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Insider

5 things we learned at LA Nike Camp

4/3/2012

• This defensive back group is as good as advertised: We knew coming into the camp that the secondary was supposed to be the highlight and that definitely turned out to be the case. There was elite talent at the high end but also no shortage of other guys who could really play. If you’re a Pac-12 school and you need DBs, this is a good year to grab them.

Joe Mathis is a legit national recruit: There were some eyebrows raised last week when defending national champion Alabama reached across the country to offer a scholarship to Mathis (Upland, Calif./Upland). It was notable that the offer came as a linebacker, but Mathis went out at the Nike Camp as a defensive end and proved that his pass-rush skills are among the best around.

• Wide receiver group was better than expected: The last few years in the Southern California area has been a terrific run on big-time wide receivers, but there didn’t seem to be that top-end talent in this class. After seeing the receivers in action on Sunday, however, this is still a very good group that can hold their own.

Michael Hutchings could be headed to the middle: Hutchings, from Concord (Calif.) De La Salle HS, is a terrific athlete at linebacker, as he also played safety last season and was projected as an outside linebacker in most early recruiting breakdowns. Hutchings has added bulk to his frame during the offseason and it’s pretty easy to imagine that he could end up in the middle at the college level.

• USC has some momentum with key recruits: Every so often in recruiting you get a group of players who see each other at camps or 7-on-7 competitions and become friendly with each other. They talk recruiting and sometimes they get close enough that they form the nucleus of a class at one particular school. Based on the conversations from some of the top players at the Nike Camp, Chris Hawkins (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) could be the tip of the iceberg in terms of elite players at the camp who wind up at USC.