The CAMP presented by HUB Football recently wrapped up their April CAMP last Sunday in La Mesa, California. More than 50 prospects participated in the OTA-style workout in front of NFL and CFL scouts in hopes of either beginning their professional careers or getting back to the pros.
We highlighted a few of the players last week who displayed exactly what NFL scouts look for and that CAMP delivers: top talent, diverse backgrounds, a willingness to improve, and a work ethic that cannot simply be taught.
These athletes have done the work and now it’s time to talk about the top performers from the most recent invitation-only event.
Deondre Francois -- QB, FSU/Hampton
Height: 6015 Weight: 215 Arm: 3348 Hand: 958 Wing: 7828
Francois began his career as a redshirt freshman at Florida State, taking over after the departure of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston and thus expectations were sky-high from the very beginning. Unfortunately, an injury in the opening game against Alabama kept Francois from playing his sophomore season and he would later transfer from Tallahassee to Hampton University.
Francois would finish his collegiate career with more than 8,000 passing yards, a 58% completion rate, 69 total touchdowns and 25 interceptions in three seasons. However, it wasn’t easy. Very few signal-callers have faced as much pressure as Francois did during his time with the Seminoles. On the positive side, it helped him learn how to adjust his game on the fly, something we saw recently when he played in the Fan Controlled Football (FCF) indoor league.
Francois admits that he wasn’t very good at the arena-style game from the onset. Once he got acclimated, he was quickly able to adjust and develop a quicker release, which helped him make quicker reads and finish the season as the second-highest rated quarterback while leading his team to a score a touchdown on every drive he headed.
After the FCF season, Francois was hoping to participate in as many workouts as possible, but he missed out on doing so - like so many - due to the COVID pandemic. As a result, this was the third CAMP that Francois has participated in, but he almost chose not to.
A scout who’d attended the HBCU Pro Day asked Francois if he would be in San Diego for CAMP, motivating Francois to replicate what the scout just saw. Many agree that he was the best overall quarterback at the CAMP, showcasing a strong arm, no questions about what throws he can or can’t make, repeated consistency and a maturity that reflects his past experiences.
He possesses great pocket presence, showing composure under pressure and has the ability to use his legs while keeping his eyes downfield to make the big play. The adversity he’s endured on and off the field has ultimately helped him become a better prospect. Quarterback coaches Ty Detmer and Seneca Wallace were enamored by his performance.
Tyler Bray -- QB, Tennessee
Height: 6638 Weight: 224 Arm: 3168 Hand: 928 Wing: 7780
Tyler Bray played college ball at the University of Tennessee, choosing to leave school after his junior year to enter the NFL draft. He started every game his final season, accumulating over 3,000 yards passing, with a 59% completion rate, 34 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Since then, Bray has spent time learning from Andy Reid in Kansas City and Matt Nagy in Chicago - both considered to be ideal coaches for quarterbacks. Bray is still regarded as one the best at the position to come out of UT and he caught the eye of many leading teams on Sundays.
With a cannon for an arm, maybe stronger than many had originally thought, Bray also picks up schemes quickly. He’s a leader on the field and his professional experience with his former coaches is obvious. With the recent expansion of NFL rosters, Bray could quickly catch on somewhere, whether as a quality backup or to help mentor some of the younger guys.
Jake Smith -- WR, SUNY Cortland
Height: 6005 Weight: 187 Arm: 3148 Hand: 868 Wing: 7400
Smith missed his senior year due to injury, but while at SUNY Cortland, he was named second-team All-Empire 8 twice. In 2018, he finished with 807 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. He also exceeded the 100-yard barrier in four of the 10 games he played in that season.
The refined wideout demonstrated quick acceleration off the line, a keen ability to gain separation, soft hands and crisp route running. Put simply, Smith is difficult to cover and catch in open space. Adding to his skill set, Smith can line up anywhere on the field. Additionally, he’s also a special teams stud who blocked multiple kicks during his career.
Miles Shuler -- WR, Northwestern
Height: 5100 Weight: 174 Arm: 2938 Hand: 848 Wing: 7138
Shuler started his collegiate career at Rutgers before transferring to Northwestern. He finished with 43 catches for 410 yards, and 15 rushes for 121 yards and a touchdown.
He also has experience playing in the CFL for Edmonton.
Shuler’s biggest contributions have been in the return game. He logged 30 total returns at Northwestern (punt and kickoff) for 483 yards as the Wildcats’ primary return specialist.
Shuler is shifty, small-framed, and like many with his size, if you get him in open space, he can be a terror for the opposing team. There are numerous ways that teams can use players like Shuler on both offense and special teams. He’ll be able to contribute immediately on special teams and after playing in the Big East, Big Ten, and the CFL, Shuler has learned to adapt to new schemes quickly.
Hinwa Allieu -- DT, Nebraska at Kearney
Height: 6034 Weight: 271 Arm: 3518 Hand: 938 Wing: 8300
Allieu was born in Sierra Leone but has lived in the states since 2013. He initially played both sides of the line in high school but stuck with defense once he got to the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He finished his collegiate career with the seventh-most sacks in school history despite playing on the inside.
One aspect of his game that coaches and scouts alike really liked was his ability to play anywhere on the defensive line. When running defensive end drills, Allieu showed a strong first step, followed by a swim move to quickly get past the offensive tackle. His swiftness showed in flashes of his effectiveness against the run and the pass.
Allieu utilizes his hands very effectively, which prevents offensive lineman from getting too close. His skill set can fit either a 3-4 or 4-3 defensive scheme; however, his size probably serves him better as a defensive tackle as opposed to a nose tackle.
Kai Higgins -- DE, Purdue
Height: 6033 Weight: 263 Arm: 3428 Hand: 948 Wing: 7978
A JUCO transfer from Chaffey College (CA) who has shown improvement at every level he’s played, Higgins was another player impacted by the lack of workouts last year. Primarily a weak-side defensive end, he was a full-time starter in 2018 and ended the year with 30 total tackles, including 22 solo stops and a pair of interceptions.
Higgins possesses a speedy first step, a next-level burst to get him around the tackle, and quick-decision making to either seal the edge or pursue the ball carrier. He’s had time to build on his inside moves to help close the pocket when the quarterback steps up.
Francois, Bray, Smith, Shuler, Allieu and Higgins are just a few of the standouts from the April 2021 CAMP in San Diego who we believe could be signed quickly and contend for an active NFL roster spot come this fall.
The NFL is only allowing five tryout positions (per team) in training camps this year, which makes what CAMP presented by HUB Football an even bigger part of the entire team-building and evaluation process. CAMP exists to help provide the very best free agents with an opportunity, during a time when opportunities have waned for players to showcase their talents in front of NFL scouts and teams, and for a legitimate chance for those players to be signed.
For more information about CAMP presented by HUB Football, visit: www.HUBFootball.com.
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