LOS ANGELES – The second stop of the NIKE Training Camp Tour attracted more than 250 of the top players from 11 different states to the University of Southern California campus on Sunday. The NIKE Camp is a great opportunity for many of the nation's top players to improve their stock in the eyes of national recruiting analysts. Rivals.com now presents a look at the Hot 11 players from the camp in the evaluations of recruiting analysts Jeremy Crabtree and Rick Kimbrel.
Bradford of Colton, Calif., was rock solid in everything he did. He came in at 5-foot-11 and 219 pounds and tested extremely well. He had a 4.54-second time in the 40-yard dash, a 4.44 shuttle, a 29-inch vertical leap and did 25 repetitions in the bench press. He flew around and made a ton of plays in drills and in one-on-one situations. He should have been called the blanket because nobody could get open against him. His effort earned him camp most valuable player honors.
Austin of Long Beach (Calif.) Poly took on all comers and put them in their place time after time. The talented receiver that clocked a 4.5-second time in the 40-yard dash, cemented his stock as one of the nation's elite receiver prospects for the class of 2006. He beat everybody that challenged him, and he beat them bad. "I don't want to sound cocky, but I wanted to come out here and show everybody that I'm one of the nation's best receivers," Austin said. "I did it."
Sheller of Walnut, Calif., committed two weeks ago to UCLA and it looks like the Bruins landed themselves one heck of a player. Sheller proved that he's one of the top two or three offensive linemen in California on Sunday with a dominating performance in everything he did. He tested well, but it was in the one-on-ones and in the drill portions of the camp that he really shined. He had great technique, impressive footwork and an even better first pop. The future Bruin definitely deserved special recognition because of his big day.
With all of the amazing talent running around at receiver and defensive back, it'd be real easy to overlook the tight end spot. But when you see Reuland, who was all of 6-foot-6 and around 240 pounds, it was hard to miss him. Reuland of Mission Viejo, Calif., caught everything that was thrown to him, he tested solid and he did the little things that you want from a blue-chip tight end. He is ranked as a pre-evaluation Rivals100 member and he did nothing on Sunday to disprove that he belongs in that upper-level category.
Kendricks of Milwaukee (Wis.) King came a long way from home to make a great impression, and that's what he did all day long. With hands that clamped on to the ball like a bear trap and a frame that makes him look like he's already in college, he was easily one of the best players overall at the camp. Wisconsin was first to offer him, but look out as more and more teams are about discover that this Midwest talent is a real gem.
There must be something in the water at Poly because it seems like everywhere you turn they have smallish receivers that kill you with their speed and skill. Along with Austin, who is No. 2 on the Hot 11, Patterson earned a spot as one of the camp's elite players with a day that featured burnt defensive backs numerous times in the one-on-one drills. He might be in that 5-foot-9, 5-10 range, but he is definitely talented enough to play high-level Division I football.
Gable of Sylmar, Calif., came into the camp as one of the top athlete/running backs in the West. He might have left finding himself a new home at the receiver spot. Gable admitted that he didn't blow things away with a 4.5-second time in the 40-yard dash, and yes he was a little raw in his route running, but everything that was thrown to him he caught it. He also showed brilliant flashes of why people from all over the nation have already offered him a scholarship when he caught the ball. He didn't get a chance to do too many things in the open field, but you could see that if given the opportunity he would toast you.
Poly has a pipeline of blue-chippers and Joseph was about the only one that could hang with Austin and Patterson in the one-on-one drills. Nike defensive backs coach Kerry Joseph gave Vincent Joseph high marks for his quick hips, toughness and ability to stay with anybody with his speed. "He was the ace all day long," Kerry Joseph said. "He had good feet and was really poised and had that comfort zone that you need as a defensive back."
It's looking more and more like a great year for offensive linemen in California, and Bennett of La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat was one of the better linemen in the camp. A lot of people were raving about how physically impressive Mark Jackson of Columbus (Ohio) Brookhaven looked, but when it came down to the fundamentals and what it takes to be a great lineman now, Bennett looked to have the better goods at this point. Bennett will be one of the more highly recruited linemen in the West, especially once he gets in even better shape this summer.
Johnson of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., impressed with an amazing first step in one-on-ones and during drills. Johnson looks more like an outside linebacker now with his frame, and he did appear to have the quickness to play the position in drills, so there is no doubt he will be heavily recruited. He did display good instincts and with his quickness, he might just find a home at outside linebacker on the next level and be a real steal for somebody.
Gaines came into the camp as a virtual unknown. Sure locals in Nevada knew all about him and knew that he was one of the state's better players. By the time he left the campSunday he showed that he's got a great frame, great hips and a very good ability to close on the ball. With his stout frame and nose for the football, it's easy to see many schools projecting him as a safety prospect – and a darned fine one at that. It's going to be interesting to see how he progresses this spring because if his performance at the camp is reflected on film then he might be one of the biggest up and comers in the West.