Final Notes from SoCal Nike

The recent NIKE Camp at Cerritos J.C. (Calif.) brought out over 300 players from all over the region and beyond. Here are some final thoughts on what was a talent-laden event...

Stock Up

*Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde WR Demorea Stringfellow- It's hard to call a player nearing double digit offers a ‘sleeper' but you really don't hear a lot of buzz about Stringfellow when talking about the top players in the state. After seeing him in action Sunday, you can make an argument that Stringfellow was the top offensive player in attendance. He's big, very physical and has strong hands and should now be talked about as one of the top 2-3 receivers in the region.

*Los Alamitos (Calif.) OL Alex Redmond- Long time Griffin assistant Barry Sherr called a few moths ago saying he has a lineman who could be one of the best they have ever had. That's a bold statement but Sherr was right on the money as Redmond looked like the top tackle in attendance. He was the only guy able to slow down DL MVP Joe Mathis and has the size and toughness to be recruited by every school out West.

*El Toro (Calif.) QB Conner Manning- As a junior, Manning threw for 4,219 yards and 41 touchdowns to earn Orange County Player of the Year honors. He had a solid workout in Dallas a week ago and earned QB MVP honors Sunday. With that resume, you would think the signal caller would be raking in the offers. Surprisingly, Manning is still waiting for his first offer to come in but he's definitely a BCS level player and should see his stock rise over the coming months.

Big weekend for Palma

No player did more over the weekend to help their stock than Tulare (Calif.) Mission Oak linebacker Kevin Palma. He posted a 118.77 SPARQ Rating at the NIKE Combine Saturday highlighted by running a 4.75-40, 4.15 shuttle and throwing the power ball 46'.

He then went out and dominated the linebacker position at the NIKE Camp and had several coaches feeling he should have earned LB MVP honors. Lead LB coach Chris Gizzi raved about Palma's range and burst to the football and no one made more plays in the half-skelly period

Surprisingly, Palma has just a lone offer from Nevada but is hearing from a handful of other schools. He's not just a workout warrior either, he was a 2nd team all-state underclass selection last season and boasts a 4.3 GPA off the field as well.

Who's the top safety in the region?

Vista Murrieta (Calif.) athlete Su'a Cravens is the current top safety in the region and although he didn't attend the NIKE Camp and will likely sit out most of the big spring/summer event's, his spot is secure. He's an incredible athlete and the current No. 1 player in the region.

After that, things get interesting. Priest Willis is the No. 2 guy but he has played strictly corner all spring and has looked very good doing it. He narrowly missed out on DB MVP honors and shows the athleticism to play corner in college, despite measuring in at 6-2, 200 pounds.

Max Redfield and Tahaan Goodman are next on the list and both looked good Sunday. Redfield measured in at 6-1.5, 181 pounds, Goodman at 6-2, 184 pounds. Goodman is the more physical player and one of the biggest hitters in the region. Redfield is an elite athlete but doesn't have much of an edge in that department over Goodman, who can fly around the field as well.

Tyler Foreman showed in Vegas and on Sunday that he's not too far behind the others either. He came in at 6-1.5, 193 pounds and can run and hit with the best of them. Things can change as it's still early but right now, Goodman looks very deserving of a nice rankings boost at the end of the summer.

Two is better than one

It can, at times, be difficult to recruit twin football player simply because they often play the same position and usually one is a little better than the other. When the two want to play together, a school is forced to decide if they really want to bring in two players at the same spot when only one of them is good enough.

That's not the case with Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) linebackers Alani Latu and his bigger brother Viliami Latu. Both of these guys can absolutely play and were both rated among the top five ‘backers at the NIKE camp.

Viliami is the bigger of the two weighing in at 225 pounds to Alani's 210. Alani is a little quicker but not by much as both are very good athletically. They both have great frames to add size and strength, are high motor players with great attitudes and they do want to be a package deal in college. So far San Diego State and Hawaii are the two schools that have offered both players but look for that list to grow this spring when schools come by and see them on campus.

Underclassmen shine

A handful of underclassmen have very good performances but two players really stood out.

*Viane Talamaivao, Corona (Calif.) Centennial- The sophomore earned OL MVP honors over a pretty strong field. Talamaivao played guard last season for the Huskies and at 6-2, 300 pounds, that's definitely where he projects. He'll move to tackle this fall and according to Coach Logan at Centennial, he's already the strongest player in the program.

When you recruit a Centennial player, you always know exactly what you're getting- a very tough, physical kid who will play with an edge to them. Talamaivao fits that mold. He plays with a motor as well as a mean streak and should be on everyone's radar heading in to his junior season.

*Iman Marshall, Long Beach Poly (Calif.) DB- Freshman aren't supposed to look like Marshall. He's already 6-0, 175 pounds and after having a dominant performance at safety in Vegas two weeks ago, the athlete moved to corner in Cerritos and had another strong showing.

He's simply a great football player already and his football savvy is well beyond his years. He can run, he's tough and physical and doesn't back down from anyone. He's smart and has a high football IQ and will only get better as he matures more physically.

It's always easy for young players who achieve a level of early success to rest on their laurels or let the attention get to their head. Marshall is a grounded kid with a strong support group around him and as long as he stays hungry, he has a chance to be a very special player.

Is Hawkins the first of many?

Immediately following the NIKE Camp, Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) defensive back Chris Hawkins committed to USC over Stanford. The buzz in talking to a few other players at the event was there could be some serious talent joining the corner at SC.

Hawkins plays on the same 7 on 7 team (B2G) and is very close with Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) safety Tahaan Goodman and Tempe (Ariz.) Marcos de Niza corner Priest Willis. The three talk openly about wanting to play together in college and took a picture together following Hawkins' announcement. When some commented that all three look like future Trojans, Goodman and Willis both nodded their head and smiled.

Concord (Calif.) De La Salle linebacker Michael Hutchings commented prior to Hawkins' announcement that he knew where Chris was going and there was a good chance there could be several other players joining him as well. One player Hutchings mentioned by name was Vista Murrieta (Calif.) safety Su'a Cravens, the top player in the West.

Upland (Calif.) defensive lineman Joe Mathis has been very tight lipped about naming favorites but several close to him feel USC is definitely the team to beat. Mathis commented that he and Goodman are very close friends and would like to play together in college as well.

The next domino to drop will likely be Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline quarterback Max Browne. Browne will announce his college choice Wednesday night and it looks very likely he'll be a Trojan. After signing just 12 players a year ago, it's already looking like a different story with the class of 2013 as the Trojans may have to turn away some very good football players come Signing Day.

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 Scout.com/FOXSportsNext.
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