LOS ANGELES – Lights, camera, action. The second stop on the 2005 NIKE Training Camp tour heads to the campus of Southern Cal on Sunday and many of the top prospects from California are expected to be there, but the event is also expected to draw many elite out of state prospects. It's only fitting that the stars come out to shine in L.A., and Rivals.com takes a look at who's going to be strolling down the red carpet.
One of the biggest stars expected at the camp is C.J. Gable of Sylmar, Calif. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound running back/defensive back, is considered one of the top handful players in the Golden State. He already has impressive offers from Cal, USC, UCLA and Oklahoma and LSU are also very much in the picture.
Even though he's an elite prospect national 100 prospect, Gable said he's looking forward to learning at the camp.
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"Really, I just want to learn," Gable said. "I want to learn things at the camp that will make me better, so I can teach them to my teammates and make them better. That's my only goal."
For Gable the camp will also be an opportunity for people to better flush out what side of the football he might end up on.
There is no question he has the tools to be a special running back in college, but others see him as a defensive back capable of playing safety or cornerback. He has the stats to do either – 81 tackles and four interceptions on defense and 2,023 yards rushing on offense. So the camp definitely will be a test for him.
Heading into the camp another big name player with a national reputation is Allen Bradford of Colton, Calif. Some college scouts are quietly whispering that Bradford might be the true top player in California. Those whispers could turn into a loud roar after a strong performance on Sunday.
Bradford has been a standout since his sophomore year when he was selected all-state underclassman, all-CIF SS linebacker, all-county and all-league on both sides of the ball in 2003. As a sophomore, Bradford rushed for 1,314 yards on 163 carries while averaging 8.1 yards per carry and scored 19 touchdowns. He also had three receiving touchdowns. On defense he had eight sacks, three fumble recoveries (one that he returned for a touchdown), and two picks that he returned for touchdowns.
Bradford was just as good his junior season. Again he was all-state as a linebacker, all-CIF linebacker, all-county linebacker, and all-league and all-area on both sides of the ball. On offense, Bradford rushed for 1,295 yards on 182 carries while averaging 7.1 yards per carry and scored 15 touchdowns. He once again was a threat out of the backfield as a receiver. Bradford accounted for 15 receptions for 275 yards and had three receiving touchdowns. On defense Bradford's performance was downright lethal to the opposition. He racked up 129 tackles, eight forced fumbles, six sacks and four fumble recoveries.
"I want to run my 40 (yard dash) at 4.40," Bradford said. "I'm running after school and lifting weights, so I can be more explosive. My bench press is around 315-pounds, so I'm looking forward to performing. I can't wait."
Gable and Bradford are definitely stars, but this is LA and everywhere you turn there is somebody that has the goods to be something special. Almost every single position group at the camp appears to be loaded with very talented players.
At quarterback Riverside (Calif.) La Sierra standout Sean Sudol is a headliner to watch. But sleeper quarterback Stanford Leti of Honolulu (Hawaii) Moanalua could be one to watch. Columbus (Ohio) Brookhaven quarterback Mike McGee is also expected to come from the Midwest to test his skills against some of the best skill players around.
Running back is always one of the most loaded spots in California, and there are plenty of big-timers on the list, but there is a name emerging from a strong performance at the East Los Angeles NIKE Combine in March that could take a big step toward putting his name even further on the map.
The dark horse going in to the camp may be Fontana (Calif.) Kaiser running back Lonyae Miller. After attaining a 92.55 SPARQ rating at the combine, Miller will look to add his name to an already impressive list of running backs in California this year. At 5-foot-11, 200-pounds, Miller ran a 4.44 40-yard dash, put up 22 reps on bench press and turned heads with a 37-inch vertical leap.
But Miller isn't the only back expected to excel. Watch out for Allen Denton of Upland, Rodney Glass of Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame, Andre Harris of Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft, Justin Robertson of Lakewood, Calif., and Shareece Wright of Colton, Calif.
