The Nike Football Training Camp tour started off with a bang last Sunday as more than 300 top recruits put on a display at the Dallas Cowboys' practice facility in Irving, Texas.
The Dallas NFTC set the bar high for the rest of the NFTC competitors, but if any recruits can match it, it's the 300 who'll be at the Los Angeles NFTC this Sunday at Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif.
Making the trek down from Northern California is De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) junior linebacker and ESPNU 150 Watch List prospect Michael Hutchings. He's coming off a season in which he led the Spartans to their third straight CIF Open Division state bowl championship.
Hutchings delivered a big game in the championship, tallying six tackles and catching a 27-yard touchdown pass in the 35-0 win over Westlake (Westlake Village, Calif.). De La Salle finished No. 10 in the POWERADE FAB 50.
While the 6-foot-2 210-pounder has been a big name in recruiting circles for a couple of years and holds offers from the likes of USC, Oklahoma, Cal, UCLA, Notre Dame, Oregon, Michigan and Miami, he still feels like he has something to prove.
"I want to compete and see where I'm at," he said. "I want to show I'm still out there competing and not getting complacent. I want to show I'm deserving of my ranking."
But Hutchings isn't there only to compete -- just like the perennial power he plays for, he's set high expectations for himself.
"I want to win all of my one-on-ones and come out with the linebacker MVP," he said. "I wouldn't settle for anything less than that."
Hutchings is the biggest name among the linebackers, but the defensive backfield will be absolutely loaded.
Leading the way is Marcos de Niza (Tempe, Ariz.) junior star Priest Willis, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound safety who had 52 tackles and two picks this past fall. Like Hutchings, Willis has a boatload of impressive offers, including USC, Florida, Florida State, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, UCLA and Cal.
Mission Viejo (Calif.) junior Max Redfield is another ESPNU 150 Watch List safety who'll be in attendance. The 6-foot-2 200-pounder tallied 91 tackles and three picks this year and showed off his skills on offense by catching 22 passes for 415 yards and four scores. USC, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, UCLA and Cal are among the programs that have offered.
Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) junior teammates Tahaan Goodman (safety) and Chris Hawkins (corner) are as good as pairings get. The ESPNU 150 Watch List members each hold offers from programs like USC, Cal, UCLA, Oklahoma and Washington.
Another defender to watch is Westlake (Westlake Village, Calif.) junior corner Dashon Hunt, a UCLA commit. This year he picked off six passes, returning two for scores, and had 21 touchdowns on offense.
Junior wide receivers Steven Mitchell of Bishop Alemany (Mission Hills, Calif.) and Sebastian Larue of Santa Monica (Calif.) will test their talents against those elite defensive backs. Mitchell, who has offers from UCLA, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Tennessee among others, recorded 50 catches, 1,006 receiving yards and 17 total touchdowns as a junior. Larue has picked up offers from top programs like Michigan, Florida State, Tennessee, Nebraska and Washington.
"I look for the best," said Mitchell when asked about facing the elite defensive backs at the Los Angeles NFTC. "I just want to show them that there are receivers that can catch the ball against them, that can do well against them. I believe I'm one of them."
Other top offensive prospects include Narbonne (Harbor City, Calif.) junior quarterback Troy Williams, who guided his squad to the Los Angeles City Section Division I title this year, completing 211 of 339 passes for 3,247 yards, 34 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, while rushing for 587 yards and 11 touchdowns. The 6-foot-1 185-pounder holds offers from Pac-12 programs Washington, Arizona State and Washington State.
Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) junior quarterback Anu Solomon, who participated in the Dallas Elite 11 regional last weekend, threw for 41 touchdowns and two interceptions as a junior and led the Gaels to a state title.
The Los Angeles OL-DL one-on-one matchups should bring plenty of interesting pairings. The top offensive linemen include juniors John Lopez of Orange Lutheran (Orange, Calif.), Riley Sorenson of Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.), Kenny Lacy of Mountain Pointe (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Nico Falah of St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.). They'll have their hands full with Pickerington Central (Pickerington, Ohio) junior defensive end and Michigan commit Taco Charlton, who's making the trip all the way from Ohio, and Upland (Calif.) junior defensive end Joe Mathis.