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May 12, 2006

California gold rush

PALO ALTO, Calif. - In the mid-nineteenth century newspapers encouraged settlers to "Go West young man." This Saturday, college football coaches from all over the country will be asked to do the same thing.

Their journey West will be for the Palo Alto NIKE Training Camp and with more than 500 players expected to be in attendance the trip promises to be quite adventurous and also well worth it.

Marquee names abound at almost every single position and with more than 250 coaches expected it'll be another California gold rush.

The quarterback spot will feature a solid group of passers highlighted by UCLA pledge Chris Forcier. The Bruin commitment will get his chance to stake his claim as the No. 2 quarterback in California behind Jimmy Clausen. Forcier has done well at past NIKE Camps and he is expected to have a good day and could compete for a spot in the EA Sports Elite 11.

Kennewick (Wash.) Southridge quarterback Jason Munns is the other big name passer expected to be there. Munns excelled at last year's NIKE Camp in Eugene, Org., and with offers on the table from Arizona State, BYU, Utah and Washington State he is considered one of the nation's top 100 players and possibly the top overall player in Washington.

There are others that could spoil Forcier and Munn's claim for the top spot.

Merced, Calif., quarterback Logan Todd has had a strong spring and coaches like what they see in him. Aztec, N.M., pro-style passer Ryley Hegarty has an offer from New Mexico State on the table and he might be able to show Pac 10 coaches that he's an upper-level quarterback.

At running back, Valencia, rusher Shane Vereen is expected to be the headliner. Vereen is a true all-purpose back and his catching ability could allow him to be a major force in the one-on-one drills.

Willie Griffin from Oakland McClymonds is another all-purpose back that many consider the top rusher in Northern California. He had a very good junior season, and the 5-foot-10, 190-pounder already has offers from Colorado, Oregon State and Washington.

His running mate, fullback Ishman Anderson, is also considered to be one of the top fullbacks in the West.

It will be interesting to see where Seattle O'Dea running back/safety Quinton Richardson works out at. Some project him as a Pac 10 running back, while others see him as a big-time safety prospect. Washington has already offered Richardson.

The receiver spot is loaded with several impressive playmakers.

The biggest name heading in the camp is San Diego Mira Mesa receiver Marques Simas. He is considered to be a national receiver recruit and a good camp could cement a spot in the national top 250 or even the top 100.

Russell Carr of Chino (Calif.) Don Lugo had a great camp in Los Angeles and he hopes to replicate that day with another solid event. Santa Monica, Calif., athlete Cameron Collins could work out at receiver or defensive back, but with an offer from Oregon State on the table, he'll be sure to be looked over hard by many college coaches.

Tight end could be one of the deeper positions if some of the elite prospects choose to play there.

James Brooks out of Flagstaff, Ariz., has been called one of the state's top five players overall and he has to pick between tight end of defensive end at the camp. With an impressive resume of offers already, he could be one of the top guys to keep an eye on coming out of the camp.

DaJohn Harris of Gardena (Calif.) Serra and Rhett Ellison of Mountain View (Calif.) St. Francis are also very good players to keep an eye on.

The offensive line will definitely be loaded with numerous prospects.

Key names to look out for include stars like Matt Summers-Gavin, who has already picked up major offers from Arizona State, Cal, Georgia and Nebraska, Po'u Palelei of Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, Kealakai Maiava of Wailuku (Hawaii) Baldwin and Cory Yriarte of Lancaster (Calif.) Paraclete.

Blue-chip junior-to-be Matt Kalil of Anaheim (Calif.) Servite will also be there. He should be one of the top prospects in Southern California in the class of 2008.

Myles Wade of Portland Benson Tech could be the top defensive linemen heading into the camp, but guys like D.J. Holt of Encino (Calif.) Crespi, Simi Fili of Salt Lake Cottonwood and Kenny Rowe of Long Beach (Calif.) Poly might have something to say about that.

All four are heavily recruited prospects and each one could see their stock improve even more with a solid performance on Saturday.

Northern California linebackers Steve Sloan of San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty and Gavin Cooper of Oakland Skyline might not get as much attention as some of the Southern California stars at the position, but both are very talented and are expected to have a major day.

Sloan has an offer from Ca and UCLA will be looking him over heavily on Saturday. Cooper is one of the better inside linebackers out West and Washington has already stepped up with a scholarship offer.

The most competitive position in the camp could be at defensive back.

Headliners like Anthony Baker of San Leandro, Antwoine Baker of Los Angeles Jordan, David Ross of Compton Dominguez and Courtney Viney of Fresno Edison are all very good players that should be able to pick their schools.

Viney already has, committing to UCLA early in the process. Baker and Ross are hoping to have strong days to impress coaches from schools like Notre Dame and USC. Ross wants to run in the 4.4 or 4.5-second range in the 40-yard dash and hopefully pick up an offer from the Trojans. Baker said he's going to be looked at hard by the Notre Dame coaches.

For complete coverage of the Palo Alto NIKE Training Camp, log on to StudentSportsFootball.com.



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