Heading in to the NorCal NIKE Camp at Stanford this past weekend, we knew the race for Camp MVP honors was going to be wide open. For one, a ton of top players had track commitments creating an even more level playing field than first thought and two, even with the defection's, there was still a boatload of talent on hand but maybe not that one marquee player that would blow everyone away. Still if you gave us 10 guesses, there is no way, we would have picked our eventual MVP.
Much like the SoCal NIKE Camp at USC earlier in the year, easily the strongest position group in the event was the linemen. Both sides of the ball were stocked and it made for some of the most intense one on one drills we've seen this year.
Sure there was some very good performances at the skill positions and especially among the linebackers. Had Norco (Calif.) linebacker Jordan Campbell entered the camp healthy and able to test the way we know he was capable, there is no doubt he would have walked away with camp honors. Unfortunately for the talented 'backer, he looked about 85% and although he still shined throughout the day, it wasn't enough to earn the nod.
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There were several dominant performances among both the offensive and defensive linemen. Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw's Brian Price solidified himself as the top tackle prospect in the West region and had an incredible showing in the one on ones. Equally as impressive in the one on ones was Long Beach Poly's (Calif.) Kenny Rowe. Rowe is a perfect example of why 40 times can be vastly overrated. The athlete will never run a blazing 40 but no one gets off the ball quicker and we haven't seen a rush end use his hands better or play with better pass rushing technique than the talented Jackrabbit.
Palisades (Calif.) offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz had a great day as well and showed why Michigan and Stanford have offered in the last week. We like Schwartz even better than his older brother Geoff, a likely starter on the Oregon offensive line next season.
When it was all said and done though, the player we felt had the best total camp when you take in to consideration how he tested, looked in the position drills and the one on ones was Rolling Hills (Calif.) Peninsula's Todd Huber.
As we mentioned earlier, Huber is a player we never thought had any chance at all of being named the top player in the camp just a few weeks ago. It's not that we felt he wasn't talented because we know he can play. He had a dominant junior season on both sides of the ball totaling 72 pancake blocks playing center to go with 90 tackles and eight sacks on the defensive side of the ball.
We just never realized Huber was this good and he definitely should be mentioned among the top true center prospects in the nation. At 6-3, 273 pounds, Huber has good size and tested very well clocking a 5.04 in the 40, 4.55 in the shuttle and did 22 reps on the bench.
He shined in the position drills showing great feet and balance and then was the talk of the camp following the one on one drills when he stoned very defensive lineman he went up against including massive Salt Lake City (Utah) Cottonwood DT Simi Fili who had been manhandling just about every opposing OL in the camp.
Huber surprised a bit with his aggressiveness and physical style of play as he didn't back down from any challenge. He showed excellent quickness against the speed rushers and then plenty of strength and toughness against the big 300 pound bull rushers.
"Honestly, I wasn't expecting to do that well," Huber said. "When I first heard I was Camp MVP, it literally sent shivers down my spine. Going in to the camp, I was a little nervous and to be honest, I still don't think everything has set in yet. I went from the camp, to Stanford's Junior Day on Sunday and then now this, I'm just in kind of a shock.
"I have to give a lot of credit though to my trainer, Kevin Chris, he put together an incredible workout plan for me. Basically, for the last six months, we've been working towards this camp. Everything we were doing was football specific training. Kevin does all the SPARQ training and it really works. I can't even tell you how many ladder drills and cone exercises I've done. We worked on the shuttle a ton and I actually thought I might do even better than the 4.5 time I clocked. Basically everything we did at the camp, even the SPARQ 2.0 stuff like the L-Drill and power ball toss, is stuff that Kevin and I have been working on."
After watching Huber's performance, we weren't surprised in the least that he picked up a scholarship offer from Stanford the next day. The only surprise for us will be if there is about four or five more to follow within the week.
"I'm really open right now in terms of even having a top five or 10," Huber said. "The offer from Stanford obviously puts them high on my list but I can't sit here and say I like them more than Cal or USC. Basically, I like the whole Pac 10 and right now, I just want to go through the recruiting process a little and see how everything plays out. My older brother (Scott) played at USC so I grew up rooting for them a lot but that really won't play a role in my decision. I'm just going to sit back and see who else is showing interest and will make a decision when it feels right for me."