Nike Camp: Offense

Here's the first of three parts on the Nike Camp, the first looking at the offensive standouts at the camp, including two quarterbacks and many wide receivers...

The Nike Camp in Los Angeles was pretty darn huge, with quite a few prospects participating. It makes it very difficult to watch as many players as you would like, so if we missed some here, please forgive us.

The two biggest standouts of the day were Whitney Lewis, the wide receiver from Ventura St. Bonaventure, and defensive tackle Mathew Malele of Carson.

Lewis, running the second-best 40 time of the day (4.34) and looking big and hard to cover in the passing drills, edged out for MVP honors.

Malele was dominating in the line drills, almost completely unblockable. He measured at 6-0 ½ and weighed in at 302, pounds. He ran a 4.91 shuttle, which was fast for a big guy on a turf where everyone was slipping, and did 29 reps on the bench and had a 26.4 inch vertical.

If Lewis can get his academics in order (which is no small order), he'll have his pick of any program in the country.

The word around the camp is that USC is all over Malele and he's leaning toward the Trojans now.

Here's the rest of the standouts by position:

Quarterback:

Clearly the two elite quarterbacks at the camp were Kyle Wright, Danville Monte Vista, and Tom Grady, Huntington Beach Edison. Wright looks like the proto-typical dropback quarterback, with perfect size (6-3, 205), mobility, arm, and polish. Grady looks physically like a basketball player, at 6-6+, and probably 200 pounds. But he threw probably the best ball Saturday, with tight spirals and great accuracy. While he physically looks like a defensive end could break him in half, he also had quicker feet and mobility than you would imagine. Because he's so long he doesn't look like he's covering as much as ground as he actually is.

After speaking with Wright and Wright's father, it's pretty clear that USC is the leader at this point. Wright was also just offered by Tennessee and LSU this week, and he said that moves Tennessee up the ranks to perhaps second behind USC. Wright said he still liked UCLA, though and thought they were third, with probably Notre Dame (who they expect will offer soon) rounding out his top four. Wright was staying in Southern California through the weekend to attend USC's scrimmage Sunday. Tennessee also offered the wide receiver on Wright's high school team, Sam DeSa. It sounds like he'll make his decision fairly early in the process and not wait until winter.

The word around the Nike Camp about Grady is that UCLA is still his slight leader, but that he's pretty wide open.

Leon Jackson from Long Beach Poly, who attended UCLA's Junior Day, looked to be a nice all-around athlete. He threw a pretty decent ball, but also tested well in the 40 and the shuttle. With good size (about 6-1ish), he could end up being recruited at another position.

Sophomore quarterback Rocky Hinds, 6-4, 210, Playa Del Rey (Calif.) St. Bernard, looked like a stud Saturday. I didn't get his time in the 40, but he looked like a defensive back running it, with a great, athletic stride. He also threw the ball well, with a strong arm. Hinds attended UCLA's one-day camp a year ago, and has gotten bigger and more athletic since. He showed that he has a very good chance of making it as a quarterback, but if he doesn't, Hinds is a nice all-around athlete in his own right.

Running Back:

There wasn't great talent or depth at running back, but a few solid guys, and sleepers to watch. Perhaps the best was Chauncey Washington from South Torrance. He looked quick, running in the 4.5 range, and had a good body. The word, though, is that he could struggle to qualify by UCLA standards.

Rafael Rice from Mater Dei looked good physically, about 5-11 and 200, but he didn't disprove the rap on him that he lacks speed.

A few names to watch were Isaiah Crawford from Vista, who ran one of the best 40 times of the day, in the 4.4 range, and Chase Twedell from Cerritos Valley Christian, who looked like one of the best all-around tailbacks, clocking a 4.51 40 with good size (6-0, 180).

A few others who looked good: Tyrice Daniels, Elk Grove; Brandon Atkinson, Long Beach Wilson, and Jacob Flowe, Chino.

As a fullback prospect, Jody Adewale from L.A. Roosevelt combined good size (6-0, 220) with good speed (in the mid 4.5 range).

Receivers:

As opposed to the running backs, the wide receivers were a deep and pretty talented group. As stated above, Whitney Lewis was the truly elite wide receiver at the camp, but there were quite a few others that are worthy of UCLA recruiting them.

Coming into the camp, Devin Stearns from Gardena Serra and Greg Chatman from Carson were the two prospects you would have imagined to be among the best WRs, and they didn't disappoint. Both were good-sized and looked quick in the passing drills.

Probably the biggest surprise of the entire camp was the performance of a receiver/defensive back from Corona Centennial Ray Bass. Bass (5-10, 166), ran the fastest 40 time, at a blazing 4.31, which is, to my recollection, the fastest ever recorded at the Southern California Nike Camp in the last five years. He also recorded the best vertical jump, flying a 40.4 inches. He lined up with the receivers in the drills, and showed his speed and quickness, but he might project better as a defensive back.

