West Coast DBs have it covered

NORWALK, Calif. -- It was no secret heading into the Los Angeles Nike Football Training Camp on Sunday at Cerritos College that the defensive backs were expected to steal the show.

They did.

Defensive backs Chris Hawkins, Priest Willis and Tahaan Goodman received invitations after the camp to The Opening, but they were by no means the only secondary performers who had good showings.

Hawkins, from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., was named the most valuable player of the defensive back group after not allowing a single catch during the day. That's an impressive stat in any setting, but it was even more noticeable on a day when he faced some of the best receivers in the West.

"The first thing you notice is how smart Hawkins is," NFTC defensive backs coach Michael Fletcher said. "He has a good feel for the position of cornerback and has great fast-twitch. The footwork is there, and he has good hips. He needs a little work on the upper-body strength but that will come as he moves on to the next level."

Hawkins capped off his eventful day by giving a verbal commitment to the USC Trojans once the camp had ended.

Goodman plays in the same defensive backfield as Hawkins at Rancho Cucamonga, so it's hard to imagine that teams are going to be throwing much on the Cougars this year.

Scouts believe Goodman brings an intimidating physical presence to the field as a 6-foot-1, 190-pound safety. His true value is going to be measured in an actual game when the pads are on and hitting is allowed, but even in a camp setting it was easy to appreciate his skill set.

"He's got great size," Fletcher said. "I don't know what they're feeding these kids out in Rancho Cucamonga, but they've got some players. Tahaan knows how to zero in on the ball and close well."

Goodman has been offered scholarships by schools including USC, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Florida.

Willis, who is from Tempe (Ariz.) Marcos de Niza, traveled from Arizona with the intention of proving he could compete with the elite talent from California. He wasn't disappointed.

"It's all about competition," Willis said. "I'm glad I was able to come out here and compete with all the best players on the West Coast. Not to sound cocky, but you need to bring your A-game in a camp like this."

One of the primary questions about Willis is his eventual position, as he has the ability to play either corner or safety. He worked exclusively at corner in the camp.

"Priest is a physical specimen," Fletcher said. "He reminds me of Eric Berry. He can be that big corner or that agile safety. Whichever position he chooses, you're looking at a potential All-American."

Willis is closing in on 30 offers from schools such as Florida, Washington, Michigan, USC and Arizona.

Another elite player who can play both secondary spots is Max Redfield from Mission Viejo, Calif.

Redfield, who is 6-2 and 200 pounds, is known primarily as a safety, but many observers came away from the camp thinking he has the necessary talent to possibly end up at corner.

"Max reminds me of Jimmy Smith from the Baltimore Ravens," Fletcher said. "He's deceptively agile and there's a quiet fire about him. I really like the way he got better with every rep today."

Redfield has a list of scholarship offers that includes USC, LSU, Notre Dame, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Among the other class of 2013 defensive backs who stood out during the camp were Jermaine Ervin (Bakersfield, Calif./Bakersfield) and Kalan Montgomery (Compton, Calif./Dominguez).

"Ervin is a little guy who can move; very explosive," Fletcher said. "Montgomery has more size, and I liked the way he stayed between his man and the ball."

There were also a pair of underclassmen who showed they will be names to watch for the future.

Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra) was a late addition to the camp and wasn't featured on the original roster but he wasted no time in proving he belonged.

"Adoree really explodes to the ball," Fletcher said. "All of us coaches were looking at each other and asking 'Who is this kid?' He wasn't on the roster, but we learned his name real quick."

Jackson (5-10, 170 pounds) moved to California last year from Mississippi and grew up an LSU Tigers fan. In his first year of playing for Serra in 2011 he had six interceptions.

Iman Marshall (6-0, 175 pounds) is a physically developed prospect who is part of a talented 2015 class at Long Beach (Calif.) Poly. The Jackrabbits are known for producing elite defensive backs, and Marshall looks to be the next star in line.

"Iman is very seasoned," Fletcher said. "He's got a good frame that I think will grow into a safety, but it's scary to think that he has three more years of high school ball ahead of him."