It was again this year, only this time you could see a great deal of that top-end talent sitting on the sideline.
Many of the out-of-state prospects didn't participate, or participated very little, before they took a seat along UCLA's Spaulding Field.
There was also a poor dynamic, with a lack of energy on the field. The west coast kids had a bit of an attitude, and the out-of-state kids didn't really know what to make of the vibe.
Louisiana prospects and UCLA targets Malachi Dupre and Mattrell McGraw sat most of the last two days. Dupre participated in just the first morning session Friday, and McGraw hung it up on Saturday. Dupre said he was saving his energy for running the 40 at The Opening. Offensive lineman Damien Mama walked off the field early Friday with ice packs wrapped around both his knees. Once the trend was to sit and watch, many started doing it. Adoree Jackson sat by the morning practice on Saturday, and then Dwight Williams followed him. Glenn Ihenacho sat from the first whistle. Juju Smith, to his credit, worked hard in both sessions the first day, but didn't show Saturday. Quarterback Josh Rosen participated Friday in both sessions, and then for about 10 minutes on Saturday before shutting it down and heading home.
The camp was probably down to about 35 or so by the Saturday afternoon session, and we were expecting more to peel away. So, these evaluations are from the first three sessions Friday and Saturday.
It's a shame that some players are taking advantage, in our opinion, of the B2G organizers, like Ron Allen, who are offering a good service intended to get the players better over the course of three days.
It was impossible to really get a good evaluation of Dupre. It's easy to see why he's so highly regarded, with a great body and superior athleticism in the drills, but he didn't get much of a chance to show off his talent in the one-on-ones during that one session Friday. Then, during the 7-on-7, he didn't get a single ball thrown his way in about 15 reps.
Sticking with the receivers, UCLA-committed Jordan Lasley definitely has shown flashes that he's worthy of being mentioned with the best WR prospects in the west. He's explosive off the ball and is aggressive in getting space and catching the ball. He had one nice rep against Josh Bonney where he showed some unexpected physicality to knock him over on the press and get wide open for a touchdown. He's still raw in running routes at times and, again, his trash-talking is excessive. Saturday morning it got to the point where it created a bad vibe on the field between him and a few players.
If we're going to hand out an award for the best receiver over the last two days it's easily Josh Malone, the 6-3, 190-pounder from Gallatin (Tenn.) Station Camp. Malone has great size, and unusual burst for a guy that size, and then runs good routes and has solid hands. He's particularly explosive down the field. You also have to give him a great deal of credit; he wasn't one of the players who just came to the camp for a free trip to L.A. and to get some of the B2G swag -- he put in work over the course of Friday and Saturday.
Our next favorite is the 2015 receiver Jaylinn Hawkins from Buena Park, who also worked hard and consistently caught the ball with athleticism and good technique. He's not big, probably 5-11, and a bit slight physically, but he's fast, very quick, runs great routes and has great hands.
Adoree Jackson worked almost entirely as a receiver in the second session Friday and looked great. His quickness out of his break and his athleticism in catching balls slightly out of his reach is really remarkable. He wasn't necessarily working consistently really hard in this environment, however. He's so talented that it's easy to see him being an elite college player at either cornerback or receiver, but it just seems like he's more comfortable and engaged as a receiver.
A guy to mention is Mikah Holder, the Oceanside receiver committed to San Diego State. He looked good all day Friday, at about 6-0, 185-ish, with good quickness. He runs nice routes, looks pretty polished, and has good explosion down the field, along with good hands. SDSU reached a little over their head for this guy, who is probably a Pac-12 level prospect. He actually looks like a better prospect than his brother, Alijah Holder, a DB committed to Stanford. Mikah is a more fluid and natural athlete.
Among the quarterbacks, Rosen was easily the best, throwing consistently the best ball. Oak Christian's Brandon Dawkins was there in the morning Friday and threw some good balls, but that long release is still a major concern. The 2015 prospect Brady White showed up about halfway through Friday's session, and looked good, throwing perhaps the most accurately in that half an hour among anyone. He stayed through Saturday, and when Rosen hung it up, White was clearly the best quarterback left on the field. Gardena Serra quarterback Jalen Greene, who is committed to Boise State and many thought UCLA should get involved with, is clearly athletic, but is far away from being consistent enough in his throws to be considered someone UCLA would take.
JuJu Smith is continuing to prioritize playing safety, and looked just okay at B2G. He doesn't look natural at safety (while he also doesn't look natural at receiver). At B2G, he provided a huge cushion in the one-on-ones, which makes for meaningless reps since the receiver just pulls up short. We've seen JuJu, of course, and know he's a great athlete for his size, and a great playmaker in games. He's gotten bigger, filling out more in his frame, and we know it might be outrageous to speculate but: Could Smith end up a linebacker? He's 6-2 and probably 200 right now. He would have great athleticism and mobility as a linebacker. Of course, I would bet Smith probably wouldn't like the hear that much. Perhaps, even though he's not a natural wide receiver, he should be a receiver; it's the position he wants to play, he could better take advantage of his ability to dictate match-ups with his physicality on the offensive side of the ball. Again, we give Smith a great deal of credit for being one of the "star" prospects here who worked hard all day Friday.
