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LAKE FOREST, Calif. -- With nearly 250 players on hand at El Toro High School in Southern California, the second stop in the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour was a great success.
The first weekend of the invitation-only series, which affords the participants the opportunity to play their way into the Rivals Five-Star Challenge and ultimately the Under Armour All-American Game, put the spotlight on the best in the west region.
The difference between Phoenix and Los Angeles -- according to Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell -- was dramatic.
"Today was skill, skill, skill," Farrell said. "I think Phoenix was more dominated by the players on the offensive and defensive lines and (Los Angeles) was pretty much completely headlined by the skill players."
One of the players that stood among the pack was Fontana (Calif.) Summit wide receiver Erik Brown.
Brown entered the camp unranked by Rivals.com with offers from Houston and Nevada, but his performance nearly got him the Camp MVP title, and should elevate his profile.
"It was really a 1A and 1B," Farrell said. "We gave the MVP to Joe Mixon, but it was a split vote and it was very close.
"Erik ran crisp, clean routes and he caught everything thrown to him."
The day went as planned for 6-foot, 167-pound Brown.
"I am here to show my name even more; make sure everyone knows my name all around the nation," Brown said.
At registration, Brown said his goal was to earn his way into the Under Armour All-American Game. He wanted to showcase his skill set in front of the Rivals.com analysts.
"Today you will see crisp routes, you'll see speed, you'll see jump ball -- I will come down with it -- pretty much everything you want to see from an elite receiver," he said prior to the event.
In the drills and one-on-one position battles, Brown was in top form.
"Overall, I think he is a guy that will blow up," Farrell said. "He's a great slot receiver, downfield with great hands he really kind of came out of nowhere for us."
Farrell predicts that this will be a jump-start for his recruitment.
"He will have plenty of Pac-12 offers soon," Farrell said.
The camp MVP award went to Mixon, of Oakley (Calif.) Freedom. The No. 82 player in the Rivals100 lined up at his natural position of running back but also took reps at wide receiver to show his versatility.
"Joe was really a complete package today," Farrell said. "He had great speed and beat the linebackers with ease. He moved out to receiver -- and he didn't really run great routes, which is to be expected -- but he was able to get downfield and make plays on the ball.
"It was very impressive to see him show his versatility."
2015 QBs come to play
With the plethora of skill players shining, it became apparent that there was a solid group of players who were delivering the passes.
Two young players were among those who stood out as Austin Kafentzis of Sandy (Utah) Jordan and Ricky Town of Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure performed well.
Kafentzis has offers from BYU, Utah, Utah State and Wisconsin while Town has early offers from Miami and UCLA.
After throwing for more than 3,000 and rushing for 2,000 in his sophomore season, this was the first major showcase for Kafentzis. He said he was excited to be surrounded with the elite level prospects.
"Playing with some of the best talent in the west or the nation," he said. "Come out here to have a little bit of fun; throw to some good receivers, running backs and go against some good defenders. It is a good opportunity for everyone."
Town said that the attention is new, but enjoyable.
"It is pretty cool," he said. "To only be a sophomore and have two offers already.
"The process is going pretty smoothly so I am excited."
Each held their own against a group of rising seniors who also had good showings.
Vanderbilt commitment K.J. Carta-Samuels of San Jose (Calif.) Bellarmine Prep had one of the best days in the group impressing many analysts but a lot of eyes were on the young gunners.
Taking the next step
For the second stop in the tour it was a repeat of the prior days decision as there were four more players invited to the Rivals Five-Star Challenge that will be held after the completion of the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour.
The first player to earn his spot in the event was Mixon, the Camp MVP.
Mixon is the second running back from the West to be invited as he joined Nate Starks from Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman who was invited in Phoenix.
El Cerrito (Calif.) High linebacker Derik Calhoun became the first linebacker to earn an invitation to the season-ending event.
The No. 133 player in the Rivals100 is listed at 6-foot and 215-pounds.
Michiah Quick and Adarius Pickett were the first two cornerbacks from the West to take home an invitation.
Pickett -- a 5-foot-11, 176-pound cornerback from El Cerrito (Calif.) High -- was named the defensive skill player MVP at the event. He is ranked No. 189 in the Rivals 250.
Quick is the No. 54 player in the Rivals100 and is listed at 6-foot, 170-pounds and traveled from Fresno (Calif.) Central East.
Farrell was impressed by his coverage skills.
"He was very fluid and had good ball skills," Farrell said. "There were very few reps that he didn't win and even fewer that he wasn't blanketing his receiver."
Those four join Starks, receiver Jalen Brown, and offensive lineman Casey Tucker and Natrell Curtis.
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