- Bill Conley
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PROVO, Utah -- Saturday's Nike Football Training Camp wasn't large in terms of turnout but there was good talent on display, especially on the offensive side. The wide receiver and offensive line positions were the two strongest followed closely by the running backs and linebackers.
Guard John Martinez (Salt Lake City/Cottonwood) lived up to his hype as a top national prospect. He was especially impressive in terms of his lower-body agility and quickness, going through the various agility drills more like a running back than a lineman. Martinez was also solid at pass protection during the one-on-one competition against the defensive line.
One of Martinez's teammates, Percy Taumoelau, opened up a lot of eyes by completely dominating the protection competition. His powerful hands and jarring first punch completely stalemated the defensive pass-rushers. Taumoelu's strength and large wingspan make him a dominating force at left tackle in the spread formation.
The other offensive line standout was Graham Vickers (Pomona, Calif./Diamond Ranch). Even though he weighed in at less than 250 pounds, Vickers showed both athleticism and toughness for his size. He definitely carried the fight against larger defensive linemen and was able to recover when it looked like he was beaten during the pass-rush competition.
Even though the offensive line dominated the one-on-ones, talented pass-rusher Bronson Kaufusi (Provo, Utah/Timpview) more than held his own. Only a junior, Kaufusi showed quickness off the ball and used his hands well to work the edges against physically bigger offensive tackles.
The best inside rusher was Ryan Isom (St. Louis/DeSmet Jesuit). This 6-foot-1, 255-pound defensive bowling ball used his low center of gravity to power rush up the middle with success.
From Far and Wide
The wide receiver position was the most varied group in terms of geography, representing seven states from Florida to California.
Tall, talented Ross Apo (Conroe, Texas/Oak Ridge) ran sharp routes and proved to have soft hands. Fritz Rock ventured all the way from Wayzata High School in Minnesota to display his receiving skills. Even though he had a pulled groin, he was smooth and fluid running his patterns. He demonstrated exceptional ability in catching anything in the vicinity.
Sure and steady Travis Van Leeuween (Provo, Utah/Timpview) was probably the most consistent wideout in terms of both receiving and route running.
Tall, strong-armed quarterback Andrew Pulsipher (Temecula, Calif./Temecula Valley) threw tight spirals all day. Pulsipher is a very special passer when he doesn't overstride.
Dakota Stonehouse (Glenwood Springs, Colo.) was named the most valuable quarterback due to his consistency in passing drills and in the competition part of the camp. Brian Schwarzkoph (Billings, Mont./West) also excelled; I nicknamed him the "The General" due to his command of the position (and for sharing a slightly differently spelled name with Stormin' Norman).
Backers vs. Backs
These two positions demonstrated the most intensity and enthusiasm. It was electrifying when they went against each other in the one-on-ones.
Among the standouts at running back were Ryan Swope (Austin, Texas/Westlake), who excelled in route running out of the backfield and demonstrated excellent hand-eye coordination when catching the football.
Another Cottonwood talent drew praises at RB; Isi Sofelo (Salt Lake City/Cottonwood) displayed quick feet and exceptional cutting ability.
Most valuable linebacker L.T. Filiaga (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham) was the most consistent in terms of athletic skills and linebacker fundamentals. He showed exceptional man-to-man coverage abilities when going up against the running backs.
The secondary was the smallest position group in number but not in terms of spirit. The defensive backs worked hard on the individual drills and in their competition against the wide receivers. Craig Bills (Provo, Utah/Timpview) was given special recognition for his quickness, agility and break on the football.
Bill Conley worked at Ohio State for 17 years as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. Since retiring from Ohio State in 2004, Conley has worked as a contributor and analyst for Columbus-area print and broadcast media and as a professional speaker. He also published a book recounting his years as Buckeye recruiting coordinator, "Buckeye Bumper Crops."
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.