• John Macon Gillespie

Fortius Project Top Performers (4/2/16)


Ricky Myers, LB - Brandon

After showing well at the first Fortius Project back on March 5th, Ricky Myers returned and outperformed his debut showing. He came in an inch taller, he was faster, quicker and more explosive. In the 1-on-1 and 7-on-7 portions of the camp, he seemed like the alpha dog, a leader. He knew what he was doing out there and he got after it. His performance exemplified what Fortius is all about. Being better and stronger than you were your last rep or your last time. Now he proceeds with a crucial spring remaining with his teammates and a big Fall ahead in ’16.

All-Combine Team

Logan Vanderberry, LB - Northwest Rankin

After running a camp-best 4.38 40-yard dash on Saturday Northwest Rankin linebacker Logan Vanderberry earned the nickname “The Cougar Flash,” from SES and Fortius Project President Webb Lewis. That rising senior clocked a 4.56 on his first attempt, in addition being in the top tier of each of the testing drills. His performance in the competitive portion was just as impressive. This guy will be a terror in the middle of the Cougar defense in 2016 due to his game-breaking speed and explosion.

Diante Brocks, DL/OL - Provine

Another Fortius Project for Provine trench monster Diante Brocks, another medal. He again dominated on both sides of the ball, just as he did at Petal. In fact, he was perhaps even more impressive on Saturday as he didn’t seem to wear down much at all. Rep after rep, whether it was going after the faux quarterback or protecting it, he did his job while consistently popping off the page. There is a video on the @FortiusProject Twitter feed that shows my perspective as the dummy quarterback with Brocks coming at me. Check it out. Truly a moment I feared for my safety. Brocks is certainly making a name for himself this offseason with his combination of size(weighed in at just under 350 pounds Saturday), quickness, athleticism, strength and personality. If there was an award for “most personable” on Saturday then Brocks would have been the selection. He’s a comedian.

Brian Collins, ATH - Provine

As is true for Brocks, the same goes for Provine receiver/defensive back Brian Collins, two medals in two tries at the Fortius Project. Recently Collins told me in an interview that he reminds his friends and teammates of a mix of two guys, Odell Beckham Jr. and Tyrann Mathieu. He certainly displayed a skill-set on Saturday that would warrant no objections on that especially on the heels of his performance in March. Though, he’s just a rising senior and still striving to reach the level of those guys, his style and his play-making ability as a receiver and a defensive back do remind you of the two former LSU Tigers. The Provine Rams showed up in large

numbers for the second time in as many camps and were again impressive. With Collins, and a host of others, showing how good they can be and how close they are this offseason, the excitement can only be building for what could for head coach Otis Ridley and the Provine Posse.

Nick Stinson, QB - Hartfield Academy

After being one of the standouts of the quarterback group on March 5th Stinson was THE standout on Saturday. It was evident that he had progressed since his last showing, but comfort and confidence clearly factored into his performance as well. His testing numbers were considerably better this time around. He’s another great example of the Fortius mantra. At Petal I saw him get frustrated with his testing numbers, but the opposite was true on Saturday. It appears he will only continue to get better. For Hartfield Academy that is welcomed news as they seem poised to make waves this Fall. A group of Hawks were in attendance this weekend.

Malik Holbert, DE - Northwest Rankin

There was not a player on hand Saturday more confident in their own abilities than Malik Holbert. Between reps he let you know how good he was about to do in that particular drill and when his turn came he did just that. During the broad jump he jumped the current best of his group, but he was unsatisfied. He released everything he had on his next rep and surpassed even his own freaky-long jump from the previous attempt. He did that in each drill, the 5-10-5, the 40-yard dash and the vertical jump. He pushed others, he challenged others and he did each to himself as well. In 1-on-1s, he showed just how quick and powerful he was, while leaning on solid technique.

Timothy Lindsey, DT - Northwest Rankin

A third Cougar defender and the second defensive lineman from the team on this list, Timothy Lindsey, came out of his shell on Saturday. After attending Fortius back on March 5th, the talented defensive tackle returned back to spread the word amongst his teammates. It worked as they showed up in large numbers on Saturday and even tied the previous record of most medals by one team that Provine set back at Petal. After showing just what he can do last time, Lindsey turned his game up a notch this weekend. His quickness and power, fueled by his determination and mental fortitude, helped him grind through blockers during the camp on Saturday. Between reps he’s soft-spoken and mild-mannered, usually wearing a grin, but he’s mean and ferocious when there ball is snapped. Lindsey, along with Holbert could make the Northwest Rankin defensive line one of the best units in 6A football in ’16.

