Sunday, April 19, 2009
Updated: April 20, 10:58 AM ET
D-lineman Powell lives up to his rep
By Gary Paskwietz
Special to ESPN.com
The best of the West turned out for the Nike Football Training Camp at USC on Sunday. Here's a look at the defensive players who impressed by position.
For the third year in a row, Ronald Powell (Rancho Verde, Calif.) came to the Nike Football Training Camp at USC and showed why he is considered one of the elite prospects in Southern California. Powell has a physically impressive frame that could allow him to play end or tackle in college. Regardless of which spot he ends up playing, he has the skills needed to succeed. He started off slowly in this camp but cemented his reputation late in the day with a series of impressive reps. Powell says his recruiting process could come down to a USC versus Florida battle as the top two schools of this decade fight for this highly rated player.
• A pair of players we liked at the three-technique spot were Ricky Heimuli (Brighton, Utah) and Cassius Marsh (Concord, Calif./Oaks Christian). Heimuli plays with an incredibly high motor, and we liked the intensity he showed during pass-rush drills. Marsh is a bulldog. The Cal commit has tremendous fundamentals and should end up being a solid player for Jeff Tedford and the Golden Bears.
• George Uko (Chino, Calif./Don Lugo) is a wide body who moves well and takes up a lot of space. You can't teach size, and Uko has the kind of frame that will serve him well at the college level.
• One of the most impressive pass-rushers we saw was Josh Shirley (Fontana, Calif./Kaiser). Shirley likely will be a linebacker in college but is a top rush end at the high school level.
• Wesley Flowers (Fresno, Calif./Edison) showed a nice, muscular frame and a lot of potential.
The MVP of the linebacker group was Cecil Whiteside(Newport Beach, Calif./Newport Harbor). Whiteside was very solid in all areas of the camp. We liked his coverage drills, ability to move well in rush drills and solid frame. He'll be another nice pickup for Cal.
• Tony Jefferson (Chula Vista, Calif./Eastlake) is considered one of the most explosive players in the country, although it's unclear whether he will end up playing at linebacker or in the secondary. The USC Trojans, who sit atop his wish list, prefer him at safety, and his favorite player is USC All-American safety Taylor Mays. Jefferson had an on-again, off-again day in the linebacker drills, but he clearly is athletic and has good ground-coverage skills. He will be a big-time player in college.
• Jordan Zumwalt (Fresno, Calif./Edison) is a tall, lanky player who showed tremendous versatility by looking good in all the drills. He showed the ability to stay with smaller, quicker backs in pass-coverage drills. Zumwalt recently received an offer from ASU, and both parents are Sun Devils alumni.
• Victor Burnett (Culver City, Calif.) showed good technique and a physical nature. He put up huge tackle numbers last year and looks like a natural run-stuffer.
Demetrius Wright (Corona, Calif.) has been in the shadow of his teammate Jordon James for much of this recruiting season. Based on what we saw Sunday, that should change quickly; Wright is one of the elite corners in Southern California. His coverage skills were among the best in the camp, and at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, he definitely played physically during drill work. Wright has offers from Oregon, Arizona, Tennessee and ASU among others.
• Dion Bailey (Lakewood, Calif.) also impressed Sunday, and he has offers from schools such as Cal, UCLA and Notre Dame. Bailey was all over the field making plays, and his athletic ability is a big reason he led the state in interceptions last season. A very instinctive football player, Bailey has a very bright future ahead of him.
• Sean Parker (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne) came in with a big reputation, but he didn't stand out as much as we have seen from him in the past. Parker is one of the hardest-hitting safeties around, and obviously that talent won't come through in a camp setting. Also, there's no doubt he deserves to be mentioned among the best in the area. He displayed very good footwork in drills.
• Parker's teammate Bryan Douglas was arguably the top corner to attend the camp. Douglas showed very good quickness and change of direction. So far, his only offer is from Boise State, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see that change in the coming months as he goes through the camp circuit.
• Shaquille Richardson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) is another talented corner to watch. Richardson is the latest in a line of talented Griffins corners that includes Antoine Cason and Orlando Scandrick.
Gary Paskwietz covers recruiting for ESPN affiliate WeareSC.com.