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MIAMI -- The 2012 Nike Football SPARQ Combine continued Saturday at North Miami Stadium, as more than 1,200 participants were tested and competed. One prospect shone brighter than the rest and locked up the first official invite to "The Opening" this July.
• SPARQ Rating results
Booker T. Washington (Miami) linebacker Matthew Thomas burst on the scene a year ago at the Miami Nike Combine, where he clocked a 4.68 40-yard dash and threw the power ball 39 feet. Thomas earned Class 4A All-State and All-Dade County honors after a huge junior season that included 117 tackles and 13 sacks. The ESPNU Watch List prospect prospect proved on Saturday why he's considered one of the Sunshine State's best.
The 6-foot-3, 201-pounder took it to the next level Saturday, posting the combine's top SPARQ Rating at 108.36, clocking a 4.65 40, running 4.09 in the 20-yard shuttle, throwing the power ball 37 feet and jumping 33.5 inches in the vertical.
On the strength of his combine performance and his superlative junior season and performance on film, Thomas, who currently lists scholarship offers from the likes of Miami, Alabama, Florida State, Auburn, West Virginia and others, earned the first invitation to the 2012 edition of "The Opening."
"I've heard a lot about The Opening from all the Miami guys that made it up there last year and I'm just happy to be chosen to go out to Oregon and represent the 305," said Thomas of the honor.
On the recruiting front, Thomas said he's in no hurry to make a decision and will probably wait until National Signing Day. Alabama, Florida State and Miami are three schools that stand out for him.
Will Likely already has offers from FSU, Florida, LSU, Alabama, Miami and Rutgers.
The 2011 Florida Gatorade State Player of the Year, athlete Will Likely out of Glades Central (Belle Glade, Fla.), is another ESPNU Watch List prospect who attended the event. Likely came into the event holding offers from Alabama, LSU, Miami, Clemson and others. The versatile performer is being recruited as a cornerback by most schools and posted solid marks of 4.70 in the 40 and 33.5 inches in the vertical jump and will look to win his third Nike Football Training Camp MVP award at the defensive back position this spring at the Miami NFTC.
Another highly-touted ESPNU Watch List prospect in attendance was Florida State commit Sojourn Shelton out of Plantation (Fla.). The 5-foot-9, 152-pound corner is still filling out his frame but posted one of the combine's top five shuttle times at 4.25 and also ran 4.77 in the 40 and jumped 33.8 inches in the vertical.
North Miami (Fla.) cornerback Troy McCollum is another coveted secondary prospect who showed well on Saturday, running a 4.60 40 at 6-foot, 156-pounds. McCollum recently picked up his first two offers from Ole Miss and Florida International.
Archbishop Carroll (Miami) defensive back Leroy Clark recently landed a big offer from Florida and led Dade County with 13 interceptions last fall. He checked in at 5-foot-9 ½, 169-pounds and had a solid 31.2-inch vertical jump. Wideout Johnell Barnes of Dunbar (Fort Myers, Fla.) reports an offer from UConn and showed great explosiveness at 5-foot-10, 151-pounds, jumping 35.6 inches in the vertical.
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