The West's top running back was in Oakland on Sunday for the Nike Football Training Camp, yet it was an upstart from the Inland Empire who made the biggest impression.
Corona (Calif.) running back Nick Gibson was one of the biggest surprises of the camp in landing MVP honors. Gibson is a stocky, rocked out 5-9, 185 pound back with great quickness. He excelled in every drill in the camp embarrassing linebackers with his ability to change direction and can stop and start on a dime. He caught the ball very well out of the backfield, has great moves in the open field and definitely looks like a legitimate Div I prospect.
Oakley (Calif.) Freedom running back Joe Mixon, the top back in the West, was solid all day and while he didn't earn MVP honors, he did get a Golden Ticket to The Opening. Mixon thought he performed just ok but was better than he gave himself credit for. He did have one move where he juked both Calhoun and Lazarus in a running back-linebacker drill, and drew "ahhs" from the crowd.
Gardena (Calif.) Serra 2015 running back Malik Roberson won a CIF title in the 100m on Saturday then made the trip to the Bay Area . Roberson is one of the fastest players in all of California and is a good back to boot, and now is seeing his recruitment really take off.
American Canyon (Calif.) running back Jomon Dotson had a good day testing and then followed up with a pretty good performance in the camp. He's fast and can cut quickly and changes direction pretty easily and fluidly. He also catches the ball well out of the backfield, with real soft hands.
Mountlake Terrace (Wash.) running back Devante Downs, ranked as the top fullback by Scout, also showed better speed than we've seen from him over the last couple of years. He was easily the most impressive looking back physically, and linebackers that tried to jam him couldn't and he showed that his ability to block in the pass rushing drills is better than most. He's a rock solid 6-2, 225, and plays like it.
El Cerrito (Calif.) back Robert Wilkes is another well put-together running back, and while he doesn't have that elite speed, he's still decently quick. He wasn't real natural catching the ball, but in the footwork drills, moved the feet pretty quickly and he too looked good in the pass-blocking drills.
Petaluma (Calif.) Casa Grande's John Porchivina wants to play running back in college though linebacker might be his best spot, and he had a solid day, looking particularly good in pass blocking and in the individual drills.
Other running backs who caught our eye were Danville (Calif.) San Ramon Valley's Marcus de la Pena, Elk Grove (Calif.) Franklin's Curtis Williams and San Jose (Calif.) Valley Christian 2015 back Kirk Johnson.
Greg Biggins, Scott Kennedy and Brandon Huffman contributed to this report.
San Jose (Calif.) Bellarmine's K.J. Carta-Samuels took home QB MVP honors as well as an invite to the Elite 11 and The Opening. It was well deserved as Carta-Samuels had an impressive weekend and a very nice upside to him.
Carta-Samuels plays in an offense that features the running game and he only throws about five or six balls a game. There will be a learning curve and growing pains for sure but in terms of physical tools, the Vanderbilt commitment is very gifted.
Some of the NIKE Camp QB coaches compared him with Georgia commit Brice Ramsey in terms of the offense he plays in, the arm strength and the physical upside. He can already make every throw, has a thick, strong frame and is a solid athlete. The ball flies out of his hand and as he continues to clean up his mechanics and tighten his release a bit, the sky is the limit for him.
Kentfield (Calif.) Marin Catholic's Morgan Mahalak was right there with Carta-Samuels and it's a good bet he'll eventually receive a Golden Ticket for the Elite 11 as well. Mahalak is a high upside guy with a big arm and the ball comes out of his hand very well.
He plays with a suddenness to him and at 6-3, 190 pounds, has the physicality you love to see in a next level quarterback. Mahalak only lacks game experience but has been well coached and is a smart, heady player with a high football IQ already despite the lack of game reps.
Navato (Calif.) San Marin's Manny Wilkins had another strong workout after a solid performance on Friday. They key with Wilkins is always consistency. When he's on, he's as good as anyone. He's a big, strong kid with a live and a quick release. When he's off and starts to press, he can really struggle. He was on both days this past weekend and is another player we think has a great shot to make the Elite 11 finals.
Palo Alto's (Calif.) Keller Chryst struggled a bit Friday but looked more comfortable on Sunday. He's such a physical specimen and has an NFL body right now. Like with Wilkins, consistency is key for Chryst as well. He'll wow you with one throw and then sail the next. He's a very laid back kid and you sometimes wonder how hungry he is but there is no doubt he has a significant upside to him.
McKinney Boyd's (Texas) Curtis Ladd is a smooth, steady signal caller and was very solid on Sunday. He has a nice, easy delivery and was excellent on the short and intermediate throws. He doesn't have the high end arm strength but does everything else well.
