ORLANDO, Fla. -- The second stop this weekend in the Sunshine State for the Nike Football SPARQ Combine tour will take place in Orlando, Fla. While most of the area will be welcoming the NBA All-Star crowd, the talented football athletes of the Class of 2013 and beyond will be looking to land atop the SPARQ Rating leaderboard. The area is no stranger to SPARQ stars and workout warriors. Last spring, three players from the Orlando Nike Combine were chosen to attend the "The Opening."
Running back Derrick Henry of Yulee (Fla.) is one of the most physical gifted players in the country. As a freshman, Henry wowed the ESPNHS staff and made his name on the recruiting scene when he posted a 103.20 SPARQ Rating on the strength of a 37.5-inch vertical jump and 4.47 20-yard shuttle. Henry has elevated his performance every year since and last year tallied a 123.09 rating, netting him a rare invite as an underclassman to "The Opening." The 6-foot-2, 231-pound tailback is an ESPNU Watch List prospect and has committed early to Georgia and figures to be the top runner in the state for the Class of 2013. During his junior campaign, he ran for 2,610 yards and 33 touchdowns and was named Class 4A All-State.
It was a year ago at the same event that Crescent City (Fla.) defensive lineman Caleb Brantley showed up on our radar. Brantley notched an 84.24 SPARQ Rating thanks to a 42-foot power ball toss and 4.72 in the shuttle run. After a breakout 2011 season year he was selected to the Class 1A All-State team and colleges started to take notice. According to the ESPNU Watch List talent, the Seminoles were the first to offer him. However, the rival Gators landed his commitment following a Florida Junior Day last month.
Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville, Fla.) wideout Ahmad Fulwood is a natural receiver. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Fulwood is a red zone mismatch for most high school defensive backs. As a junior this past fall, he snagged 42 passes for 1,143 yards and 22 touchdowns, earning him Class 5A All-State honors. With his size and natural feel for the position, he has all the tools to be a game-breaker on the edge.
Another defensive lineman slated to be in attendance on Saturday is Sandalwood's (Jacksonville, Fla.) DeMarcus Walker. Walker has a quick first step and consistently causes havoc in the backfield. He registered 24 tackles for loss and 14 sacks as a junior. On the recruiting front he has over 20 offers. The First Coast area star is looking to score a top rating on Saturday.
Recent Florida commit Quinton Powell of Mainland (Daytona Beach, Fla.) is a versatile outside linebacker and pass-rushing end. He has the speed and quickness to terrorize offensive tackles. In 2011, he totaled 104 tackles, 27.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks. The ESPNU Watch List prospect figures to be among the top of the event's performers when it's all said and done.
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