NFTC Position Breakdown: Linebackers

Next to the DB group, the crop of linebackers may have been the most loaded position at the Nike Football Camp in Oakland over the weekend.

The camp was loaded with inside ‘backers but it was Portland (Ore.) Jesuit athlete Joey Alfieri who stole the show and drew raves from lead LB coach Chris Gizzi.

"It's not just the fact that Joey made plays all over the field on Sunday, it's the way he made those plays," Gizzi said. "Whatever he's doing his eyes are looking at the right stuff, his limbs and torso are synchronized and balanced and his feet are alive before, during and after the key moment of a play.

"Even when someone gets an angle on him (it didn't happen often Sunday), he counters and finds a way to get back his advantage in that situation. Mentally and emotionally, he's everything you want in a player: poised, smart and encouraging. He put on the best performance by a ‘backer at any NIKE Camp this year."

Mammoth Granite Bay (Calif.) inside ‘backer Cameron Smith was rated the No. 3 backer by Gizzi at the SoCal NIKE Camp and moved up a spot in Oakland. The sophomore is 6-2, 250 pounds and still growing but is a tremendous talent and the scary part is he's twice as good with the pads on.

"In just two months since the LA NIKE Camp, he has taken another step up," Gizzi said. "He's a true MIKE ‘backer that can make plays all over the field. He has fantastic body control and poise that give him a heightened ability to make plays that most at his position never even get close too.

"His superior field vision and awareness is another gift that his physical and emotional maturity accentuates. If he was only 5-11, he would still be a great prospect but at 6-2 and with that frame, I think you're looking at a big football player right there."

One of our big themes this past spring is how does Berkeley's (Calif.) Michael Lazarus only have a handful of offers. He's an elite player with size, speed and toughness and his talent should dictate double digit offers.

"He has incredibly explosive skills and aggressiveness," Gizzi said. "His ability to close and get frontal on a ball carrier is noteworthy. This is an athletic ‘backer with a mean streak - a valuable combo.

"His body type can place him in a bunch of systems, as an outside backer I think he's an every down kind of player. He has a frame that will afford him room to grow and put some more muscle on depending on a team's need. He's very coachable as well and I think he'll be a heck of a college player."

While Alfieri, Smith and Lazarus made up Gizzi's top three, there were another eight or nine players with legitimate BCS level ability.

El Cerrito's (Calif.) D.J. Calhoun always comes ready to compete and he had a very good camp as well. In fact Gizzi said there was very little separating Calhoun from the top three and he probably has better film than each of them. He showed explosive speed, ability to change direction and plays with a passion that few have, regardless of position.

Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco's Chandler Leniu opened a lot of eyes showing off his athleticism on his sturdy 225 pound frame. Leniu tested well with a 30" vertical jump and he threw the power ball 44'. He looked great in the drills as well playing fast and aggressive and looking very comfortable in space.

Los Angeles (Calif.) Salesian sophomore Kyahva Tezino is a smooth looking athlete who probably made more plays than anyone during the half-skelly period. He also shined in the one on ones and is one of the more natural athletes you'll see at the linebacker position. He's definitely an elite national recruit in the 2015 class.

Tezino's Los Angeles (Calif.) Salesian teammate Jamardre Cobb was impressive as well and is very athletic for a player his size. Cobb is an inside 'backer who can move, looked very good in space and is always physical and aggressive.

San Marcos (Calif.) Mission Hills' Fred Warner continued his standout play this spring and now looks like a full fledged linebacker after playing primarily defensive end as a junior. Not surprisingly, he killed the pass rush drill and showed an overall explosiveness that few have. Coach Gizzi said, "it looks like he's shot out of a cannon every play."

Gilbert (Ariz.) Higley's Mason Johnson made a nice impression on the NIKE coaches with his size and speed. Johnson played defensive end for Higley but his size will dictate a move to linebacker and he showed he has plenty of athleticism to make the switch.

A few other linebackers who caught the coaches eyes included; San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty's Chandler Ramirez, Pleasant Hill (Calif.) College Park's Steve O'Brien, Bakersfield Christian's (Calif.) Grant Bouma, Overland's (Colo.) Tre Thomas, Gilbert (Ariz.) Higley's Logan Johns, Vanden's (Calif.) Elijah Williams and Clovis North (Calif.) Isaiah Duran

Greg Biggins has been covering recruiting for over 15 years, covering the West since the mid-1990's and currently serves as a national analyst for
Twitter | E-Mail |

Scout Football Top Stories