Stars Shine Bright in Pittsburgh
Patrick White
Patrick White
Regional Recruiting Analyst
Posted Mar 31, 2008

Approximately 175 athletes hit the field at the UPMC Indoor Sports Complex in Pittsburgh, Pa., for the Under Armour/ Combine. There were plenty of stars and lots of under the radar players who made a name for themselves.

There aren’t a ton of quality quarterbacks in the region this year, but a few managed to shine on Sunday. (Washington/DC/Ballou) signal caller Emmanuel Yeager impressed everyone with his remarkable velocity. Yeager’s arm strength has increased dramatically and he showed of one of the strongest arms we have seen in years. Sometimes it was as if he threw too hard, but Yeager improved his stock in the eyes of many. We stated in our preview that Patrick Nicely was out to prove that he was the best quarterback in the state of Ohio and after his performance in Pittsburgh it would be tough to say he’s not. Nicely showed a lot of poise and is a natural leader. He has a big frame and an equally big arm. He showed that there weren’t many throws that he couldn’t make. Anthony Vendemia (Murrysville/PA/Franklin Regional) came out of nowhere and had a very good day. He showed that he is a D-I caliber quarterback. There may not be a big time QB prospect in the WPIAL in this class, but the class of 2010 features a very good looking gunslinger from (McKees Rocks/PA/Sto-Rox) named Paul Jones that could become a national recruit. Jones looked very promising. D.J. Barney (Erie/Pa/Strong Vincent) had a solid day and showed flashes like we saw at last years event. As always, one of the most consistent of all the quarterbacks was Rob Kalkstein (Monroeville/Pa/Gateway). He doesn’t have the size to play at the D-I level, but he could be a very good Ivy League type player. He does everything well. Andrew Shoop (Danville/Pa) had an up and down day. He showed flashes of what we saw last weekend in Akron and at times he showed that he still has a little ways to go. Shoop is still a very capable quarterback that we expect to get a few offers.

Brandon Rice
Brandon Rice made the trip from Columbus, Ohio and it proved to be well worth it for the Walnut Ridge standout. Rice had an outstanding day. (Youngstown/Ohio/Ursuline) athlete Darrell Mason was very impressive as he played multiple positions. Mason was another player who was outstanding at last years combine and repeated that performance this year. Mason came into the combine in great shape and quieted a lot of critics. Teddy Blakeman (Pittsburgh/Pa./Penn Hills) looks poised for a big senior season. The chiseled running back had a solid day catching passes out of the backfield. Monte Ashby (East Allegeheny) showed some very impressive quickness out of the backfield. Ashby hasn’t gotten a lot press as of yet, but he definitely showed he is worthy.

Arthur Fontaine
Arthur Fontaine (Dartmouth) made the trip to Pittsburgh clear from Massachusetts to compete against top talent and he did compete and then some. Fontaine is an impressive looking specimen and all-around athlete at tight end. He already holds and handful of offers and he’ll likely be picking up a few more after word gets out about his performance on Sunday. Jerrard Hunter (Washington/DC/H.D. Woodson) had a great day and impressed everyone. Hunter took a bunch of reps and really showed that he was hungry to compete. He has a very solid and impressive frame. Corey Brown (Monroeville/Pa/Gateway) started out the day very uncharacteristically dropping a couple of passes, but he recovered nicely. One player we have been very high on from day one is Patrick White (Pickerington/Ohio/Central) and he showed that he is worthy of the hype. White is not a blazer in the forty, but he has game speed and he does all the little things well. He was probably the most impressive wide receiver at the combine. Cameron Contreras (Pittsburgh/Pa/Woodland Hills) also had an exceptional day. He did not run a forty, but he is a decent sized target with consistent hands. Bryan Underwood (University Heights/Ohio/Cleveland Heights) continues to impress us every time we see him. He is very explosive and just always seems to make plays. (Beaver Falls) star Todd Thomas is raw, but the kid just oozes athleticism. Watching him run a streak is a thing of beauty. He really seems to have that extra gear that a lot of kids just don’t have. Once he focuses on football only, look out! Class of 2010 prospect Andre Carswell (McKees Rocks/Pa/Sto-Rox) had an impressive showing. Carswell and Jones could be rewriting the record books at Sto-Rox. Gateway head coach Terry Smith coached the wide receivers and the former Penn State standout was very impressed by 2010 prospect Manessah Garner.

“That kid has chance to be very special.” Smith said. “I think he could be a top five kid nationally at wide receiver. He is that good.”

