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Thursday, May 16, 2013
Previewing the Oakland NFTC

By Blair Angulo

A number of USC recruiting targets are expected to put their skills on display this weekend when the Nike Football Training Camp tour hits the Bay Area.

ESPN 150 quarterback Keller Chryst (Palo Alto, Calif./Palo Alto), the only signal-caller with a Trojans offer, headlines the field of competitors for Friday afternoon’s Elite 11 regional at the 49ers training facility in Santa Clara. Chryst is the No. 2-rated pocket-passer in the ESPN 150 and the No. 4-rated player overall in California. Joining him will be Ian Fieber (Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viejo), JaJuan Lawson (Petaluma, Calif./Casa Grande) and Manny Wilkins (Novato, Calif./San Marin), all of whom have garnered some measure of interest from USC at one point or another. Class of 2015 quarterbacks Tyler Hilinksi (Upland, Calif./Upland), Josh Rosen (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) and Damion Wright (Fontana, Calif./Jurupa Hills) are also expected to compete, an indication of how strong the position will be locally next year.

ESPN 150 running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom), who holds a USC offer, is a favorite to take home position MVP honors, as well as an invitation to The Opening. ESPN 150 athlete Devante Downs (Mountlake Terrace, Wash./Mountlake Terrace), the No. 2-rated overall player in Washington who has expressed interest in the Trojans, appears to be Mixon’s biggest threat.

ESPN 150 members John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central) spearhead a loaded group of receivers that also includes the fast-rising Erik Brown (Fontana, Calif./Summit), Jeff Farrar (Upland, Calif./Upland) and 2015 wideout Trent Irwin (Newhall, Calif./Hart). At tight end, ESPN 150 members Dalton Schultz (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham) and Marquis Ware (Los Angeles/Salesian) are known commodities, but it will be interesting to see how Class of 2015 standout Kyle Penniston (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) matches up in this environment.

USC's 2014 recruiting class will have two representatives on the defensive side in line commits Austin Maloata (Corona, Calif./Centennial) and Tashon Smallwood (Fresno, Calif./Central). They figure to face stiff competition from ESPN 150 defensive tackle Nifae Lealao (Sacramento, Calif./Capital Christian), among others.

Five-star cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra) sat out the Los Angeles camp with a foot injury, but will make the trip north in search of an invitation to The Opening. Four-star corner and fellow Trojans target Adarius Pickett (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) might present the biggest obstacle. Also of note will be the attendance of John Plattenburg (Corona, Calif./Centennial) and 2015 cornerback Stanley Norman (Culver City, Calif./Culver City).

Four-star prospect D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito), Michael Lazarus (Berkeley, Calif./Berkeley), Curtis Bolton (Murrieta, Calif./Vista Murrieta), Jamardre Cobb (Los Angeles/Salesian) and Chandler Leniu (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) are notable names on the list of linebackers.