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Friday, May 18, 2012
Updated: May 24, 12:06 PM ET
Substance and style

By Mitch Sherman
RecruitingNation

 L.J. Moore
Junior defensive back L.J. Moore was one of five teammates from Central (Fresno, Calif.) at the Oakland NFTC regional camp on Sunday.

SAN PABLO, Calif. -- Say this about the five-man secondary from Fresno (Calif.) Central High School on display Sunday at the Nike Football Training Camp: They had style.

From Johnny Johnson's black tights and white skullcap to L.J. Moore's orange gloves, coach Tony Perry's defensive backs stood out -- and for more than just their choices in clothing.

Perry, a longtime defensive backs coach in northern California, has assembled an all-star group, led by Moore, a cornerback, and safety Hatari Byrd. They're both seniors next season, and the duo has assembled offers from Arizona State Cal, Georgia, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, UCLA and Washington between them.

UCLA, Notre Dame, Cal and Oklahoma have also offered corner Michiah Quick, a 2014 prospect who will come off the bench next season for Perry after Johnson, a transfer, sits the first two games.

Johnson left San Joaquin (Calif.) Memorial for the chance to play with Byrd, Moore, Quick and rising junior Devon Brewer, a safety offered by Houston and UNLV.

Johnson holds offers from USC, UCLA, Stanford, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Cal and others.

"I've had some pretty good groups," Perry said. "Every one of them has a goal. With these guys, they're all shooting to get to the top, so they push each other. They all want to be the main guy."

Perry, entering his third year at Central, coached previously at Edison High School in Fresno and at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, Calif., where he said he produced 10 Division-I defensive backs in two seasons.

His success at placing players in college breeds more success.

"He makes us go out there and grind every day," Byrd said. "But it's worth it. Hard work pays off."

Somehow, they all get along well, too. The Central players encouraged each other Sunday at the NFTC. Johnson, Byrd, Moore and Brewer worked with Perry and the defensive backs. Quick ran with the receivers, alongside teammate Rasean Jones, whose SPARQ-index score Sunday ranked as the highest among about 300 players.

Johnny Johnson
Fresno Central (Calif.) junior DB Johnny Johnson shows off his speed Sunday at the Oakland NFTC.

"It's fun," Moore said. "We challenge each other, go out and make each other better."

Moore said he grew up with Johnson and also knew Quick, whose cousin is Byrd.

When they describe each other as family, these guys are serious.

"I learn from them, and they learn from me, too, when I'm on the other side of the ball," Quick said. "It's a pretty good deal. We communicate and talk all the time we're on the field. We never stop talking. We talk about what we're doing right, what we're not, what we need to learn."

As for the quarterback who stares into that secondary, trouble likely awaits.

"We want to scare him," Brewer said, "make him run the ball. If they put it in the air, we're going to go get it. You know that person next to you is going to do a great job."

According to Perry, new Central coach Justin Garza, who came this year from Fresno Sunnyside, has instilled an attitude at the school that demands teamwork and unity.

The secondary should rank as the least of Garza's concerns.

"A lot of kids with offers like that, they let it get to their heads," Perry said. "Not this group. It's easy with these guys."