Las Vegas is also expected to send one of its top players as Las Vegas High all-purpose back Eric Jordan will be there. The 5-foot-7 ½, 155-pound scat back was one of the better backs at the San Diego NIKE Camp last season, but he hopes to show the California boys how they do it in Vegas on Sunday. Cal, Oregon State, USC, UCLA, Washington and UNLV are some early teams linked to Jordan.
Long Beach (Calif.) Poly has one of the most storied traditions in sending blue-chip prospects to the next level, and Poly receiver Terrence Austin will be one of the top pass-catchers on hand Sunday. The 6-foot, 175-pound Austin has an offer from UCLA and is getting hand-written letters from UCLA, Ohio State, Oregon State, Stanford and Colorado.
"We have about 10 to 12 Division I prospects on our team," Austin said. "Every day in practice prepares me well, and I'm going to be ready for the NIKE Camp. It'll be my time to shine."
San Diego St. Augustine receiver Menelik Holt is another exciting receiver to watch.
The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder is a physical receiver that has the ability to use his frame to go up and catch everything. With offers already on the table from Nebraska and San Diego State and interest form Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Michigan, Oregon and UCLA he is bound to be one of the more watched players in camp.
The offensive line group on Sunday also looks to be solid, highlighted by pre-evaluation Rivals100 selection Jovon Hayes of Los Angeles Dorsey. The 6-foot-4, 300-pound offensive guard already has offers from Arizona, Baylor and UCLA and will be one of the more heavily recruiting linemen on the West Coast. Brandon Bennett of La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat is another standout to keep an eye on. He already has an offer from UCLA.
Junior-to-be offensive line targets Sam Demartinis of Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame and J.J. Fifita Van Nuys (Calif.) Birmingham are two players already attracting attention and both should be fun to watch.
Matching the strong offensive line looks to be an even stronger defensive line group, which should make for some really exciting one-on-one battles.
Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., defensive end Devin Johnson already has four Pac 10 offers – Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon and Washington State – and his stock has been on the rise in the early spring. He could boost his stock to the national level with a strong showing on Sunday.
San Diego Point Loma defensive tackle Josh Holmes already has several big-time offers and is expected to put on a show. His early offer sheet is from Colorado, Nebraska, Texas Tech, UCLA and Utah. With his 6-foot-2, 255-pound frame Holmes hopes to use his quickness and strength to blow by blockers. UCLA commitment Tobi Umodu is also expected to show why he earned an early offer from the Bruins and why programs like USC, Cal and Stanford continue to recruit him.
Bradford is the highest profile player at linebacker but Los Angeles Dorsey standout Mark Johnson reports a Florida offer and there is a crew of about five other linebackers that can play at the Pac 10 level expected to be there.
The defensive back corps doesn't appear to have any guys that jump out as national prospects – yet. However, that could all change with a strong showing on Sunday.
Spring Valley (Calif.) Steele Canyon safety Wesley Davis is one of the top players at the spot. He'll be joined by Vincent Joseph, a speedy corner from Long Beach Poly, and safety Anthony West of San Diego Point Loma.
There are also two intriguing prospects at the position – junior Marshall Jones of Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian and Joshua Morgan of Encino Crespi. Jones is only a junior-to-be and a strong showing could further cement his name as one of the state's top underclass players. Morgan is a sleeper that didn't play last year, but has been mentioned by a few scouts as the "biggest sleeper in the area."
From outside the state, expect Colorado standouts Kris Means of Grand Junction, Colo., and Rick Brewer of Denver Mullen to be there.
They'll be joined by Ohio offensive lineman Mark Jackson of Columbus Brookhaven and elite Louisiana junior-to-be Joe McKnight of River Ridge John Curtis.
McKnight is an interesting prospect as he's considered to be one of the top running back prospects in Louisiana for the class of 2007.
Also count on a strong contingent from Arizona as six of the top players from the state are expected to be there.
For expanded coverage of the Miami NIKE Training Camp, you should check out StudentSportsFootball.com. Access to StudentSportsFootball.com requires an additional membership. Coming Soon! The best is getting better. The Rivals.com Recruiting Database will include all authentic data from this summer's NIKE Training Camp schedule.
Gerard Martinez contributed to this story.