Making An Impression
The defensive back group was absolutely loaded at the SoCal NFTC, with several of the usual suspects standing out, but there were a few sleepers who made an impression.
One player who's been somewhat overshadowed by many of the top defensive backs playing for B2G is San Marcos (Calif.) Mission Hills cornerback Devin Holiday. After a strong showing at the NLA Elite 7on7 the week before, Holiday had another good performance at the NFTC, excelling in coverage and having a pick and a breakup in consecutive plays against bigger receivers. Holiday has one offer, from Hawaii, but with the eval period coming, that number could increase.
San Luis Obispo (Calif.) linebacker Jack Ferguson was possibly the biggest middle linebacker there, at 6-2, 240ish, but he could flat move and showed really good quickness and agility in the drills. With his size, he's an ideal middle backer at the next level. As coaches make their way to the Central Coast this spring, Ferguson will be a player that we anticipate will see his recruitment really take off.
For the second straight weekend, Chino Hills (Calif.) receiver Jack Austin stood out in a good group of receivers and though Boise State is his lone offer, we expect that number to increase exponentially in the spring.
Monrovia (Calif.) linebacker George Frazier was overshadowed himself by all-American defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy a year ago, but Frazier, who also plays quarterback, will be the guy for Monrovia this year, and he had a very good performance at Cerritos. Colorado and San Jose State have both offered Frazier.
La Jolla (Calif.) Country Day lineman Ziad Damanhoury was one of the most physically impressive players there and he teams with 2014 lineman Jordan Poland to make an imposing tackle duo. Damanhoury has good size and knee bend and plays low with good athleticism and is one of the sleepers to watch in San Diego.
Speaking of San Diego, La Mesa (Calif.) Helix receiver Kendal Keys is another very impressive player physically, and he has some of the softest hands of any receiver in the region, with good size and speed and had a couple of excellent catches in the 1on1s.
Los Angeles (Calif.) Salesian quarterack Jihad Vercher continues to stand out in every camp or tournament he participates. Vercher may have the strongest arm of any passer in the Southland.
While Dwight Williams and Viane Talamaivao earned MVP honors as underclassmen, there were a handful of other 2014 prospects that caught our attention.
One player we liked a lot was Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian running back D.J. Riggins. The 5-11, 180-pounder showed great hands and good shiftiness and now with him taking over the primary ball-carrier duties for the Lions, he'll get a chance to shine.
Fellow Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian teammate, quarterback Brandon Dawkins, also looked solid during the drills and with his size, as he continues to fine-tune his mechanics, should be one of the top prospects in the 2014 class out West.
Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco defensive back Jaleel Wadood was one of the best players we saw in Vegas and he didn't disappoint at the NFTC, and continues to show he'll be one of the top prospects in the 2014 ranks.
Gardena (Calif.) Serra 2014 linebacker Dwight Williams was the MVP for his position, and while he's waiting for his first offer, he's hearing from schools like Missouri, Ohio State, Cal, UCLA and USC and also like Florida and Alabama.
Corona (Calif.) Centennial linebacker Jaycie Pearson just made the move from Missouri and will play for the Huskies his senior year. The son of former Washington and NFL defensive back J.C. Pearson went to USC's Junior Day and has visited Arizona State and UCLA unofficially. Pearson is waiting for his first offer, but after making the move from Kansas City to one of the top programs in the state, plenty of coaches will be by his school this spring.
Orange (Calif.) Lutheran offensive lineman John Lopez has a host of offers, from Colorado, Florida State, UCLA, Washington and Utah and said that schools like USC, Nebraska and Ohio State have been in recent contact with him.
Tulare (Calif.) Mission Oak linebacker Kevin Palma has one offer from Nevada, but the stellar athlete is hearing from a number of schools like Nebraska, Stanford, USC and UCLA and said that with the evaluation period coming, he thinks more offers could be coming as college coaches come by his Central California school.
Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure running back Zachary Green was the running back MVP and he's holding one offer, from Arizona. Green said that he's getting a lot of attention from USC and UCLA and will be visiting USC unofficially next week.