* We've been watching Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman's Tate Martell since the 7th grade and you won't find a more competitive player, regardless of position. Martell takes every drill and every rep seriously and was our overall top quarterback of the day.
People may look at his size and downplay it but in terms of arm strength and his ability to make all the throws, few are better. He has a great feel in the pocket for timing and anticipation and is accurate to all three levels of the field.
He has a presence about him and in a camp setting like this, he's not even able to showcase one of his best qualities, which is his ability to escape pressure and make a play with his legs. Colleges are still after Martell but he sounds locked in with Texas A&M right now.
* Winning QB MVP honors was Newport Beach (Calif.) Corona Del Mar's Chase Garbers. Garbers had a strong day and excelled in every drill we saw. He has a nice, athletic frame at 6-foot-3 and showed off a smooth, effortless release.
The ball jumps out of his hand, he spins it very consistently and throws a nice, catchable ball. He showed touch on the deep ball and was accurate throughout the camp. We've been saying his stock was rising fast and his camp performance, which got him a ticket to the Elite 11 semi-finals, was further confirmation.
*Ater Martell and Garbers, there were three players we liked, all sort of jumbled together, including a pair of '18 prospects. Connor Neville and rising juniors Matt Corral and Dorian Thompson-Robinson all had very solid workouts.
-Neville, out of Wilsonville (Ore.) has been on our radar since he lit up the NorCal NIKE Camp in Oakland as a freshman three years ago. He's coming off an injury but looked strong on Sunday.
-Corral, an early USC commit, has a strong lower body and impressed with his ability to roll out, plant and throw with accuracy and zip. He has a very live arm for a sophomore and was consistent throughout the day.
There's a lot of good quarterbacks in the '18 class and Corral has a chance to be at the very top. He's still growing physically and has a poise and confidence beyond his years.
-Thompson-Robinson was a revelation and looked good all day long. He's a dual-threat kid who backs up Martell at Bishop Gorman but he has the talent to start for just about any other school out West. Thompson-Robinson also visited UCLA prior to the event and told Scout afterwards that if UCLA offers, he might commit on the spot.
He looked equally comfortable throwing in and outside the pocket, is strong mecanically with a fluid throwing motion and plenty of zip. Colorado State and UNLV have offered and we could see him hitting double digits on the offer front without even starting a game by mid-season next fall.
* Our sleeper of the year was Villa Park's (Calif.) Nick Sipe. He was in the top group of quarterbacks all day and was throw for throw wiht all of them.
He has good size to him, a strong arm, good feet, was very accurate and looked in rhythm and on balance all day. The film backs up what we saw in person and he's definitely a player that should be getting a lot of Div I looks this spring.
Others who stood out:
J.T. Daniels ('19)- Smooth, polished, gets the ball out on time and very advanced feel for the position.
Braxton Burmeister- Slow start but picked it up late
Brevin White ('18)- Consistent and steady throughout the camp, needs some size but has plenty of time.
Jack Sears- We've seen Sears throw with a little more zip but there's still a lot there to like.
The Running Backs:
* Even though he didn't win RB MVP honors, for us, Stephen Carr was on another level. The Fontana (Calif.) Summit athlete is a big back with speed, balance, quickness, toughness, hands and always competes at a high level.
One of the lead coaches from Student Sports, Michael Fletcher, said Carr reminds him a lot of Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott at the same stage and that's a great comparison. Carr is a between the tackle runner who can also kick it outside and has a little more wiggle than given credit for.
Carr gave an early commitment to USC, opened things up a bit and will take visits but we still think the Trojans are in a good spot right now.
* Anyone who has watched Taz Tauaese on the 7v7 circuit shouldn't have been surprised by performance. The El Segundo (Calif.) athlete earned RB MVP honors from the NIKE staff after his strong overall performance.
He's a change of pace back, with great hands out of the backfield and is dynamic in the open field. The saying, 'can you make you miss in a phone booth,' definitely applies to Tauaese and when matched up with a linebacker, you can probably get the fight song ready.
* Highland (Utah) Lone Peak athlete Jackson McChesney had the days top NIKE Rating after running a 4.48-40, 4.21 shuttle, 39" vertical leap and a 42' power ball throw. The BYU commit can do a lot more than just test well and was tremendous in the drills as well.
His rep in the one on one drills where he made an opposing 'backer miss in the open field was caught on video and went viral. He has a ton of wiggle to him to go along with the straightline speed and you can expect multiple schools to try and flip him from the Cougars.
* It seems like we've been talking about Ontario (Calif.) Colony athlete Nathan Tilford for years and when you consider he landed his first offer from Arizona State and USC as an 8th grader, we probably have. Tilford is a player we think can play multiple positons, on either side of the ball but running back looks like his preferred spot.
Tilford is a taller back with good straightline speed. He has a little wiggle to him but is more of a north-south back who can get downhill and punish a defense. Along with the above mentioned schools, Arizona and Michigan have offered as well.
Others who stood out:
Biaggio Ali-Walsh- Very good speed, natural pass catcher, even better with the pads on.
T.J. Pledger ('18)- Workhorse back with a strong lower body and a nice burst.
Ja'tai Jenkins ('18)- Thick kid with a solid frame and worked extremely hard.
The Wide Receivers/Tight Ends:
* We expected Tyjon Lindsey to have a big day and he delivered. He earned an invite to The Opening Finals for the second year in a row and should be mentioned among the top slot receivers in the nation.
Lindsey is more quick than fast but does have the speed to get behind a defense. He's very explosive getting in and out of his breaks and combines that ability with being a pure route runner, making him a near impossible cover at the HS level. He also catches the ball extremly well and is tremendous after the catch.
