Commentary

Nunes living up to the hype

Originally Published: May 19, 2008
By Billy Tucker | Scouts Inc.

Josh NunesTom Hauck for ESPN.comSignal-caller Josh Nunes stood out at both the camps this weekend.
STANFORD, Calif. -- Friday at Cal-Berkeley marked the first West Coast stop on the Elite 11 Regional Camp with some of the better top-to-bottom talent we have seen this year. The Elite 11 coincided with the Nike Football Training Camp Saturday at beautiful Stanford University. It was the training camp's second time back to the Golden State this year, but unfortunately the prospects did not quite match the studs we saw showcased at Southern Cal back in April.

There was still plenty of talent to go around competing hard in the scorching heat. A strong running back group led by

[+] EnlargeDasarte Yarnway
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comSan Francisco product Dasarte Yarnway was one of the top running backs at the Nike event.
Dalton Hilliard (Honolulu/Punahou), Dasarte Yarnway (San Francisco/Sacred Heart) and Akil Sharp (Las Vegas/Sierra Vista) may have been the best of the day if you excluded the quarterbacks.

Most of the top performers from the Elite 11 Friday took advantage of the expert coaching and showed up at Saturday's training camp as well, easily boasting the top positional talent of the day. Under Armour All-American Josh Nunes (Upland, Calif.) and ESPN 150 Watch List prospects Tate Forcier (San Diego/Scripps Ranch) and Richard Brehaut (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Los Osos) all lived up to their billing as three of the better quarterback prospects in this class with their two-day performances.

Top Performer

Elite 11: Josh Nunes (6-4, 211), Quarterback
(Upland, Calif.)
Nunes proved worthy of his Under Armour All-American status with a great showing both Friday and Saturday. Aside from his striking arm strength, Nunes certainly looked good on the hoof and passed the eyeball test physically with his 6-foot-4, well-built frame.

Known more for his pure pocket passing skills, the ESPN 150 Watch List prospect showed good footwork and the ability to throw on the run with velocity and accuracy. Nunes flashed his powerful arm throughout the day in various drills and demonstrated he could make all the college throws, particularly the difficult deep-out route. What was impressive in person was his ability to apply touch or zip depending on the throw and his overall RPMs on the football.

We would have liked to have seen him drive the ball more downfield at times, but he got rid of the ball quickly and his delivery described everything about his two-day performance -- it was very smooth.

NFTC: Dalton Hilliard (6-0, 190), Running Back
(Honolulu/Punahou)

[+] EnlargeDalton Hilliard
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comDalton Hillard is one of the best skill-position prospects in Hawaii.
It's very rare for Hawaii to boast two top-tier football prospects in a given year -- even more exceptional when they play on the same team. While Hilliard may not be in the same elite category as his Under Armour All-American teammate Manti Te'o, head coach Kale Ane certainly has a special player on offense worthy of his ESPN 150 Watch List label.

Hilliard performed well, and his stock went up in our eyes due to the well-rounded skills we saw in person. He showed Saturday he was more of complete runner than we saw on film, capable of carrying the load at the next level and being an every-down back. His thickness and overall compact body structure was impressive, and he demonstrated the strength and toughness to pick up the blitz and absorb the big blow. Hilliard's hands out of the backfield were also impressive.

Overall, his decisiveness as a runner and good burst out of his cuts should allow him to be an effective in-line college back, a facet we questioned on film.

Top Sleeper

Elite 11: Sean Schroeder (6-3, 190), Quarterback
(Dana Point, Calif./Dana Hills)
The fact this kid doesn't have a scholarship is real head scratcher. Once one school trusts its judgment and pulls the trigger -- expect a whole bunch more to follow for this great looking pocket passer with a 3.9 GPA. There were a few drills when Schroeder and Nunes went back-to-back, and the under-the-radar QB didn't look that far behind in terms of natural arm strength on intermediate-to-deep throws.

The lefty actually has good mechanics, a quick release with some zip and throws a tight, very catchable ball. He is ahead of the curve in regards to timing routes and his power arm should only improve as he continues to fill out his tall, lean frame. While a bit inconsistent on the day and showing a tendency to force throws, Schroeder has a boatload of natural physical talent for a college QB coach to mold into a solid pocket passer at the next level.

Elite 11: Joe Southwick (6-1, 175), Quarterback
(Danville, Calif./San Ramon Valley)
Expect more than just non-BCS offers for this kid when it is all said and done. Southwick is not going to wow you with size but perhaps threw one of the better footballs all weekend. You hate to judge a quarterback by how pretty his ball rotates, but Southwick threw catchable balls and applied great touch and air under them when needed. A little gunslinger who should excel in the spread with his ability to distribute the football.

Looked good on the hoof

Elite 11: Clark Evans (6-4, 210), Quarterback
(Los Alamitos, Calif.)
Evans already looks like a Division I quarterback and displayed the natural arm strength to match. He has the desired height and thickness of a college pocket passer and looks more than capable of hanging in the pocket and taking the big blow. He does a good job transferring his weight and utilizing his good core body strength stepping into his throws. Though a bit inconsistent and methodical in his delivery and overall mechanics, he possesses all of the physical intangibles for a college quarterback coach to mold into a good one at the next level.

