Nike Football The Opening Regional in NorCal: Defensive Preview

The aways loaded Nike Opening Regional Camp in Oakland will take place on Sunday. Here's a look at the top defensive players expected on Sunday.

The defensive side of the ball definitely looks like the strength of the camp. There is a ton of star power and depth at all three levels of the defense and we could see several players land a Golden Ticket to The Opening Finals following the event.


The Headliner

Elijah Wade, 6-5, 240, Las Vegas (Nev.) Arbor View

Wade is rated the No. 1 defensive end prospect out West and should be fun to watch. This will be our first time seeing Wade this off-season but he has great film and is physically, exactly how you draw up a next level pass rusher. He has a prototype frame, long and athletic, shows a nice burst off the edge and can run down plays from behind. Wade is a national recruit with offers from schools like Alabama, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame  and the entire Pac-12 minus Stanford.

Sleeper To Watch

Niti Liu, 6-3, 310, Sacramento (Calif.) Grant

It's always tough to find talented defensive tackles out West but Liu is a very intriguing kid. He has the size to play nose guard but the quickness and lateral mobility to play as a traditional tackle or three-tech. He's explosive off the snap and can beat an opposing lineman with quickness or power. He's not a complete sleeper as he does hold offers from a trio of Pac-12 schools in ArizonaUCLA and Utah but he's not nearly the household name his talent would dictate but that could change following the camp Sunday. 

Underclassman To Watch

Ani Izuchukwu, 6-4, 220, Nashville (Tenn.) Davidson Academy, '19

Izuchukwu will make the long road trip from Tennessee to work out in Oakland and it should be fun watching one of the elite prospects from the South. He has only been playing football for a couple of years and you can tell he is still learning the game but when you combine his frame, athleticism and motor, his upside is easy to see. Schools like AlabamaAuburnClemsonLSU and Michigan have already offered.

Others To Watch:

Nick Alftin, 6-5, 230, San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty
E.J. Ane, 6-1, 250, Yermo (Calif.) Silver Valley
Franklin Banks, 6-1, 310, El Cerrito (Calif.), '19
Kukea Emmsley, 6-4, 200, Kapolei (Hawaii)
Kingsley Enagbare, 6-4, 260, College Park (Ga.) Hapeville Charter
Craig Francois, 6-2, 210, Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral
Kai Golden, 6-3, 290, Tucson (Ariz.) Mountain View
Jake Heimlicher, 6-4, 210, Aurora (Colo.) Regis Jesuit
Isaac Hodgins, 6-0, 265, Walnut Creek (Calif.) Berean Christian 
Adam Plant, 6-4, 240, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
Andy Koch, 6-6, 250, Corona (Calif.) Roosevelt
Tennessee Pututau, 6-2, 250, Salt Lake City (Utah) Cottonwood
Samson Reed, 6-3, 240 Kahuku (Hawaii)
R.J. Stone, 6-4, 210, San Jose (Calif.) Valley Christian
Demitri Washington, 6-5, 235, Solana Beach (Calif.) Santa Fe Christian


The Headliner

Adrian Jackson, 6-2, 210 , Denver (Colo.) Mullen 

The Oregon commit is one of the most versatile players out West and could play safety or linebacker in college. We like him as a future outside 'backer where his elite athleticism would allow him to make a ton of plays and be a factor in the passing game as well. Jackson is plenty physical enough, plays with a nice edge to him and has a very nice upside to him. He had a great showing at the Under Armour All-American Regional Camp and will hope to impress once more in Oakland. 

Sleeper To Watch

Kana'i Mauga, 6-2, 210, Waianae (Hawaii)

Mauga is closing in on double digit offers so a little tough to call him a sleeper but he is a player we think should be recruited at the national level. He has very good film and is among the most active and relentless 'backers we've seen this year. He plays with a tremendous motor and can fly off the edge as a pass rusher and run down plays from all over the field in run support. He can change direction, stop and start on a dime and we love the passion he plays with. 

Underclassman To Watch

De'Gabriel Floyd, 6-3, 220, Santa Clarita (Calif.) Golden Valley, '19

Floyd can play on either side of the ball but we love his upside at linebacker. He could grow in to a defensive end and has the size and speed to be dominant running back in college as well. As a linebacker, he checks off all the boxes you want in a see in a football player. The USC commit has size, strength, toughness, can run, has a motor and plays with an edge to him. He can play in space or rush the quarterback 

Others To Watch:

Miki Ah You, 6-1, 180, Kahuku (Hawaii), '19
M.J. Cunningham, 6-3, 230 Portland (Ore.) Madison
Omari Harris, 6-1, 200, Antioch (Calif.)
Brandon Kaho, 6-3, 220, Reno (Nev.)
Salua Masina, 6-4, 205, Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton
Andrew Mataafa, 604, 205, San Diego (Calif.) Mt. Carmel 
Cameron McGrone, 6-1, 210, Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central
Phillip Mills, 6-3, 200, Menifee (Calif.) Paloma Valley
Victor Terry, 6-1, 210, Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral
Maninoa Tufono, 6-3, 225, Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou
Eli'jah Winston, 6-3, 230, Portland (Ore.) Central Catholic 


The Headliner

Talanoa Hufanga, 6-1, 195, Corvallis (Ore.) Crescent Valley 

Hufanga is rated the No. 1 athlete in the country but will work out with the defensive backs in Oakland. He could end up on either side of the ball in college but safety might be where his upside is highest and he shows a lot of next level tools at the position. He has good size and toughness, is a fluid athlete who can run, closes well on the ball , loves to hit, plays with physicality and has a ton of range. It should be fun to see him in this kind of setting. 

Sleeper To Watch

Chris Mitchell, 6-0, 190, Mission Viejo (Calif.)

Mitchell had a standout showing at the Nike Camp in Los Angeles a few months back and will head to Oakland to make another appearance. He is among the most athletic defensive backs in the region, jumps 40" in the vertical and has the frame to play anywhere in the secondary. He has corner skill set, is a smart, heady player and has the talent to play at the high Div I level. 

Underclassman To Watch

Michael Robertson, 6-0, 160, Savannah (Ga.) Savannah Christian Prep, '20

Although just a freshman, Robertson is already a national recruit with offers from some of the top heavyweight programs in the South including Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee, just to name a few. He's a two-way standout who plays both ways but will likely work out with the corners on Sunday. Robertson, whose uncle Demetris Robertson was a freshman at Cal last season, has dynamic speed and athleticism and should put on a show. 

Others To Watch

Mckenzie Barnes, 6-0, 170, Fresno (Calif.) Edison
Stephan Blaylock, 6-0, 185, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
Maurice Gaines Jr., 6-2, 185, Sacramento (Calif.) Capital Christian
Myles Green-Richards, 6-1, 175, Eugene (Ore.) Winston Churchill
Jevon Holland, 6-1, 170, Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O’Dowd
Marcus Johnson, 5-9.5, 160, Corona (Calif.)
Noah Lopez, 5-10, 165, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
D'Angelo McKenzie, 6-0, 175, San Jose (Calif.) Valley Christian
Daniel Morales, 5-11, 180, Temecula (Calif.) Great Oak
Ryan Nixon, 6-3, 190, Long Beach Poly (Calif.)
Elias Ricks, 6-2, 180, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, '20
Steve Stephens, 6-0, 185, Fresno (Calif.) Edison
Tre Weed, 6-0, 185, Sumner (Wash.) Senior
Chase Williams, 6-2, 175, Corona (Calif.) Roosevelt

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