SoCal Nike Camp Shows Calif. Loaded Again

Players come from literally all over the nation, but it's the home grown talent, both the known bluechippers and the emerging gems, that have tongues wagging after Saturday's record-setting camp.

Under beautifully sunny skies on the USC grass practice fields, approximately 370 players from all over the nation descended to make this the largest turnout in the five years of the Nike Camps. Participants came from as far away as Indiana, Missouri, Texas and even Hawaii.

But it was a pair of local juniors who battled it out for camp MVP honors, one on offense and one on defense.

And, appropriately enough since across the street is the Shrine Auditorium which has hosted many awards show including the Oscars, the ballot goes to... Whitney Lewis, the receiver from St. Bonaventure in Ventura, Calif.

The Bonnie's head coach, Jon Mack, was on the sidelines smiling as he had the nation's top prospect last year in Lorenzo Booker, the Florida State-bound running back.

This year Lewis will be the go-to guy and it's not hard to figure out why. He's 6-0 1/2, 209 pounds and took second in the 40 and tied for fifth in the vertical, but it was his one-on-one passing drill performance, when he showed the potential to be one of the best receivers to come out of California in a long time.

He even drew comparisons to Keyshawn Johnson, the Tampa Bay Buccaneer receiver and former first round draft pick who took time to speak to the attendees.

"Lewis is big and strong," said Andy Bark, President of Student Sports which produced the camp, "and at this stage of his career is light years ahead of where Keyshawn was when he, coincidentally, also attended an event like this when he played at Dorsey High. Whether Lewis has the drive to be the best, like Keyshawn did, remains to be seen however."

Lewis, who intends on attending the NorCal Nike Camp to soak in more training techniques, wasn't pleased with his scores, but felt he compared to any of the players out on the field Saturday.

"I had fun," he said. "I know I can do better (in the testing elements), but I feel I showed I'm as good as any receiver in the nation today. The best part for me was the coaches, the things they taught which I can take home and improve upon."

Lewis has offers from dozens of schools, but could he be headed cross-country like his teammate last season, Lorenzo Booker?

"I like Florida State," he admitted, "but I'm also considering Washington, Michigan, Texas, Oregon, a whole bunch. It's a long way from being decided."

Finishing a very close second to Lewis in the "Wow Factor" was defensive tackle Mathew Malele, a 6-0 1/2, 302 pounder who ran a 4.91 in the 40, did 29 reps on the bench and had a 26.4 inch vertical.

Malele was at the front of a very strong interior defensive line group that also included Kevin Brown of Long Beach Poly, who weighed in at 6-1 1/2, 283 pounds, ran a 5.11 in the 40 and did 30 reps on the bench, and Fili Moala of Anaheim Western, who listed at 6-3 1/2, 297 pounds and ran a 4.81 in the 20-yard shuttle.

Malele likes USC, Stanford, Notre Dame, and UCLA and all have offered, due in part to his 3.8 GPA and 900 SAT.

Brown has also been offered by UCLA and likes the Bruins along with Syracuse, Michigan, Oregon and USC.

Speaking of the Trojans, Moala has committed to the L.A. university, but it may not be totally over yet as he also lists Oregon and BYU as two schools he likes along with USC.

At the defensive end position, one name that kept coming up a lot was Lawrence Jackson, a 6-3 1/2, 241 pounder from Inglewood, Calif. who has offers from UCLA, Oregon, Washington and Arizona, where his brother, Keith, signed last year. Jackson showed his 4.93 forty speed and 4.66 quickness in the passing drills.

Two OLs who drew a lot of attention were Dallas Reynolds, a 6-4, 309 pound junior from Timpview High in Provo, Utah and Drew Radovich, a 6-4, 268 pound tackle from Mission Viejo, Calif.

Reynolds did 25 reps on the bench and was noted for his aggressive and technique in the linemen drills. He has offers from BYU, where his father, Lance, is the line coach, and Colorado. It'd seem like a Cougar slam dunk, but several Pac 10 schools are plugging away as well in case he doesn't want to stay home.

Radovich had one of the more strange accomplishments of the day; the big blocker who has offers from USC and UNLV (and also lists UCLA, Florida, Texas and Nebraska on his favorites list), had one of the afternoon's top shuttle times... very rare for a lineman!

Moving to the skill spots, SoCal always has QBs and two caught everyone's eyes today.

Kyle Wright came down from Danville in Northern California, where he attends Monte Vista High, and shined in the testing and passing drills.

Wright weighed in at 6-3 1/2, 185 pounds, ran a 4.67 in the 40, and was very accurate in his throws. He has offers from USC, UCLA, Cal, Stanford, as well as LSU and Tennessee, which this week offered his receiver and teammate, Sam Desa, who ran a 4.4 at the camp this weekend.

