USC skills camp recap

There was a large and talented turnout today at the USC skills camp as over 500 campers took part in the day including USC verbal commit QB Aaron Corp from Orange Lutheran HS and the top remaining out of state running back on the wish list in Joe McKnight from John Curtis HS in Louisiana.

The players, grades 9-12, checked in around 8:00am and immediately began testing in the 40 yard dash. They hit the field around 10:30 for a couple hours before breaking for lunch at 12:30 and then they watched film with the coaches of the morning session. The afternoon session began around 3:00pm and continued until the camp ended.

Here is a position by position review of some of the top prospects in attendance:

Quarterback

One of the two USC verbal commits at this spot, Corp, was the top quarterback on the day as he was particularly impressive in the 7 on 7 throwing drills. Aaron didn't really do anything in the position drills to blow you away but when they came together for 7 on 7 and the job was to put the ball in the end zone, Aaron was the quarterback doing it on the most consistent basis. During the afternoon session he had three touchdowns; one to Markques Simas and a pair to Joe McKnight. The strongest arm of the day, and a quarterback to watch for the Class of 2009, belonged to Tate Forcier (photo) from Scripps Ranch HS in San Diego. Tate is the younger brother of Jason (Michigan) and Chris (UCLA commit). The youngest Forcier was really firing the ball with good velocity and he also moved well in the pocket. Another good athlete was Phillip Bates, an Iowa State commit from Omaha, Neb.

Running Back

It was certainly a welcome surprise to see Joe McKnight (photo) at the camp. Trojan fans knew he was in town this week but it wasn't known that he had made a late decision to attend the camp. What we saw from Joe, who practiced at WR in the morning and RB in the afternoon, is an incredibly smooth and shifty athlete. He ran a 4.40 in the 40 and showed very good pass routes and hands as well. With those attributes, it's easy to see why some people have made comparisons to Reggie Bush. The biggest similarity both players have is the ability to make you say "wow" when they have the football in their hands. Jordan Campbell got a look at fullback in the afternoon session and he sure looked like he would be a powerful weapon. Charles Neal from Esperanza is a nice runner, he has gone for over 2,000 yards in each of the past two seasons. Ryan McCants from Santiago is a "big back" who performed well.

Wide Receiver

The top guy on the day was Markques Simas from Mira Mesa HS (photo) but right behind him was Michael Calvin from San Lorenzo HS in Northern California. Both are tall with long arms, Lorenz is probably a little bigger, and they showed good hands. Both also got into the end zone during the afternoon session. Simas said the Trojan coaches told him he definitely helped himself today in terms of possibly being offered a scholarship. Devon Wylie from Granite Bay HS, the alma mater of Dallas Sartz, has real nice speed and runs precise routes. He will be a player for somebody in the Pac-10. Brandon Carswell from Milpitas also made some nice plays.

Tight End

This has been one of the hardest positions to find talented players in this class but today we saw three who could all be considered for a Trojan offer. Rhett Ellison from St Francis HS in Northern California is the son of former Trojan linebacker Riki (Gray) Ellison. Rhett (photo) has a sturdy build and he showed strong hands along with the ability to continue moving forward even while dragging defenders with him. Another Trojan legacy is Mikhail Marinovich from Serra HS in San Juan Capistrano and, after watching him play, it's hard to imagine that he doesn't have any offers yet. That should change before too long. Mikhail runs well and has a tall, lean frame that should develop nicely into a big time college athlete. He is the son of Marv and the younger brother of Todd, who accompanied him to the camp. Steve Watson came to the camp from Colorado and he is the son of the former Denver Bronco of the same name. Steve Jr. looks like a prototype blocking tight end who also has some pretty good hands.

Linebacker

One of the top linebackers to watch today was Campbell as Trojan fans knew how much he wanted to show that he can earn an offer at the position. Jordan had a nice, solid day and he worked with the first group of LB's in both 7 on 7 sessions. Will it be enough to get a USC ride? We'll have to wait and see. Jordan ran a 4.7 40 today which is pretty consistent with his marks all spring. Another player who impressed was Nick Vaiomounga from Corona HS. Nick not only made a lot of plays but he also rivaled Campbell for longest hair at the camp (photo, Nick-L, Jordan-R). Apai Tuihalamaka from Serra HS in Gardena looks like he will grow into the kind of long, powerful SLB's that Pete Carroll likes. Apai ran a 4.59 40 today which should continue to garner interest from the Trojan coaches. Others who looked good included Maurice Simmons (Class of 2008, Dominguez HS), Joshua Batts (Santiago HS) and Julian Alexander (Notre Dame, Riverside).

Defensive Back

Two defensive back performances really stood out even though one of the players, Omar Bolden from Colony HS in Ontario, only came for the afternoon session. Bolden (photo) did enough in the afternoon to show that he will be a strong candidate for an offer. He is a bigger version of Justin Wyatt (Omar is a solid 5-11, 190) with similar change of direction quickness and body control. Todd Doxey, a safety from Hoover HS in San Diego, was the other DB to impress as he has a long, lean frame and terrific instincts for the ball. He looked great in pass coverage drills all day. Fred Anderson (Highland) and David Ross (Dominguez) look like both can play corner at the Pac-10 level as can safety Russell Carr from Don Lugo.


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