A handful of the best quarterbacks from the West in the 2011 class were on hand, and a slew of 2012 prospects to watch also were in attendance.
Friday was a busy day for Bakersfield (Calif.) Centennial's Cody Kessler, so by the time he took the field at Memorial Stadium, his had was, as he put it, "spinning."
Prior to getting to Berkeley, Kessler was offered by USC and UCLA, his 15th and 16th offers. Kessler was getting ready to narrow his list down, but the two new offers through him for a loop and had him reevaluating his list. At the same time, he was expected to throw at Cal, and after starting a little slow, getting the jitters out, Kessler showed why he's one of the top three quarterbacks in the West.
Kessler has tremendous arm strength, which has been well documented, and he flashed it all afternoon. His footwork is very good and you can see the kind of athlete Kessler is when he's doing the positional drills that focus on using the feet. And to top it off, Kessler was invited to the U.S. Army All-American Game.
As far as the complete package for a prospect, Kessler was the standout of the group.
In terms of having the best overall day, it was again, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft's Michael Bercovici. We've seen Bercovici four different times this spring at different camps, and he's been stellar each time. Berkeley was no different. While he doesn't have the ideal size for the quarterback position, he's got the arm, the release, the snap and zip on his throws and great feet. Bercovici's spring reminds us of Ryan Katz in 2007 and Jeff Tuel in 2008, two guys who shined every time they went to a camp, and are now both poised to start in the Pac-10, Katz at Oregon State and Tuel at Washington State.
San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty quarterback Kyle Boehm is the top quarterback in Northern California and he felt at home on the Memorial Stadium field (Cal has offered him). He got a slow start too, but settled down as the camp went on. Not to make a comparison to John Elway, because that's not fair to anyone, but watching Boehm throw, watching how he slightly leans back to throw when he's set, looks very reminiscent of #7 when he was slinging it.
Petaluma (Calif.) Casa Grande's Nick Sherry is another big-bodied quarterback like Eubank, with a very good arm and great strength in it, but he needs to get a little better touch and control on his passes, as he had a handful of overthrows. But the size and arm are there.
Glendora (Calif.) passer Chad Jeffries was solid all afternoon, following up his MVP performance at the Los Angeles NFTC. Jeffries has really good size, good feet and touch on his throws, and we expect him to pick up some offers as more schools make the trek to the Foothills this May. Newbury Park (Calif.) passer Jake Geringer is another guy we think after the spring will have some offers and he was steady all day.
It was our first chance to see Rocklin (Calif.) quarterback Jimmy Laughrea, since he missed the state game a year ago, and he was one of the most accurate and consistent throwers on the day. Rocklin's location has hampered some of his recruitment, but he's got a couple of offers and it was easy to see why.
Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey quarterback Joseph Gray was one of the surprises at the Los Angeles NFTC but he too is continuing a solid spring, and we wouldn't be surprised if some offers come his way. He reminds us a little bit of former Corona Centennial quarterback Matt Scott, now at Arizona, in his feet, release and accuracy, he just doesn't have the same arm strength that Scott does.
Salem (Ore.) West Salem's Brett Smith made the trek down after earning MVP honors at the Eugene NFTC earlier this month and he had a nice day at Berkeley, especially in the foot and accuracy drills.
Oak Ridge Military (N.C.) passer Lamar McKnight was very good, especially in the deep throws as was Christian Suntrup from Chaminade (Mo.), two more of the better out-of-state passers in attendance.
Some of the other 2011 quarterbacks who caught our eye were Richmond (Calif.) Salesian's Ikaiaka Woolsey, Carson (Calif.) Justin Alo, North Hollywood (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake's Max Heltzer, San Mateo (Calif.) Serra's Andy McAlindon, Modesto (Calif.) Klayton Miller, Concord (Calif.) Ricky Lloyd, Durham (Calif.) Nelson Fishback, Compton (Calif.) Dominguez's Chris Brown, Renton (Wash.) Liberty's Trey Wheeler, Danville (Calif.) Monte Vista's Seamus Finnegan and Palo Alto (Calif.) Christoph Bono.
Danville (Calif.) San Ramon Valley's Zach Kline won the accuracy challenge of the camp, and he should continue the recent trend of stellar quarterbacks in the EBAL.
That goes the same for Concord (Calif.) De La Salle's Bart Houston, who merely led the Spartans to the CIF State Open Division title as a sophomore. Houston may end up the top prospect in the state in the 2012 class. He's got a very live arm, really good feet and great accuracy plus good size to go along with it. With the two stellar backs from De La Salle graduated, Houston will get a chance to shine as a passer for the Spartans this fall.
Fresno (Calif.) Central quarterback Mike Baker is another elite prospect in the 2012 class and will be Central California's top player at the position. Baker had a slow start but kicked it into gear when they started running routes.