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May 7, 2004
Elite College Combine showcases sleepers
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - While many college coaches came to the Elite College Combine on Wednesday evening in New Jersey to show their colors to the top recruits in attendance, they were also there to find some sleepers. Rivals100.com recruiting analyst Mike Farrell breaks down the top 10 sleepers from the combine. These are all players who began the combine with no offers.
1) DB Shamar Taylor -- Taylor, from Neptune, N.J., impressed everyone in attendance and will certainly earn a few scholarship offers after a great performance. He registered one of the top 40-yard dash times at the event, had an impressive shuttle time and jumped 120 inches in the long jump. At 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, Taylor has enough size and clearly has the ability to be a big-time catch for a few different schools.
2) TE Garrett Graham -- The Brick, N.J. tight end still needs to fill out a bit, but he showed excellent ball skills, runs precise routes and passed the eyeball test. In one-on-ones he caught nearly everything thrown at him and two schools are ready to offer him this week based on his efforts.
3) RB Jason Harper -- Harper, an unknown talent before this combine, posted the best shuttle and 40-yard dash time of all the running backs. He shows explosiveness and good hands out the backfield and will be on everyone's recruiting list now.
4) WR Isaiah Williams -- It's hard to be a sleeper when you play for one of the powerhouses in New Jersey football, but the Bergen Catholic wideout came into the combine with plenty to prove. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder didn't wow with his workout numbers, but he showed ball skills and explosiveness after the catch that many recruiters thought he lacked. Williams earned a couple offers right after the combine and more will be coming.
5) OL Austin Giles -- Heading into this combine, Giles was known as the younger brother of Notre Dame player Zach Giles. Now he's his own man after a very impressive evening. Giles had the second-best shuttle time of the offensive linemen as well as the second-best 40-yard dash time. He also did very well in the one-on-ones on offense and defense, showing great versatility.
6) WR Rahmir Cottman -- College coaches knew two things about Cottman coming into this combine -- he was tall and he was skinny. Now they know he's also fast and has good ball skills. Cottman ran very well in testing and also adjusted to passes in the air impressively. He still needs to put on some weight, but that's about all he needs to earn a few scholarship offers. In fact, two schools are sending offer letters next week.
7) WR Rich Gunnell -- Gunnell was one of the most fluid athletes at the combine and is solid in every respect of the game. He has great hands, doesn't allow the ball to get to his body, adjusts well with the ball in the air, gets off press coverage and runs excellent routes. Speed was the main question about Gunnell heading into the combine, but he answered that with a very good 40-yard dash time.
8) QB Nick Worzel -- Worzel did some very good things at the combine, including register a good shuttle time as well as an acceptable 40-yard dash time. If he can cut a second off his 40 time and gain a bit more accuracy on his passes, he'll easily be a DIA quarterback. At 6-foot-5 and 226 pounds, Worzel certainly looks the part. He also has great zip on his passes and throws a nice long ball as well.
9) RB Ike Nduka -- Nduka came into the combine with a hamstring injury from track, but gutted it out and showed recruiters what they wanted to see -- good vision, good hands out of the backfield and the ability to change direction. The big tailback improved his stock quite a bit despite competing at less than 100-percent.
10) LB Mike Hanson -- How Hanson doesn't have any offers at this point is amazing (and maybe he has a few we don't know about). Had it not been for Brian Cushing, Hanson would have come away with the top 40-yard dash and shuttle time amongst the linebackers. He finished second in every testing category at linebacker and showed impressive coverage skills and change of direction.