* After looking almost bored in the early staged of the camp, Los Angeles (Calif.) Hawkins WR Joseph Lewis caught fire when the one on one drills started and showed why he's among the top pass catchers in the country.
Lewis is a big bodied receiver who can run and has strong hands. He's quick out of his stance, can turn a defensive back around and then finish off a play high pointing everything. He reminds us a little of current Falcon WR Julio Jones at the same stage and will be as good as he wants to be at the next level.
* No one was more dominant at the WR position than Lewis' '18 teammate, Jalen Hall. Not only did Hall test off the charts, he was virtually impossible to slow down in the one on one drills.
Hall looks all of 6-foot-4 and really uses his size well. Not only is he big, he has excellent body control and timing in jump ball situations. He's a physical player who can get down field and will be in contention for top overall prospect in the West Coast '18 class.
* Santa Margarita's (Calif.) Grant Calcaterra is such an intriguing player and will be able to be used in a variety of ways. Depending on how much bigger he gets, he could be a big receiver or grow in to a hybrid tight end that is used predominately as a receiver target.
He had an acrobatic one handed catch over a defender in the corner of the end zone that was one of the highlights of the camp. New offers continue to fly in and he'll visit a ton of MW schools over Spring Break including Michigan and Notre Dame as well as Oklahoma.
* Two players who are very similar in terms of their size, quickness and talent level that had strong camps were Bellflower (Calif) St. John Bosco's Terrell Bynum and L.A (Calif.) Cathedral's Jamire Calvin.
Bynum looks stronger and quicker than a year ago. He always had a nice burst to him but just looks more mature as a pass catcher. He's more explosive and playing with a lot of confidence. He'll visit Tennessee over the summer and will camp with Stanford. UCLA and USC are both involved as well.
We've seen a lot of Calvin this year and he always impresses. He has very good quickness getting in and out of his breaks and can catch the ball with his hands and turn up field as good as anyone we've seen. Calvin is hoping for an Oregon and USC offer but likes Nebraska and Cal quite a bit.
* Buena Park (Calif.) athlete Taariq Johnson is a hybrid tight end that we like a lot. He appeared to have a leg injury, couldn't tell if it was a hammy or a quad but he battled through it.
We've been watching Johnson since he was a freshman at LB Poly and he has really matured as a football player. Physically, he looks noticeably bigger and stronger than even the end of last season, is running well and catches everything.
*Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman '18 TE Brevin Jordan is a great looking young prospect and is already a national recruit. He has an athletic body, is very fluid and has excellent body control. He looked very natural catching the football and projects as the top TE out West in the 2018 class. Like Thompson-Robinson, Jordan is very high on UCLA early, and it sounds like the Bruins are very much in pole position early. He visited UCLA along with Thompson-Robinson before the event.
* La Mirada's (Calif.) Sire Woods also jumped out to us. Woods worked out with the receivers when we saw him and fit right in that group. He catches the ball very easily with his hands, away from his body and can get up the field. He has a solid frame and could bulk up into a traditional every down TE while keeping his athleticism.
Others who stood out:
Bryan Thompson- Good size, downfield speed and strong hands.
C.J. Parks ('18)- Quick in and out of his breaks and as good of hands as you'll see.
Austin Osborne ('18)- Big 6-3 kid who can run and make plays down the field.
Chase Williams ('18)- Strong bodied sophomore who catches everything.
Maurice Bell- Smooth route runner, very fluid in his movement.
Zak Simon- Strong, athletic and physical with a powerful body.
The Offensive Linemen:
* Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco's Wyatt Davis was the guy all eyes were on and he had a strong camp. He didn't win every one on one rep but his natural talent and upsider were obvious.
He played tackle most of the camp and did well blocking against the speed rushers coming off the edge. He moves well for a big man and could stay at tackle in college if he can keep his weight down and continue to improve his overall athleticism.
We still think he has the frame that will grow in to a guard down the line and that's where we like his upside the most. He's technically sound, light on his feet and very strong. He has his choice of just about any school in the country and will visit Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame and Tennessee to name a few.
* One of the bigger surprises of the day was the performance of Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison's Michael Saffell. A true center prospect, Saffell earned OL MVP honors and went 3-3 at the end of the day when the five best OLs and DLs were pitted against each other.
Saffell is extremely strong and had no problem standing up to the bull rushers but moves his feet extremly well and has very good short area quickness for a big lineman. He's even better in the pads and is definitely worth keeping an eye on for schools looking for a tough, nasty interior lineman.
* Another player who just does not lose many one on one reps was Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure's Casey Roddick. Roddick is a massive kid, very strong and showed off a great punch. He can stun an opposing lineman right out of the gate with his punch and then finish him off once he knocks him off balance.
What was most surprising about Roddick was how quick he gets out of his stance and how light he is on his feet. We're talking about a kid who looks all of 340 pounds but plays like he's closer to 300. If he could get down to 315 pounds or so, it would be scary what he would do to people on the field. Oregon and Colorado have offered.
Others who stood out:
Ryan Nelson- Long, lean tackle who's much stronger than he looks and was great in one on ones.
Brett Neilon- Like his strength, toughness and mobility.
Tommy Brown ('18)- Big tackle who more than held his own against some of the top rush ends.
Penei Sewell ('18)- Athletic tackle who made the top five 'best on best' at end of camp.
Jacob Isaia ('18)- Needs to bulk up but has incredble athleticism for a young lineman
Anthony Pardue ('18)- Promising young tackle with good feet and balance.
Zelan Tupuola- Strong, physical interior lineman who can maul people.