Monday, May 20, 2013
RN Top 10: Oakland NFTC
By Erik McKinney
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The thought heading into the Oakland Nike Camp was that Laney College would be buzzing with some of the West’s top prospects on Sunday afternoon. And although two ESPN 150 prospects were on hand but did not participate, the camp still delivered in a big way.
Nine players received invitations to The Opening and a good deal more put themselves in good position to receive invites at a later date. As always, cutting the list to a top 10 wasn't an easy task, but several players separated themselves with some truly standout performances.
Without a marquee offensive lineman on the roster, the position was up for grabs, and Delp seized control early on. The big lineman has seen his recruitment skyrocket this spring, and this weekend proved why coaches have been on him. He was outstanding during one-on-ones and walked away with the position MVP award as well as an invitation to The Opening.
“Kammy was a guy I was pretty high on from tape,” offensive line coach Todd Huber said. “He’s a little rawer than some other guys we’ve seen across the country, but he has refined his technique this spring. You could tell he really wanted to improve during position drills, and when we got to one-on-ones, he really turned it on. He sat back really patiently. He has the size and showed the technique that wasn’t really on tape. I think there’s going to be a big jump between his junior and senior year.”
Gibson announced his presence early with his bleached hair, but he backed it up in a big way once the blitz pickup drill began. He made sure he lined up against a number of the top linebackers in attendance, and Gibson delivered on each rep. Other backs might have put together more impressive performances carrying the ball, but nobody made an impact similar to Gibson during the blocking drills.
“He was the most consistent,” running backs coach Barry Foster said. “He went out there and he blocked well, he ran great routes, he had a great attitude, and he was just consistently making plays.”
The big tight end is in the middle of a West Coast tour that will take him to Stanford, Oregon State and Washington, but the ESPN 150 prospect stopped in Oakland long enough to prove exactly why he’s such a coveted recruit in this class. Not only will Schultz head home with several unofficial visits under his belt, he also collected an invitation to The Opening.
“The great thing about him was his separation on contact,” receivers coach Damon Griffin said. “That’s the biggest thing as a tight end, because a lot of time you have guys on you. He showed his intelligence as well because he constantly found the hole and settled in space for his quarterback.”
In an absolutely loaded group of defensive backs, Pickett was terrific. One of three defensive backs to receive invitations to The Opening, Pickett registered several pass deflections throughout the day. Defensive backs coach Michael Fletcher said the MVP choice for the defensive backs was extremely difficult, and while Pickett didn’t come away with it, he was one of several who put in the kind of day that could have earned it.
Alfieri jumped out early on and continued to perform at a high level throughout the day. ESPN 150 running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) was an absolute wall during the linebacker blitz drill, but Alfieri was the one player who managed to get the best of the big back. His consistency throughout the afternoon earned Alfieri one of the coveted invitations to The Opening.
“Right from the warm-up you could see there’s something special about him,” linebackers coach Chris Gizzi said. “He is so precise in the way he finishes, the way he hustles, the way he thinks through a game. This is a guy I want to spend four days with in Oregon. He’s coachable; he’s a sponge, and the sky is the limit for a body that is just developing. He’s going to be a heck of a college player.”
A quiet guy on and off the field, Plattenburg shocked a number of Nike Camp coaches with his play on Sunday. While the defensive back has been regularly picking up offers this spring, this was the first chance for some to see him on a big stage, and Plattenburg delivered. In a terrific group of defensive backs, Plattenburg walked away with MVP honors and could be in good position to collect an invitation to The Opening at a later date.
“Our top guy today was Plattenburg,” Fletcher said. “I’d kind of heard about him before, but the kid got it. It’s his football instincts, football savvy -- he can line up at cornerback and safety. The way he communicated, he was never in bad position and I was really impressed. This was a tough group to choose one guy from, but this kid today was the star of stars.”
Quick was his usual self during the event, as he authored several highlight-reel plays. On one, he generated separation immediately on a deep route, but was forced to wait for the ball in the air. As the defender and ball arrived at the same time, Quick got his hands on it and fell to the turf, juggling the ball the whole way down before corralling it just before bouncing off the ground. However, it might have been that athletic ability that cost Quick the wide receiver MVP.
“With Quick, sometimes he relies on his athletic ability a little too much,” Griffin said, adding that it was the technique of the next player on the list that earned him the MVP award. “But just on pure athleticism, when it comes to game time you can tell Quick is a guy who gets the ball and he’s gone.”
Holmes caught one of his first passes of the day against good coverage on a deep ball down the sideline. Then he came back on a short route across the middle. Then he put something of a double move on a defender and came up with a reception. Lather, rinse, repeat. Holmes caught pass after pass during the event and did not get matched up against a defensive back who could stop him.
“Holmes, to me, was no doubt the most consistent receiver,” Griffin said. "He looks great in the eyeball test, but more importantly, he was coachable. You could say one or two things and he got it and took it to the next level, then he kept taking it higher and higher. And for a big guy, he was very elusive getting off the line, and aggressive as well.”
It didn't take defensive backs coach Michael Fletcher many words to describe Jackson's performance.
“Adoree' Jackson was awesome today,” he said.
And that’s exactly what Jackson was. One day after long jumping 25 feet at the Southern Section CIF finals, Jackson came out and put on a show during his limited reps. The one play that stood out the most probably took the least time to accomplish. Playing close to the line of scrimmage, Jackson physically did not allow a receiver to get off the line. The receiver was forced to take his route along the line of scrimmage toward the quarterback, and Jackson simply batted the ball away after it was thrown.
Mixon was outstanding in blitz pickup and completely dominated several rushing linebackers. But Mixon needed only one rep with the ball in his hands to prove what kind of back he is. Against good friends and terrific linebackers D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) and Michael Lazarus (Berkeley, Calif./Berkeley) -- who had outstanding days in their own right -- Mixon put together a series of moves that left both grasping at air and the ESPN 150 back dancing into the end zone. It was that kind of day for Mixon, who capped off his showing with an invitation to The Opening.
“I coached him up, and he has a great attitude and great athleticism,” Foster said. “One of the things that I was most impressed with was his willingness to want to go out there and compete. He wanted to jump out there and be the leader, and I think he competed well. I think that all of the praise and accolades that he’s getting are warranted.”