Denzel Fisher, the 6-1 defensive back from Compton Centennial, was the best DB prospect at the camp. He started off a bit slow but kept getting better. He's not necessarily lightning fast but he has good instincts and length, which gets him to a receiver and a ball quickly. He went up against Jackson and the better receivers in the camp and consistently got the best of them. It will be interesting to see what happens with him and UCLA; he didn't necessarily blow up at the UCLA Elite Camp -- he got consistently better at that camp, but didn't do anything flashy that would get the coaches' attention. So, we think the UCLA coaches could have that lasting impression of him. You could make a case that, at at least 6-1 and with length, and a body that could easily put on muscle, he has more upside as a corner or free safety than many of the other guys UCLA has offered that are 5-11 and built-out. And again, Fisher played hard at B2G, didn't look fatigued at all in the heat, and was all-business. He was probably one of the more competitive players in the entire event, looking as if he was requesting reps to go up against the best receivers, with a few good matchups against Lasley on Friday.
Daniel Stewart, the 5-10 corner prospect from Bishop Gorman, had enough moments in coverage that made you definitely notice him. He's not big, with a smallish frame, but he is very quick in coverage and great in recovering and jumping routes.
John Bonney, the safety prospect from Houston (Tex.) Lamar, who UCLA has offered, looked mostly good over the last two days. He pretty big, with a wide frame, but was fluid in coverage, and didn't look completely out of place playing corner. His brother lives in L.A. and he's friends with UCLA target John Plattenburg (Plattenburg, when he lived in Texas, went to the same high school). He, like Malone, was one of the all-business types at the camp, and spent no time on the sidelines.
Mattrell McGraw, the safety from Louisiana, is probably 5-10, and showed great hips in the drills, but didn't do much in the one-on-ones, and then shut it down Saturday. He showed average quickness in many of the drills, and his change of direction was a bit slower than you'd like.
The more we watch 2015 DB from Long Beach Poly, Iman Marshall, it seems clear he projects as a safety and not a cornerback. He's physically pretty big at at least 6-1 and filled out. To be that physically developed as a junior, already, is an indication that he's probably going to get bigger. And even right now, his coverage skills are just okay. He has good instincts, and relies on those, as opposed to being able to use quickness or athleticism to match up with receivers in coverage. It's not that he doesn't have good quickness or athleticism -- he does, for his size, but if he continues to get bigger, he'll be much better suited as a safety.
Among the linebackers, Michael Lazarus looked like the best overall prospect. He's close to 6-2, is probably 215, and has a prototypical linebacker body, with particularly long arms. His size and length, combined with his very good feet and quickness, was impressive. Not to sound like a broken record, but Lazarus, again, was one of the players who was consistently working hard all weekend. UCLA hasn't offered Lazarus, and it'd be interesting if they did, because he's close with D.J. Calhoun, Adarius Pickett and Joe Mixon, three guys UCLA has offered and is targeting.
A linebacker to mention is BYU-committed Fred Warner from Mission Hills. He showed well here, with good size (about 6-3, 210) and good athleticism. On Saturday, he and Lazarus probably looked the best of the linebackers, especially with Dwight Williams sitting out.
Dwight Williams, the UCLA-offeree from Serra, had a spotty amount of effort in the first day, and then sat out the majority of Saturday. He shows off that good athleticism, and looks like he's gotten bigger in his shoulders and upper body.
Malik Dorton, the DE/LB from St. John Bosco, first worked out with the DL, and then moved to the LBs Friday. Still at about 6-1, he's tweener and probably doesn't really have a true position -- too small for DE, and not quick or flexible enough for linebacker.
The 2015 linebacker prospect from Swansea (South Carolina), Johnathan Sutton, showed some upside. He's a bit smallish, at about 6-0 and probably 210, but had good feet and quickness in the drills. Technically, he's also very sound, using his hands well to shuck aside blockers during 1-on-1's. UCLA has offered and he's shown interest.
Curtis Bolton, from Vista Murrieta, is about 6-1 and 215, and didn't look particularly quick in drills, but better in the 7-on-7s and team drills. Judging from what we've seen of him in the past, he's more of a game/pads-type player than a camp guy.
Jamardre Cobb, from L.A. Salesian, is about 6-1 and 215, and was just okay in terms of his quickness and mobility. He looked like he was carrying a bit of unwanted weight. The word is that he'll commit to Arizona.
Among the running backs, D.J. Riggins showed for the first session Friday, and displayed the quickness that has made him stand out throughout the spring and summer events. When he's running a route out of the backfield, his ability to cut makes it near impossible for a linebacker or safety to cover him. Demario Richard didn't necessarily stand out in the drills, but looked good in the one-on-ones, where he could also display his moves and quickness in space. Tre Watson, the commitment to Cal that UCLA has offered, didn't show us much on Friday, but looked much better on Saturday. He's a compact back, but has pretty quick feet and changes direction well.
A couple of young OLs from Conejo Valley worked out -- Oak Christian's 2015 prospect Reno Rosene, and 2016 prospect Zach Okun from Newbury Park. We see the upside with Rosene, since he's probably 6-6 and moves pretty well for his size. Okun is, though, about 6-2ish, already pretty wide and moves just decently.