If there is one legacy through the years of the Stanford Nike Camp, other than having ungodly numbers of kids upward of 600 or 700, it is the caliber of quarterbacks who show and shine. Saturday's edition did not offer quite the depth and quality of elite quarterbacks, due mostly to this being a little bit of a down year in the Golden State for signal callers. (The sophomores/Class of '09 are a different story, and two great ones were in attendance Saturday: Matt Barkley and Tate Forcier).
Perhaps then it was appropriate that the Quarterback MVP was won by an out-of-state slinger. Sean Renfree from Scottsdale (Ariz.) Notre Dame Prep walked away with those honors, continuing his acclaimed coming out party this spring as one of the West's best quarterbacks. He humbly credits some of his work Friday at Berkeley for helping him to Saturday's award.
"I think a lot was what I did yesterday at Elite 11. Today I was a little slow, especially at the end," he offers. "I tried to come out here today to work on my footwork, since I struggled with that a little yesterday. I wanted to focus on footwork and ball velocity today, and I guess they liked that."
It took mere seconds after the close of the camp for him to learn not only of his position MVP recognition, but also that from an in-state program.
"Arizona offered today out here," Renfree reports. "I haven't really talked to them much, so I don't know a whole lot. I went down to see their facilities and meet their coaches, and I liked it. We'll see by the end of the week who offers, but you never know."
This weekend is the second time in the last few weeks for Renfree to visit The Farm. He attended Stanford's Spring Game the last weekend of April, while also competing in the San Francisco Scout.com All-American Combine. This weekend is another combo package of competition and the Cardinal, with the Nike Camp on Saturday and Stanford's Junior Day today.
"I met all the coaches and liked them. I'm looking forward to seeing them again and seeing all of the facilities," Renfree says. "I'm looking forward to a good day tomorrow."
While Renfree was king in the passing competitions, another battle rumbled a hundred yards away between two of the nation's best running backs. Four-star Covaughn Deboskie was in pursuit of a five-star runner hailed as #1 in the country. That competition was enough to lure the Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton High School standout to his second Nike Camp this spring, having already performed at USC in April.
"Since I heard that Darrell Scott was going to be here today, I wanted to show that I'm up there with him," Deboskie explains. "I heard that this was going be bigger than the one at USC, so I wanted to come to this one. I also want to get my brother some exposure."
"I think he has me on size. Also on carries that he got last year. I only got half his carries, and I had 22 touchdowns," the Arizona athlete says of how he stacks up with Scott. "Maybe it'd be different if I was 200-plus pounds. I'm 190 right now. I think I'm faster than him. Ultimately it's what coaches think, though. It doesn't matter what I think."
"I wanted to show that it's not all just publicity and hype. I wanted to show that I wasn't overrated - that I am one of the top-ranked in the country," Deboskie declares.
Observers were assured on Saturday that the 6'0" 190-pounder is worth the fanfare. His speed was lethal against linebackers in one-on-one drills, often recording receptions deep downfield.
This weekend also brings Deboskie for the first time to the Cardinal campus. He has slotted Stanford as one of his top three favorite schools, which underscores the importance of his Junior Day experience today.
"I already know that they have great academics. Whew, one of the best in the country. They're Ivy League," Deboskie says of Stanford. "I just want to see what their position status is - if I do choose here, is it the right thing. I also want to see if I can be happy here. I don't want to be sad in college everyday, missing my mom."
"If I do choose here, it would be because of education and early playing time," he adds.
Yet another Arizona athlete who performed well on Saturday is a prime Stanford target attending today's Junior Day. Chandler (Ariz.) Basha High School's Kurt Mangum in on a crusade this spring to prove that he is a bona fide linebacker prospect. Mangum played with his hand on the ground last fall on the defensive line, and he was plenty productive with seven sacks. Now trimmer and lighter on his feet as a linebacker, the 6'1" 229-pound athlete is competing everywhere he can.
"At Scout's camp, I was Linebacker MVP. At the Purdue Nike Camp, I was top five. Last week at adidas at UCLA, I was Defensive MVP and Linebacker MVP," Mangum recaps. "Today I came out and my groin was hurting a little bit, but the coach said I was top two or three of the linebackers."
