Recruiting '04: Sizing up D prospects down south

LOS ANGELES -- With the sun shining brightly on the USC campus last weekend, nearly 350 of the region's top high school football players gathered to run, jump, throw and catch while coaches, parents, scouts, other players, and fans eagerly watched, looking for the select few that Washington State and the rest of the Pac-10 schools will be coveting this recruiting season.

Today, we take a look at the defensive side of the ball.

Bottom line, there was no shortage of talent. Here's a quick breakdown of players who stood out during testing, SAQ drills and the highly anticipated 'one-on-ones'.

On the line, it would be hard not to start out with Thomas Herring (Fremont, Los Angeles) 6-6, 290 (5.0 40). In fact, he's impossible to miss. Herring passes the look test with flying colors and just manhandled every offensive lineman he went up against. He'll need to vary up his repertoire of moves at the next level, but Thomas has a body that could play D1 ball right now.

Those who saw Matt Malele at last year's camp shouldn't be surprised to hear that his brother, Norris Malele (Carson) 6-2.5, 294 (24 reps on the bench) had a comparable workout. Both are blessed with ungodly natural strength and a head for the game. Norris went undefeated during the one-on-ones, beating highly touted Chilo Rachal pretty easily.

Brigham Harwell (Los Altos, Hacienda Heights) 6-0, 240 (4.78 40, 4.51 shuttle) was another player that stood out above the rest. His speed numbers are very nice, but they don't accurately reflect just how quick his first step is. Brigham's got some room to grow, so he could certainly end up being a tough, cat-quick DT in college, or as a shorter DE.

Allen Brunner (St. Bonaventure, Ventura) 5-10, 212 (43 reps on the bench), while normally a linebacker, worked out with the ends and displayed an incredible ethic and focus. His bench number isn't a typo. Lawrence Miles (La Quinta) 6-3, 270 turns heads with his body and his game. Miles is a very well put-together player. His frame can add weight, so expect him to be a highly-coveted recruit.

Other linemen that stood out and need to be mentioned are Jason Rooters (Edison, Fresno) 6-4, 260, Averel Spicer (Rancho Cucamonga) 6-2, 230, Alan King (Monroe, North Hills) 6-4, 240, Devin McWilliams (North, Riverside) 6-0.5, 310 (24 reps on the bench), and Cameron Filkins (Los Alamitos) 6-5, 295. Filkins is being recruited as an offensive lineman too, but prefers defense.

AS FOR LINEBACKERS, there was one clear winner when it came to the top prospect. Jed Collins (Mission Viejo) 6-2, 235 came in with a truckload of hype to begin with, and he didn't disappoint. Collins is a prototypical MIK linebacker whose main job is to be the leader of the defense and to stuff anything in front of him. While we didn't get to see him tackle, we did see him run, cut, stop and change directions and he does it all effortlessly for a player his size.

Perhaps no one player saw his stock skyrocket like Andrew Schantz (Canyon Country) 6-2, 210 (4.52 40) did. With his bald head, you couldn't miss him. Schantz brings one thing to the game in spades, and that is enthusiasm. He's also got the physical tools to get the job done and a work ethic like none other. A very exciteable player, with upside.

The other top linebackers were Ryan Phipps (Centennial, Corona) 5-11.5, 200 (4.50 40, 4.00 shuttle), Jeff Bradley (Canyon Springs, Moreno Valley) 6-3, 225, Russell Allen (Vista) 6-3, 204 (3.96 shuttle), Ward Dobbs (West Valley, Fairbanks, AK) 6-0, 230 and Marlin Simmons (Poly, Long Beach) 5-11.5, 195 (younger brother of Melvin and Marvin Simmons).

WHEN WATCHING the top players in the secondary, you couldn't help but rub your eyes a little bit. We weren't literally seeing double, but after watching the rock-solid workouts of Jeremy Payton (South Hills, West Covina) 6-0.5, 179 (4.09 shuttle) and his twin Bryan Payton (South Hills, West Covina) 6-0.5, 180, you could see why they give receivers a lot of headaches. The bigger schools are going after the bigger corners with cover skills, so expect the Paytons to be two of the more talked-about DB's in SoCal this summer and fall.

If Rodney Van (Poly, Long Beach) 6-1, 170 had tested, he could very well have taken camp MVP honors, but decided not to push his hamstrings. He had run the night before, and they were a little tender. That didn't stop him from showing off his competitive side during the one-on-one drills, where he excelled.

Marty Tadman (Mission Viejo) 5-11, 175 (4.56 40, 4.11 shuttle) is an athlete that can't be ignored. He was a real pest during the one-on-ones, which for a cornerback is a huge compliment. His testing was extremely solid and confirmed what we already knew - Tadman will be a featured player for MV coach Bob Johnson this fall.

Chris Camacho (Ramona, Riverside) 5-10, 175 (4.08 shuttle) and Terry Wilson (Serra, Gardena) 5-11, 170 are two other corners that distinguished themselves from a DB talent pool that seemed to be just a little bit down from last year.


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