Day Three of Freaks Week, and it’s time to look towards the future.
So, with some help from the SPARQ championships at The Opening on the stunning Nike campus in Oregon, today we’re focusing on the Freakiest blue-chippers in the 2015 recruiting class.
One of the recruits up at Nike who would’ve merited a spot on this list is Paramus, N.J., native DT Rashan Gary, who measured in at 6-foot-4 and 287 pounds and produced quite a series of workout numbers: a 32-inch vertical, 4.38 shuttle and an eye-catching 4.74 40.
But the reason why Gary, technically, doesn’t make the list today: He’s in the Class of 2016 and only going to be a junior in high school this fall.
[One big caveat: These testing numbers — like most testing numbers before football players go to the NFL Combine — should be taken with a few grains of salt. The vertical jump test in SPARQ isn’t done the same way the NFL does it. Instead, it’s wired to measure hang-time, and the fact that 21 of the 150 or so guys who tested, even if they are the elite of the elite, jumped 38 inches or better sounds a bit suspect.]
10. Breiden Fehoko, DT (Honolulu)
The four-star commit for Texas Tech displayed some brute strength by repping 185 pounds 42 times.
In the past, he’s done 225 (the same weight the NFL puts on the bar at the Combine) 37 times.
9. Calvin Ridley, WR (Coconut Creek, Florida)
The five-star ‘Bama commit didn’t turn heads at The Opening for his SPARQ numbers — his 4.54 40 seemed rather pedestrian (at 6-1, 169) given some of the other numbers guys were putting up, but he made the most athletic move any of the blue-chippers made up at Oregon with his one-handed snag of a deep ball after running past a DB. The most impressive part was just how effortlessly Ridley did it.
"That’s him," said a coach. "He’s as smooth as any receiver we’ve seen in a couple of years."
Ridley also does have some serious juice too, though. In Florida, while dabbling with the track team, he did run a 10.6 100 and a 21.9 200 a few months back at an event.
8. C.J. Sanders, WR (Sherman Oaks, California)
The Notre Dame commit got a lot of ND fans pumped when word spread of him clocking a 4.31 40 and vertical jumping 45 inches. Maybe even more impressive, though, was his shuttle time of 3.80.
Sanders also has quite the background. He’s the son of former Ohio State WR Chris Sanders and was actually the actor who portrayed a young Ray Charles in the hit movie ‘Ray’ that starred Jamie Foxx. He’s also appeared in a bunch of TV shows, including ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘Six Feet Under.’
7. Kendall Sheffield, CB (Missouri City, Texas)
The 6-0, 181-pound Texan didn’t test at The Opening, but he makes our list based on some legit track credentials. His 13.63 time in the 110-meter hurdles is the fastest time any high schooler in America has run this year. He’s also the state champ in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles.
In 2009, Sheffield won the 100- and 200-meter hurdles at the AAU Junior Olympics. He set a national record in the 200 hurdles, which no one’s broken yet.
Sheffield gets compared to last year’s five-star CB/track stud Tony Brown, who was a star at The Opening in 2013 and now plays for Alabama.
"He’s a better cornerback than Brown, but not quite as fast," said an SEC coach. "He’s better prepared and better coached as a high school corner."
6. Taj Griffin, RB (Atlanta)
The 5-9.5, 169-pounder is bound for the Oregon Ducks, so it’s no shock that he can fly.
Griffin ran 4.31 and his vertical jump was measured at 45.8 inches — best at the camp.
5. Jordan Scarlett, RB (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida)
Once an FAU commit, Scarlett is no small tailback at 5-11, 207 pounds, but he still was able to produce the fastest 40 time of anyone at The Opening, clocking a 4.30.
He also vertical jumped 38.1 inches, then later in the day made the Miami staff very excited by announcing that he’s going to be a Hurricane.
4. George Campbell, WR (Tarpon Springs, Florida)
College coaches love his length and speed at 6-3, 190. Campbell ran 4.36 in the 40 and jumped 39 inches at The Opening.
This year, on the track, he’s also put up a lot of impressive numbers that include a 10.69 100-meter time, a 23-foot long jump and a 46-foot, 11-inch triple jump. No wonder why so many colleges are chasing after him.
3. Kirk Merritt, WR (Destrehan, Louisiana)
Merritt became the second consecutive Louisiana native to win the SPARQ overall title following WR Speedy Noil (now at Texas A&M).
The 5-11, 203-pounder ran a 4.46 40, measured 45.5 in the vertical, had a 4.06 shuttle time and threw the powerball 41 feet.
2. Malik Jefferson, LB (Mesquite, Texas)
Another uncommitted five-star, Jefferson certainly hasn’t hurt his rep up at Nike. At 6-2.5 and 215 pounds, he clocked a 4.39 40 and jumped 39.7 inches. The comparison I got from a college coach Tuesday night: Patrick Willis.
"He’s bigger than Willis was at the same stage and with similar athleticism," said the coach. "I’m not saying he will be as good as Willis — that’s not fair to compare now, but if he develops/shows that killer instinct he will have a chance. He’s actually a better pure athlete."
1. Josh Sweat, DE (Chesapeake, Virginia)
The 757 area code has produced some spectacular athletes (Lawrence Taylor, Bruce Smith and Allen Iverson among them), and Sweat is more than holding his own. He is 6-5, 240 (up 11 pounds from his weight in late February) and despite battling through a hip flexor injury, he created the biggest buzz at The Opening Tuesday.
He clocked a blazing 4.46 40 (the timing is done by a laser after a human pushed the start button). No one over 215 pounds clocked a 4.60 or faster. He jumped 39.1 inches and had a powerball toss (which measures explosiveness and power) of 47 feet, by far the best at the camp. No one else threw it even more than 44 feet.
"In the four years we’ve been doing this, he was about as impressive as anyone I’ve seen," said Student Sports’ Brian Stumpf, a former Cal wideout who helps run The Opening. "He was putting up numbers you’d hope to see from a guy 5-11, 185."
The buzz on Sweat was already pretty big among college coaches. But after hearing about the DE’s performance up at Nike, they too seemed awed. "If you want to talk about ‘Freaks’ he’s a good place to start," said one college D-line coach Wednesday morning.
Another college recruiting coordinator said Sweat is a combination of some of the Freakiest D-line prospects of the last few years: "He’s not as long as (Jadeveon) Clowney but he’s more athletic than Mario Edwards."
I spoke to four college coaches after Sweat’s performance, and the name that kept coming up when asked who he reminds them most of was Clowney.
Bruce Feldman is a senior college football reporter and columnist for FOXSports.com and FOX Sports 1. Follow him on Twitter @BruceFeldmanCFB.