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July 26, 2003ATLANTA - Thirty days ago when MSL Management began organization of a combine that was held Saturday at Georgia Tech, little did they know that it would attract as many of the Peach State's stars as much as it did.
Sure MSL expected a great turnout, but almost all of the 200-plus players that showed up had enough talent to keep recruiting coordinators from all over the nation happy.
But there were a few stars that stood out above the others.
At the top of the list had to be Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson linebacker Josh Johnson. Johnson, ranked as the nation's No. 5 inside linebacker and a four-star player by Rivals.com, looked as impressive in person as he does on film.
He had the long arms and amazing build that you seen in linebackers with a 6-foot-2, 220-pound plus frame.
And with a top five of Miami, Oklahoma, Georgia, Auburn and Florida State, it's easy to see by watching him work out and competing in the combine's one-on-one drills.
He was fluid in the linebacker drills and would have had little problem sticking to the receivers or running backs, but he had to leave early because of time constraints.
But Johnson wasn't alone in the impressive department.
Two of the nation's fastest and one of the nation's strongest prospects were on hand also.
Receiver Will Judson of Tyrone (Ga.) Sandy Creek had made a name for himself after clocking in at 4.28 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Georgia summer camp and many of the other kids at the camp were talking about him before the timing session of the combine.
He didn't disappoint again.
Instead of running a 4.28 time, Judson clocked in at a 4.20-second time. He did this not only once, but twice and was caught at the time on three different stopwatches.
"That was my goal," said Judson, who is also one of the Southeast's top sprinters, too.
"I came out here and wanted to impress everybody, and I guess I did."
The 5-foot-9, 165-pound Judson might not be the biggest guy as far as size, but his speed and athletic ability is starting to open up the eyes of college coaches.
He has offers from Western Michigan and Delaware, but bigger programs like Georgia Tech, Louisville, North Carolina, Marshall and Georgia are starting to show him a lot of interest. But you can bet now that he's run repeated times that might be the best in the entire nation, you can be sure that more programs are going to check him out.
Judson had just 367 receiving yards, but added 1,000 yards on kick and punt returns. He also used his excellent speed, quickness and first step to block six field goals.
The other speedster that blewup at the MSL Combine was Riverdale, Ga., cornerback Jerome Touchstone. Ranked as a three-star player and a 5.5 Rivals Rating, Touchstone continues to impress and show that he's one of the fastest players in the Southeast.
Touchstone, who is interested in Arkansas, Alabama, LSU, Clemson and Florida, clocked in at 4.45 in the 40-yard dash and a sparkling 6.88-second time in the figure eight drill. The 5-foot-9, 175-pound Touchstone also looked solid in the defensive back drills, but it was his speed and his golden track spikes that made him standout.
"I have offers from Arkansas, Alabama, LSU, Clemson and Florida has offered me in track," Touchstone, who has a top 100 meter time of 10.6 seconds, said. "I want to go to a school where I can do both sports. I was interested in Georgia, but not really anymore. I've heard that they have a lot of problems with their athletes."
William "Trey" Brewer of Marietta (Ga.) Osborne had told Rivals.com reporters that he had a 445-pound bench press and that he had broken several national and state records for bench-press.
Those numbers sound impressive, but they couldn't be accurate right?
There is no way that a kid can put up 445 pounds, right? Wrong.
Brewer, who measured in at 5-foot-11 and 222 pounds, put up 46 repetitions of 185 pounds before he clocked in at 4.6 seconds in the 40. Brewer could have probably put up 50 reps, but about halfway through the drill he had to pause and allow his spotter slide the weights back toward the center of the bar.
With an offer from Alabama on the table, Brewer took another big step toward establishing himself as one of the Southeast's top fullback prospects at the event.
There were quite a few other players that stood out making MSL's first combine ever a smashing success:
-A few years ago, Tucker, Ga., running back Jabari Davis was known for some of the nation's biggest biceps.
But he now has some competition.
And leave it to a family member to provide the challenge. Many of the players at the event on Saturday couldn't stop talking about Atlanta Tri-Cities athlete Tristan Davis and his huge guns and he definitely had pythons that would have made both his cousin, Jabari, and Hulk Hogan jealous.
Tristan said Tennessee and Florida are the two early leaders on his list and the three-star athlete that is ranked at No. 20 at his position has offers from both teams.
-Auburn quarterback pledge Calvin Booker of Atlanta Mays was on hand and looked good during passing drills and he without question passed the eyeball test. His teammate, cornerback Jabari Marshall, also was impressive with a 4.45-second time in the 40.
-Auburn fans don't have to worry about three-star running back prospect Brad Lester from changing his mind. He was very clear to everybody that would listen that he was heading to Auburn, no ifs ands or buts.
"Auburn really likes smaller running backs, and I think I fit in really well," Lester, who looks like he's gotten even stronger than when Rivals.com observed him last football season, said. "We got a lot of calls, faxes and e-mails from coaches when they found out that I had committed early. I get the feeling that it's not going to stop this fall when they can call again, but I'm very happy and solid with my decision. It's what I know the best."
-Tyrone (Ga.) Sandy Creek running back/cornerback Phillip Hyde definitely also passed the eyeball test. Hyde already has an offer from Middle Tennessee State on the table and is going to be a solid prospect to keep your eye on, especially after a strong showing Saturday
-Another one of the top times from the even came from Atlanta Booker T. Washington running back/cornerback Isaiah Gay. Gay, who is 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, clocked in with a 4.34 second time.
-Three-star linebacker Leland Jones was one of the many players that had tattoos at the event, but his tat has to go down as one of the most impressive.
Just like he is on the field.
Along his left bulging bicep was a red and black tattoo of the Tasmanian Devil with a cyclone at the bottom spinning down his arm.
But his tattoo wasn't the only thing impressive, Jones more than passed the eyeball and physical tests - which explains why he already has offers from Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, LSU and Vanderbilt.
-Decatur (Ga.) Southwest Dekalb defensive tackle Frank Morton was in a good mood Saturday.
No, it wasn't because he was blowing it up during the timing portion of the MLS Combine.
He actually did that during the defensive line drills, but it was getting to meet with Rivals.com recruiting analysts that made him the happiest.
"I wanted to shake the hands of the guys that do the rankings," Morton, who is still leaning heavily toward Ohio State and if Ohio State makes an official offer that's where he'd go, said.
"I was really pleased where I ended up at. I liked it. I liked it."
For the record, Morton is ranked as the nation's No. 35 defensive tackle and a three-star prospect by Rivals.com.
-Along with Judson and Touchstone, several others had impressive 40-yard dash times:
Grayson athlete Kareem Togba turned in a 4.33 and his teammate Zach Johnson nailed a 4.39-second time.
-C.J. Barrows of Powder Springs (Ga.) McEachern was a little disappointed when Rivals.com ranked him as a safety instead of a running back.
But the idea of making the move in college is starting to sink in.
"I kind of like it," he said.
"A lot of schools have talked to me about it and I'm going to talk to my coach about letting me play there some this season. I do want more touches on offense and I've played some corner before, but I wouldn't mind going out there and blowing people up."
Barrows also gets Rivals.com as the nation's No. 1 future comedian.
He spent most of the time trying unsuccessfully to convince the other players at the event that he has a career in modeling.
-Another Stone Mountain Stephenson stud to watch for this recruiting season is outside linebacker Ja Ja Walker. Walker definitely has the body to play D-I football and is going to make the move from defensive end in high school to linebacker in college.
Rivals.com will have more coverage of the first ever MSL Combine on Monday, including a more in-depth look at the revolutionary step forward that the combine offered recruits and college coaches.