One of the top players we've helped to discover this past season was LB/DE Jamal Mtshali. The 2009 prospect came from off the radar to making some major noise once we were able to evaluate him and test him on the combine circuit at the Under Armour/Scout.com combines in Charlotte and Baltimore. To say he tested off the charts is an understatement! In a day and age where strength and speed are a premium in the college football landscape Jamal is definitely one of the most athletic prospects in the nation. More than a few analysts have used words such as "freak athlete", "a beast", "a man among boys", and "almost unbelievable" when describing what he's done in terms of testing and the potential they see for him at linebacker on the next level.
The current plan for Mtshali is to finish his senior season at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia after playing at Richland Northeast High over the last couple of seasons. Mtshali has moved to 3 star status as a strong side linebacker according to Scout.com despite playing as a defensive tackle primarily throughout his career thus far. With a college ready frame, maybe a professional level frame, Mtshali wowed all the analysts at the UA/Scout combines. At 6'2 1/2 230 pounds he's a physical specimen to behold. He recently picked up an invitation to the Offense-Defense Elite Camp and Mtshali called to check in with SCPrepNation.com for an update on things are progressing in Myrtle Beach.
"Man it's been a ton of good prospects out here. They definitely made sure that they invited the best of the best. It’s a lot of intense competition. I can run with them but I have some severe tendinitis in my hip so I wasn’t able to perform to my full capability. It has slowed down my performance so far but being here it’s a great learning experience and helping my development. Overall I feel good about the camp but I’m a little disappointed about my hip."
Asked about how the transition has been moving from DT to LB now Mtshali says things have been fairly smooth as he learns the nuances of the new position. "So far the position looks like it’s not that difficult to learn. I've got down a few things as far as reading and when to move in what direction. I’m getting down the fundamentals of the position. It’s going to take focus and dedication but overall I'll be able to make the transition."
Being relatively late to the recruiting game that should all soon change for Mtshali he says. "I made a professional highlight tape of myself from last season to send out to some schools. I’m going to send out more because I want to get my name out there for more schools that may want to show me some interest and be willing to embrace me."
The schools that received a copy of his highlight tape are as follows according to Mtshali, "I sent tapes out to LSU, Alabama, Miami, Ohio State, South Carolina, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Florida, Florida State, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, UCLA, and Michigan."
With a who's who of football programs recently receiving the footage of Mtshali he talked about his early favorites. "I like LSU, I have a lot of respect and admiration for their program. I like West Virginia they looked really good in their bowl game last year. They are impressive. I like UCLA with the way they play, it’ll be a fun experience for me. Ohio State and Miami round out my top 5 of favorites right now. Right now the most critical thing to me would be what schools are going to show me a lot of interest. I have a lot of admiration for these schools (all that he sent highlight tapes to) and I hope that they’ll have solid interest in recruiting me."
Getting back to his work thus far at the O-D Elite Camp he says he's been drilled on a number of areas to help him with his new position. "We did some cone drills, some of them really involved turning your hips. They’re looking for quickness and explosiveness. It’s important to implement that in those drills. We also did some passing drills. I think I did best in the one on ones we had. We had a 7 on 7 thing. It wasn’t full speed but I’m learning how to cover and play zones. It’s a learning experience but it’s going to be a beneficial one for me."
With players from all over the country competing Mtshali hopes to learn as much as he possibly can from the NFL players who are coaching at the camp (some players like former Cowboys standout Nate Newton and former Vikings WR Cris Carter). "It'd be nice to get a chance to compete in the O-D Bowl Game too so I'm playing my hardest so that could be a possibility."
Note:Jamal says although he hasn't been able to lift weights as much as he usually does over the past month and a half he recently picked up where he left off without missing a beat. He's set a goal of maxing out at 430 pounds on the bench press in a few weeks.
Inside The Numbers...Jamal Mtshali
Bench press: 420 pounds
Squat: 550 pounds
40 time: 4.69 seconds (Baltimore)
Vertical: 44" (SCPrepNation)
Shuttle: 4.34 seconds (Baltimore)
L-Cone: 7.41 seconds (Baltimore)
Broad jump: 10'1" (Baltimore)
Jamal Mtshali flexes the guns in between testing drills at the Charlotte combine. Mtshali has already been seen in "Muscle & Fitness" magazine at the age of 16 for his outstanding physique.
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