All-Poly Camp Talent Shines Bright

This is the second installment of reports and evaluations from the All-Poly Camp. In this section the offensive and defensive linemen are covered, along with the wide receivers, tight ends and defensive backs. There were some hard-hitting safeties and good cover and run-support cornerbacks in this group that attended Saturday's full-padded scrimmage.

This year's All-Poly Camp seemed to bring out more quality linemen and linebacker prospects than players from any other positions. Starting with defensive linemen, there were some big boys in the mix here from many different states. One prospect that stood out was Kalafitoni Pole from the Bay Area in California. He's a 6-foot-3-inch, 255-pound rush defensive end that showed good explosion off the line of scrimmage once the ball was snapped. Pole was one of the better all-around defensive line athletes, showing quickness, agility and a good nose for the ball.

"I'm getting a lot of looks, but right now I currently have an offer from Utah," Pole said. "I'm excited about that."

Along with Pole, Octavious Dickerson from Layton High School was also one that faired well in both personal drills and during the scrimmages. Dickerson played the run gaps well and controlled the point of attack with physical play.

"I like to play aggressively," Dickerson said. "There's a lot of good competition here, so you have to play aggressive. The coaches are telling me to use my hands more, and there's a lot of good things that you learn here."

One prospect that caught the eye of many was Taani Tupou. Tupou is soft-spoken off the field but plays loud on it. He was all over the field running from sideline to sideline in pursuit of quarterbacks and ball carriers. Although he will only be a junior next year in high school, he's already on the radar for both BYU and Utah, and fans from both schools can expect to hear the name Taani Tupou more in the future.

"I like to just go all out," Tupou said. "I try to play as hard as I can every down and really like to hit. I think that's one thing I like mostly about playing football is being able to be physical."

Tupou is LDS, and although he would like to stay close to home, he has some interest in Utah colleges due to his faith.

"I'm LDS and want to serve my mission when I'm in college," Tupou said. "I like BYU because they're a Mormon school and I also like Utah because they have a lot of LDS players on their team as well. We don't have a lot of money so I would like to stay close to home if I could because I want to play in front of my family, but we'll see how it goes in the future."

Tupou is also receiving early interest from Oregon and Washington State as well.

At the tight end position there was only one prospect that really took the stage, and that was tight end Joel Medvidile. Medvidile has good size at about 6 feet 4 inches and runs very fluid in open space. He also attacked the ball aggressively while in the air and used his size to his advantage.

At the wide receiver position there was a quick, sure-handed receiver by the name of Elijah Mitchell. Mitchell's quick off-the-line speed allowed him to gain separation early within his routes. He's not a tall receiver like those becoming more of a focal point at the college level, but his 5-foot-10-inch height didn't stop Mitchell from catching passes due to separation.

Moving back over to the big boys in the trenches, there were five linemen that stood out throughout the camp. One is the son of former BYU All-American defensive lineman Shane Knight, who was a first-round draft pick. His son is Cash Knight, who is simply nasty in the trenches. He seemed to relish the competition and never backed down from a good one-on-one series with the big boys.

Coaches often gathered around to watch Knight battle in the trenches with the likes of Kalofitoni Pole, Jase Toomalatai and Paul Belford, who were some of the top linemen in the camp. Knight is a hard-nosed lineman with decent technique to go with his physical style of play. Having been switched fromm defensive line to offensive line, Knight soaked up every bit of information he received from coaches.

Using the eyeball test, Knight appears to come in at about 6 feet 3 inches and 270 pounds. He is a prospect BYU fans could hear more about in the future and he should be someone that gains more recruiting interest, as he caught the eyes of many coaches in attendance.

Another offensive lineman the passed the eyeball test is 6-foot-7-inch, 320-pound James Atoe from The Dalles High School in Oregon. Atoe carries his size well and has good strength for his size. Being a big man, he needs to put his pad level to use a bit better, but that is something that can be easily learned. His footwork was good for his size, but he could use some more coaching in his contact technique with defensive linemen. Learning how to use his hands better would suit the young giant well.

"I'm trying to learn as much as I can while I'm here," Atoe said. "It's been a good experience for me having all these coaches here to teach me more about being a good offensive lineman. I want to try and make it to the next level if I can."

As for a physical comparison, Atoe would remind BYU fans of former Cougar Ray Feinga in size and in pass protection and the power rush. No one was able to knock him off balance at the point of attack. Having a great work ethic, Atoe was also very intuitive to what the coaches told him and was willing to get as many reps as possible.

Prior to the All-Poly Camp, Atoe made an unofficial visit to BYU's campus. He was shown around the campus and facilities and spoke to some of the Cougar coaches. Total Blue Sports will follow up with Atoe in the near future to get his thoughts on his unofficial visit to BYU.

Another prospect BYU fans could hear more about in the future is Billy Vavau of Jordan High School. Vavau was another under-the-radar prospect that wanted to show what he had for college coaches in attendance. He has good size – not in the 6-foot-7-inch mold of Atoe but at about the 6-foot-3-inch area – and moves well within the first 15 yards in the run-blocking game.

Vavau is one that BYU fans could hear more about in the near future. Like Cash Knight, Vavau was the subject of many coaches eager to coach him up during drills. A versatile lineman who plays both ways, Vavau does have a lot to learn in polishing up his technique as an offensive linemen. However, like James Atoe, he was always looking for more coaching and using the resources present to the fullest. Vavau is already receiving interest from Utah and could be receiving more interest from BYU.

The next intriguing prospect at the camp was Jase Toomalatai.

"I like to play tough and be physical," Toomalatai said. "I think that's one of my strengths is being physical."

Jase Toomalatai is a physical specimen. A hard-nosed lineman with a mean streak, Toomalatai thrived in the one-on-one competition drills. A stout lineman, Toomalatai mixed it up well with top lineman performers Cash Knight, Kalafitoni Pole, James Atoe, Billy Vavau and Paul Belford. Never backing down from a good battle, Toomalatai used his footwork and leverage well. He keeps his pad level down and uses his strength to force the issue.

Last but not least is Paul Belford, who was one of 13 players from Kapolei High School in Hawaii to attend the camp. Belford is another that caught the attention of coaches as one of the top standout players in the camp.

Moving on over towards the quarterbacks, there were two prospects that stood out during the full-padded scrimmages. One was senior-to-be Crosby Jensen from Cottonwood High School, a southpaw with great feet and a more polished touch on his passes. Jensen comes in at around 6-2, 170-pounds and has been offered by Weber State as well as walk-on status at BYU.

Another is Dalton Leilua from Desert Pines High School in Las Vegas. Leilua is a big, strong quarterback who comes in at around 6-1, 230-pounds. A bit more raw than Jensen but possesses a cannon for an arm. He is being looked at by UNLV and Kansas State at the current moment.

One cornerback that stood out was senior-to-be Cole Graves from Juanita High School. Graves was another prospect looking to strut his abilities in front of many college coaches. Possessing a good back pedal, Graves breaks well towards the ball once thrown. He also showed good run-stuffing support on the edge. Most of this came as a result of being able to go through his progression keys well when reading the offense.

Total Blue Sports will have photos, video interviews from some of these standout prospects, and overview videos of the camp drills and scrimmages soon.


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