The L.A. Nike Camp used to be one of the most talent-laden of the Nike Camps, but in recent years, the Palo Alto Nike Camp has become the more popular of the two since it has typically fallen on dates when college coaches can be out to evaluate. Combine that with track and other spring sports competing on Saturday, and the L.A. Nike Camp was a much smaller, intimate affair this year.
Still, Southern California is Southern California, and even with many top players not there, plenty of prospects attended, including a few from out of state.
A wet surface caused the majority of 40 and shuttle times to be slower, and several players ended up scratching their times after recording ones that they didn't particularly like.
Following the camp, a regional tryout for the Elite 11 Camp took place, and while the quarterback field for the actual Nike Camp was one of the weakest in years, many signal-callers opted to just take part in this Elite 11 tryout, including two players who UCLA offered: Springfield (Va.) West's Peter Lalich and Orange (Calif.) Lutheran's Aaron Corp. However, the Bruins recently-committed quarterback Chris Forcier, was not there, though he was initially expected to be. He reportedly was visiting his older brother Jason at Michigan.
During the QB tryout, Corp and Lalich looked like the top two prospects, with Corp looking generally better. There were a few other senior quarterbacks, like Monrovia (Calif.) QB David Potts, San Jacinto (Calif.) QB Chasen Stangel, and Los Angeles (Calif.) Verbum Dei's Curtis Wilson who looked fairly good in both the camp and the tryout.
Redlands (Calif.) East Valley quarterback Ronnie Fouch, who UCLA was scouting, appeared to be recovered from a shoulder separation suffered during the final game of the regular season and looked generally pretty sharp.
Merced (Calif.) quarterback Logan Todd looked good when throwing to receivers, but in some of the accuracy drills had some struggles. His fraternal twin, Carter Todd, one of the top receivers in the state, sat out the camp (choosing to participate at the Stanford camp May 13th instead). Carter, who looked to be about 6-1 and 190, did catch balls in the Elite 11 tryout, and flashed the good hands that have garnered him some considerable recruiting attention.
Both the Todds took an unofficial visit to UCLA on Friday, meeting with UCLA assistant coach Gary DeLoach. We will have a recruiting update from them this week.
While the quarterback group was okay., the running back group definitely lacked the star power. Compton (Calif.) Dominguez running back Brandon Johnson was there, but was nursing a sore groin and didn't participate. Johnson will be at the Scout.com Combine next month and said he will be recovered by then and will test. Monrovia (Calif.) running back James Davis, who looked good at the U.S. Army Combine in January, looked pretty good on Saturday, and he now has three offers, from Colorado, Colorado State and Washington State, while he's still interested in the Bruins. Baldwin Park (Calif.) Aaron Harris was also there, but we didn't get a chance to see him as the running backs spent most of the time working out in the track stadium.
The receiver group missing several of the stars that were supposed to participate, such as Todd and Markques Simas, but there were a few prospects who caught notice. Denver (Colo.) Montbello receiver Drew Davis was a physical freak, and caught the ball very well. He has great size, looking like Tab Perry did as a senior. Another was Chino (Calif.) Don Lugo receiver Russell Carr who, at 6-3, has good size combined with good speed and took just about every one-on-one he was in. Carr has interest in the Bruins and we will have a recruiting update coming on him. Long Beach (Calif.) Poly receiver Joey Redding was one of the only Jackrabbits there, with most of his teammates running in the Mt. SAC relays. Redding, also around 6-3, has good hands and decent speed and made some nice grabs.
Los Angeles (Calif.) Marshall receiver Moses Gilchrist had a strong day, as did Alhambra (Calif.) receiver Zion Babb, who can really fly. Babb reminds of Bruin signee Terrence Austin, with a smallish build, but excellent route-running and good speed. Verbum Dei prospect Reginald Dunn flashed some good skills on the day, making several nice grabs. Oxnard (Calif.) Rio Mesa running back Malachi Lewis, who is 6-3, worked out with the receivers instead of the running backs and looked decent.
The tight end group was headlined by Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure's Blaine Irby, who was probably the top offensive player at the camp. Irby caught everything thrown at him and for his size can move very well. Irby has a multitude of offers, with Texas reportedly the most recent one. Other prospects we saw were Upland (Calif.) tight end Devin Mahina, who struggled catching passes, and seems to be more suited for defensive end, and Monrovia (Calif.) tight end Eric Brooks, who looks like he would make a good defensive tackle.
Up front, the offensive linemen were led by elite prospect Martin Coleman, from Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison. Coleman definitely looks the part and showed why he's considered one of the best in the west. Also standing out was Littleton (Colo.) Columbine's Ryan Miller, one of the top overall prospects in the West, and the owner of over 20 offers, and Phoenix (Ariz.) Moon Valley's Javario Burkes.
Class of 2008 OL prospect Tyron Smith from Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde looked like one of the best prospects there, regardless of position. Smith passed the eyeball test and surprised us when we were told he was only a sophomore. He's about 6-5, 250, and looks like he could also be an imposing defensive end.
Defensively, there were some solid prospects in attendance, though most of the elite guys from SoCal were missing.
Up front, Tustin tackle Brian Lambert (who looked to be 6-1 and 275) and Carson tackle Mackey Mailo (6-2ish and 260) looked good. A new name on the scene, Nick Wood, a tackle from Poway, had an excellent day. Wood looks like he could be former Bruin tackle Rodney Leisle's younger brother. He did a spectacular 50 reps on the bench, easily the most on the day, and 10 more than the next participant. Wood measured at 6-2, 275, and looked generally good in the drills.
Manhattan Beach (Calif.) Mira Costa defensive end Alex Probasco, whom UCLA has solid interest in and who told us that if UCLA offered, he'd commit, participated and physically looks very good. Probasco looked to be about 6-4 and 240, and we didn't get to see a whole lot of the linemen one-on-ones, but in drills Probasco looked good. He had very good footwork and balance and got off the line pretty well.
The linebacker group was pretty weak compared to years past, though Redlands (Calif.) East Valley's Andre Ferguson worked with the backers. Ferguson is a legit 6-3, but is only around 200-205. Another player we liked was Compton (Calif.) Dominguez's Maurice Simmons, the younger brother of former USC linebacker Melvin Simmons and of former Kansas State ‘backer Marvin Simmons. Maurice is only a sophomore but a started on Dominguez's CIF Division III team.
In the secondary, players that stood out were Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure's Michael Williams, who might have been 5-11 and 170 and recently added an offer from Northwestern and still has interest in UCLA; Los Angeles (Calif.) Jordan cornerback Antwoine Baker, and Venice (Calif.) safety Jonathan Brasfield
The next major combine in Southern California will be the Scout.com Combine in Los Angeles in May 7th at Citrus College, with several of the top prospects in the state scheduled to attend, including all five of the Bruins commits: San Diego (Calif.) St. Augustine quarterback Chris Forcier; Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw teammates, defensive tackle Brian Price and running back Raymond Carter; Fresno (Calif.) Edison cornerback Courtney Viney and newest commit, San Diego (Calif.) Mira Mesa tight end Nate Chandler.