Matt Stowers - WR - Brandon

Based on the performances Brandon rising junior receiver Matt Stowers has put forth at both Fortius Project camps it would seem he is poised to break out for the Bulldogs this season. He goes about his work in a quiet manner. He steps up to a rep, knocks it out of the park and gets ready for the next. His game says all that needs be said. In stature, he is long and lanky and seems straight from the mold of what you want in an outside receiver. He is long enough to win jump balls and dominate in the redzone, he is fast enough to create separate, and he is elusive once he has it. Two other things that should not go unmentioned are his toughness going after any ball in his area and his explosiveness in his cuts and jumps.

Stanley Buford, WR - Cleveland-East Side

Though he measured in at 6’3 it seemed as though Cleveland-East Side receiver Stanley Buford was even taller than that. Quickly, however, he showed in drills that he plays with the speed, quickness and skills of a guy that is smaller and lighter. While light on his feet, you could also tell that he is physically put together enough and his body control allows him to use his size. With his size and athleticism it is conceivable that he could help his team all over the field, on both sides of the ball next season, but at receiver he is special. He is another guy who is sparked competition and rises to the occasion. He drove approximately two hours just to fill the urge he had to compete against some of his talented peers from around the state.

Kobie Ulmer, WR - Laurel

After showing some of his best skills last month at Petal, such as his speed, Kobie Ulmer returned to show more at MRA on Saturday. And he certainly did. This time around Ulmer showed an overall athleticism that saw him finish near the top in every drill. In the competitive

portions he made sure defenders not only recognized his talent but they also had to be worried about him on each play. It is clear that Ulmer is rounding into form and making strides towards being the receiver Laurel needs him to be next season. His confidence is growing and he should prove to be a top target for his brother Tyquan this Fall.

Cedric Beal, RB - Madison Central

There were no pads on Saturday but it was still easy to see what position Cedric Beal of Madison Central played. Short, muscled and stoutly-built, Beal just has the look of a running back. His skills, however, showed that he should provide versatility to a new offense this season. Anthony Hart is the new coach for the Jaguars and he reunites with two assistants from his days at Lafayette County, where they orchestrated one of the best rushing offenses in the State. It is a win-win for Beal and the team, because he gets a chance to showcase his talents and the coaches have a perfect-fit to plug into their system. This offseason, though, Beal is doing all the necessary work to become one of Mississippi’s best rushers.

DeMario Mays, ATH - Madison Central

DeMario Mays or, “De Mays,” as he is usually called, was another drill warrior from Saturday. All-around he was near the top in the testing portions of the camp. His teammates made it clear from the start he would be one of the best players on hand. He didn’t have to say that, as he just showed it instead. The 1-on-1 and 7-on-7 periods were where he really separated himself, though. Many guys on hand Saturday would agree, he was one of the best defensive backs on hand, some guys said as much. Mays had been looking forward to the camp for a while and when his chance came, he hit a home run. The rest of the offseason will be about getting better, but next season is something else I’m sure he is anxiously looking forward to.

Tay Berry, DT - Madison Central

Madison Central rising junior defensive lineman Tay Berry showed that he is mighty powerful on Saturday. He didn’t back down from anyone in 1-on-1s, in turn, asking to be placed against the best guys. He easily muscled through and around defenders, making it hard to

believe he is a member of the 2018 class. He will be a steady force for the Jaguar defensive in the coming years. He also made it hard for you believe he was even a defensive lineman the way he tested in the broad jump, vertical and 5-10-5 drills.

Bo Whatley, QB - Brandon

The future of the Brandon offense sure seemed bright on Saturday while watching Bo Whatley compete. Sure, Brady Davis is the returning starter for the Bulldogs and he is a stud, but once he moves on Whatley will be more than capable of taking the reins. He showed a live arm and was consistently accurate, deliver catchable balls for wideouts. Perhaps one of the more impressive youngsters at the whole camp.

Jonathan Bolton, RB - Purvis

Purvis rising junior running back Jonathan Bolton seemed like a man among boys on Saturday, however, he was actually one of the younger competitors on hand. Just in the 10th grade, Bolton already has the look of a experienced bruiser on the high school level, about to head off to college. After playing behind an experienced back last season, but still managing over 400 yards in limited carries, there is no reason to believe that he won’t be a star for the next two seasons. Not only was he clearly very strong, but his athleticism showed in each aspect of the camp, in fact, he might have been one of the most skilled guys on hand.

Cory Jackson, ATH - MRA

The first thing that popped out about the hometown MRA Patriot Cory Jackson was his size. He seemed to be a head taller than most of the receivers and his wingspan made him seem even taller. On his home turf he seemed at ease, as you would figure. He was consistent and impressive in the testing, but took over in the competition portion. He was clearly driven by the competition and the will to improve. He will be a big target, in many ways, for the Patriots and quarterback Hayden Davis this fall.


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