Shore’s Best Camp Recap
TOMS RIVER - Some of the Shore Conference's top returning talent was on display at Saturday's annual Shore's Best Football Camp at Riverwood Park as well as some up-and-coming players looking to bust into the spotlight this fall.
Here are some notes from Saturday's event, which also included the fourth annual Chris Melvin Elite Recruits Day and the Special Teams Solutions Camp. It was also attended by a host of college coaches from junior college to Division III to FCS (Monmouth University, Wagner) to Buffalo, an FBS program.
Here are the winners for their performances on Saturday at the Elite Recruits Day portion of the camp, which were decided by EliteRecruits' Chris Melvin and the coaches.
Overall MVP: Manny Bowen, LB, Barnegat (2015)
Bowen recently committed to Penn State and is one of the top recruits in the state for the Class of 2015. I will have a full story on Manny on Sunday.
Quarterback: Anthony Brown, St. John Vianney (2016)
Brown has attended camps at Rutgers, Maryland and Delaware already this summer and has gotten looks as an all-around athlete, as he will play quarterback and safety for the Lancers. He has gotten interest from Temple, Boston College, Villanova and New Hampshire.
After seeing some snaps as a freshman and sophomore, he will take over full time at quarterback for the Lancers under new coach Mark Ciccotelli, whose flexbone offense has made stars out of dual threat quarterbacks like Brown in the past. Neptune's Ajee Patterson and Jaheem Woods and Freehold's Sterry Codrington and Nick Tyson were all first-team All-Shore quarterbacks under Ciccotelli, and all were dual threats.
"I feel like it's going to be good because the way he runs his offense is based off running and when they bite, it's easy to go over the top,'' Brown said. "It's going to be fun. I can't wait."
Brown has been focused on improving his footwork and his throwing mechanics after relying heavily on his athletic ability. He also will have a new weapon to work with this fall, as he said Matawan junior running back/wideout/defensive back Khalil Haskins has transferred to St. John Vianney.
Running back: Tyler Thompson, Ocean (2016)
After a pair of 1,000-yard rushing seasons in his first two years, Thompson is on pace to become just the second running back in Shore Conference history to have four 1,000-yard seasons, joining Middletown South graduate and current Miami Dolphins running back Knowshon Moreno. Virginia, Syracuse, Boston College, UConn, Old Dominion and Monmouth University have all offered him, and Temple offered him after his freshman year. He also has interest from Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Florida State, South Carolina and USC.
However, this season might be the biggest challenge yet as a stellar senior class graduated that made up the bulk of the Spartans' 10-1 team in 2013.
"I'm working on my speed a lot more,'' Thompson said. "We lost a lot of really good players, so it's going to be hard to break 1,000 yards again, but we have a couple good linemen back and I believe in them. I want to get 2,000 (yards)."
Much of the offensive line has graduated and starting quarterback Royal Moore, also a standout defensive back, has transferred to Neptune. Moore has gotten some interest from Monmouth and Stony Brook.
"That hurts a lot because he was a big player on our defense and our offense, but we have to fight through it,'' Thompson said.
"There was a lot of drama going on between me and my mom, so now I'm just at my uncle's house in Neptune,'' Moore said about his decision to leave. "It took a long time to make the decision because I didn't want to leave at first, but I just wanted to separate from her and start over.
"It hurt to leave Tyler and another one of my best friends, but I talked to them about it and they understood."
Guess who Ocean opens its season against at home on Sept. 12? You guessed it - Neptune.
Offensive line: Dylan Smith, Jackson Memorial (2016)
The 260-pound junior looks to be part of a strong offensive line for the Jaguars this fall that also includes senior Brad Greenway and tight end Brody Graham. Jackson graduated 1,400-yard rusher Khani Glover as well as fullback Ken Bradley, so the main question is which player will be the next standout tailback at a program known for running the ball.
Wide receiver: Naz Neal, Matawan (2016)
Neal did not see any action for the Huskies this past fall, so he looks to make an impact this season with his speed and hands for a team that only threw for 589 yards last year.
Defensive back: Darryl Gamble, Monmouth Regional (2015)
Gamble is a sleeper prospect on a team that already includes Fordham commit Isaiah Searight, a wide receiver defensive back. Gamble projects as a cornerback at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds with 4.5 speed. His performance on Saturday was impressive enough that it earned him an offer from Wagner, according to Melvin.
