With the final stop of the 2014 Nike Football Training Camp making its way through Eugene, Oregon and the campus of University of Oregon, over 200 prospects were on hand, making their final pitch for an invitation to The Opening (and for quarterbacks, to the Elite 11 Finals).
With The Opening in a month from now, back in Oregon, one player punched their ticket to Beaverton on the Nike Campus.
Here is a look at some of the top prospects from the Oregon NFTC.
Bothell (Wash.) quarterback Ross Bowers was solid all weekend at the Oakland Elite 11 Regional Tryout and then the Oakland NFTC. He returned to the Oregon NFTC intent on getting a spot into the Elite 11 Finals and The Opening and not only did he earn QB MVP honors, but he also punched his ticket to Beaverton. We've seen Bowers a ton since his sophomore season, in games, 7v7 tournaments and at camps, and his improvement has been one of the storylines of the spring in the region. While he may not be the high-profle QB recruit some of the other QBs headed to Beaverton are, his performance on Sunday coming on the heels of Oakland put him in rare company.
Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure quarterback Ricky Town has been dealing with a minor knee injury for most of the spring, and is still only about 60% back, but he made the trip to Eugene for one final look from the Elite 11 staff. Town was moving decently despite wearing a knee brace on his plant leg and was solid and steady throughout the day. Town looked at his best in the 1-on-1's, especially on the deep outs and his accuracy was on point all day. It was really his first time throwing in a couple of months, but he threw a nice ball throughout the day, especially considering he was shaking off some rust.
Santa Margarita (Calif.) 2016 four-star K.J. Costello was probably the top underclassmen there and he too threw with a lot of consistency and his best throws came in the 1-on-1's, especially when he was throwing to his 7v7 teammate Crawford. As big as Costello is, he moves around very well and looked sharp with good spin on his throws during the quarterback drills.
Spokane (Wash.) Shadle Park four-star Brett Rypien also had a good day and he too could have won MVP honors. He was sharper than he was in Oakland, threw with more velocity but also more touch when he needed to and his deep ball looked as good if not better than it did in Oakland.
Sammamish (Wash.) Eastside Catholic 2016 quarterback Harley Kirsch had some good moments, the big lefty consistently throwing with accuracy during the positional drills especially. Camas (Wash.) Union quarterback Nolan Henry also looked good.
A player who caught our eye for the first time seeing him was Antelope (Calif.) 2016 quarterback Montel Aaron. At about 6-3, 190-ish, Aaron looked long and lean but like he could add some weight, but really spun it well and threw with some zip.
Sammamish (Wash.) Eastside Catholic 2016 running back Brandon Wellington is an early four-star safety by Scout but he can also play running back. While he likes defense, he played running back on Sunday and was definitely the top performer there. He's well put together, at about 6-0, 215, runs really well, has good feet and cutback ability and catches the ball extremely well. He may be the top overall skill prospect in the Northwest, regardless of class.
The Northwest's top back in the 2015 class, Portland (Ore.) Central Catholic's Cameron Scarlett had a very good day too and was in contention for MVP honors. He checked in at 6-1.5, 205, and said he's lost about 10 pounds because of track, but that he's working to get back to 210-215. Scarlett is a powerful back, but showed some grace, good footwork and ball-catching ability during the drills. Scarlett was one of the better pass-blocking running backs there too.
Vancouver (Wash.) Evergreen 2016 back Rey Green is another back in the Northwest in his class worth watching, with some early offers. Green isn't as big as Wellington, probably 5-10, 180, but might be a little more shiftier and a more natural pass-catcher.
Rio Rancho (N.M.) 2016 back Londyn Craft was one of the surprises on the day, a relative unknown from New Mexico who was about 6-1, 195. He moved extremely well for his size, caught the ball well and did an admirable job in pass blocking against the linebackers.
There were four receivers that really separated themselves from the pack, two were Pac-12 commits in the 2015 class and two more were 2016 four-stars.
La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat 2016 receiver Trevon Sidney won the MVP honors for the receivers and it wouldn't be a stretch to call Sidney the MVP of the day on Sunday. Not just at receiver, but overall. Sidney was terrific in the one-on-one's, catching everything, including a stretch where he made a one-handed grab, jumped over a DB to catch a pass in the end zone in front of the DBs face and making a crafty sideline catch where he kept both feet in bounds. Already an early four-star by Scout, Sidney has game-breaker speed, soft hands and runs excellent routes then shows the explosiveness you want in a big-play receiver.
