DESOTO, Tex. _ Ninth-grader Joe Bergeron is out to make a name for himself. He took a first step toward that at Sunday's National Underclassman Combine at DeSoto High School just south of Dallas.
Bergeron is a 6-0, 248-pound running back from North Mesquite (Mesquite, Tx.) High School who stood out among the several hundred participants from across Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
The NUC specializes in combines for freshmen and sophomores to start the testing process for 40-yard dash times, shuttles, bench press strength and the one-on-one position drills. Like many, Bergeron was a combine rookie.
But his fluidity, good hands and overall speed were good enough to get him the morning session's award as the top running back.
"My coach told me this would be a good thing to start doing," Bergeron said. "I have been doing off-season conditioning for spring practice. The drills were about what I expected. The competition out here was good."
The NUC had its Houston camp March 1, but still drew many Houston-area participants to its Dallas-area combine. Curdarius Johnson of Jonesville (La.) Block was one of the top running backs and a defensive lineman from Springdale, Ark. Set an NUC record with 53 bench press reps of 155 pounds.
Top 2012 talent
The NUC draws some eighth-graders as well. A Who-is-that-Guy? Award for 2012 on Sunday went to 6-2 receiver Justin Stewart of Marlin (Tex.), who would have fit in well at NIKE invite camps.
Top 2011 talent
A Who-is-that-Guy? for 2011 was Richardson (Tex.) Lake Highlands running back Desmond Roland, a 6-2, 190-pounder who runs a 4.5 in the 40 and moved up to varsity as a freshman to play against varsity competition like Allen, Plano and Plano East.
Graduating to success
As the NCAA makes rules to emphasize graduation rates among athletes, a 2010 prospect like Little Elm offensive lineman Garrett Sullivan is helping himself with strong academics as well as athletic measurables.
Sullivan actually is a year young for his class after advancing a year in school. At 6-2, 290, he ran very well Sunday. He's still even baby-faced to predict more growth.
He was a sophomore starter for Little elm and already has video against top competition.
Future Lake Highlands QB
Lake Highlands sophomore Ricky Zorn received the leadership award for the morning session.
Zorn was brought up to Lake Highlands's varsity last season after leading the junior varsity to an opening-season win over the Southlake Carroll junior varsity.
Zorn (6-0, 190) showed agility, strong arm, accuracy and his leadership skills throughout the combine. He played on the Lake Highlands varsity baseball team which reached the finals of a tournament Saturday night.
Zorn, an all-district varsity basketball player as well, then left the NUC combine for an elite Dallas basketball club team practice Sunday afternoon.
Zorn was likely going to be a defensive back/receiver this year but Lake Highlands junior Jake Vines is coming off back and knee injuries and has decided to concentrate on basketball according to Lake Highlands coach Scott Smith.
The 6-3 Vines is the son of former Odessa Permian and Baylor standout Vic Vines.
Freshman Samuel Harvill bench-pressed 155-pounds for an NUC record 53 reps in the weight workout. Harvill (6-1, 223) is a defensive lineman at Shiloh (Ark.) Christian but likely projects as a linebacker for major colleges… Episcopal School of Dallas sophomore Robert Luce received a top offensive lineman award and South Grand Prairie's B.J. Christian ('10) was a recipient of a defensive back award…
South Grand Prairie RB Quentin Sargent('11) showed 4.5 speed and very fluid moves... Host DeSoto had its standout sophomore with A.J. White and Darius Terrell stood out as well.
DeSoto coaches helping with the camp said White has track-speed and is a hard-hitting cornerback. The 6-3, Terrell is at a 4.6 but played on varsity last season and showed great aggressiveness in going to get the ball and in blocking...
San Antonio Churchill quarterback Trey Eugene Garcia ('11) showed quick reads and release... Clear Creek receiver Brent Comardelle showed excellent technique, hands and a burst of speed for a camp award for sophomores.