"The Pipeline" NFSC South: Tuscaloosa This past weekend prep stars were on hand, as they had their opportunity to showcase their skills at the Nike Combine in Tuscaloosa. Coaches were on hand to witness several jaw-dropping performances by some of the most elite players in the South. Here is our breakdown of how things went down. Calvin Mack: MVP The future Gator was on an entirely different level than the competition all weekend. Mack, out of Auburndale, FL, ran a blistering 4.26 40 yard dash. He also impressed scouts with his fluidity, body control, and lightning quick first step. Mack was absolutely dominant on both sides of the ball, beating some of the Southeast’s best cornerbacks at WR, and shutting down the elite WRs at cornerback. Perhaps his biggest weakness is that he doesn’t yet have a position. We caught up with Mack after camp to get his thoughts: TP: First of all Calvin, congratulations on the MVP award. CM: Thank you, it’s an absolute honor. There were some incredibly good players out here this weekend, so to be recognized as one of the best is a real testament to the hard work I’ve been putting in all offseason. TP: It sure is. So you recently committed to the Gators. What was it about that program that you liked so much? CM: It just felt like home. On my official, I really felt like they were just one big family. It was a great fit, and is really close to home, which is really important to me. I wanted my family to be able to come see games. Coach Muschamp is an awesome guy. He went after me harder than any other coach in the country and made me feel really “wanted”. In the end, it was a no-brainer. TP: Speaking of family, you grew up a Gator fan, correct? CM: Sure did, born and raised. My mom played soccer at Florida and my dad is a fan as well, so they’ve always been my favorite. I did give the rest of the schools a fair look, though, and really wanted to do my homework. In the end, this was the best decision for me moving forward. TP: There’s no doubt you’re a heck of an athlete. Critics, however, like to point out the fact that you don’t have a true position yet. How do you respond to them? Is there any position you’d prefer to play in college? CM: I pride myself on my versatility, so they can say whatever they want. People say I have to specialize in order to maximize my ability, but I don’t subscribe to that logic. There will come a time where I have to choose. For now, I work twice as hard. It is beneficial in a sense that I understand the other side of the WR/DB battle better, no matter where I am on the field. As for a position of choice, I really don’t have one. Coach Muschamp said nothing will be decided until camp opens up. I had schools recruiting me at a specific position, but the Florida coaching staff made it clear that they value my versatility, and will ultimately do what’s best for the team. I really appreciated their honesty in that regard. TP: Sounds like you have a great head on your shoulders, Calvin. We wish you the very best of luck next year in Gainesville and thank you for your time. CM: Thanks, much appreciated! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Though Mack stole the show, there were several other noteworthy performances . Burton is arguably the best linebacking prospect in the country. This weekend’s performance only solidified his stock. He looks the part, a thick 240 pound MLB that shows incredible burst and tackling ability. Burton provided the highlight of the day Saturday, chasing down Arkansas commit HB Tyler Smith from behind and stripping him of the ball. On top of that, Burton squatted an incredible 645 pounds. The Alabama commit should be a perfect fit for Coach Saban, and should thrive under his tutelage. He has the potential to be the next Rolando McClain. Johnson, the #1 player in the ESPN 150, did not disappoint this past weekend. He showcased his ability at HB and WR, but seemed to thrive a bit more at WR. He had some fumbling issues early on, but when he settled in he began to make plays. He shows great top end speed, as well as a fantastic ability to run routes and separate. He also seemed a bit timid going across the middle, dropping a few balls in traffic. Still, he will be an outstanding addition to the Georgia Bulldogs, and is a huge get for Coach Mark Richt. It will be interesting to see where he lines up for UGA. Perhaps the least favorite player in camp, Heinz is infamous for spurning in-state Alabama for the bright lights of Hollywood. With great pocket presence, a solid arm, and good athleticism, he was dominant all weekend. Heinz clocked a 4.46 in the 40 yard dash, impressive for a 6’4 225 pound quarterback. Alabama Coach Nick Saban was seen throughout the weekend drooling over Heinz, as I’m sure he has yet to throw in the towel on this kid. With Saban?...It's never over. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Though many highly decorated athletes were seen dawning their school's gear this weekend, there are also several uncommitted prospects worth noting. Top uncommitted Still considering: Watkins is a man child, and as stout against the run as there is. A player of his ilk just belongs in the SEC, so it’s no surprise he’s down to two SEC powerhouses. He shows tremendous strength, putting up 425 lbs on the bench press, and has the block shedding and tackling ability to take advantage of it. Watkins has been smart and patient with his selection, and he seems to have educated himself on the process. We tracked down Watkins to get a quick take on his decision. TP: Hey Terrence, congratulations on all the success. Where do you stand as far as the recruitment process is concerned? TW: Thanks, I’ve really tried taking my time. I wanted my mom to see each school and help me make the decision. As of right now, I’m down to Auburn and Florida. I just visited Florida this past week and really enjoyed it. I head to Auburn next week, and I’m really looking forward to it. TP: Is there a leader at this point? TW: Auburn has been at the top of my list for a while, but Florida really made a strong push and changed my mind about a few things. It still could go either way. TP: Thanks for your time, Terrence. Best of luck to you, wherever it is you end up! TW: Thank you. Still considering: Dunlap, an interesting athlete out of Ocala, FL, that showcased his ability at WR and QB this past weekend. Though not the most explosive of athletes, Dunlap has excellent mechanics at both positions, and will be a real prize for whatever program gets him. The 30th ranked player in the ESPNU 150, the Florida native was bombarded by players pitching their respective schools trying to influence his decision. We caught up with Steve on Saturday. TP: Steve, great performance for you so far. How do you feel about this weekend? SD: I’m pleased, but I really think I could’ve performed a bit better in the 40. Other than that, I feel like I put together a solid combine. TP: Your ability to run routes is outstanding, but so is your ability behind center. Any preference for you? SD: Most schools are recruiting me at QB, but I’m open minded and willing to play wherever. I’m choosing the best school for me as a student-athlete, not based on what position I play. TP: Speaking of which, rumors have it that many players here are pestering you to join them at their schools. SD: For me, it’s really down to FSU and UNC. Ryan Powell of UNC and James Jones of FSU have been in my ear here all weekend. I love both those guys, so it sucks that I’ll have to disappoint one of them. TP: Is there a favorite at this point? There are rumors you are a silent UNC commit? SD: Those are just that, rumors. UNC has been on me from the start, and I fell in love with their campus when I visited. Something about the Carolina atmosphere that made me feel at home. FSU came on late, but they were my favorite team growing up in Ocala. Both teams are having great seasons, so it could go either way. I plan on announcing in the next few weeks. TP: We are looking forward to it! Best of luck to you, Steve. SD: Thanks Still considering: Smith is a very intriguing prospect out of Fultondale, Alabama. Currently ranked 24th in the ESPN 150, the highly sought after TE has struggled to qualify through the national clearinghouse, and as such has received no official offers. Though LSU, Bama, and Auburn lead, it remains to be seen if he’ll have to go the JUCO route or not. One thing that is crystal clear?...this kid can ball. He has solid speed, hands, and outstanding blocking ability. If he can manage to qualify, he should be a perfect fit for one of those smash mouth SEC schools. This concludes episode 1 of "The Pipeline". We'll be sure to hit the trails hard, and have some more updates for you soon!