John Wetzel
John Wetzel (Pittsburgh/Pa/Brashear) offensive tackle is a player that we knew nothing about other than the fact that he was 6-foot-7, 270-pounds. Wetzel started out working out as a defensive end, but once we convinced him that his future is like at offensive tackle he made the switch. Wetzel has exceptionally feet and with his frame he could easily carry 300-325 pounds with no problem. He is definitely a player we’ll be keeping an eye on. Adam Schneid (Avon Lake/Ohio) looked very good in drills and has a lot of room to fill out. (Cuyahoga Falls/Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) tackle Brian Smith also looked good. He looked to have the best fundamental skills of all the linemen. (Jefferson Hills/Pa./Thomas Jefferson) tackle Pat Eger had a solid day and has a frame that should allow him to grow significantly. James Lewter (Washington/DC/Ballou) had a good day and earned the praise of Thomas Jefferson head coach Bill Cherpak who was coaching the offensive linemen along with Emil Boures.

“The kid from DC (Lewter) was pretty good,” Cherpak said. “It seemed deeper in the past, but he was probably one of the best we had today.”

Jordan Paskorz
As soon as he entered the door, Tyrone Ezell (Munhall/Pa/Steel Valley) was the one guy who caught everyones eye. Ezell is jacked. He is raw, but once he is coached up we think he will be a special player. Jordan Paskorz (Allison Park/Pa./Hampton) may have been one of the best players at the combine. The scary part is that he is only going to be a junior. Paskorz is very athletic and has a lot of room to grow. Right now, he stands in at right around 6-3, 230 pounds. Jack Lowney (Radnor/Pa./Archbishop Carroll) is very explosive and looks like he has a lot of upside. Jared Veruto (Endicott/NY/Union-Endicott) defensive tackle looked shorter than we thought he was, but he is a fire plug and has some very quick feet. Another impressive underclassman is T.J. Moore from (Youngstown/Ohio/Boardman). He has a chance to be very special. It will be interesting to see him and Jamel Turner (Youngstown/Ohio/Ursuline) develop over the next two years. They will be two very good defensive ends in the 2010 class.

Chris Snook
Dorian Bell (Monroeville/Pa./Gateway) as usual lived up to the hype. He is just such a great athlete and a fierce competitor. You got to love seeing a five-star kid who is raked No. 1 at his position taking all kinds of reps. He has over forty offers and has nothing to prove, but he always plays his heart out and acts like he is trying to earn his first. Dan Mason (Pittsburgh/Pa./Penn Hills) was equally impressive as usual. Mason showed that he is big time and a potential top 100 candidate himself. If Mason and Bell weren’t around it would not be a stretch to say that Chris Snook may have had the best camp out of anyone there. He tested well and looked good in one on ones. He also looked good during drills. Turner from Ursuline, who we mentioned earlier worked out with the linebackers due to the fact that there were no one on ones with the linemen. Turner didn’t look out of place at all. A. J. Fenton (Erie/Pa./McDowell) looked great in coverage. He is relatively new at the position, but he looks like he gets better with every rep, which is very encouraging. Snook’s teammate Tyler Houska signed up as a linebacker, but he worked out with the defensive linemen and he had a solid combine. Class of 2010 prospect Mike Hull (Canonsburg/Pa./Canon McMillan) is going to be a very good player. I’d go as far as saying I can see a Sean Lee (Penn State) type player. He is a hardnosed kid who gets after it.

Abdul Smith
No player in Pennsylvania has seen their stock rise in the past few weeks like that of Abdul Smith (Perkiomen School). Smith covers like a corner, but had the build and skills to play safety if he wants to. He is a very cerebral player who does the little things well and is always around the ball. Deonte Flemings (Strong Vincent) is not far behind Smith. He has been very impressive over the past few weeks. Courtney Bridget (Baltimore/Md./Calvert Hall) also has shown well over the past two weekends. He is intriguing, because of his cover skills and his (6-2) frame. (Youngstown/Ohio/Ursuline) cornerback Dale Peterman had a good day. He is gritty and is always around and makes things happen. (Montour) defensive back E.J. Banks had a solid day and he showed why half the country has offered him so far. Other defensive backs who caught the eye of coach Don Cox were Brandyn Ott (Hollidaysburg/PA), Donald Quarless (Washington/DC/St. Johns), Justin Austin (Ursuline). Anthony Saunders (Valley) and Courtney Avery (Lexington, Ohio).

“I really like the (Saunders) kid he can play,” Cox said. “Courtney Avery has a chance to be special for 2010. He is a raw athlete, but you can tell play.”

Related Stories
UA/Scout All-Combine Team: Pittsburgh
 -by  Apr 2, 2008
Pittsburgh Combine Results and Top Fives
 -by  Apr 2, 2008
The Guru Grill
 -by  Apr 28, 2008

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