All NFTC Team- The Defense

Here's a look at the top 11 defensive standouts from Cerritos at the SoCal NFTC this past Sunday...


Defensive Line

Joe Mathis, Upland (Calif.)- The week before, Mathis played linebacker at the NLA Elite 7on7, but was back with his hand down at his more natural defensive end position, and almost from the get-go, showed why he's a top 10 pass-rusher nationally. Mathis played end on both sides and did some defensive tackle too, and outside of one stonewall, dominated in the 1-on-1s.  His performance netted him an invite to The Opening, the second year in a row an Upland player was selected.

Taco Charlton, Pickerington (Ohio) Central- Charlton set the tone on the first 1-on-1, by blowing by the tackle without being touched. He too only lost 1-on-1, and won every other.  The future Michigan Wolverine is a nice long athlete who just needs to add some weight, but he's got the quickness off the edge to be a top-tier pass rusher.

Ainuu Taua, Lompoc (Calif.)- Taua was the top underclass performer at the NFTC and the 2014 prospect is definitely one to watch in the future.  The 6-1, 275-pounder has a good frame to add more weight and be an ideal 3-tech at the next level.  He's quick off the ball and plays nice and low and his motor never stops.


Kevin Palma, Tulare (Calif.) Mission Oak- The 6-1.5, 235-pounder was quick off the edge and might have been the most athletic linebacker there. A day after recording the second highest Sparq rating at the Long Beach Combine, Palma was just as good in football-specific drills. In drills where running backs had to pass block the linebackers, he twice blew past the back without being touched to get to the bag. He looked good in the positional drills and the 1on1s until tweaking his arm

Dwight Williams, Gardena (Calif.) Serra- The linebackers MVP, the 2014 prospect Williams was good in the individual drills, showing good agility and athleticism and looked real fluid and stepped it up in the 1on1's.  Williams, who's about 6-1, 200, looks noticeably bigger than when we saw him in the fall, but moved very well.

George Frazier, Monrovia (Calif.)- Frazier moved really well for his size. Frazier also plays quarterback, so he's plenty athletic, but he's gotten thicker since we saw him at the U.S. Army Combine but has maintained his athleticism. .

Defensive Backs

Chris Hawkins, Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.)-  The DB MVP, Hawkins had a big day on Sunday.  It ended with him committing to his dream school, USC, but it followed a day where he won the MVP honors amongst a loaded group of defensive backs.  He looked great in the drills and was stellar in the 1-on-1's, beating WR MVP Steven Hawkins twice. Hawkins also earned an invite to The Opening.

Priest Willis, Tempe (Ariz.) Marcos De Niza- Willis is one of the most versatile defensive backs in this class, with safety size but corner experience.  He's got great change of direction and is really physical.  A fluid athlete, Willis also earned an invite to The Opening.

Iman Marshall, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly- Marshall had another impressive showing after looking great in Las Vegas two weeks ago. Marshall will play safety for Poly but worked out at corner Sunday and was in lockdown mode all day. He plays with a lot of swagger already and it's scary to think how good he can be with three more years to develop.

Tahaan Goodman, Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.)- After being the most consistent defensive back in Las Vegas, Goodman followed it up with another shining performance.  Goodman is very physical, runs well and has outstanding instincts. Goodman was another invitee to The Opening.

Tyler Foreman, Encino (Calif.) Crespi- Foreman is a huge kid who looks like a linebacker but can definitely play safety. He moves with ease, is a physical player and is even better in pads.  Like several defensive backs, he was coming off a strong showing at the NLA ELite 7on7 and kept up his performance at the NFTC.

National Recruiting analysts Greg Biggins and Brandon Huffman contributed to this report

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