The other QB of note is tall Tommy Brady of Huntington Beach Edison, who is all of 6-foot-6.. On the field as a junior, all Grady did was complete 61 percent of his passes for 2,791 yards and 33 touchdowns with just three interceptions in leading Edison to the CIF Div I Championship game where they lost to perennial powerhouse Long Beach Poly.

Brady showcased his strong arm today, and onlookers on the sideline could be heard oohing and ahhing after his strikes his receivers right in their breaks.

A recap of the day's top performances wouldn't be complete without detailing the "Bass" pair, Christian and Ray Bass who aren't related and didn't even know of the other until today. You can bet college recruiters will know of them by the time the spring evaluation period ends.

Christian, a 6-2, 194 pound receiver/defensive back from Canyon Springs High in Moreno Valley, Calif., had stellar numbers: 4.37 in the 40, a 4.03 shuttle time, a 34 inch vertical and 13 reps of 185 pounds in the bench. It's no wonder Washington State, BYU and Arizona have already offered and will have to beat off an ever-growing list of suitors.

But Ray Bass, a 5-10, 166 pound receiver/DB also, wasn't going to be outdone by his namesake: he had the day's No. 1 marks in the 40 and vertical, a very rare and impressive performance considering the great talent assembled in the one location.

He lists Fresno State, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington, as his early leaders and surprisingly, hasn't received any offers to this point. That should change soon.

While all the aforementioned athletes were impressive, the best story of the day likely revolved around Terrel Thomas, a track standout from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

He ran the third best 40 of the day with a 4.35, left to go to the prestigious Arcadia Track Meet where he took another third, this time in the 400 meters, came back to the Nike Camp and was one of the top cover DBs in the drills... that's dedication!

If there's one school that has the edge with this hard-working high schooler, it'd seem to be Oregon State. In February, the Beavers signed his former teammate, defensive back Josh Davies. Both attended Oregon State's football camp last summer where they were offered a scholarship.

Thomas totaled 68 tackles and five interceptions to earn All-League honors for the second year in a row.

And finally, what was a fun, educational day for players, parents, coaches and fans ended on a sweet note (and we do mean sweet!) for the tired, hard-working athletes as Jamba Juice graciously provided drinks at the conclusion of the event.

With straws in mouth, it was one of the more quiet exits we've seen, especially considering the quality of talent! It was the perfect cap to what many felt was one of the best Nike camps ever.

TOP TESTING MARKS at USC (unofficial)
note: heights & weights taken at Saturday's camp

1) 4.31 --- Ray Bass (Centennial, Corona CA), 5-10, 166 WR/ DB
2) 4.34 --- Whitney Lewis (St. Bonaventure, Ventura CA), 6-0 1/2, 209 WR
3) 4.35 --- Terrel Thomas (Rancho Cucamonga CA), 6-0, 176 DB
4T) 4.37 --- Christian Bass (Canyon Springs, Moreno Valley CA), 6-2, 194 WR/DB
4T) 4.39 --- Kyle Weatherspoon (Lynwood CA), 5-10 1/2, 166 WR/DB

1) 40.4 --- Ray Bass (Centennial, Corona CA), 5-10, 166 WR/ DB
2) 34.9 --- Ammon Wolfley (Peoria AZ), 6-1, 205 LB
3T) 34.4 --- Durrell Moss (Orange CA), 6-0, 175 RB
3T) 34.4 --- Terrell Vinson (Irvine CA), 5-8, 167 RB/DB
5T) 34.0 --- Christian Bass (Canyon Springs, Moreno Valley CA), 6-2, 194 WR/DB
5T) 34.0 --- Whitney Lewis (St. Bonaventure, Ventura CA), 6-0 1/2, 209 WR

BENCH PRESS (reps of 185 pounds)
1) 41 --- Isley Filiaga (Timpview, Provo UT), 5-11, 278 DL
2) 35 --- Junior Lemauu (Long Beach Poly CA), 6-3 1/2, 236 DE
3) 32 --- Lee Martin (St. Bonaventure, Ventura CA), 6-0 1/2, 203 LB
4T) 30 --- Brady Beach (Mission Viejo CA), 5-11, 248 DT
4T) 30 --- Kevin Brown (Long Beach Poly CA), 6-1 1/2, 283 OL/DL
4T) 30 --- Brandon Johnston (Mission Viejo CA), 5-7, 190 RB/LB
4T) 30 --- Brett Palmer (Marcos de Niza, Tempe AZ) 6-2, 272 DL

1T) 4.03 --- Christian Bass (Canyon Springs, Moreno Valley CA), 6-2, 194 WR/DB
1T) 4.03 --- Damon Morton (Riverside North CA) 5-10, 160 WR/DB
3) 4.04 --- Johnny Walker (Antelope Valley, Lancaster CA) NA/NA DB
4) 4.05 --- Drew Rodovich (Mission Viejo CA), 6-4, 268 OL
5) 4.10 --- Tim Parks (Moreno Vally CA) 5-10, 182 QB/DB

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