Canyon Country (Calif.) Canyon's Cade Apsay threw Friday at the Elite 11, went home Saturday for a 7 on 7 competition and was back in action Sunday. Not surprisingly, his arm looked a little tired as a few of his deep balls floated on him. Apsay looked good in every other aspect of the camp and we've seen him enough in the past to know arm strength is not an issue for him and feel he's a terrific prospect.
One player who really jumped up Sunday was Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne's Eban Jackson. While a few of the quarterbacks looked fatigued Jackson's arm was electric and he threw the tightest ball in the camp. His release looked tight and he has always been a good athlete.
Santa Rosa (Calif.) Cardinal Newman's Keaton Dunsford shined on Friday but wasn't as consistent Sunday. He has a big, strong frame and looks all of 6-5, 200 pounds. He can make big throws down the field but struggled at times with his accuracy.
Sacramento (Calif.) Inderkum's C.J. Spencer had a solid weekend and is an intriguing kid. He has a solid frame and is a good all around athlete but throws it better than given credit for and there is some definite upside there.
Los Gatos (Calif.) signal caller Nick Bawden is built like a linebacker and can throw with anyone. He has a cannon for an arm and doesn't need to wind up to get the ball out. He can spin it as well as good as quarterback in the area and there is some definite upside based on his arm talent alone.
Gardena (Calif.) Serra's Jalen Greene is a strong armed lefty and the ball explodes out of his hand. Greene worked out in the top group all day and showed he belonged. He was accurate on all his throws and has made nice strides in the last year.
Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure sophomore Ricky Town was the top underclassmen and is always consistent. He's strong mechanically, has a nice, tight release and always spins it. Whereas we mentioned a lack of consistency with a few other quarterbacks, Town is always consistent. He plays with a calmness to him and never looks rattled.
A few others who stood out included Camas (Wash.) Union sophomore Nolan Henry, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei sophomore Jack Lowary, Ames (Iowa) Sam Straub, Layton (Utah) Hunter Evans, Pleasanton (Calif.) Foothill sophomore Kyle Kearns
National analyst Brandon Huffman contributed to this report
Roseville (Calif.) Oakmont receiver Justin Holmes has been strong this spring on the 7 on 7 circuit but was still considered an under the radar recruit. That might have changed for him Sunday after he took home WR MVP honors with a strong showing.
Holmes is a big, physical receiver with strong hands. He uses his body well to get separation and is very good in jump ball situations. He's more of a straight line receiver right now and doesn't have a ton of wiggle but will still be a tough matchup at the next level because of his size and strength.
Fresno (Calif.) Central wide out Michiah Quick had a great showing and could have easily taken MVP honors. Some have questioned Quick's attitude in the past but the coaches loved him and felt not only was he coachable but worked hard and was a front of the line guy taking as many reps as he could.
Quick caught the ball very well and made several leaping catches down the field. He's so quick off the line that he's hard to press, is a polished route runner and is very good running after the catch. Quick competes very hard and will always show up ready to play. He's definitely one of the nation's top players at his position.
El Cerrito (Calif.) Jalen Harvey had a great day and many felt he was deserving of the MVP. Harvey has a strong frame, great body control and his hands and pure pass catching ability is as good as you'll see. He has a little bit of an edge to him and is a tough, physical athlete. Of all the players in this group, he looks like the one who could step in and play immediately at the next level.
Fontana (Calif.) Summit's Erik Brown has been one of the big breakout performers of the spring. Brown has under-rated downfield speed and athleticism and was able to get deep on Sunday. He's a pure pass catcher and the game looks easy for him. When you add in his athletic 6-2 frame to go with his other physical tools and it's no wonder why Brown saw his stock soar in recent months.
Elk Grove (Calif.) Pleasant Grove's Wyatt Demps is an impressive specimen at 6-3, 185 pounds and he looked very good as well. Demps is very competitive, took to coaching well and a few of the coaches said he had the best hands of anyone.
Fresno (Calif.) Edison receiver Tyrone Smith is a tall, lanky pass catcher who has been on our radar since Las Vegas NLA 7 on 7. He has deceptive speed for a tall receiver and there is no wasted motion with him. He also looks like a natural pass catcher and has a nice upside to him.
Chino Hills (Calif.) Donovan Walker is another kid who has impressed all spring and was strong on Sunday. He was one of the best route runners in the event and explodes in and out of his breaks. He's more quick than fast and has great body control as well.
