The Costa Mesa NIKE Combine held at Orange Coast JC (Calif.) this past weekend brought out almost 700 players including several who were flying a bit below the radar. Here's a look at a handful of players who may have put their names on the recruiting map with their standout showings on Sunday.
In terms of pure speed, one player who caught our eye was Lawndale (Calif.) Leuzinger running back Mark Rodgers. At just 5-8, 155 pounds, Rodgers isn't the biggest back around but he's one of the quickest and gets it done on the field as well.
As a junior, Rodgers set a school record with 2,236 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns to earn league offensive player of the year honors. He was also the league champ in the 100m last year as a sophomore and has a personal best 10.6 time in the 100 and 22.2 in the 200.
Rodgers showed off his blazing speed at Sunday's combine, clockng a 4.43 and a 4.51, in which he stumbled to go along with a 32-inch vertical leap, 4.34 in the shuttle and a very solid 16 reps on the bench. His 78.30 SPARQ Rating was one of the best in the camp. The athlete said his top five is Oregon State, USC, UCLA, Fresno State and Cal.
Los Angeles (Calif.) Verbum Dei wide receiver Reggie Dunn has obviously been doing some serious training in the last year. At a NIKE Combine a year ago, Dunn clocked a 5.31 in the 40, 5.06 in the shuttle and jumped 26 inches in the vertical. He also measured in at just 5-5, 120 pounds and really didn't look like much of a Div I prospect.
Fast forward a year later and it's a completely different story. Dunn came in at a solid 5-9, 162 pounds, clocked a 4.50 and a 4.58 in the 40 to go with a 4.31 in the shuttle and jumped 33 inches in the vertical. A dramatic difference and one of the biggest changes we can ever remember seeing.
Dunn had a solid junior season earning all-league and all-CIF honors after catching 12 balls for 319 receiving yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 315 yards and four more scores. He said Arizona is his current leader followed by UCLA, LSU and USC.
Two way standout Nicolas Grigsby, 5-11, 175 pounds out of Santa Fe Springs (Calif.) St. Paul is a good looking player who could end up at running back or defensive back in college. He ran a 4.51 in the 40, 4.32 in the shuttle, jumped 28 inches in the vertical and did 8 reps on the bench earning himself an invite to the NIKE Camp following his standout showing.
As a junior, Grigsby rushed for 1,780 yards and scored 22 touchdowns and should put up even bigger numbers this coming season. After the camp, Grigsby said he's open and doesn't have any favorite schools but did say Kentucky, BYU and Fresno State have all talked recently about offering a scholarship.
Corona (Calif.) Centennial always has players and next year will be no exception. Centennial head coach Matt Logan told us his linebacker Anthony Parham was strong and fast and he wasn't joking. Parham, who may project at safety in college after measuring in at 5-11, 178 pounds, clocked a 4.44 in the 40, 4.19 in the shuttle and did 17 reps on the bench.
As a junior, the athlete had 55 tackles and three sacks for one of the state's top teams and will be an intriguing player to watch over the spring and summer. USC, LSU, Arizona, Virginia Tech and Texas top his early list.
One player who is definitely not a sleeper but isn't as well known as his talent dictates because of where he plays is D'Angelo Jones. Jones, a 5-8, 190 pound running back from Henderson (Nev.) Foothill made the road trip to Cali to show he deserves to be mentioned among the top backs in the region.
He has been an absolute monster on the field the last three years rushing for 1,254 yards and 16 touchdowns as a freshman, 2,006 yards and 26 touchdowns as a sophomore and 1,987 yards and 27 touchdowns last season. At the combine, Jones clocked a 4.50 in the 40, 4.53 in the shuttle, jumped 32 inches in the vertical and did 14 reps on the bench. Arizona State, Nebraska, Oregon, UCLA and Michigan round out his top five list.
Another running back who looked great was Riverside (Calif.) J.W. North's Cedric Foster. Foster will just be a junior next year but is someone who college coaches should put on their list right now. He's an interesting story in that he started as a freshman at Riverside Poly rushing for over 1,000 yards and then transferred to J.W North last year and had to play junior varsity due to CIF transfer rules.
At 5-7 and a rock solid 194 pounds, Foster drew comparisons to USC bound Kenny Ashley in terms of his size and overall build. The athlete ran a 4.41 in the 40, 4.49 in the shuttle, jumped 33 inches in the vertical and did 19 reps on the bench. His 80.16 SPARQ Rating was second best in the camp and obviously first among all underclassmen. Look for big things from Foster over the next two years. USC, Miami and LSU are his early leaders.
Yet another standout running back was Hanford (Calif.) Avery Horn. Horn, 5-10, 180 pounds sent in his film a week prior to the combine and we were impressed enough to lock him in for a NIKE Camp invite. We feel even better about him after seeing him in person. Horn ran a 4.57 in the 40, 4.50 in the shuttle, jumped 35 inches in the vertical and did 16 reps on the bench.
On the field, Horn rushed for 1,290 yards broke former UCLA running back Shawn Wills school record with 24 touchdowns last season. USC, Oregon State, Alabama, Fresno State and LSU are showing interest and top Horn's early list of favorites.
Moreno Valley (Calif.) Canyon Springs had a handful of players who looked very good led by wide out James Carter. Carter, 5-11, 169 pounds ran a 4.46 and a 4.47 in the 40, to go with a 4.34 in the shuttle and a 36 inch vertical leap.
On the field, Carter caught 11 balls for 214 yards and a touchdown, numbers we think will rise dramatically this year. Carter is yet another athlete who will be sent an invite to the NIKE Camp based on his performance and we're looking forward to seeing what he can do in the position and one on one drills at the camp. UCLA, UNLV, Fresno State, Cal, Arizona State and Texas top his early list.