Every year is different in terms of talent, and 2006 looks to be well-stocked in most positions other than quarterback.
It was generally a good showing for UCLA Sunday, with some prospects that are either committed to UCLA or appearing like they're leaning toward the Bruins being among the best at the camp.
The standout prospect of the camp, at least in our eyes, was Long Beach Poly (Calif.) receiver Terrence Austin. He came in at 5-11 and 170, ran a 4.53 40 and a lightning-quick 4.0 in the shuttle. That quickness was evident in the drills and the one-on-ones where Austin was just too elusive for defensive backs to contain. His foot quickness truly made him stand out in the camp, garnering "oohs" and "ahhs" from the crowd as he left his defenders on their heels, but then he finished it off with some very impressive pass-catching skills.
We talked to Austin after the camp, and he said that UCLA was not only among his favorites (that also included California and Colorado), but intimated that UCLA was the leader. "I have a good idea of the school I like," Austin said. "Before I'd ever commit, though, I'd really have to talk to my parents."
USC coach, Pete Carroll, was able to attend the camp since his son participated. Carroll sent his quarterback, Matt Leinert, over to talk to Austin after the camp.
Austin said he came out to the Nike Camp to try to prove he was among the best receivers in the country. "I don't want to sound arrogant, but that's what I came here to do," Austin said.
The flash of a receiver said he was probably most proud of the 15 reps he put up on the bench. "I've been running track and haven't been lifting weights, so I was surprised I put up 15."
The general consensus as the best offensive line prospect was UCLA's committed player, Sean Sheller, from Walnut (Calif.) High, who was measured at 6-5 and weighing 255. It was great timing that UCLA had its camps last weekend, from which Sheller garnered an offer from UCLA and subsequently committed last week before looking so good at the Nike Camp Sunday. For his size, he had great feet and quickness.
Brandon Bennett, the 6-4, 320-pound lineman from La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat, showed off very good quickness himself for his size, and good flexibility in his hips. UCLA is hot on Bennett.
Jovon Hayes, the 6-3, 320-pounder from Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey, looked pretty good also, exhibiting good balance and agility for his size.
UCLA's other committed lineman, Jake Dean from Lancaster Paraclete, was supposed to participate, but suffered a broken nose last week at UCLA's Lineman Camp.
Among the defensive linemen, Hayes' teammate, Cleveland Jones, was impressive. He was 6-4, and 305 pounds, and was particularly difficult to contain in the one-on-one drills. After the camp, Jones said that he hadn't received any offers but had heard from Oregon, Washington State, UCLA and Fresno State, while maintaining a 2.9 GPA and having scored over a 900 on the PSAT.
Daniel Mafoe, from Carson, looked to be about 6-3 and 290ish and ran very well, showing good agility for his size.
Devin Johnson, from Rancho Cucamonga, who has offers from some Pac-10 schools, worked out with the defensive linemen, even though he looks a bit undersized for it, at about 6-2 and 210. He showed very good quickness off the ball.
At linebacker, UCLA's committed Tobi Umodu from Covina South Hills had a good day. He was physically impressive, while measuring 6-0 and weighing 220. He ran well, looked possibly a little stiff in moving laterally, but had good instincts.
Allen Bradford, the linebacker from Colton, came to the camp with a big rep, and only reinforced it. He measured at 5-11, which was smaller than his hyped 6-2, while weighing 219. He ran a blazing 4.54 40 and put in a 4.44 shuttle, which is very quick for a linebacker, and looked very good in the drills. He and Patterson perhaps were the camp's best prospects overall.
Kris Means from Grand Junction, Colo., had a good day. He was 6-0 and 220, but ran a very quick 4.53 40. Means might be anointed the hero for Bruin fans Sunday since he was wearing a Bruin hat on USC's campus. Means said he went to UCLA for an unofficial visit earlier in the week and bought some gear, and was compelled to wear the hat at USC.
The defensive backs were hard to get a handle on throughout the camp. Darian Hagan, the highly reputed safety from Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw, attended the camp. Long Beach Poly corner Vincent Joseph did well in the one-on-one drills. It got very interesting when he matched up against his teammates, Austin, and the other very good Poly receiver, Travon Patterson.
In fact, among the receivers, after Austin, his teammate Patterson was the other standout. He's didn't run as fast a 40 or shuttle, and is about an inch shorter, but Patterson looks to be a bit more filled out, with a better frame physically, and they're very similar in their quickness and cutting ability.
