BigO Tyres

State Breakdown: Bringing Out The Best State Breakdown: Bringing Out The Best
   For some, high school football is a year-round activity. For others, it doesn’t come into focus until teams start to practice in the... State Breakdown: Bringing Out The Best

   For some, high school football is a year-round activity. For others, it doesn’t come into focus until teams start to practice in the August heat. But for me, the start of the next high school football season has always been the Northern California Nike Football showcase event that has been held on the third weekend in May for more than 20 years.

   Many still call the event “the Nike camp” but its official title these days is “Nike Football The Opening Oakland Regional” and it was held last Sunday at De Anza High in Richmond.

   It’s always been more than a day when top players from top programs from throughout California and the West Coast come together and do the usual tests “” 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle, power ball throw (instead of bench press reps) and vertical leap. I should know since I was working at Student Sports when we began to hold the camps and combines in the early 1990s.

   The focus instead has always been on the one-on-one drills “” where else can a college scout see a five-star corner get placed opposite a five-star receiver? And on providing instruction to the kids to help them get better for the upcoming season. 

   One of those coaching the linebackers last weekend was Willie McGinest, a three-time Super Bowl winner and NFL Network analyst. Where can anyone get guidance like that and at no cost to the athlete? One of McGinest’s former teammates, quarterback Tom Brady, went to the second of these events that was held at St. Mary’s College in Moraga. 

   For many years, the one-day camp was held at Stanford when colleges could host them (they can’t anymore due to NCAA regulations) and when college coaches could come and watch (they can’t do that anymore either).

   The West Coast flavor of the NorCal Nike event also was displayed when the full roster of MVPs and invites to The Opening plus the Elite 11 Finals for quarterbacks were announced once all of the one-on-one and showcase drills were completed.

   Other than Central-Fresno’s Jaylon Johnson, who was MVP of the defensive backs and had the highest Nike+ Football Ranking of more than 132 points, the other MVPs from California were Jack Sears of San Clemente (QBs), Ronnie Rivers from Freedom-Oakley (RBs), Chris Brooks of Newbury Park (WRs, TEs) and Lamin Touray from Alemany-Mission Hills (LBs). The MVPs for offensive linemen and defensive linemen were from Arizona and Oregon.

   Other than Johnson, the other invites to The Opening from California were handed out to DE Hunter Echols of L.A. Cathedral, TE Colby Parkinson of Oaks Christian-Westlake Village and RB Najee Harris, the 2015 Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Football State Player of the Year from Antioch. Players from Oregon, Nevada, Utah and Washington also got invites.

   Among the quarterbacks, one of those from California getting a ticket to the Elite 11 finals was Sears, the MVP of the QBs and the latest big-time recruit from San Clemente. He’s following Travis Wilson (the recent standout from Utah now getting ready for the NFL) and Sam Darnold (currently battling for the No. 1 quarterback at USC). The other California QB going to the Elite 11 finals was more of a surprise since the invite went to the undersized but strong-armed Jake Haener from Monte Vista-Danville.

   “I’ve had a chip on my shoulder since my freshman year,” Haener said, “but thanks to my parents and my coaches at Monte Vista and my quarterback coach Will Hewlett all my hard work to get to this point has paid off. It’s pretty sweet to get that invite.”

   Although Parkinson was the only tight end from California to get a ticket to Beaverton, it was a strong showing by others, some of which could still be in the running for an invite. That list includes Jimmy Jaggers of Roseville, Erik Krommenhoek of Monte Vista-Danville, Josh Falo of Inderkum-Sacramento and Tucker Fisk of Davis. Parkinson is committed to Stanford while the others all have multiple offers.

   Asked if having so many top tight end prospects in the state at the same time made each of them better, Fisk said, “You have to get better. You don’t have a choice.”

   Linebacker Seth Tennis of McNair-Stockton (no relation to me) also made the trip with his father, Seth Sr. He wasn’t happy with his testing scores, but got in as many reps as he could.

   “You do feel like a needle in a haystack sometimes,” Tennis said. “But you’ve got to try to have a good attitude. You can only get better by competing against the best.”

   One on the very last seven-on-seven plays of the day, Tennis dropped into coverage and found himself face-to-face with Antioch’s Harris, who is one of the best running backs many have ever seen in Northern California history. Harris ran by untouched before Tennis came back to the sidelines with a look that seemed to say, “What are you going to do?”

   All you can do as a young athlete is continue to get better. And on this day, more than 300 from places as far away as Hawaii and New York did exactly that.

   State of Play by Mark Tennis

SportStars Magazine best in prep sports


SportStars Magazine: High School Sports Articles Online SportStars is your go-to source for the very best high school sports articles in California. Player and team profiles, game coverage, health and fitness tips and the largest Camps, Clinics & Combine resource for athletes. We're the story behind the stats.

No comments so far.

Be first to leave comment below.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *