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Thursday, March 7, 2013
Lots of talent coming to L.A. NFTC

By Blair Angulo

Last year’s Los Angeles Nike Football Training Camp was fruitful for USC, with cornerback Chris Hawkins of Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) committing to the Trojans at the event. Hawkins went on to sign and enroll early, and his commitment proved to be a key point for USC in the recruiting cycle.

A recurrence Sunday at Redondo (Calif.) Union would come as a big surprise. Still, a bevy of top USC targets are scheduled to be on hand in search of invitations to The Opening this summer.

Among the expected attendees will be Trojans offensive line commit Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra). The ESPN Watch List member figures to vie for MVP honors, but will be challenged by fellow guard Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), who received offers from Alabama and Notre Dame earlier this week.

Adoree Jackson, Dwight Williams
Gardena (Calif.) Serra teammates Adoree' Jackson and Dwight Williams will be at Sunday's Los Angeles NFTC.
“I’m shooting for it,” Mama said.

Both Lobendahn and Mama, as well as Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial), visited the USC campus for the school’s junior day in late February. Talamaivao, whose list of offers also includes Alabama, was the offensive line MVP last spring. With those three leading the charge, offensive line drills should carry plenty of intrigue.

Gardena (Calif.) Serra teammates Adoree’ Jackson and Dwight Williams will also be on hand. Jackson, who holds a USC offer, was a standout at last year’s NFTC but was beaten out by Hawkins for cornerback MVP honors. Williams, meanwhile, was recognized as the event’s top linebacker and has his sights send on earning an invitation to The Opening.

“That’s what I’m coming for,” Williams said.

The ESPN Watch List member left USC junior day last month without an offer, further fueling his motivation to excel on the camp circuit this offseason. Fellow junior day attendee Greg Hoyd (Murrieta, Calif./Vista Murrieta) is another notable linebacker scheduled to compete at the NFTC.

On paper, defensive back appears to be the most loaded position. Aside from Jackson, arguably the top player on the West Coast in the 2014 recruiting class, USC targets Jonathan Lockett (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei), Naijiel Hale (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and Quentin Tartabull (Mission Hills, Calif./Alemany) will also converge on the beach-side campus. Lockett had a strong week on the recruiting trail, bagging offers from Notre Dame and Oregon, while Hale has been a rising prospect.

Class of 2015 standout Iman Marshall (Long Beach, Calif./Poly), who shined at last year’s event, will be back looking to cement himself among the region’s elite, while cornerback Malik Cyphers (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) and safety David Williams (Los Angeles/Dorsey) are two others to keep an eye on.

Scottsdale (Ariz.) Desert Mountain quarterback Kyle Allen might be the most prominent out-of-state attendee. Also of note will be the participation of 2015 receivers Trent Irwin (Newhall, Calif./Hart) and Equanimeous St. Brown (Anaheim, Calif./Servite).

The NFTC comes at an earlier date than it has in years past, but it promises to provide a glimpse at some of the region’s premier talent.