Several of the top prospects in the country were on hand on Saturday at the Home Depot Center, including six players ranked in the top six at their position nationally, and none of them disappointed.
San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis came and spoke on behalf of UnderArmour. Little did anyone know that the player who would walk away wowing everyone was a player who's been compared to Davis.
That player was Morrell Presley, the nation's #2 ranked tight end. Presley, who checked in at 6-4, 214, worked with the receivers during the positional drills, but before the players even got to the football portion of the day, wowed folks with an impressive 4.53. It was a year ago at the same complex that the Carson native first made some waves, holding it down in the one-on-ones, but this year, Presley was the complete package.
Following the solid performance in the testing, Presley moved to the drills and one-on-one's and simply had his way with receivers, getting off the ball quick, chucking the defensive backs who tried to jam him, and catching just about every pass thrown to him.
"All I wanted to do was come out here and represent, and I did that," said Presley. "I was mad I dropped out of the Top 100, so today, I think I put myself back in there."
Cierre Wood, the Notre Dame-bound running back from Oxnard Santa Clara had a very good run in the 40, clocking a 4.44 and looked smooth in the positional drills, drawing the praise of the running backs coach. Wood tested well in all the ones he did, and still looks like he's growing physically. With the speed he's got, and the continued maturation of his body, Wood has a chance to be a bigtime player on college.
Here is a look at the rest of a successful day on offense in Southern California.
It was one of the best collections of passers we've had at a Scout Combine in quite some time. On hand were quarterbacks like Tate Forcier, Josh Nunes, Richard Brehaut, Jordan Wynn, Clark Evans and Austyn Carta-Samuels, each the owners of numerous offers, and in Brehaut's case, a commitment.
Forcier was at this third L.A. Scout Combine and he continued to show off his cannon for an arm, making some receivers comment how their hands hurt after. Wynn has gotten significantly bigger since we saw him last year, when he was a skinny sophomore. With a state championship under his belt, Wynn looks like a much more confident passer and his arm strength has really improved.
Brehaut and Nunes have been mentioned in the same sentence for a couple of years, and both looked very good on Saturday. Nunes has the bigger arm but Brehaut has the better touch. The two close friends were in good spirits to conclude an eventful week for them, with Brehaut committing to UCLA and Nunes trimming his list of schools down.
Carta-Samuels, Evans and Taylor Martinez were three of the quarterbacks who went through the complete combine, both testing and throwing well. Carta-Samuels is the best dual-threat quarterback in the Bay Area, Evans is a very physical quarterback and Martinez was a guy we were eager to see. Each had good days.
Josh Moten looked smooth in his throwing, and with an offer from San Jose State, but a slew of camps planned this spring, we expect his offer list to grow. The only thing holding him back is his size, but the arm is there.
Sean Berman was another player we looked forward to seeing throw, and the lefty had a very good day throwing the ball. He also tested fairly well, and seemed to feel pretty comfortable in the drills. Sean Schroeder, another southpaw, also threw very well, and it should just be a matter of time before his first offer comes in.
The one quarterback who probably was the most consistent, though, on the day was Crespi's Bryan Bennett, who we expect to be one of the top passers in the class of 2010 in the West. Bennett looks like he's adding some much-needed weight, and with the year of experience under his belt, which he led Crespi to the CIF-SS Finals, he's a guy who you're watching improve daily. Bennett threw a very good ball and has excellent feet.
The overall talent was down at the position, but there were some standout performances here. Wood was the most physically impressive of all the running backs, and despite having to leave early for a prior engagement, showed why he's one of the elite running backs nationally. He ran a very good 4.44 forty, which was the second fastest time of the day and jumped 36-5 in the vertical. He was exceptional in the positional drills.
But the biggest surprise at running back had to be Mt. Whitney back Ben Bowen, who bested Wood's forty by .01, a 4.43 for the top mark on the day. He also jumped a 39-5 in the vertical. Bowen looked very good in the positional drills and the one-on-one's. He's a physical player blessed with tremendous athleticism.
Fresno Edison's Marquise Cooper doesn't get the attention that most of his Tiger teammates do, but he had a very good showing in the drills, and drew the praise of Darryl Jones', the running backs coach, for his excellent footwork.
Marcus McDaniel also had some good moments in the drills, just as he did a year ago in San Francisco. One of the underclassmen who caught our eye, thanks to some impressive physical traits, was Emery Schexnayder, a 2010 prospect from Las Vegas, who ran well and had some good moments in the 1-on-1s.