Unrelated to Ray Bass was Christian Bass, from Moreno Valley Canyon Springs, who also really came out of nowhere to impress with his athleticism. Christian, at 6-2 and 194, was probably the best all-around pure athlete over 6-0. He ran the fourth best 40 time at 4.37 and the fifth best vertical, jumping 34 inches. He recorded the fastest 20-yard shuttle time of the day at 4.03, which was blazing on that slippery grass. He also lined up as a wide receiver, and while looking very big and quick, looked raw catching the ball. His future could also be as a defensive back.

Both Basses definitely improved their stock and will see their recruitment sky-rocket as a result of their Nike Camp performance.

Perhaps one of the most surprising performances turned in on the day after the Basses was that of Joe Cowan, the 6-4 wide receiver from Bellflower St. John Bosco. He looked a bit raw in the passing drills, but he ran in the 4.4 range in the 40, which was particularly eye-opening given his size. He physically looks like he could even get bigger and definitely add weight and muscle, and possibly even faster if he improved his fluidity. I didn't get his record height and weight, but he looked about 6-4 and 180 pounds.

One of the most impressive displays of athleticism all day came from Jason Ferguson, a diminutive 5-6 wide receiver/defensive back from Los Angeles Fairfax. While you might discount him out of hand because of his size, Ferguson, lining up with the wide receivers, showed an uncanny ability to make cuts that made him practically unguardable. Personally, I've never seen a player able to make lightning quick, instant, on-a-dime cuts like Ferguson, and obviously, none of the defensive backs trying to cover him had either. His cuts left every defensive back grasping at air and falling off-balance with oohs and aahs coming from the crowd.

Alex Watson, a wide receiver from Long Beach Poly, who looked about 5-1 or so, also had a good performance, with good quickness and pass routes. Khalid Abdur-Rahim, another Poly kid listed as a wide receiver/defensive back, ran in the 4.4 range. Sam DeSa, the wide receiver from Kyle Wright's high school, had a solid performance. Kyle Weatherspoon, a 5-11 WR from Lynwood, ran a 4.39 40, which was fifth best time of the day.

Desmond Reed from Temple City participated, but I didn't get a good look at him. Mark Bradford showed in street clothes at the end of the camp. He said he'll go to the Palo Alto Nike Camp. Quintin Daniels was also in attendance in street clothes, sitting out because of a strained hamstring, and he also said he intended to go to Palo Alto. Recruiting updates on Bradford and Daniels are on the way.

It was hard to get a bead on the tight ends, since they mixed with the wide receivers. Jay Dixon from San Clemente did catch my eye, though. He had good size, in the 6-3 to 6-4 range I would guess, and looked strong and quick running his pass routes. I did see Michael Horgan, the prospect from Los Angeles Loyola, lined up with the tight ends. He looked fairly skinny, probably not weighing more than 210 pounds, but had pretty good height, around 6-4. I didn't get a good look at Craig Stevens, the tight end from Rolling Hills Estates Peninsula.

Offensive Linemen:

Among the offensive linemen, there were none that really stepped out of the crowd and proved themselves clearly better than the rest, but Drew Radovich, Matt Reese, P.J. Irvin, Kevin Myers, Travis Draper and Dallas Reynolds were definitely among the best in attendance.

Radovich looked particularly quick, and actually shocked everyone when he turned in one of the fastest 20-yard shuttles of the day, a 4.05. That's truly amazing for a lineman, and Radovich is 6-4, 270. In fact, I can't remember a lineman ever recording a shuttle time that quick.

Matt Reese from Bakersfield Centennial is huge, 6-7, and has to be easly in the 300+ range. For his size, he looked pretty nimble. Sam Levi spoke with Reese about his recruitment and he talked endlessly about USC, while not mentioning UCLA.

Kevin Myers, the unknown kid from Manual Arts who appeared at UCLA's practice this week, also showed up at the Nike Camp Saturday. He said he measured at 6-5 and 340, but we'll wait for the official numbers. He did, though, looked pretty quick in the drills and had good blocking technique. A recruiting story on him is coming soon.

P.J. Irvin from Agoura Hills was easily among the best OL prospects participating. Probably about 6-3 to 6-4 and weighing 260-ish, he looked quick and quick-footed, while also aggressive in the drills. Dallas Reynolds, the import from Provo Timpview, had a great combo of size and quickness.

Somewhat of a discovery was Travis Draper from Paso Robles. At 6-4 and 250, he was one of the most athletic and quick linemen in the camp. He, however, looks more like a defensive lineman than an offensive lineman physically. A recruiting story on him is forthcoming.

I was told Alex Gottlieb from Valencia was in attendance, but I didn't see him. I didn't see Brandon Mebane from Los Angeles Crenshaw but was told he looked good. Also in attendance were Aleks Blagojevich from Gardena Serra and Seth Baker, all the way from Glendale (Ariz.) Cactus. Both looked pretty large but I didn't get the chance to watch them work out.

The Nike Camp defensive standouts are coming later today, as well as a Camp Photo Gallery…

Contributing to this story were Sam Levi and Henry Gardea.


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