Granite Bay's (Calif.) Tony Ellison is another slick route runner and was dominant in the half-skelly period. He has been well coached and drew raves for his ability to recognize a coverage and quickly make the proper adjustment. He showed a nice catch radius, is a polished route runner and sneaky speed, showing the ability to set up a defensive back and then getting separation.
There were a handful of tight ends at the Oakland NFTC, but the top tight end was no surprise, it's the top tight end in the country, South Jordan (Utah) Bingham's Dalton Schultz.
The four-star punched his ticket to The Opening with a stellar performance in Oakland, looking great in his routes, showing the soft hands we've been seeing from him for two years now and good speed. Schultz was a difficult matchup for the linebackers in the half-skelly and even tougher for the DBs in the one-on-one's. Schultz is ranked #1 at tight end by Scout and further cemented his standing there.
Granite Bay (Calif.) tight end Dylan Keeney has pretty good speed, as his pick-six against Long Beach Poly in the state bowl game can attest, and while some schools like him as an outside linebacker, his heart is at tight end and he showed that he's more than capable of playing that in college. Like Schultz, Keeney is a good route runner and has the speed for his size. His hands are good as well, though he does need to use a little better body control on some throws. He still has a frame to get up to around 240 at the 6-5 he already is.
Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei 2015 tight end Kyle Penniston was probably the top underclass tight end there, and he's got good size and above-average speed. He too does a good job in his routes and his hands are pretty steady.
Bellevue (Wash.) Newport's Drew Sample probably had the second best day for the tight ends, doing a good job getting off the jams and making some very good adjustments to some of the poorer thrown balls. We've seen Sample a lot in the past, playing in a veer offense where he's not targeted nearly as much as other tight ends, but he showed on Sunday at least that he should have the ball in his hands more.
Fresno (Calif.) Bullard 2015 tight end Ricky McCoy is a big-bodied and physical tight end but didn't look like a natural pass-catcher, fighting the ball some and his route running can be cleaned up, but he was impossible to defend when being jammed, as he easily separated himself with a good shove.
Chico (Calif.) Pleasant Valley's Chad Olsen and Roseville (Calif.) Oakmont tight end Trey Olsen also had good days.
Greg Biggins, Scott Kennedy and Brandon Huffman contributed to this report.
It was a solid group of offensive linemen in Oakland, but one player really separated himself from the rest to earn MVP honors and a spot in The Opening.
Kammy Delp of Pomona (Calif.) Diamond Ranch was a rock at offensive guard. He was absolutely immobile once he locked on to a defender and sunk his hips. His combination of strength, mobility and leverage made him a wall for the interior linemen to try futilely to get past. Delp has offers on both sides of the ball, but we think he's a lock to be an offensive guard at the next level.
Kenyon Frison made the trip over from West Valley City (Utah) Granger, and it was time well spent. Frison had a strong base when engaged with a defender. He was light on his feet for such a big player, and he had a good dropstep in his pass protection. Frison is committed to Utah.
Lining up next to Frison at left guard was another top performer in Jimmy Leatiota of Santa Clara (Calif.) Wilcox. Leatiota had a strong punch at the point of attack, keeping pass rushers on their heels when they tried to knock him off balance.
Another tackle who looked good was big four-star Andrew Mike of Tucson (Ariz.) Sabino. He lined up at right tackle and had a long reach with his big frame. He covered a lot of ground taking on speed rushers and was strong enough to keep them outside away from the quarterback target.
Center Riley Culley of South Jordan (Utah) Bingham also earned a spot among the top five offensive linemen. Culley had trouble with one of the smaller, quicker defensive tackles to begin his reps, made adjustments and dominated his competition to close out his repetitions.
Carson (Calif.) offensive guard Bobby Johnson had some nice moments, but needs to trim down a bit to get a little more flexibility. He has good punch though and moves pretty well on his feet.
Roseville (Calif.) tackle Kolton Miller was one of the most physically impressive tackles there, with long arms and pretty good footwork. When he feels out, he's got a chance to be a pretty good tackle, but still looks a little slight.
One of the more intriguing players was Roy Hemsley, a 6-5, 260-pound 2015 lineman. Hemsley is a basketball player by trade, but moves really well and has good athleticism and bend. He's just raw and needs to work on the basic fundamentals. But you can see the athleticism there.
Riverside (Calif.) King offensive lineman Sean Krepsz is a pretty good sized lineman, but needs to get into a little better shape. He'll likely move to guard in college.
Other lineman who caught our eyes were Merced (Calif.) guard Tony Lopez, Sebastopol (Calif.) Analy guard Jacob Hicks and San Ramon (Calif.) Dougherty 2015 lineman Kieffer Longson.
Greg Biggins, Scott Kennedy and Brandon Huffman contributed to this report.