For certain, speedsters like DB Willie Glasper (4.34), WR Cameron Colvin (4.31) and RB Jackie Bates (4.35) are all quicker and faster than they were a year ago. Plus, you throw in LB/TEs Parker Hanks and Terrence Kelly as well as WR Alex Stroud, RB Mike Dominguez (he wasn't at Stanford) and junior WR Dan Ladouceur (15.2 seconds in 110 HH) and De La Salle will have more depth and speed in the skill positions than it ever has.
Colvin was the camp MVP based on his testing and how he looked on the field in one-on-one drilles. In addition to the 4.31 in the 40, he had a 3.85 shuttle, a 32.4 vertical and did 13 reps on the bench.
Bates seems very ready to step in and replace Maurice Drew as the featured running back. He was No. 1 on the day in the vertical (38.6 inches) and also did 19 reps on the bench with his 4.35 in the 40 and a 4.09 shuttle. Wow.
Glasper wasn't No. 1 in anything, but also had a wow-like day. The 5-11, 170-pounder clocked a 3.83 in the shuttle to go with his 40 time and also did 16 reps and had a 34.2 vertical.
And at quarterback, junior Kevin Lopina came to Stanford and hung well with the seniors in all of the passing drills. I overheard one college coach say,"That De La Salle kid's going be a good one."
Up front, a player who seems to have improved a lot is 6-3, 240-pound Matt Drazba. Chris Biller, Mike Pittore, Steve Fujimoto and Kyle Balough are returning starters in the line who are typical De La Salle: short, quick, powerful and committed.
Most De La Salle teams have had a major question mark coming into each season. This one won't. The Spartans might have lost a game this year if they traveled to Shreveport and played Evangel Christian with John David Booty at quarterback. Since Evangel is coming to California and John David has opted for USC, I can't see DLS missing a beat at all this season.
•JESUIT, VALLEY CHRISTIAN ARE DEFENDING CHAMPS WHO WILL BE STRONG. I wasn't sure going into the spring who I liked to be preseason No. 1 in the Sac-Joaquin or Central Coast sections. After Saturday, though, the two defending champs, Jesuit of Carmichael and Valley Christian of San Jose, have to get that vote for now.
Three Jesuit kids, led by QB C.J. Bacher, one of the state's best at his position, turned some heads. Bacher had a 3.97 shuttle and a 4.69 in the 40. DL Josh Catapano and WR Matt Evans also had good showings in tests and drills. The Marauders have some rebuilding to do in the offensive line, but there seems to be a lot on hand to give them benefit of the doubt in the SJS above Lincoln of Stockton (8 returning starters on defense) and Grant of Sacramento (which has jr. RB Syd Thompson, DB Earl Gamble and the Williams brothers, Worrell and Gerwin). Note: Nevada Union players were noticeably absent at Stanford this year.
Valley Christian's main man, meanwhile, will be defensive end Jeff Schweigert. The 6-4, 220-pounder looked like he could be the top recruit in the CCS this year based on tests and drills. There are some holes to fill with the Warriors, but ready to step up should be RB Matt Castelo and WR Kevin Jurevich. St. Francis of Mountain View and Palma of Salinas also are in the hunt to be top-ranked in the CCS as well, based on returning starters and strength of schedule.
•CLOVIS WEST SHOULD BE PRESEASON NO. 1 IN THE CENTRAL SECTION. New coach Jim Hartigan has all 11 starters back on offense from a team that reached the Yosemite Division title game last year, and some of those players also impressed at Stanford. Marcus Gray checked in at 5-11 1/2, 205 and did 21 reps on the bench with a 4.68 in the 40. Matt Hill had a 3.99 in the shuttle with 12 reps and a 33.1 vertical.
•DON'T BE SURPRISED IF PLEASANTON FOOTHILL LOSES TO DE LA SALLE TWICE THIS SEASON. The first would be in the regular season and the second could be in the North Coast Section Class 4A championship game. With league rivals Monte Vista and San Ramon Valley figuring to be in rebuilding mode, coach Matt Sweeney's bunch at Foothill is going to be loaded. LB Garrett Tuggle was one of biggest surprises of the day as he checked in at 6-1, 210 with a 4.75 in the 40, a 31.3 vertical and a 3.98 shuttle. WR Joey Munn looked like a Division I athlete at two or three positions and Kyle Barker is a steady presence as a QB. No one from San Leandro came to the Nike Camp this year and with coach Dan Calcagno now at Chabot College, that makes Foothill all the more of a favorite to be No. 2 in the East Bay to start the season.
•EUREKA, THERE'S GOLD UP IN HUMBOLDT-DEL NORTE. My favorite discovery of the day was junior-to-be linebacker Ray Mualaga of Eureka. Players way up north often get overlooked, but after what Ray did on Saturday he's on track to be one of the nation's top linebacker prospects for 2004. Mualaga measured 6-2, 230 and had a very impressive 34.1-inch vertical. He also ran 4.81 in the 40 and clocked 4.35 in the shuttle. His bench needs improvement, but hey this kid still has two varsity seasons still to play. "This camp is going to help me a lot," Mualaga said. "I've learned more about the fundamentals and about pass coverage, which killed me last year."
