The Kohl's Southern Showcase camp this past weekend proved that this region has as much talent as any in America. Sixty top high school athletes fought through 37-degree temperatures mixed with a rain-sleet combination to put up some impressive performances. The camp featured roughly eight to 12 athletes who should make an impact in Div. I football in the years to come.
The camp's most outstanding performer was 2010 kicker Ross Gilliam. He is a relatively unknown 6-foot-6 kicker from Owensboro, Ky. Gilliam came into kicking late in his high school career. Gilliam won the field goal and kickoff contests at this event. He showed range from 60 yards away on his field goals. The tall lefty's kickoffs are at the Div. I level right now. In the bad weather conditions, Ross showed a huge upside at camp and showed he could play in the SEC early as a kickoff specialist. His rhythm and tempo are also impressive for an athlete with the limited experience he has. He is a sleeper with tools that a coach cannot teach.
A couple other 2010 athletes helped themselves at this camp K/P Brandon Tarpley (Palmetto, Fla.) already has an offer from Tulane. Tarpley made 9 of 10 FGs, took second in the kickoff competition and second in the punt competition. Tarpley hits the ball like a refined kicker or punter. Pat Baker (Vero Beach, Fla.) also was impressive. He made 10-of-10 field goals during the charting session. This included a 55 yarder off the ground.
The strength of this camp was the 2011 and 2012 classes. Trevor Austin (Shelby, N.C./Crest) might be the best 2011 field goal kicker in the country. He showed range out to 55 yards off the ground. His ball height and rhythm are years ahead of his age. Alex Howell (Florence, S.C./West Florence) showed his brother Jimmy -- the current punter at Virginia 00 that he's not the only one in the family with some talent. Alex Howell made 9 out of 10 on his charted field goals. His field goals, kickoffs, and punts are very impressive for a 2011.
Will Monday (Flowery Branch, Ga.), a 6-4 athlete, was the camp's most outstanding punter in the competition. His long frame, impressive leg strength, and consistency will make him one of the nation's most sought-after punters.
2011 snapper Zach Ewing (North Canyon, Ariz.)was the camp's most outstanding snapper. His velocity and accuracy were very impressive at camp.
Brad Pinion (Concord, N.C./Northwest Cabarrus) might be the best 2012 kicker-punter in the nation. He used his 6-4 frame to hit multiple punts that had 4.7 to 4.8 seconds of hang time. This was very impressive considering the weather conditions.
Austin, Howell, Monday, Pinion, and Ewing all qualified for the Kohl's kicking challenge held December 30th in Orlando.
The camp this weekend helped many athletes show their talents. It should be interesting to track their careers as they advance into college. The SEC and ACC regions of the United States should have some great talent coming in the years ahead.
Most Outstanding Kicker: Ross Gilliam
Most Outstanding Punter Will Monday
Most Outstanding Snapper Zach Ewing
Jamie Kohl is the Director of Kohl's Kicking, Punting and Snapping Camps.