Wednesday, April 20, 2011
By Sean Ceglinsky ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- Learning from one of the more successful NFL and college receivers in recent memory certainly has its benefits.
Southern California wide receiver standouts such as Watch List 150 member Jordan Payton (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian), along with Kodi Whitfield (Los Angeles, Calif./Loyola) and Bryce Treggs (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Boso) can attest to such a fact.
Each of the 2012 prospects has been working with Keyshawn Johnson at Johnson's Big Man On Campus camps, the most recent taking place last weekend adjacent to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum -- a venue the 11-year NFL veteran called home while he attended USC.
"I'm just trying to give back to the community here,'' said Johnson, who attended nearby Los Angeles Dorsey High and is now an ESPN NFL analyst. "When I was coming up, I wish I would have had someone pointing me in the right direction. I'm out here trying to be a mentor to some of these kids.''
The results, coincidentally enough, have been staggering.
California WR Jordan Payton has said he wants to commit sooner rather than later, and Michigan is very high on his list.
"When you talk about Keyshawn, you're talking about one of the best in the game,'' Payton said. "You can't help but improve your all-around game being around a guy like him. He has so much experience, so much knowledge when it comes to football. He knows what it takes to get the job done at the next level and become a professional. I want to follow in his footsteps.''
Payton is heading in the right direction. He appears destined to be a Trojan after committing to USC in early March 2010. The verbal pledge, however, has done little to deter other schools from recruiting the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder.
Payton has more than 15 scholarship offers on the table, most notably from powerhouse programs such as Florida, Notre Dame and Oklahoma.
"I'm still committed to USC, I love it there,'' Payton said. "I don't want to neglect the process, though. I would like to take some visits and meet some of the other coaches out there. My plan is to check out, maybe, Arkansas, Michigan and Florida, you know just look around. In the end, I think, staying close to home and having my family see me play at USC is important.''
Similar to Payton, interest in Whitfield had picked up considerably in the last month or so. Whitfield has multiple offers, the most recent of which is from UCLA. Among the others interested in him are Arizona State, Washington and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Whitfield recently got back from an unofficial visits to Notre Dame and Northwestern, which also offered.
"Notre Dame was cool, I spoke with the coaches and they said they were close to offering me, they just needed to see more film,'' Whitfield said. "Now it's up to me. That's why I work out with Keyshawn and BMOC. I'm trying to get better and take my game to the next level.''
Treggs is in the same boat. His goal is to improve and he has, perhaps a bit quicker than most of his peers. Over the course of the last two weeks, he's received offers from Boise State, Colorado, Oregon State, Northwestern and Utah, upping his total to 15.
"I'm in a good place right now and the plan for me is cut down my list to five schools at some time in September,'' Treggs said. "Until then, it's back to work with Keyshawn. Being around someone like him is great opportunity. Most people don't ever get a chance like this.''
It's also worth mentioning that Payton, Whitfield and Treggs all play for Johnson's 1925 All-Star Team, which travels to various 7-on-7 passing tournaments.
Up-and-coming quarterback Troy Williams (Harbor City, Calif/Narbonne) has been the primary beneficiary of having a particularly talented group of players on the outside to throw the ball to during Big Man On Campus passing drills. Accordingly, colleges have kept a watchful eye on the the 2013 prospect.
The 6-2, 190-pounder has four scholarship offers thus far, from Bowling Green, Nevada, SMU and Washington. Alabama, Florida, UCLA and USC are among the others that have expressed varied levels of interest in Williams.
"My receivers make me look good out there,'' Williams said modestly. "Things are happening fast for me right now, but everything has been fun too. I can't believe I'm talking to colleges at this point in my career, it's crazy. I don't plan on making a decision for a while. I want to take things slow and see what happens in the future.''
Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com.