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June 22, 2011

What we learned: NUC South

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ATLANTA - The South Regional National Underclassmen Ultimate 100 event was held last weekend and Rivals.com Southeast analyst Keith Niebuhr was there to check out the rising sophomores and juniors. Niebuhr breaks down five things we learned from the weekend in Georgia, including what touted prospect Reginald Carter might be thinking about his recruitment.

1. Stacked backfield at Hillgrove

If Richardre Bagley is only the third-best running back on his high school team, Powder Springs (Ga.) Hillgrove must have one special backfield. Bagley, a sophomore, arguably was the event's most impressive back.

He's put together well, has good speed, great cutting ability and very nice hands. He made the first guy miss all afternoon. Yet, at Hillgrove, he'll be the third-string tailback behind Kenyan Drake, a four-star Alabama commit, and Ike Erege, another FBS prospect.

Bagley's best shot at playing time will be at receiver. There, he's a second-teamer.

2. Looks can be deceiving

At first glance, neither Braxton Berrios nor Brandon Kublanow blows you away. Berrios, a sophomore receiver/defensive back from Raleigh (N.C.) Leesville Road, isn't very big. Kublanow, a junior offensive lineman from Marietta (Ga.) Walton, has decent, but certainly not great size.

On the field, though, each was a standout.

The 5-foot-9, 166-pound Berrios and the 6-2, 290-pound Kublanow were each named overall camp MVP for their respective class.

Berrios might have had the best combination of pure football skills and instincts at the camp. He's fast, runs excellent routes and doesn't drop many passes. As a safety, he was a ball-hawking player with the hips and quickness to stick with his opponent.

Kublanow was a physical beast who threw in outstanding technique (particularly the usage of his hands and upper-body strength) to manhandle his opponents.

Both players look like future BCS conference talents.

3. Miami Nice

The best prospect might have been Stone Mountain Stephenson (Ga.) junior Reginald Carter, who plays defensive end in high school but projects as a linebacker at the next level.

Carter already claims offers from Alabama, UCF, Florida State, Michigan, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Ole Miss, South Carolina, USF, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

Right now, FSU, Michigan, North Carolina and Vanderbilt are the early leaders.

Carter, who not only has excellent size but nice overall skills, made interesting comments about two schools. The first was about Miami. Carter grew up there and admitted to being a longtime fan of the Hurricanes. He wore a Miami cap to the event and called the Canes his dream offer. So far, Miami hasn't yet pulled the trigger.

Additionally, without prompting, Carter remarked that Vanderbilt was on its way up.

In recent months, Carter has had teammates commit to both programs.

4. No Memphis Blues

Memphis Whitehaven had one of the better teams in Tennessee in 2010 and based on the talent the program brought to Atlanta that shouldn't change in 2011. Darrius Sims was named DB MVP for the juniors, while running back Mark Dodson, who already has FBS offers, wide receiver Gerald Perry and defensive lineman Gerald Bates were among his Whitehaven teammates who also performed at a high level.

Whitehaven has been well-represented at camps throughout the South this year. Give this program credit; its players like to compete.

5. Friendly rivals

Two of the best-looking players - offensive lineman Mason Cole of Tarpon Springs (Fla.) East Lake and defensive end Jashon Robertson of Nashville (Tenn.) Montgomery Bell Academy - are only entering their sophomore seasons.

Although it's difficult to project with players so young, each already has a good body, and each apparently is still growing. But these two aren't just big kids (like some of the sophomores were); both seem to know what they're doing.

It was clear to those watching they were the two top linemen in camp Friday. Not surprisingly, colleges are already asking about them.

During one-on-ones, they provided the best battles. Sometimes Cole won. Sometimes Robertson won.

Afterward, the two shook hands and briefly spoke, even talking a little bit about recruiting (neither has a clue where he wants to go).

Watching them develop should be fun.



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