New Orleans NFSC Recap
The quality and quantity of talent at the sixth stop on the 2014 Nike Football SPARQ Combine may have been the best so far this year as 14 players scored triple-digit SPARQ Ratings at the event held Saturday, March 1 at the Joe Brown Memorial Park in New Orleans.
Leading the way among the nearly 1,200 athletes was receiver Kirk Merritt from Desteran, La., who recorded the top SPARQ Rating of the year so far with a 138.84—more than 10 points higher than the previous best.
So dominant was Merritt’s performance that he finished No. 1 in the vertical jump with a spectacular 45.8 inch jump and in the Power Ball Throw with a 43 foot toss. He also had the fourth best shuttle of the day with a 4.10 second time.
The 5-foot-11, 206 pound receiver had 23 catches for 540 yards and nine TDs as a junior to earn all-district honors and already has offers from Florida, Clemson, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Texas A&M with the most recent ones being from LSU and Notre Dame.
A good showing was expected from Merritt who had a 100.25 rating last year when he jumped 40.1 inches; he was hoping for a 120 mark going in and surpassed even his expectations.
Capping his big day, the Louisiana athlete was also extended a coveted invitation to The Opening, becoming the second of the day to be invited to the elite event to be held this summer in Oregon.
The first invite of the day to The Opening went to Tyron Johnson, another receiver from Louisiana.
Johnson measured in at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds and is a big-framed, smooth gliding Keenan Allen-type receiver. The Warren Easton High product, who some regard as the top prospect in the state, earned Student Sports Junior All-American honors last year as well as Class 4A All-State when he had 1,300 yards and 20 TD’s receiving..
He recorded a 103.71 SPARQ Rating with a solid all-around performance including a 4.52 in the 40.
Another Bayou State product with high expectations who didn’t disappoint was freshman Dylan Moses, a 6-foot-2, 225 pound linebacker/running back who gained national attention when he made the cover of ESPN Magazine after committing to LSU as a freshman.
Moses was a Class 3A All-State linebacker last fall at University Lab in Baton Rouge when he made 158 tackles and showed his athleticism on Saturday with a 120.81 SPARQ Rating.
The freshman ran a 4.57 in the 40, a quick 4.13 shuttle, threw the power ball 36 feet and recorded a 37.1 vertical.
The New Orleans NFSC also featured talent coming from outside the state shown by six states (Ala., Ark., Fla., Ga., La., Ms.) being represented in the top 15 SPARQ Ratings.
Leading the out-of-state performances was defensive back Tyler Phillips from North Little Rock, Ark., a program that always has several players who test well.
Phillips had the third highest Rating of the day with a 115.32 highlighted by a 39.8 inch vertical jump.
At the end of the combine seventh and eighth graders worked out with the top SPARQ Rating from the middle school athletes being an 88.26 turned in by 2018 receiver Garland Lafrance from Slidell, La. His rating would have put him in the top 50 of the high schoolers tested.
Here are the top five marks in each category… note that these results are UNOFFICIAL until verified and released as official later this week:
NEW ORLEANS NIKE COMBINE TOP FIVES
1. WR Kirk Merritt, 5-11, 206, Desteran (La.) – 138.84
2. RB Dylan Moses, 6-2, 225, University Lab (Baton Rouge, La.) – 120.81
3. DB Tyler Phillips, 6-1.5, 202, North Little Rock (Ark.) – 115.32
4. DB Shyheim Carter, 5-11, 177, Kentwood (La.) – 110.55
5. WR Joey Everette, West Florida (Pensacola, Fla.) – 109.56
40 Yard Dash
1. RB T’riderick Daniels, 5-7, 173, Bassfield (Miss.) – 4.43
2. WR Joey Everett, 6-0, 177, West Florida (Fla.) – 4.46
3. WR Kevin Crayton, 5-6, 132, West Jefferson (La.) – 4.47
4. DB Joshua Applewhite, 5-8.5, 171, Bassfield (Ms.) – 4.49
4. RB Jabir Frye, 5-6, 153, Escambia (Pensacola, Fla.) – 4.49
1. DB Shyheim Carter, 5-11, 177, Kentwood (La.) – 4.03
1. DB Khiyel Walker, 5-6, 149, Escambia (Pensacola, Fla.) – 4.03
3. RB Joshua Walker, 5-8.5, 174, East Ascension (Gonzales, La.) – 4.09
4. WR Kirk Merritt, 5-11, 206, Desteran (La.) – 4.10
5. RB Clyde Edwards Helaire, Catholic (Baton Rouge, La.) – 4.11
Power Ball Throw
1. WR Kirk Merritt, 5-11, 206, Desteran (La.) – 43.0
1. DL Cameron Moss, 6-0.5, 233, Washington County (Chatom, Ala.) – 43.0
3. WR Jalen McCleskey, 5-10, 155, St. Pauls (Covington, La.) – 41.0
4. DL Daniel James, 6-0, 256, McKinley (Baton Rouge, La.) – 40.5
5. seven tied with 40
1. WR Kirk Merritt, 5-11, 206, Desteran (La.) – 45.8
2. DB Michael Conners, 5-7, 153, Edna Karr (New Orleans, La.) – 41.7
3. WR Frederick Jordan, 6-0.5, 140, Edna Karr (New Orleans, La.) – 41.6
4. WR Daniel Byrd, 5-11.5, 171, Pensacola Catholic (Pensacola, Fla.) – 41.6
5. WR Jalen McCleskey, 5-10, 155, St. Pauls (Covington, La.) – 40.3