There were plenty of top prospects in attendance on Saturday at the Dana Hills passing tournament:
QB Matt Barkley – The junior quarterback from Mater Dei got off to something of a rough start Saturday morning, tossing an interception on his team's opening drive and looking confused against the Long Beach Poly defense on the next. But by his team's third offensive possession, Barkley had settled down and began to look every bit like the potential number one quarterback for the class of 2009. He showcased his ability to make absolutely every throw against any kind of coverage, even completing a touchdown pass against Servite on a ball that he knew he probably shouldn't have thrown. But his touch is so good and his arm is so strong that balls normally knocked away by defenders end up finding his receivers. He can make some youthful mistakes with the ball, but it's scary to think that this kid still has two more seasons of high school football ahead of him before he even needs to think about college.
DB Andrew Abbott
– Abbott is a football player in every sense of the term. He's listed as a defensive back, and certainly performed well there, but what stood out on Saturday was his play on the offensive side. After quarterback Matt Barkley got off to a rough start, Abbott approached him and calmly said, "Just trust me man. Trust me." After that, Barkley seemed to hit pass after pass, many of them ending up in the hands of Abbott. He is supremely confident in his abilities and has that obvious swagger so desperately needed in successful cornerbacks.
WR Robbie Boyer
– Boyer didn't catch as many balls as Abbott during the first couple games, but his grabs were far more dramatic. He showcased his abilities with several leaping grabs along the sideline, getting his feet in bounds and securing the ball nicely. He's not huge, and he's not overpowering, but he'll move the chains and showed he is someone who can seriously annoy a defense by catching everything thrown his way.
WR D.J. Shoemate
– Shoemate was a dominant force on the offensive side of the ball for Servite on Saturday. He is such a physical presence, he's like a tight end playing wide receiver. He caught absolutely everything thrown his way and outmuscled every single opposing defender for any spot on the field. As a result, he was a nightmare in the red zone, hauling in multiple touchdown passes. He looks to be all the way healed from the foot injury that kept him out all of last season as well. On one play, Shoemate caught a ball on an underneath route, completely stopped his momentum when he saw three defenders pursuing him, and then continued in the same direction, eventually brought down only because it was touch football. If he stays healthy this season, Shoemate is going to put up some monster numbers, even in a fantastic league, and will probably re-enter the discussion of top players nationwide.
RB Greg Portis – Portis was an absolute sparkplug on Saturday. Servite was one of the only teams to utilize a running back, as Portis was given plenty of touches on swing passes as well as draws. He's just a junior this season and could definitely stand to bulk up in the coming years, but he is very quick and looks like a natural with the ball in his hands.
QB John McEntee
– McEntee was the beneficiary of throwing to both Shoemate and Portis on Saturday, but he showed some arm strength with a real zip on several of his passes. One pass in particular stood out as he threaded a touchdown pass to Shoemate through two pairs of defenders' arms.
Long Beach Poly
QB Morgan Fennell
– At this point, Morgan Fennell is a very talented athlete lining up at quarterback. He has a nice frame and quick feet, but the ball doesn't have the same zip or spiral off his hand that it has coming from guys like Matt Barkley or Nick Crissman. Of course, Fennell is just a junior this season and should only continue to improve.
S Vaughn Telemaque
– Telemaque is a guy who will probably get more and more looks from Trojan coaches as the season goes on in 2007. His 6'2" listing might be a bit conservative and he definitely has a frame that can add more weight. His hitting ability obviously wasn't on display Saturday, but he showcased his athletic ability with a fantastic diving interception of a Matt Barkley pass on the day's first drive. He showed good instincts and quick closing ability as well.
DB Jeffrey Johnson
– Jeffrey Johnson is another cornerback that possesses a distinct swagger and confidence in his playing ability. In the two games I watched featuring Poly, I didn't see a single pass directed at Johnson in a one-on-one situation. He also displayed great awareness in reading quarterbacks and dropping off of receivers in different zone coverages.
QB Nick Crissman
– Crissman has some physical tools to work with. He possesses prototypical quarterback height and good feet in and out of the pocket. But he wasn't exactly lighting things up on Saturday, mostly due to the fact that his receivers just weren't making plays for him. He threw a couple interceptions against Los Alamitos on a jump ball and a tipped pass, both occurring in the endzone. He has a nice arm, but couldn't fit either pass absolutely where they needed to be.