Let's start with the offensive line. Kalil did his usual solid job of proving to everyone in attendance that he deserves to be mentioned as one of the elite linemen for this class. He banged his thumb in the early session but then simply taped it up and went back out there to show his stuff. Meyer looked good again as well although he didn't take part in most of the afternoon session after suffering a minor injury and he sat out the rest of the day. It's good to see the bond that the two Matt's are starting to develop as the future of the SC tackle spot and hopefully that bond will be extended tomorrow to include Tyron Smith from Rancho Verde who is expected to announce his commitment to Pete Carroll at the camp. Tyron did not attend the Thursday session but he will be there on Friday.
Many onlookers at the morning session were disappointed that big Daniel Campbell from Texas did not show up but then word came that he took a morning flight to Los Angeles and would arrive in time for the afternoon session. Sure enough, about fifteen minutes after the session got started a very large young man in a gold shirt and cardinal shorts made his way onto the field and there was no doubt that Campbell had arrived. He was quickly greeted by several of the coaches and after a warm-up session he was thrown into the drills at left guard alongside Matt Kalil. Daniel moves very well for a man his size and he holds his blocks until the whistle is blown. Based on what we saw in this brief session, I would think Daniel would make an excellent add ition to the USC offensive line. He was also one of the first players out of the Coliseum tunnel with a big smile on his face when the campers took part in the annual TrojanBall competition tonight at the historic Trojan home stadium.
One player who came to the camp after an interesting week was Hamani Stevens from Hemet . After giving a verbal commit to UCLA last weekend, Hamani de-committed from the Bruins later in the week and showed up at the SC camp today in contention for an offer as a center. Hamani showed enough, in my opinion, to keep himself in contention for that offer. He is scrappy and has a frame that looks like it will be able to add some weight. There was some concern that he might be too small, height-wise, and I don't know what his exact measurement is but he doesn't look too small to play the position. Hamani also got a look on the defensive side of the ball during afternoon drills.
Other offensive linemen included Alameda Ta'amu from Washington who was physically strong but there are also some questions about his height and footspeed. There is a lot to like about Zebrie Sanders from Ohio , he was the primary #2 left tackle behind Matt Kalil in most drills but with the two Matt's already committed and with Tyron expected to commit tomorrow it doesn't look like there is room for Zebrie at this point. Matt Hunt from Carson was also in attendance and once again he looked solid.
On the defensive side of the line, most eyes were on Wes Horton early with his tall and lean frame. However, as the drills started to go on more and more you started to hear the buzz being generated by Solomon Koehler from Hawaii . Koehler told us that he is 6-3, 305 and this guy moves well. He looks the part of a defensive tackle and there was just no denying that he was standing out in every drill that was being held. These camps are made for guys like Koehler who are looking for exposure in front of college coaches and if Solomon was hoping to get some more attention from the SC coaches it looks like he is going to get it.
Another lineman who continues to impress every time we see him is Jurrell Casey who was sporting a mohawk haircut today. Jurrell is a barrel-chested guy who is going to become a solid and thick plug in the middle of the line after a few years with a college conditioning program. He has a very quick first step and is surprisingly athletic for a guy his size.
Others on the line included James Robinson, the big guy from Salesian HS and he did enough to continue receiving some interest. Jamaar Jarrett was also there and he has a nice frame that will grow well, Jamaar had a slow start in the morning session but picked it up in the afternoon and made a few plays. It was interesting to watch the position changes of Raphael Washington from St. Bonaventure, he tried out as a tight end at the recent SC skills camp and then today saw action on both the defensive line and at fullback. It's clear that Raphael has some skills as a player but it remains to be seen if those skills can translate to a spot on the Trojan roster.
At the linebacker spot, Maurice Simmons once again was the headliner and you have to like the fact that Maurice keeps showing up to every camp and combine to prove himself and to make himself a better player. One player to keep an eye out for in the future, for the Class of 2010, is Ronald Powell from Rancho Verde. Ronald was one of the more physically impressive players on the field and more than one onlooker refused to believe that the young man had just finished his freshman year. Remember his name, Ronald has big-time written all over him. Another linebacker from Rancho Verde who stood out was Eric Martin and he is only going to be a junior.
There were a pair of standouts in the secondary with safety Vaughn Telemaque from LB Poly and cornerback Joe Adams from Arkansas . At least one observer of the morning session thought Telemaque was the best player on the field and there's little doubt of how natural Vaughn looks patrolling his area. He also has a frame that he is going to grow nicely. Telemaque and Jurrell Casey are good friends and both have shown a lot of interest in the Trojans. With this being such a thin year for corners there was a lot of hope for Adams to come out to the camp and show that he was worthy of his good rep and he definitely showed that he can play. Joe is getting looks on both sides of the ball but it sure looked like corner would be a good spot for him in the future if he chooses to wear the Cardinal and Gold. A couple other players who looked good were corner Isaiah Frey from Jesuit in Sacramento and safety Shiloah Te'o from Kahuku in Hawaii . Shiloah is the cousin of Manti Te'o, a highly recruited sophomore linebacker from Punahou HS.
The receiver spot was highlighted by the camp debut of D.J. Shoemate following his long layoff due to a foot injury. The power and athleticism that D.J. possesses is obvious as he simply has the ability to overpower his opponents. It was hard to judge his effectiveness today, along with the rest of the receivers, because there simply weren't enough quality quarterbacks in attendance to provide a true test for the receivers. With that being said, we look forward to seeing more of D.J. in the near future no matter where he is lining up. Another receiver who jumped out was Chris Little from Castlemont HS. Chris has good height and a strong upper body although his route running will need to improve as he heads to the college level. Others who performed well included Terrance Miller from Rancho Verde, Carlo Valdes from Mater Dei, Mark Urbina from Canyon and Keyshawn Smith from Carson. The best high school tight end on campus today did not take part in the camp as Blake Ayles from Orange Lutheran stopped by to talk with the coaches in the morning. Blake will take off in early July to the Midwest and will pay a visit to Wisconsin and possibly Ohio State as well but the Trojans are still considered the favorite on this one.
We did not see either Darrell Scott or Curtis McNeal at the camp even though both were scheduled to be there but the back who stole the show was another talented freshman in Dillon Baxter from Mission Bay in San Diego . All the defensive players were raving about Baxter and it's clear that this young man has a very bright future with the ball in his hands. We also saw a pair of solid fullbacks, we talked earlier about how Raphael Washington got a look at FB but we also like Zander Fabbri from Bakersfield . Zander is a sturdy looking guy and he moved pretty well.
Tomorrow will mark the final day of the camp and it should be a good one for Trojan fans, especially if Tyron Smith comes through with his plans to commit to USC.