La Canada (Calif.) St. Francis 2016 receiver Dylan Crawford was neck-and-neck with Sidney, his good friend, for most of the afternoon, and the only thing that really separated them were just a couple of more acrobatic catches that Sidney made. But Crawford was just as consistent, just as explosive and just as polished as Sidney was. We've seen Crawford a ton this spring and this may have been the best we've seen him throughout. He's every bit the national recruit he's already become.
Vancouver (Wash.) Evergreen receiver Justice Murphy had quite the weekend, earning MVP honors on Friday at the NW Elite Football Camp, and landing two more Pac-12 offers as a result, and continued his good play on Sunday. The thing that makes Murphy so effective is just how precise a route-runner he is. He's not ridiculously fast, but his plenty fast enough, still getting separation, but running the right routes and catching anything thrown to him. The Utah verbal has really upped his stock in the last couple of days.
Napa (Calif.) receiver Austin Aaron is a big, rangy target with better speed than given credit for, but impressive body control and ability to adjust to the ball. Like the other three, his hands are what make him such a reliable target, able to go up and get anything and using his size to body up the defender and out-muscle them for the ball. The Cal commit looks like he could grow into a Y or tight end in college, but he's got good enough speed that being split out wide is still very much a possibility.
Sammamish (Wash.) Eastside Catholic center Alex Neale had quite a weekend, having also won OL MVP honors at the NWEFC on Friday before driving down to Eugene and making it a clean sweep. Neale was very good in the positional drills but was at his best in the 1-on-1's, constantly getting the best of the DLs he went up against. He plays nice and low, uses great hand placement and keeps his feet chopping then has a measure of nasty to go along with it. It's just a matter of time before Neale, a pure center, gets his first offer.
Pocatello (Idaho) Highland center Tristen Hoge, a Notre Dame commit, was certainly the top offensive line prospect in Eugene and he didn't disappoint. He did lose a rep in the 1-on-1's, but was solid throughout the day. He measured in at 6-5, 290, still looking much trimmer than the 290 he weighed in at. Hoge's first punch is very good and a couple times, knocked the defender off quickly when he was playing guard. He did some reps at center and some at guard and its easy to see why the Irish like him as a pure inside prospect, specifically at center.
San Ramon (Calif.) Dougherty Valley tackle Kieffer Longson was again probably the tallest lineman there, and was right after Neale and Hoge for top lineman. We saw Longson three weeks ago at the Oakland NFTC and he again had a good day, showing the same aggressiveness we saw in Oakland and the same athleticism he has, especially for his size.
Brentwood (Calif.) Heritage 2016 defensive tackle David Letuligasenoa won MVP honors for the defensive line. We first saw Letuligasenoa last fall against five-star Joe Mixon when they helped limit Mixon to one of his lowest outputs of the season. Letuligasenoa was good all afternoon, especially in the one-on-one's. He's not the tallest defensive lineman, going about 6-0, but he's real quick off the ball, plays low and with good leverage and did a good job of disengaging with his blockers. He also showed a good amount of strength with a frame to probably easily add another 20-25 pounds.
Samammish (Wash.) Eastside Catholic defensive end Cody Baker was also in the mix for MVP honors, showing real well in the positional drills and then doing well in the 1on1s. He's got Mountain West offers but should land more when it's all said and done.
Other defensive linemen we liked included Lake Oswego (Wash.) Lakeridge 2016 tackle Massen Newton and Richland (Wash.) defensive end Mason Jackson.
Salt Lake City (Utah) East middle linebacker Christian Folau is one of the premier middle linebackers in the West and the Stanford commit was probably the top overall defensive performer on the day. The four-star showed great polish and movement in the drills, moved well in space and was tough for the running backs to stop in the pass rushing drills. He also did really well in the 1-on-1's and showed the agility that's made him a top 10 middle backer nationally.
For the second time in as many NFTCs out West, a Fresno DB won the MVP of this positional unit. In Oakland, it was Dehlon Preston and in Eugene, it was his good friend and DB Guru teammate A.J. Greeley from Fresno (Calif.) Edison. Greeley showed the best footwork, backpedal and closing speed of any of the DBs, was physical and heady in his play, and next to impossible to get a pass caught on.
Just a couple of days after he committed to San Jose State, Corona (Calif.) Roosevelt safety Evan Tyler was in action in Eugene and had a good showing in the positional drills and in the half-skelly. Tyler is a big kid but moved really well with good closing speed and quick hands to knock the ball away.
Sammamish (Wash.) Eastside Catholic cornerback Terin Adams had some nice moments in the 7on7 portion of the afternoon and has a smooth backpedal, he just needs to add a little more weight.