Daniel Lofton, the receiver from San Diego Westview, was probably in the second tier of receivers behind Austin and Patterson, but again showed his smoothness as an athlete like he did last week at UCLA's camp.
Leilyon Myers was probably also in that second tier. The receiver from Lynwood ran good routes and had nice hands.
C.J. Gable, the big-time running back from Sylmar, worked out with wide receivers, curiously. He looked great physically, at about 6-0 and 190, but looked very raw in his pass-catching abilities.
Among the running backs who worked out as running backs, Lonyae Miller, from Fontana Kaiser, again looked impressive. When we spoke to him, he said he's improving his academics, and believes if he continues to keep the current pace in his school work his GPA should be about 2.5 by the end of the semester. When asked what he would do if his improved academics garnered a UCLA offer, he smiled and said, "I don't know. I'd have to really think about it."
Ricky Thenarse, from Long Beach Jordan, looked the part, at about 6-0 and 185. He said he ran a 4.48 40. UCLA has shown interest in Thenarse.
There probably weren't any truly elite quarterbacks in the camp. Perhaps the best was Mike Coughlin from Mira Mesa (Calif.) High. Coughlin has a bit of a long throwing motion, where he takes the ball a bit high, but has a strong and accurate arm, being 6-4 and 200 pounds. Coughlin has no scholarship offers, but said after the camp that if Colorado offered him he'd commit.
Simi Valley Royal's Kevin Harrington attended. Harrington is probably 6-5, but very thin, weighing maybe 180. He has a strong arm, but very poor mechanics, throwing it like a baseball, which probably is due to the fact he's in the middle of his baseball season.
The best-looking tight end was Mission Viejo's Konrad Reuland, who looked to be about 6-5 and 230ish. He has continued to fill out and get bigger. Following up a good performance at UCLA's camp last weekend was Upland's John Reese. Reese caught the ball very well and looked quick in his routes. Reese is about 6-4, but just 215 pounds, and needs to get bigger.
The testing champ of the day was a player named Princeton McCarty, a 5-9 defensive back from Bakersfield (Calif.) West. McCarty ran a 4.34 40 and had the best combination of testing scores in the camp.
Second among the best testers was a linebacker from Glendale (Ariz.) O'Connor, Austin Nielsen. Nielsen, who was 6-1 and 220, ran a 4.5 40 and jumped 37 ½ inches in the vertical, while looking very well put-together.
Others at the Nike Camp:
Jonathan Cornell, LB, La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat. Didn't appear to participate in the drills, Cornell also looked to be about 5-11.
Howard Croom, TE, Long Beach Wilson. Caught the ball well. Looked to be about 6-4 and 215.
Wesley Davis, S, Spring Valley (Calif.) Steele Canyon. Looked even more impressive physically here than at UCLA's camp last week.
Sam Demartinis, 2007 OL, Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame. Looks to be about 6-4 and 250.
J.J. Fifita, 2007 OL/DL. Van Nuys (Calif.) Birmingham. Also a good-looking underclassmen.
Travis Goethel, LB, Vista (Calif.) High. Looks better suited as a potential defensive end at about 6-3 and 230ish.
Ryan Griffith, OL, Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos. About 6-5ish and 240, but has good agility. Would have to redshirt, but intriguing like he was last week at UCLA's camp.
Marques Harrod, DE, Econdido (Calif.) San Pasqual. He visited UCLA's winter practice. He was 6-2 and 220 here, but ran very smoothly.
Marcus Lawrence, WR, Los Angeles Loyola. Looked good physically at about 5-11 and 180, and looked fairly quick.
Richard Sherman, WR, Compton Dominguez. A raw but good-looking athlete.
Alex Parsons, LB/DE, Irvine Woodbridge. He's really a defensive end despite playing linebacker.
Chane Moline, FB, Mission Viejo (Calif.) High. Looked fairly good in the drills.
Andre Harris, RB, Woodland Hills Taft, attended the camp, but we didn't notice him much.
Dominic Glover, from Mission Viejo. We don't know what year he is, or what position, but he ran very well, and looked to be a well put-together 6-4 and 240.
Jeff Cumberland, TE, Columbus (Ohio) Brookhaven. Looked very fast straight-ahead.
Mark Jackson, OL, Columbus (Ohio) Brookhaven. Huge kid, looking to be about 6-5 and 320, but had very good quickness for his girth.