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July 26, 2011

What we learned: FBU Top Gun

MORE TOP GUN: Top players | Dawson/Hopper | Rodgers

VIDEO: Benjamin | Dawson | Diggs | Kirven | Rodgers | Sanders | Fox | Shittu

The annual FBU Top Gun Camp was held in Williamsburg, Va., last week with many current and future U.S. Army All-Americans on hand. As usual the talent was impressive and the matchups were exciting. Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Mike Farrell breaks down a few things we learned from the camp, including how smart the UConn coach staff is when it comes to early evaluation.

1. Connecticut is ahead of the curve

For the life of us, we can't figure out what other schools are waiting on and our respect for the UConn football staff and head coach Paul Pasqualoni has grown after seeing Bear (Del.) Red Lion Christian offensive lineman Khaliel Rodgers once again in person. While we've seen the 6-foot-2, 300-pounder dominate at camps before, we haven't seen him dominate defensive linemen with a combined 75-plus scholarship offers at once.

And, just to make sure we weren't crazy, we asked legendary offensive line coach Jim McNally, the man who made Anthony Munoz arguably the best offensive lineman in NFL history, what he thought as well. McNally agreed that UConn is looking pretty smart right now and would be a great home for Rodgers. However, there is no way UConn remains the lone offer for Rodgers and he will have his choice of schools eventually. His recent growth spurt over the last year pushed him from 6-foot to 6-foot-2 so that could be the reason others are holding off.

Kudos to UConn for seeing what others are missing right now.

2. Future five star?

Is it ridiculous to say that a 2014 prospect could be a five-star when he's still two years from the end of his junior season? Perhaps, but don't tell that to anyone who has seen Florida running back Sony Michel and the same can be said about Chesapeake (Va.) Indian River defensive lineman Andrew Brown. Brown is a 6-foot-4, 280-pounder who carries that weight looking closer to 250 pounds and moves as if he's 230. His get-off is only outdone by his use of hands and technique for a younger player.

Brown said he wants to be the next Jadeveon Clowney and it's great to shoot so high, as Clowney is the best defensive lineman we've seen in high school since Rivals.com was born. We'll see if Brown can reach such heights, but he's off to a great start.

3. Local talent impressive

With so many camps occurring during the month of July and especially the same week as Top Gun, luring Army Bowl caliber-talent from outside of Virginia was a struggle at times. Luckily, many top local prospects stepped up to the plate to attend the camp and really made it deep.

In addition to Brown, top underclassmen prospects such as cornerback Kendall Fuller, quarterback Ryan Burns, running backs Derrick Green and Taquan Mizzell, athlete Michael Parker, linebacker Doug Randolph, defensive end Jonathan Allen and defensive back Jalen Tabor all drove in to compete with 2012 standouts Korren Kirven and Ryan Watson.

4. Top cornerback for 2013?

Fuller, from Olney (Md.) Good Counsel, is making a case for himself to be the top cornerback in the country for 2013. Fuller has the size, quickness and bloodlines (one brother is Vincent Fuller in the NFL, others are at Virginia Tech) but it's his natural instincts that separate him from the pack.

You can tell he's learned the position from a young age and carries himself on the field like a college player already. It's no wonder he already has double-digit offers and could end up with 40-plus if schools don't assume he's headed to VaTech as all his brothers.

5. Army Bowl has true grit

Class of 2012 U.S. Army All-Americans Alex Balducci, Nick Dawson, Jordan Diggs, Germone Hopper, Hassan Ridgeway, Barry Sanders, Aziz Shittu and Dominique Wheeler all braved the 105-degree heat to compete against each other as well as younger talent.

With a record heat wave hitting the East Coast, any one of these guys could have tanked drills and one-on-ones or bowed out due to the excessive humidity, but each worked hard and took to the coaching of former NFL players in attendance. These are clearly hard workers and guys who could have an edge coming up in January at the actual game.



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