Linebacker - Datrell Reed, Lakewood (2015)
An All-Class B South pick by the coaches last season, Reed is a three-year varsity starter who has an offer from Bryant University and interest from several FBS schools. He should be one of the Shore Conference's top defensive players in the fall.
Defensive line: Adam Kakar, Toms River North (2015)
A four-year varsity starter, the 6-foot-3, 305-pound Kakar has had a solid summer, having already camped at Rutgers. He also plans on attending camps at Temple and Monmouth University. An All-Class A South pick in 2013, he has received steady interest from Rutgers and others but said he has to work on his grades to get qualified and is taking classes this summer.
Kakar's actual first name is Saifullah, as his parents are both from Afghanistan. His family was not at all into football other than the European variety. He said his parents have probably only seen about two of his games, and he joked that they left after about 10 minutes, but they have been supportive. His older brother, John, 26, has been a guiding force in his football career.
Kakar was only four years old when the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, happened followed by the subsequent military involvement in Afghanistan. He grew up in Brick before moving to Toms River in first grade and said there was no tension with anyone at school or in the community despite the conflict with Afghanistan.
"My father owns a pizzeria in Asbury Park, and these business guys would all see me as a little kid and tell my dad, 'Make sure this kid plays football when he grows up,''' Kakar said. "I got into football and found my groove."
Kicker/punter: Pat Davis, Lacey (2016)
Davis went 29-for-31 on extra points and 3-for-5 on field goals with a long of 40 yards in his first year as the starter for the Lions in 2013. He is part of a stellar group of returning kickers in the Shore that also includes Manalapan's Mike Caggiano, Middletown South's Matt Mosquera, Shore's Jake Monteiro and Neptune's Hunter Daly.
Fastest: Marvin Morgan, WR, Neptune (2017)
A track standout as a freshman, Morgan did not see time with the Scarlet Fliers last season but has the speed to be a weapon under new coach Rodney Taylor this fall as he heads into his sophomore year.
Others to watch:
Melvin noted some other players who stood out during the course of the full camp, which was a four-day event.
Frank Condito, LB, Holmdel (2015)
One of the Shore Conference's top returning linebackers, the Division I prospect battled through an injury-marred junior year. He was the linebacker MVP for the four-day camp and is a rare four-year varsity starter for the Hornets.
Chase Bright, RB/LB, Keyport (2016)
Bright played running back and outside linebacker for the Red Raiders in the fall and projects as a linebacker or possibly a tight end at the next level at 6-2 and 190 pounds.
Xavier Young, DT, Barnegat (2015)
A sleeper prospect on a team that features two FBS players and three Division I-level seniors overall, the 6-2, 260-pound defensive tackle will be part of a tough seven-man front for a Bengals team looking to win its first NJSIAA sectional title this fall.
Max Mullaney, QB, Colts Neck (2016)
Mullaney was at Rumson-Fair Haven but has transferred to Colts Neck after seeing a few snaps for the Bulldogs as a back-up this past fall.
"Mechanically, he has to work on some things, but looks to be very good down the line considering he's already 6-2, 225,'' Melvin said.
James Green, QB, Monmouth Regional (2015)
Green was the Falcons' starting quarterback as a junior, throwing for 1,144 yards and running for 274 and five touchdowns.
"He's fluid, throws a nice ball, is a great leader and opened some eyes today,'' Melvin said.
Darrion Carrington, WR, Toms River North (2017)
Both of Carrington's older brothers, Anthony (Wagner College) and Kyle (Liberty University) are FCS players, so the bloodline is certainly there. He is 6-foot-1 going into his sophomore year after seeing time as a freshman and should be a weapon for the Mariners.
Catching up with...
Cinjun Erskine, QB, Barnegat (2015)
A Shore Sports Network third-team All-Shore pick as a junior, Erskine is part of a stellar group of returning signal-callers in the Shore that includes SSN first-teamer Carmen Sclafani of Brick and second-team pick Tymere Berry of Toms River South.
Erskine is part of a talented senior class at Barnegat that also includes offensive lineman Sam Madden, who has verbally committed to Wisconsin, and linebacker Manny Bowen, who was also at the camp on Saturday and has verbally committed to Penn State. Erskine looks to make it three Division I signees for the Bengals, as he lists his top four as Bucknell, Colgate, Yale and the University of Pennsylvania.
"I've been with coach (Craig) Cicardo for most of the winter, just working on footwork and being more consistent,'' Erskine said. "Last year we relied a lot on our line and running the ball, so this year we're going to throw the ball a little bit more. I want to throw what I want to be are perfect games."