The second Nike Football Training Camp to hit the West Coast saw several of the top players in Northern California, and beyond, converge upon Stanford in Palo Alto, and several elite underclassmen emerged while numerous 2011 prospects solidified their standings as top prospects in the West.
Rocklin (Calif.) quarterback Jimmy Laughrea was named the MVP of the Stanford NFTC, continuing a solid weekend for him. After helping lead the Thunder to the CIF-Sac Joaquin Section title a year ago, and into the state title game (where he was sidelined because of a broken arm in the title game). Laughrea, like he was on Friday at the Elite 11 Camp in Berkeley, was consistent all day, hitting his receivers both short and deep. He's got a very smooth and fluid release.
San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty passer Kyle Boehm was the top quarterback prospect in attendance, in terms of college potential, and he was steady throughout the day. In fact, he had a better day on Sunday than he did on Friday in Berkeley, looking much more comfortable throwing the ball. He certainly had the strongest arm of any of the quarterbacks there.
Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey's Joseph Gray continued to have a solid spring too, with another good day throwing the ball. We feel it's just a matter of time before Gray gets his first offer.
Zach Kline won the accuracy contest on Friday at the Elite 11 and followed it up with another strong showing at the Nike Camp. The Danville (Calif.) San Ramon Valley quarterback has pretty good size, throws a very nice deep ball and has great footwork. He'll be one of the better 2012 prospects in the West.
In fact, a couple of other 2012 prospects had strong days, namely Fresno (Calif.) Central quarterback Mike Baker, who's got the ideal size for a college quarterback, and Concord (Calif.) De La Salle's Bart Houston, who like Baker, already has the body type of a college passer. Hayden Rettig, a 2013 prospect from Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral, also had some good moments.
A couple of out-of-staters threw well in Eden Prairie (Minn.) quarterback Brian Athey and East Shawnee Mission (Kan.) quarterback John Schrock.
The Best of the Rest: Montebello (Calif.) Schurr's Aaron Cantu, San Mateo (Calif.) Serra's Andy McAlindon, Durham (Calif.) Nelson Fishback, Renton (Wash.) Liberty's Trey Wheeler, North Hollywood (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake's Max Heltzer.
The running back crop was again led by Harvey Langi from Bingham (Utah), the top running back in the West and one of the top ten backs nationally. Langi has been a busy man this spring, making the trip to Stanford his third Nike Camp across the country. He already won the running back MVP honors down in Miami and just missed the award in Los Angeles. The same goes for Stanford, where he showed he was clearly the top overall prospect at the position. What keeps Langi from really dominating at these camps is that he can't just bulldoze over defenders, which is what makes him such a bigtime back.
Lodi (Calif.) running back Jordan Perkins should be pretty comfortable at Stanford, considering he committed there last month. And Perkins was as comfortable as can be, walking away with the MVP honors for the camp. He's got good quickness and shiftiness and does a great job catching the ball out of the backfield.
Galt (Calif.) back Haran Piggee first caught our attention last spring at the San Francisco Scout Combine and he too had a good day in Palo Alto. He's very quick and routinely got behind the linebackers in the 1-on-1's.
Another Stanford commit, Amir Carlisle from nearby Sunnyvale (Calif.) The Kings Academy, got there about halfway through the event because of another obligation, but may well have won the MVP honors had he been there all day. The explosive Carlisle has been committed to the Cardinal since last June, and he showed why Jim Harbaugh and his staff are so high on him during the 1-on-1's. His ability to cut and get past his defender stood out.
Another local product, San Jose (Calif.) Valley Christian running back Byron Marshall, showed why he's one of the top 2012 prospects at the position in the West. Like Carlisle, Marshall came a little later, but he fit right in with the group of backs and showed why his older brother Cameron, who's playing at Arizona State, told us two years ago that his younger brother could end up the better of the two.
Stockton (Calif.) Lincoln receiver Brandin Cooks may not be the biggest receiving threat, but his speed, route-running and moves are what makes him a prospect that owns Pac-10 offers. Cooks earned MVP honors for his performance, having a strong day all day, catching the ball, making plays on the ball and generally giving the DB's fits. He impressed us in March at the Badger/New Level 7on7 tournament with his ability to consistently get open and make the difficult catch and Sunday it was much the same.
The best prospect there, though, was arguably Lakewood (Calif.) 2012 receiver Malik Gilmore, who's making a habit of shining this spring. Gilmore starred out in Vegas in the 7on7, named to the all-underclass team, and did the same at last month's Los Angeles NFTC. On Sunday, he further cemented himself as one of the elite 2012 prospects in the West. Like we said last month, Gilmore is an effortless runner and he's also got some very good speed. Most impressive about Gilmore is, because of his size and arm length, he can catch just about every jump ball against a DB. He loves to battle for the ball in the air, doing so numerous times on Sunday, and routinely came down with it.
