly one of his best assets, but he has great straight line speed as well.

DT Enoch Smith Jr., Chicago Mt. Carmel
This was one of the most anticipated evaluations of the weekend because there has been a lot of college interest for Smith already this spring. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 265 pounds, this defensive tackle prospect did not look quite that big. He is slightly undersized for the defensive tackle position and is still learning the technique and fundamentals. Smith Jr. got caught playing high on several reps and needs to get stronger, but the potential is certainly there.



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