With Shaquelle Evans looking on, nursing a shoulder injury, Rolando Jefferson missing for a prior engagement and Jemari Roberts scratching at the last minute for an injury he suffered in their spring game, the star power might have been lacking at wideout.
That just gave several other receivers a chance to shine.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of that was Rashaun Shaffer, who has to share the ball with Jefferson at Edison. Shaffer measured 5-11 a year ago in San Francisco, and now he's a legit 6-3 and physically is stronger. He was a difficult matchup for the corners, in fact, only his teammate Cliff Harris could stop him.
Terrence Miller, who has offers as a tight end, worked with the receivers, and he too was physically tough for the corners to handle and he made some nice grabs.
Byron Moore is one of the top safeties in the country, but on Saturday, he worked out with the receivers, trying to get some reps with future UCLA teammate Richard Brehaut. He started slowly, but by the end, was showing why many schools liked him as a receiver.
Kevin Cummings continued his strong spring with some good route-running and catches and looks much more fluid this spring. Cummings was at his best when teaming with teammate Bryan Bennett. Ricky Marvray said he wasn't too happy with how he tested, but he more than made up for it in the drills and 1-on-1's.
One of the players who impressed us the most was 2010 prospect Dietrich Riley from St. Francis in La Canada. Riley can fly and runs crisp routes. He caught just about everything thrown to him. Another 2010 player who stood out was Mitchell Crockhom from Alhambra. His coaches have compared him to former Alhambra receiver Zion Babb, now at Michigan, and while he doesn't have Babb's speed, he's a very good prospect. And Kenneth Scott from Colony was yet another 2010 receiver who made a big mark on the day and he will be someone we will be watching very closely the next two years. Los Alamitos' Paul Richardson was another 2010 prospect who physically looks very good and had some nice routes.
This was one of the more intriguing positions, despite not having many guys working out here. With Presley and Miller working with the receivers, it left the chance for guys like Levine Toilolo, the #3-ranked tight end by Scout, Marlion Barnett, J.T. Kerr, Sterling Carter, Chris Coyle and Nat Harrison, to have more reps.
Toilolo, nicknamed "Red Zone" in Las Vegas, continues to show there is no reason to move him to tackle despite his size. He's a special player at the position, and he made the catch of the day with a one handed scoop despite being interfered with by a linebacker.
Barnett, Coyle and Kerr each had some very good reps, catching the ball well, and physically taking on the linebackers before breaking free for the ball. Barnett was probably the best athlete of the group and had some nice moves that caught the linebackers off guard. Harrison worked with the defensive ends in the positional drills, then moved to the tight ends during 1-on-1s and caught several tough passes. Carter is one of the more intriguing players in the Southland, a gifted athlete who's a talented volleyball player, but his future is on the football field, and he can move.
With out a chance to do 1-on-1s, the lineman spent extra time in positional drills, but they found their way to still get physical with each other.
There is a reason why we have Kevin Graf ranked as the best lineman in the West, and he showed it on Saturday. He clocked a 5.17 in the forty, and looked even faster. Then in the drills, he showed his good feet and hands. The offensive line coaches said he was easily the best lineman there.
Michael Philipp is another guy we looked forward to seeing, and while he insists on playing tackle in college, he has all the makings of an excellent guard. Philipp, too, has good feet and is quick off the ball.
Kevin Danser is the top offensive lineman in Northern California, and physically, he looked very good. Like Philipp, Danser wants to play tackle, but he too looks like he'd be a good guard in college.
We were eager to see Jordan Johnson and he looked much more athletic than we expected, and moved very well. Johnson has true tackle size and he said he was generally pleased with how he tested.
The one lineman who we felt really stood out was Caylin Hauptmann from Beverly Hills. It was our first chance to see him and he had a very good day. Hauptmann uses his hands well and is pretty athletic. Mark Clampitt was another guy we liked, and he has no problems getting physical. His shirt ripped early on in the positional drills, but he kept plugging away. Matt Shinn also had a very good showing and physically, he looks like he could be an imposing inside linemen in college. Shinn also tested pretty well.
Everett Benyard measured in at 6-6.5 and 325, and while he isn't as agile as most tackles, the size is there and he still looks pretty raw, with the ability to improve. And you can't teach his size.