A player we didn't know much about until Sunday was San Jose (Calif.) Valley Christian's Bryan Fobbs. Only about 6-0, 170-pounds, Fobbs ran crisp routes all day and caught everything that was anywhere near him. Another player we liked was Danville (Calif.) Monte Vista's Dane Turner. The "other" receiver for the Mustangs last year, Turner, who committed to UC Davis this past week, showed that he's a steal for the Great West Conference's Aggies.
Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian's Dillon van der Wal, like he did a month ago at the Los Angeles NFTC, showed why he's one of the top 15 tight ends nationally. With his 6-7, 240-pound frame, van der Wal runs pretty smooth, and because of his length, even the highest thrown passes are catchable.
The Best of the Rest: Sacramento (Calif.) Sheldon's Mansel Simmons, Fremont (Calif.) Washington's DeAndre Carter, Corona (Calif.) Centennial's Larry Scott, Concord (Calif.) De La Salle's Lucas Shapiro, Chandler (Ariz.) Valley Christian's Drew Bond, Stockton (Calif.) St. Mary's Alex Michaels
Jordan Rigsbee from Chico (Calif.) Pleasant Valley, is the highest rated offensive lineman in California in the 2011 class. He's got real good flexibility and athleticism and has very good footwork. His size probably makes him a guard at the next level, though he plays tackle in high school.
Fresno (Calif.) Clovis West's Stephon McCray was one of the top 2012 prospects in attendance and he walked away with MVP honors. Nicknamed "Three-And-A-Quarter", because he weighed in at 325 as a freshman, McCray has dropped the baby fat and now looks like an ideal guard at the next level. His very similar, body-wise, to Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw guard Marcus Martin.
One of the most physically impressive players there above all was Richmond (Calif.) Salesian tackle Freddie Tagaloa. The 6-8, 280-pound Tagaloa has offers from half the Pac-10 already, despite being just a sophomore, and while he's still pretty raw in how he plays on the line (his footwork needs some improvement), he's got very nice long arms for the tackle position, and tremendous strength. In the early drills, he didn't fare as well, not surprising given he's more of a basketball player than a football player, but when they got to the 1-on-1's, he stepped it up.
Another pretty impressive player physically was San Jose (Calif.) Independence's Fernando Villanueva. He looked good in the drills but struggled a bit in the 1-on-1's with quicker players.
We've been watching Concord (Calif.) De La Salle's Dylan Wynn for two years now, and the thing that has always impressed us about Wynn is his nonstop motor. While Wynn could eventually move to strongside linebacker in college, where he'd have ideal size, he's fun to watch with his hand down, because he's so quick off the ball, and refuses to be blocked. Wynn won the MVP honors, in a pretty strong field of defensive lineman and showed why, once again, De La Salle's defense is so stingy.
The top prospect in all of the camp was Sacramento (Calif.) Grant defensive tackle Viliami Moala. The five-star tackle, and top defensive lineman in the West, Moala looked good in the drills and in the limited 1-on-1's, was barely challenged. He also anchored the tug-of-war team to a win. Moala wasn't much fun for the offensive lineman to face in the 1-on-1's, not unlike the season.
His teammate, Faigame Lopa, known as "Puka", looked really good in the drills and the 1-on-1's as well. Lopa benefitted greatly last season, statistically, from playing next to Moala, but he showed he's a bigtime prospect on his own.
Another Sacramento prospect, this one from Inderkum, is tackle Nathan Falo, who's a smaller version of Moala at about 6-1, 300. But like Moala, he's quick off the ball and does a good job of getting really low.
Pound-for-pound, there may not have been a better defensive line performer than James Price from Las Vegas (Nev.) Legacy. He's about 6-1, 270, but is relentless. He was unchallenged in his three 1-on-1's, and may have been the second best performer along the DL on Sunday.
Arik Armstead, the 2012 prospect from Elk Grove (Calif.) Pleasant Grove, has size, speed and skills that college scouts drool over. While he worked out with the defensive linemen, it's easy to see Armstead as a potential left tackle in college. There isn't any fat on him and he's a much more physical specimen than his brother, Armond (at USC) was at this age.
Challenging Price for the toughest pound-for-pound defensive lineman had to be Fresno (Calif.) Clovis West's Donovan Lewis. He will definitely be an outside linebacker in college, but he's quick off the ball, with a very fast first step.