Mangum is big and physical but can also run. He is yet to land his first scholarship offer, and that may require more work in June.
"A lot of people, the reason they haven't offered is that they want me to come to their camp," Mangum explains. "I'm just working out and enjoying it, working my way through the recruiting process. Talking to coaches, looking at schools, getting invited to Junior Days and one-days. It's all looking good."
Part of a large Basha contingent on the Cardinal campus this weekend, including cornerback Quinn Evans, Mangum is eager to learn more about The Farm.
"I'm loving the weather and surroundings. I can't wait until tomorrow for Stanford's Junior Day," the linebacker allows. "I know Stanford is an excellent school academically. I have a strong grades - a 3.75. I just want to make sure you can do this as an athlete. I know that football is a job, and school is also a job here at Stanford. I want to make sure that they can help out with both of those and help the student-athletes."
The above Arizona trio are all still uncommitted in their college choice, but an important attendee at Saturday's Nike Camp also giving Stanford a look today with the Junior Day activities is four-start tight end Austin Holt. The 6'6" athlete from South Jordan (Utah) Bingham High School is one of the very best in the nation this year. He called it quits early with a February commitment to BYU, less than a week after the Class of 2007 Signing Day. That could allow Holt to rest on his laurels, but he instead has been seeking out competition on the combine circuit this spring. He worked hard and impressed recently at the Los Angeles Scout.com All-American Combine and came to Stanford Saturday looking for yet another test.
"It was really good here today," Holt says of the competition. "This is probably one of the better Nike Camps across the country with some of the best kids on the West Coast. It's really fun to come out here."
"The number one thing about me is that I love competition," he explains. "If you are going to be committed, you can still go out to represent the school that you are committed to and do all the competitions that you can. You go to the Scout Combine. You go to this combine. I'm not afraid to go out and play against the best. Just because I'm committed, that doesn't mean I don't want to come out here and have fun."
"You want to go against the best while you're here, and then take those tricks back home," the tight end tells us. "That's what I'm looking to do here - the one-on-ones. Against the best corners and the best safeties, I know that if I can beat them here I can do really well at home."
It is hard to imagine what Holt will do to the defensive backs who try to cover him this fall after the carnage he left in his wake Saturday. With the exception of two balls that were errantly thrown several yards out of his reach, Holt caught every pass during one-on-one competitions. A huge athlete, he ran easily and caught balls high and low. It was a dominant performance, which he also felt was good experience different from the routes he ran in his school's offense last season.
"In our offense, I'm down on the line a lot more," he describes. "Sometimes this year, we are going to be splitting me out as more of an H-back in motion. I feel comfortable in both, but probably more on the line because that's where I've played. I'm getting used to splitting out, too, so that's okay... Today, I felt comfortable anywhere they put me."
The Cardinal question of the hour is how comfortable he feels on Stanford's campus. Holt was one of the first few Class of '08 offers from the Farm, handed out last fall.
"I've been in contact with all of the coaches. They have been recruiting me since a long time ago, back to when the other coach was here," Holt details. "I want to sit down and ask them questions. Academics of course are the really big thing here. I've seen that the football coach is going in the right direction with Coach Harbaugh. I'm going to ask questions about everything - football and academics."
"They have the academics here. Bar none, they're the best here," he says. "I'm going to see how they are moving along with the football program. I think it's going in the right direction but want to learn more."
With many schools still pursuing Holt despite his BYU commitment, plus visits like this one to Stanford, it is hard to quell the rumors surrounding his recruiting status. Holt says that in addition to his commitment to the Cougars, he is looking at only a small list of other schools.
"Of course BYU is still on top of that right now. Then UCLA, Stanford and Florida are the other three I'm still looking at," Holt states. "I got to see UCLA recently, and that was the first time I've ever seen it. The coaches have kept in contact ever since then... I don't know [about Florida]. This whole spring we are going to be getting ready for our upcoming football season. I'll have to see if I can swing some time maybe. My grandpa actually lives out there, so we might go visit my grandpa and then do something maybe."
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