•STRAGGLERS SOMETIMES ARE WORTH WATCHING: Those that come late to a Nike Camp or who show up as walk-ons (which I don't encourage; registering is much better) sometimes produce the best storylines. This year, that happened at Stanford with Hayward High's Farrell LeBlanc. He was one of the last to run the 40, but came up big with a 4.31 timing that was tied for the fastest of the day. LeBlanc also had a 32.0 vertical and a 3.89 shuttle. He's only 5-8, 160 so the recruiters still might not start banging down his door, but that 40 time should at least create some interest. LeBlanc tied De La Salle's Cameron Colvin for the fastest time. "It feels great to even have my name right up there with those De La Salle guys," LeBlanc said. "I was expecting to run a good 40 today. I wanted to see what I could do with all these players here."
•QUICK HITTERS: Based on the cards that got turned in (and not on what happened in the one-on-one drills), here's some comments I'd like to make on the following players. This doesn't include anybody mentioned above and is admittedly short on linemen. Here goes anyway:
Shawn Benjamin (Watsonville) RB -- This was the second straight year that Shawn's been to the camp and impressed. His numbers: 5-10, 190 pounds, 14 bench, 34.1 vertical, 4.44 in the 40, 4.03 shuttle.
Austin Collie (Oak Ridge, El Dorado Hills) WR -- A definite Division I talent, Austin had a 36.3 vertical to go with a 4.51 in the 40 and a 4.07 shuttle.
Alan Darlin (Laguna Creek, Elk Grove) LB -- The All-Sacramento pick from last year will be a 6-1, 230-pounder by the fall and clocked a 4.00 shuttle. His 40 time was good (4.84) for someone of that size, too.
Randy Estes (Los Alamitos) DB -- The highly-regarded All-American was told not to do all the tests, but he did do the vertical and did 35.9 inches. Estes also did 16 reps on the bench.
Marcus Everett (Chaminade, West Hills) DB -- Most of the top SoCal guys went to the USC camp in April, but Marcus was at Stanford and shined. He came in at 6-0, 190 and did 14 reps plus a 4.52 in the 40 and 4.30 in the shuttle.
Angelo Fobbs (Serra, San Mateo) DB -- I ran into former DLS star and current Serra coach Patrick Walsh before the event and he said to watch out for Fobbs. The 6-1, 175-pounder ran a 4.43 in the 40 and did a 4.00 shuttle. Angelo needs to bulk up, but if he works out hard all summer he's got a chance for the next level.
Tom Grove (Sonora) LB -- This kid was the best of the day from the Stanislaus District. His numbers: 6-0, 200 pounds, 19 on the bench, 4.56 in the 40, 35.8 vertical and 4.41 shuttle. Only the shuttle time wasn't top-notch (especially compared to what others did on this day).
James Harris (Oakmont, Roseville) WR -- Harris has added about 20 pounds of muscle since last season and is certainly on his way to an elite level. His numbers were 6-1, 185 pounds, 23 on the bench, 30.8 vertical, 4.59 in the 40 and 3.99 in the shuttle.
Lavelle Hawkins (Edison, Stockton) WR -- Lavelle didn't do all the tests, but did have a 4.41 in the 40. On the field, he grades out as among the best in the country running routes, making tough grabs and leaving DBs wailing.
Angelo Jeffery (Logan, Union City) DB -- I didn't even know Angelo was such a good football player. I, of course, know him more as the current state leader in track in the triple jump. His numbers at Stanford: 5-10, 195 pounds, 4.47 in the 40, 34.5 vertical, 17 bench press reps.
Marshawn Lynch (Oakland Tech) RB -- Most thought Marshawn was the top back in attendance. He ran a 4.40 at 195 pounds and did a 34.3 vertical plus 19 reps on the bench. In fact, Lynch probably elevated himself to a level of top two or three in the state, right up there with Corona Centennial's Terrell Jackson.
Phillip Mbakagu (Hayward) DL -- Phillip wanted the word "Gorillas" written on his arm and had the aggressive, confident attitude you want in a defensive lineman. He also was proud to mention that he's been ranked at the No. 1 defensive lineman in the nation. On this day, though, I'd say that Valley Christian's Jeff Schweigert was just as good.
Bradis McGriff (Vallejo) OL -- Definitely one of the top linemen on the day and ran a 5.20 time in the 40 at more than 300 pounds.
Ryan Mole (Righetti, Santa Maria) RB -- I've seen a lot of message board support of Ryan as a top prospect in recent months, usually mixed in with criticism that players from Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties don't get enough attention. That won't happen with Ryan. He is the real deal. He impressed with a 35.9 vertical, 4.47 in the 40 and 3.83 in the shuttle.
Joe Mortensen LB (Clayton Valley, Concord) -- Joe did 33 reps on the bench and at 6-1, 235 came up big with a 4.66 in the 40.
Brian Robinson RB (Pittsburg) -- Pitt might be improved this season with Brian and others on the rise. This 204-pounder had a 35.2 vertical and a 4.00 shuttle. His 40 was a bit slow (4.69), but with some increased speed next fall, watch out.
Eric Schlief OL (Leigh, San Jose) -- They listed Eric last year at 340 pounds and they were right as he weighed 341 and stood 6-4. Sometimes, kids that big are lucky to break six seconds in the 40. Eric's time: 5.41. I've also noticed in highlights on our Cal Hi Sports Bay Area show from last winter that Eric moves pretty decently on the basketball floor. Intriguing prospect, to say the least.
Aaron Straiten WR (Antioch) -- I've heard people in the area mention him and Aaron delivered on Saturday with a 3.94 in the shuttle, a 30.4 vertical and a 4.56 in the 40. The 6-1, 175-pounder also did 12 reps on the bench.