The Best of the Rest: South Jordan (Utah) Bingham's Baker Pritchard, Kirkland (Wash.) Juanita's Jarrett Finau, Fairfield (Calif.) Vanden's Paul Tablit, Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou's Kamden Hilliard, Elk Grove (Calif.) Cosumnes Oaks's Robert Ash, Los Angeles (Calif.) West Adams Prep's Terrell Hart.
For the third time in four years, a Fresno linebacker won the MVP award. This time it was Fresno (Calif.) Central's Aarin Smith. Smith excelled in coverage and showed really good quickness and feet in the drills.
Corona (Calif.) Santiago linebacker Ejiro Ederiane, physically, looked like one of the best linebackers there. He's a guy we think will end up with offers when the spring is done, especially because he gets it done in the classroom.
Fresno (Calif.) Edison linebacker Shaquille Moseley has diligently been hitting camps this spring and continues to show why he may be the top defensive prospect in all of Central California. It wouldn't surprise us, though, in the least, if Moseley ends up moving to defensive end in college.
Eugene (Ore.) Marist linebacker Logan Mayes was another strong performer on Sunday, and while he's normally pretty reserved, was definitely getting fired up when he was winning his 1-on-1's.
Football fans will remember Hardy Nickerson's name, and they should remember his son, Hardy Nickerson Jr., too, because he'll be one of the top 2012 prospects at the position. His father starred at Cal and for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he's got the body of what should a pretty good backer at the next level. He'll be playing for his dad at Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd this fall.
Sacramento (Calif.) Grant's Daryl Paulo is another stellar Pacer defender, who's often overshadowed by his defensive teammates, but he's got a real good frame and ability to cover. Still, he's the kind of guy who you really appreciate when the pads are on.
The Best of the Rest: Stockton (Calif.) McNair's Malique Micenheimer, San Jose (Calif.) Bellarmine Prep's Rufus Wolokolie, South Jordan (Utah) Bingham's Paul Langi, Phoenix (Ariz.) Desert Vista's Michael Arredondo, El Cajon (Calif.) Christian's Tyron Sauls, Napa (Calif.) Juan Martinez, Stockton (Calif.) Edison's Hector Roach, Folsom (Calif.) Burton Dekoning
The defensive backs were clearly the best positional group at the camp. And there were some 2012 prospects there that cemented themselves as names to remember for that class.
We first saw Fresno (Calif.) Central sophomore cornerback Tee Shepard last spring at the San Francisco Scout Combine, when he came as a freshman, a highly touted one at that, under the tutelage of longtime DB guru Tony Perry, who's sent 30+ DBs onto the D-I level. Shepard more than held his own in San Francisco, and did the same in Vegas in March at the Badger/New Level 7on7. Perry told us a year ago, Shepard had the potential to be the best DB he's ever coached, and several of his more successful players have echoed that. Shepard has done nothing but live up to the hype. He was a pain in the receivers side all day long. He doesn't get beat in coverage, and has such quick and active hands, that make it tough to catch a pass on him.
Shaquille Thompson is no stranger to the defensive back position at a high level, as the Sacramento (Calif.) Grant 2012 prospect is the younger brother of former Cal star SydQuan Thompson. Thompson, though, is physically more gifted than Syd ever was, and already looks like he could be a college safety, despite not even being halfway through high school. He is the real deal and figures to be one of the elite national safeties in the 2012 class.
Oakland (Calif.) McClymond's defensive back Marcus Peters earned MVP honors and was outstanding all day in the drills and in the 1-on-1's.
For Livermore (Calif.) Granada cornerback Josh Atkinson, it was a chance for him to make a name for himself, without his brother, George there, and he showed that he's got the ability to play either corner or safety at the next level.
A player we loved last fall when we saw him was Sacramento (Calif.) Grant safety James Sample. Sample is one of the most physical players we've seen in this class, regardless of his position, but he struggled at times in the 1-on-1's. He'll wow you, though, with the pads on, and we think he'll end up growing into an outside linebacker in college.
Another player who really impressed us was Concord (Calif.) De La Salle's Antoine Pickett. One of the unsung heroes of the Spartans' state championship team, Pickett performed very well in the drills and 1-on-1's, and he'll also get a chance to run the ball this year for the Spartans, so he's got some versatility to him.
The Best of the Rest: San Jose (Calif.) Leland's Christopher Santini, Albuquerque (N.M.) Academy's Brandon Branch, Castro Valley (Calif.) Giles Chapman, Fresno (Calif.) Hoover's Tevin Ivy, Elk Grove (Calif.) Cosumnes Oaks' Maurice Talley, San Jose (Calif.) Bellarmine Prep's Kris Olugbode, Vacaville (Calif.) Will C. Wood's Brian Clay, Pittsburg (Calif.) Javen Butler, Sacramento (Calif.) Inderkum's Jordan Adams.