NFTC: Dasarte Yarnway (6-0, 210), Running back
(San Francisco/Sacred Heart)
Wow, was this kid physically impressive when you stood next to him. Actually, his body more resembled an outside linebacker, and we weren't shocked when he told us Wake Forest is recruiting him on defense.

Yarnway looked like he was sculpted out of clay with his tapered body, and needed to carry a permit for arms -- this kid has HUGE guns. It was good to see him utilize his size and strength during blitz pickup and fight through the jam in passing drills. While he did show some good foot-speed and deceptive jump-cut skills, it was hard for him to remain consistently fluid and showed the tendency to run upright.

Expect a potential move to weakside linebacker in college or employment in heavy downhill running schemes.

QBs as Advertised

Aside from Nunes' good showing, most of the other ESPN 150 Watch List signal callers matched their quality film evaluations and competed hard over the weekend. In isolated drills, the following three quarterbacks demonstrated the skills to back up their current high positional status while also matching our evaluations on areas in need of improvement.

Elite 11: Tate Forcier (6-0, 183), Quarterback
(San Diego/Scripps Ranch)
He lacks ideal size but is a gritty kid and showed all weekend why we feel he will excel in a spread system in which he can move around the pocket and make plays with his feet. Forcier looked better as the weekend went on, displaying his quick release and ability to spray the ball all over the field. The football was zipping out of hands, particularly on Saturday, and he threw more accurate on the run than any of his competition. He did show difficulty leading receivers on vertical routes and lacks great overall arm strength on intermediate-to-deep balls. Still, he should be highly productive in a college system that allows him to be creative distributing the football.

Elite 11: Derek Carr (6-2, 175), Quarterback
(Bakersfield, Calif./Christian)
He told us his NFL brother David has been his biggest football influence in terms of quarterback play, and you can tell. Carr displayed well-rounded tools on Friday and is just a polished kid both on and off the field. Though a bit inconsistent with mechanics and downfield throws, he displayed the size, arm strength, natural wrist snap and a smooth, over-the top delivery worthy of his ESPN 150 Watch List label.

Elite 11: Richard Brehaut (6-3, 205), Quarterback
(Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Los Osos)
This kid just has that "it factor" you can't put a finger on and the on-field maturity far exceeding a rising high school senior. Out of all the great quarterbacks who performed over the weekend, Brehaut, aside from maybe Nunes, was the most consistent and maybe the most physically and mentally ready to lead a college offense. He has that pose and moxie you just can't coach as well as great arm strength.

Brehaut stepped into his throws all weekend utilizing his powerful body to consistently get great RPMs and zip on the football. Accuracy is the area that will need improvement at the next level, but this kid could challenge for early playing time wherever he ends up.

Mixed Reviews

Elite 11: Jordan Wynn (6-2, 175), Quarterback
(Oceanside, Calif.)
While he looked really good at times, Wynn didn't consistently display the great quarterback skills we saw on film. Sometimes camps do not always exploit a player's best skills and in the case of Wynn, who is a gunslinging gamer, maybe this wasn't the most conducive environment to showcase his abilities. He did show the quick release (although it was a bit side-armed) and zip we were accustomed to off watching his game films, but his accuracy and arm strength faded on intermediate-to-deep routes.

NFTC: Justin Renfro (6060, 250), Defensive end
(Philadelphia/William Penn Charter)
Similar to Jonathan Newsome (Cleveland/Glenville) last weekend at the Ohio State NFTC, we would have liked to see Renfro at defensive end instead of linebacker. This kid certainly passes the eyeball test and looks like a prototypical D-I or maybe even NFL 3-4 outside 'backer, but he unfortunately does not move like one in space.

He looked stiff in most drills requiring lateral fluidity and struggled mirroring backs in one-on-one tackling and receiving drills. His heavy legs would be masked down at end where he could utilize his long wingspan to create separation and succeed as a pass-rusher, an area he looked very good at during a blitzing period.

Montana to Rice

[+] EnlargeNick Montana
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comNick Montana has a name that will intrigue Bay Area football fans.
We had a Montana and Rice sighting in the Bay Area as the sons of two of the greatest to ever play the game competed Saturday. While 2010 Nick Montana (Concord, Calif./De La Salle) and 2009 Jerry Rice Jr. (Atherton, Calif./Menlo) weren't the stars of the day, they certainly showed they were more than just a name, particularly Rice Jr. Like his dad, Rice Jr. was a sharp, savvy route runner with a great set of hands. Unfortunately, he is lacking some of his father's size but did well to mask it on Saturday.

Billy Tucker is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. and has close to a decade of coaching experience at the college and high school level. Tucker has served as a recruiting coordinator for two nationally ranked Division II colleges. Most recently, he was the associate head coach and defensive coordinator for Merrimack College, which advanced to the Sweet 16 in the 2006 NCAA Division II playoffs.

ESPN television is currently in production on a special that will profile the top prospects at the Nike and Elite 11 training camps. The information used in this article was gathered as part of the television production process.

Billy Tucker

Scouts, Football Recruiting
• Recruiting coordinator for ESPN RecruitingNation.
• Nearly a decade of college coaching experience.
• Was recruiting coordinator at nationally-ranked Division II colleges.