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April 23, 2004

SoCal NIKE Camp packs a mighty punch

For the first time in three years, the SoCal Nike Camp will be held at San Diego State. The camp, which is Saturday, will lose some star power as several of the top players in the region are planning to attend the Nike Camp at Stanford on May 22 because it falls in the middle of the spring evaluation period and more than 200 college coaches will attend.

The NorCal Nike Camp will steal some of the thunder this weekend as several standout players including quarterbacks Osaar Rasshan and Josh Portis, wide receivers Austin Usher, Desean Jackson, Gavin Ketchum and Jeremy Childs, tight end Erik Lorig, linebackers Luthur Brown and Adrian McCovey, defensive back Cary Harris and athlete Aaron Ware will all make the road trip to Palo Alto. Still, with as much talent as there is in the SoCal region, this weekend's camp will be a strong one.

Still this weekend's camp looks to pack a mighty punch.

Mission Viejo (Calif.) quarterback Mark Sanchez is a top 100 player nationally and could be the top signal caller in the region. Sanchez can really spin it, has plus arm strength and is as mechanically solid as you can be at the position. He has a great drop, smooth release and is very accurate as evidenced by the fact he completed almost 70 percent of his passes last year.

In terms of arm strength, Hemet, Calif., star Brandis Dew has as big an arm as anybody will see this year. Dew is all of 6-5, 240 pounds and should be fun to watch on Saturday. Carlsbad's (Calif.) Sean Canfield and Ridgecrest (Calif.) Burroughs' Karsten Sween are a couple of talented lefty's that earned all-state honors a year ago and are also major college prospects.

At the running back position, they don't get much better than North Hollywood, Calif., superstar Marlon Lucky.

Lucky, 6-1, 200 pounds reminds scouts of Cal signee Marshawn Lynch in terms of size, speed and power but might actually have better pure running back instincts. Lucky can feel his way through holes or explode through them when there's an opening. He also has great hands out of the backfield and often lines up in the slot to take advantage of his pass catching skills.

Another player that is expected to put on a show that is coming further than just about anyone is Jersey City (N.J) St. Peter's Prep's Mike Brown.

Brown, 5-9, 185 pounds rushed for 960 yards and 17 touchdowns last season and is one of the nation's most explosive players. Brown has game breaking speed and has the versatility to play slot receiver or cornerback in addition to running back. Schools from all over the East have offered including Notre Dame, Boston College, Virginia and Syracuse.

Peoria, Ariz., athlete Keegan Herring is the top back in Arizona after rushing for 1,712 yards and 29 touchdowns. Herring is a speed back that has clocked a 10.67 in the 100 meters and is the type of game breaker that is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. Arizona State has already offered a scholarship and leads big right now.

Darrell Mack, 6-1, 205 pounds from Spring Valley (Calif.) Monte Vista and arguably the top back in San Diego and Jeremiah Johnson, 5-10, 190 pounds from Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey, arguably the top back in the city section, should also put on a good show.

With most of the top wide outs in the region planning to attend the NorCal camp, there will still be plenty of targets for the quarterbacks to throw the rock to.

One such player is Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey David Gettis, the defending state champion in the 400 meters. Gettis, 6-3 and 185 pounds has the size and speed college coaches love and it will be interesting to see how he looks running routes and catching the ball.

Phoenix (Ariz.) Moon Valley athlete Chris McGaha is a very good looking prospect that is regarded as the state's top wide out but could also be the state's top cover corner as well. At 6-3 and 200 pounds, he's huge for a corner and may project more as a safety if he chooses to play on defense in college.

A pair of tight ends that are expected to impress are Carlsbad, Calif., star Vic So'oto and Bellflower, Calif., standout Edward Dickson.

At 6-4 and 210 pounds, So'oto runs well and has great hands. Dickson, 6-5 and 230 pounds is just an incredible athlete, one of the best in the West region regardless of position and could be an immediate impact player in college.

Although we feel he's more of an offensive lineman, it will be interesting to see big Charles Brown working out with the tight ends as well. Brown, who is 6-6 and 245 pounds from Pomona (Calif.) Diamond Ranch, is physically imposing and definitely passes the eye ball test.

The offensive line should be loaded led by a pair of pre-season Riavls100 selections in Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw's Aleksey Lanis and Moreno Valley (Calif.) Canyon Springs' Rodney Picou.

Lanis, 6-6, 300 pounds, has great size and athleticism and first caught our eye two years ago when as a sophomore. He got the best of future USC lineman Thomas Herring and has never looked back. Picou, 6-4, 295 pounds, had a huge SoCal Nike camp showing a year ago where he clocked a 5.12 in the 40-yard dash and dominated the one-on-one drills.

On the defensive line, all eyes will be on Manhatten Beach (Calif.) Mira Costa's Mataele Pau'u. The big 6-2, 295-pound tackle is an absolute load in the middle of the line and has received scholarship offers from a number of schools, including UCLA, Michigan, Arizona State and Oregon.

Another huge presence at defensive tackle is San Diego (Calif.) Serra's Fevaea'I Ah Mu. Ah Mu, 6-1, 300 pound was a first team all-state selection a year ago and has early offers from Arizona, Colorado and Wisconsin.

A pair of rush ends to watch closely will be Fontana (Calif.) Kaiser's Bernard Afutiti and Inglewood (Calif.) Morningside's Rolando Barragan. Afutiti, 6-1, 225 pounds, is on the small side for a rush end but has a great motor and totaled 127 tackles and 17 quarterback sacks a year ago. Barragan, 6-3, 275 pounds was a first team all-state underclass selection and could play inside or outside in college.

Spring Valley (Calif.) Monte Vista rush end Clinton Snyder is another talented athlete with great pass rushing skills. The 6-4, 230-pound athlete has early offers from UCLA and San Diego State.

It's an overall solid group of linebackers and it should be interesting to see where Moreno Valley's, Calif., Prince Hall lines up.

Hall was a first-team all-state linebacker a year ago, but at 6-0 and 245 pounds, will also get looks as a defensive lineman as well as at fullback. He had 168 tackles last season, while rushing for 887 yards.

Claremont, Calif., always has a couple of big time recruits and Nathan Thomas is the top guy next season. At 6-1, 220 pounds, he has very good size, strength and football speed. Thomas is one of those athletes that plays faster than his 40 time and according to his coaches at Claremont, is very close to picking up offers from both Oklahoma and Kansas State.

Arcadia (Calif.) Rio Hondo athlete Landon Goodwell, 6-2, 215 pounds rushed for almost 1,200 yards last season and wants a shot at running back but his size, speed and athleticism seem to translate very well on the defensive side of the ball.

A pair of players we really liked at the Nike combines in early March leads the secondary. Oxnard (Calif.) Rio Mesa's Kevin Thomas, 6-1, 185 pounds has the size and speed you love to see in a cornerback prospect. He clocked a 4.52 in the 40 and jumped 37 inches in the vertical a few months ago. Los Angeles (Calif.) Jefferson corner Travis Smith, 6-0, 160 pounds is another great looking prospect with very good speed and quickness.

Going head to head every day in practice with All-American wide out Austin Usher hasn't hurt Smith either as it's doubtful he'll line up against anyone better than his talented teammate.


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