The first annual AIGA Memorial 7on7 & Big Man Challenge took place over the weekend at Serra HS in Gardena. Here is a look at some of the standouts.
The star of the day was clearly San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty passer Kyle Boehm, playing without a backup, and leading Team ProSportsUSA into the finals. They lost their opener in the playoffs but worked their way back all the way to the championship, thanks to the arm of Boehm, who showed why he's one of the elite passers in the West. Boehm, physically, looks like a linebacker, and has great downfield arm strength. We've seen him numerous times this spring, and he was at his best in this tournament, earning Co-MVP honors.
Carson (Calif.) quarterback Justin Alo and Los Alamitos (Calif.) passer Dylan Lagarde helped lead Team AIGA White to the tournament title, and both had good moments. Alo was the most consistent passer on Saturday, and got the majority of the snaps in the finals. While a little on the smaller side, he's got good accuracy and surprisingly good arm strength, considering how slight he is.
Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola quarterback Jerry Neuheisel was the primary passer for Team 1925 and got them to the semifinals. He was at his best in the short and intermediate routes, but can also hit the deep route when needed.
El Cajon (Calif.) Granite Hills quarterback Cory Lockman was even more built like a defender than Boehm is. He's a rock-solid 6-3, 225-pounds and showed some good touch on his throws.
Running backs aren't used nearly as much in these tournaments, but the one who stood out the most was San Jose (Calif.) Bellarmine Prep's Kris Olugbode. An all-state pick in 2009, Olugbode split out wide several times and beat the corners routinely, and when lined up in the slot, was too quick for the linebackers. He made a huge catch of a deep Boehm bomb that gave Team ProSports the lead against Team 1925 and it proved to be the difference. Olugbode played both ways, but got stronger as the day went on.
His teammate, and WCAL rival Rocky Meszaros, was one of Boehm's favorite targets as well. A teammate of Boehm at Mitty, what Meszaros lacks in size, he makes up for in quickness and toughness.
Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco receiver Bryce Treggs is one of the premier 2012 prospects in all of the West, and he earned Co-MVP honors on the day with Boehm. Treggs is extremely quick, but what makes him so tough to defend is his cutting ability and route running, and the way he gets behind the secondary. He was the go-to-guy all day for Team AIGA White and a big part of their tournament win.
We saw Lakewood (Calif.) receiver Malik Gilmore, another 2012 prospect, drop his first pass in the five times we've seen him this spring, but that was his only knock. Otherwise, he was another one of Team AIGA Red's better performers. Gilmore played in Lakewood's Spring Game the night before, but came out on Saturday and was a model of consistency.
USC commit Jordan Payton may be the best 2012 receiver in the West and while there were only so many passes to go around for Team 1925, Payton made the most of his catches. Physically, he's stronger than most receivers, regardless of class, and does a great job of gaining separation. He's got nice, soft hands, that really, were catching everything.
Encino (Calif.) Crespi receiver Devin Lucien has been steady throughout the spring and this tournament was another showcase of that. Like Payton, Lucien is physically better than most receivers, and has precise route-running ability. He won't wow you with his speed, but if the ball is near him, he's pulling it in.
Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei receiver Victor Blackwell shared the ball with Payton and Lucien, and he's the fastest of the group, just not as physically strong. Still, he was the most consistent receiver of those three for Team 1925.
La Mesa (Calif.) Helix's Sam Meredith is a big target at tight end and offense may be his best side in college, though several schools like him as a defensive hand. Meredith has very soft hands and can make the tough catch.
Other receivers who stood out were Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian's Blair Holliday, Las Vegas (Nev.) Silverado's Christopher Smith, Cerritos (Calif.) Gahr's Josh Perkins, Lompoc (Calif.) Lavon Haynes, Bellflower (Calif.) Mike Jasper and La Mesa (Calif.) Helix's Cameron Lee.
At linebacker, San Diego (Calif.) Rancho Bernardo's Aaron Wallace was probably the most steady performer for Team Gridiron Ministries, and all of the defensive players there. Wallace does a great job in pass coverage, and has good quickness and hands.
Long Beach (Calif.) Poly's Corey Waller is a defensive end by trade but knows that outside linebacker is likely where his future is. Waller looked solid in coverage and used his strength to keep running backs and tight ends from getting any separation from him.
Like Waller, Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey's Jeremiah Allison is a defensive end (20 sacks last year), but is certainly a linebacker in college, at about 6-1, 200. And Allison looked like he'll have no problem making that transition. Just a sophomore, Allison has two years to get bigger for a linebacker spot.
Probably the most intriguing sight was seeing Beverly Hills (Calif.) defensive end Greg Townsend, a Scout 50 prospect, playing linebacker. Townsend looked pretty agile and was plenty aggressive, and it's scary to think of a prospect his size looking as smooth as a linebacker.
Just the same was Henderson (Nev.) Liberty defensive end Sam Tai, who worked at linebacker and at tight end for the Vegas Rebels. At 6-4, 230, Tai can move extremely well, but his future, with his frame, is with his hand down.
San Jose (Calif.) Bellarmine Prep linebacker Rufus Wolokolie was the defensive MVP for Team Pro Sports USA and rarely sat out at all. He did well at receiver but it was on defense, where he used his quickness and good lateral movement to break up some key passes in the playoff round.
Vista (Calif.) Jeremiah Kose was one of the anchors for Team AIGA White, and while he's a more physical player, who'd rather knock a head off, showed his discipline in coverage.
The defensive backs were led by the nation's premier defensive back, and the West's top prospect, Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw's DeAnthony Thomas.
Thomas, as we've said numerous times, could excel at four different positions, but on this day, he focused on cornerback, and was nearly impossible to catch a pass on. He made one of the most impressive plays of the day, popping the 6-4, 240-pound Meredith at the line of scrimmage and staying on his feet, then staying with Meredith before jumping the route for a pick.
Lakewood (Calif.) cornerback Rashad Wadood had a solid day, as did Gardena (Calif.) Serra's Shaquille Richard and Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft's Shaq Shelton, who had a couple of picks in round robin play.
Another 2012 prospect to watch is San Jose (Calif.) Leland's Christopher Santini, who can play either safety or grow into an outside linebacker. He was strong in coverage all day for Team ProSports USA.
Big Man Challenge
*Guard - Banning (Calif.)- Tavita Tua'au (2012) 6'5" 340+ lbs. Agressive big wide body with amazing footwork. 320 lbs. would be a good weight for him!
*Center - Gardena (Calif.) Serra- Sione Veikoso (2011) 6'0 275 lbs. Good feet. Great hands and very intelligent. Natural Leader.
*Guard - La Mesa (Calif.) Helix- Victor Bowen (2012) 6'2" 300+lbs. Wide Body. Good feet and good technique. Can be a nasty blocker.
*Right Tackle - San Jose (Calif.) Bellarmine Prep- Adam Sheffield (2011) 6'5" 300+ Great Hands. Good feet. Big Body. Well proportioned body. Aggressive with good technique.
Starting Five: Defensive Line
*Defensive Tackle - Vista (Calif.)- Joseph McFadden (2011) 6'2" 250 Undersized D-Lineman with incredible moves and a great motor.
*Defensive End - Temecula (Calif.)- Tyrone Knight (2011) 6'2" 255 Another Undersized D - lineman w/ good moves and great motor.
*****Top O-lineman Torian White