The UCLA coaches in attendance – Head Coach Karl Dorrell and assistants Don Johnson, Dino Babers, and Brian Schneider – were undoubtedly grateful to have the 150 or so prospects conveniently on UCLA's campus.
Among the 150 that did work out, there was probably a handful of prospects that were UCLA's level.
Easily among the best prospects at the camp – and perhaps the best – was safety prospect Brett Johnson, 6-1, 192, Henderson (Nev.) Green Valley.
Johnson tested well, jumping 37 inches in the vertical for one of the best of the day, and then running a 4.7, which was also one of the best 40 times for the day (being electronically tested on traditionally slow Spaulding Field. At the Nike Camp, Johnson ran a 4.5 40). He's well-built, with good arms and upper body, with the capability of adding more weight to his lower body. In the one-on-one drills, he was quick and very physical. He told us later that he had played some wide receiver a season ago, and it would have been interesting to see him catch some balls.
A recruiting story on Johnson is on the way.
Right there as one of the best prospects at the camp was Vic So'oto, 6-3, 213, Carlsbad (Calif.) High. So'oto. So'oto worked out with the wide receivers in the position drills, and proved actually what a natural athlete he is catching passes despite being probably more suited physically as a linebacker. So'oto has a well-built body that looks to be able to still add muscle and bulk. Even though he didn't record a great time in the 40 (5.0, while at Nike he said he ran a 4.6) his running motion was smooth and effortless. For his size, he had very good feet in the agility drills, and was probably the best among the slim pickings of wide receivers in the position drills. His foot quickness and natural agility, combined with his body type, would seem to project him as a potentially great strongside linebacker.
A recruiting update on So'oto is also in the works.
There were a couple quarterbacks of concern in attendance for UCLA fans. UCLA's committed quarterback, Osaar Rasshan, 6-4, 190, Pomona (Calif.) Garey, participated. Rasshan had a better day Saturday than he did two weeks ago at the San Diego Nike Camp. He had better control of his throws this time, and showed more of his arm strength. He still, however, showed again how raw of a quarterback he is at this point. While more passes were under control, most of them were still inaccurate. He still had a few too many fluttering throws, and his motion is still very long and mechanical. Physically, in this setting, he again looked pretty thin in his upper body, but showed good athleticism for his height, with good feet and mobility.
We spoke with Rasshan briefly and he said that he'd be open to UCLA taking another quarterback in the 2005 class, saying that he would welcome any competition. He said that baseball is currently taking up a great deal of his time, and affecting his throwing motion. Being an accomplished pitcher with reportedly a 90-mile-per-hour fast ball, Rasshan said he'd have to consider potentially signed a baseball contract if it was offered to him out of high school. He said it would potentially be difficult to do the type of thing that Matt Ware did – play college football and minor league baseball in the summer – since he's a pitcher. Rasshan did emphasize, though, that football is his first love and, in his mind, playing college football would take precedent.
Perhaps the best performance by a quarterback Saturday was turned in by Sean Canfield, 6-3, 200, Carlsbad (Calif.) High. Canfield is a physically solid prospect, a lefty with a nice arm and very good touch on his throws. He looked solid in the drills, with decent to good agility and foot speed. He threw the ball in the passing drills with ease, with enough arm to throw down field easily and a good instinct for being able to throw nice touch passes when it dictated.
There was a very small group of running backs at the camp, and it didn't appear that any were of UCLA's caliber. The talent was thin at wide receiver also. One intriguing prospect who worked out with the wide receivers was Antwan Mahaley, 6-4, 187, Carson (Calif.) High. Mahaley looks more like a basketball player, with a long, narrow body, but he showed some nice, natural ability moving and catching the ball. He's still particularly skinny, and projecting his body to a position would be a concern, since his frame might not be able to hold enough weight for him to be a tight end. He said he ran a 4.8 Saturday in the 40, and a 4.7 at the Nike camp, and didn't look to be lightning fast, but still ran well, which probably projects him as potentially a possession-type of receiver.
Logan Paulsen, the tight end prospect from West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade, is an interesting prospect. Paulsen also looks more like a basketball player than a football player, at about 6-4 and maybe 210 pounds, being fairly thin, even though he had fairly wide shoulders. For the first four hours of the camp as Paulsen was going through the drills, he physically drew skepticism, appearing like he just wouldn't have the capability of putting on the bulk to play tight end at the Pac-10 level. But then, in the last hour of the camp, Paulsen lined up in the one-on-one passing drills, and he looked particularly good running routes and catching the ball, for his size. Paulsen showed nice, soft hands and a very natural catching ability. His potential to put on weight would have to be a factor, but he was so good catching the ball it's easy to see why he's considered a good tight end prospect.
Among the offensive lineman, easily the best was Rodney Picou, 6-4, 300, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Canyon Springs. Like we reported from the San Diego Nike Camp, Picou could lose a little weight, but his very agile and quick for his size, has long arms that he uses well in keeping off the rush, and very good strength. He's easily among the best line prospects in Southern California.
An intereresting and previously unknown prospect from Torrance (Calif.) North Torrance was Laupepa Letuli. He looked to be about 6-3 and 260ish, and looked aggressive and agile in the one-on-one line drills. Richard Pachecco, a teammate of Picou's at Canyon Springs Moreno Valley, turned in another good performance at a camp. Physically he'd probably project as a center on offense and a tackle on defense, being about 6-1 to 6-2 and around 250ish – a bit undersized. His failry thin-waisted, too, and small-framed, so there is a question whether he'd be able to add the size he'd need to play at this level. He didn't run really well in the 40, but again, like he had at other camps, looked good in the one-on-one drills, able to jump in his man off the ball a number of times and beat them with some craftiness. Another interesting and fairly unknown prospect was Arturo Rodriguez, from Las Vegas (Nev.) High. Rodriguez looked to be about 6-4 and 270, and in the one-on-one drill he looked good as a potential offensive guard, with good lateral quickness and long arms, that he used well to fend off his rushers. Tyler Perkins, the center prospect from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, doesn't have a great body, probably 6-1 and 250ish without much potential to get a great deal bigger. He did show good aggressivness and ability to stay in front of his man in the drills. Maetele Pau'u, from Manhattan Beach (Calif.) Mira Costa, didn't have a good day, getting beat repeatedly. He spoke with us about his reported offers, and it now seems like the big list of schools we've heard previously that have offered him might have been a bit of an exaggeration.
On linebacker, there were a few prospects to watch. Perhaps the best was Nick Covey, 6-3, 215, Glendale (Ariz.) Mountain Ridge. Covey has a good body, pretty muscled, and he jumped 36 inches in the vertical and ran smooth in the 40, while also looking good in the drills. LaMar Brumfield from Carson looked to be about 6-1 and 210, and just okay in the drills.
Kevin Ellison, the safety prospect from Redondo Beach (Calif.) Redondo Union, is a combine trooper, now having shown at every camp or combine we've attended this spring. He looked good Saturday, testing well and a good combination of power and quickness in the drills.
Kevin Garrett from Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne, looks good physically, even though a bit small for a safety, probably 5-11 and 180. He ran fairly well and looked like he had a good quick step in the drills.