Much has been made about the energy created around the team these days and the majority of that credit can go to Pete Carroll but nowhere was that spirit more in evidence than in a setting such as this camp filled with athletes wanting to learn about the game the football.
Here is a sampling of the highlight performers:
- Ryan Kalil came to the camp on Monday and put on the kind of showing that convinced the coaches he was the man they wanted at center. Kalil is an extremely fiery player with a strong work ethic and tremendous technique so while he may be a bit undersized those other qualities were enough to ultimately sway the final decision for an offer which he immediately accepted.
- Kyle Wright continued to show why many consider him the top quarterback in the nation. He has the size, the arm strength, the touch, the mobility and the smarts to be an ideal fit for the Norm Chow offense. Kyle throws the out pattern as well as any quarterback at the high school level and he seemed very comfortable and familiar in dealing with the USC coaches throughout the camp.
- Rocky Hinds will only be a junior next season but he will be one of the top QB's around and is already high on the USC wish list. Rocky has great height and is enough of an athlete that his upside has to be tremendous. Michael Affleck from Utah is 240 lbs. but has good technique in all areas and will be a solid college QB. Richard Kovalchek and T.C. Ostrander were two other QB's who looked good as well.
- The deepest position at the camp was linebacker with several top performers who had solid showings. Trojan verbal Robert Lewis is rangy and has the athleticism you are looking for while seeing action at both middle linebacker and strongside backer. Brett Martin is a player who has instinct for the position, good speed and always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Just like former USC linebackers Scott Ross or Jeff Kopp he is not someone who is going to jump out at you with his size but at the end of the game he is going to be the one with 10 tackles next to his name. One player who seems to grow on you the more you watch him is H.B. Blades. He stepped off the plane on Sunday and looked a little sluggish in early drills but by Tuesday he was one of the leaders on the field and is another player who just has a nose for the ball. H.B. is big (240 lbs or more) and some extended sessions with Chris Carlisle would likely go a long way in improving his speed on the field to develop into a very good player. There is a lot to like about Greg Van Heusen in terms of intensity and work ethic so he is a player who will get a long look from the USC staff. Greg saw action at both linebacker and defensive end in the camp but he didn't run a great 40 time so the coaches were likely taking a look to see if he has the ability to eventually move to the line if needed. Russell McKittrick has a frame similar to Dallas Sartz, Russell is a little thicker, but he also has the athleticism that will warrant a continued look by the staff.
- Jody Adewale is a bigger running back who was the top RB at the camp and he showed good hands and runs well for his size. He is a player who definitely helped himself with a good performance in front of the Trojan coaches. An underclassman to watch at RB is Cortez Rice from Mater Dei, he is the younger brother of Raphael and will be a junior next season.
- Outside of Kalil the most impressive offensive lineman was Luke Lanpeti from Hawthorne, a 280 lb tackle who moved well and kept most pass rushers at an arms distance in drills.
- The wide receiver spot also had few players worth mentioning headlined by the talented Whitney Lewis who stopped by the Tuesday morning session and had some impressive showings against both Ting brothers in the one on one drills. Whitney is thick at 210 lbs and he gets a quick head of steam when he turns up field after making the catch. Brian Goodall ran good routes and showed nice hands while one of the smoothest receivers we have seen is sophomore Brian Payton from South Hills HS. Both Goodall and Payton were relative unknowns heading into the camp who will now be on the receiving end of plenty of attention from our coaches.
- Ryan and Brandon Ting cancelled a their plans to attend the Stanford camp and instead arrived on Monday to get some good teaching from their future Trojan coaches. One of the things that is so obvious when watching these two is that they are athletes. They have more than enough size to compete in this conference at corner and their speed is enough right now that both were able to make several plays in the passing drills even though they have never really played the position before and have a long way to go with their coverage technique. Carroll is known as a secondary specialist and he couldn't have two more willing pupils than the Tings. Dennis Keyes was a player who had not yet received an offer from the Trojans but after his performance in the camp it would be a surprise if one didn't follow very soon. Keyes has good size and the intense, attacking mentality on the field that coaches want to see from a safety. Shannon Sevor opened up some eyes and could end up being recruited.