Matt Kalil came into the day generally considered the most polished and fundamentally sound offensive lineman in the state and he proved that in the camp. Matt uses his long arms so well and he maintains that same steady composure on the field that we saw from his brother Ryan. As with Ryan, however, there is also a nasty streak present that will come out from time to time on the field and Matt certainly wasn’t afraid to raise the level of intensity when needed. At the end of each session the coaches put the first group of offensive linemen against the first group of defensive linemen for a series of reps with the losers having to do up/downs. In both the morning and afternoon sessions, the reps were tied 2-2 when it got to Matt, he faced Mater Dei DE Cameron Meredith both times and he shut Meredith out both times. Meredith has a nice outside-in move that he uses but Kalil was too overpowering and came away with a pair of victories for his o-line teammates.
The camp was our first opportunity to see Matt Meyer in extended action and he was also very impressive. He’s already a big guy but you can tell right away that his body is going to fill out to the point that he’s going to be a monster by the time he is done at USC. In fact, one longtime USC observer said Meyer has the exact same frame that Tony Boselli had when he came to campus several years ago so if Meyer can have the same kind of career as Tony that would be just fine. The first thing that you notice about Matt on the field is how athletic he is, there is a quickness and lightness on his feet that really jumps out. He also showed his aggressiveness during one on one drills when he pancaked one opponent on two consecutive reps. You get the feeling that the sky is the limit for Meyer once he gets to USC and is coached by the staff, it was pretty reassuring to see the two Matt’s standing side by side because you knew the future of the USC tackle spot is in some good hands.
The maturation of Kevin Graf has been fun to watch over the years from when he was a huge ten year old coming to USC practices to watch his brother Derek to the point we saw yesterday where he is starting to become an offensive lineman capable of dominating at his position. Kevin has always had size but it’s important to remember that he is still only 15 years old, he doesn’t turn 16 until later this week on June 17th, and he is still growing into his body. In the drills yesterday we saw a physical player who is moving better than we’ve seen from him in the past and you have to imagine that will continue to improve as he gets more comfortable in his frame. The one thing he definitely inherited from his father Allan, another former USC offensive lineman, is a nasty streak. Kevin put more than one player on the ground in the one on one drills and he physically held his own on the day. There was no doubt that Kevin and the two Matt’s were the most physically imposing offensive linemen at the camp.
One name that keeps cropping up at these camps is guard Matt Hunt from Carson. He’s a scrappy player in the mold of Fred Matua and he is a high energy guy. Matt has made it clear that USC is his dream school and based on his performance at the camp you would have to think that he will receive consideration for a scholarship. There was one observer at the camp who thought Hunt was the most impressive lineman of the day.
Another tackle who stood out was John Cullen from La Mirada who battled through a nagging injury to compete hard and he was receiving a lot of praise from Coach Pat Ruel throughout the day. His dad played at Oregon but Cullen has a lot of interest in USC and even came to the skills camp on Saturday to support his teammates who were taking part that day and to get an idea of what the SC camp was like so he could be prepared for Sunday. Based on what we saw, he is a player to keep an eye on.
There wasn’t a player who battled and competed harder on Sunday than center Dominic Galas from Central Catholic in Modesto. Yes, he might be undersized by USC standards (can anyone say Sean Enesi?) but Galas is the type of scrappy and feisty player that everyone needs on their line. He also showed excellent technique in the drills. At various points in the camp Dominic had to leave the field for a sore groin, a bloody nose and a hurt wrist but each time he came back on the field for more.
One player with some flair to his game is Daniel “Tex” Bernard from Colton HS. Tex is one of those players who shows up with a Mohawk shaved head and maybe he’s not as polished as some of the other guys but when you look on the field he’s usually whipping the butt of the guy across the line from him and then is woofing about it as he goes back to the huddle. Tex is a player who clearly enjoys playing the game of football and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him receive continued interest from the SC coaches.
On the defensive side of the ball, the guy who jumped out the most was a quick defensive end from Phoenix named Devon Kennard, a junior-to-be at Desert Vista HS. Kennard reminded several onlookers of a little bigger version of D.J. Holt, the talented Crespi player from last year who impressed everyone at the camp with his pass rushing skills. In the end, Holt didn’t get an SC offer but Kennard has so much room for growth that you have to imagine he will end up being a top priority by next season. Devon is a big USC fan and says he would love to follow Everson Griffen as an Arizona defensive end playing for the Trojans.
The most impressive big man on the defensive side of the ball was Armond Armstead from Pleasant Grove. He is listed at 6-5, 290 and he carries that size pretty well. He’s not afraid to get in the middle of the line and mix it up with some good pass rushing skills. With defensive tackles being so hard to find, you have to imagine that Armond will continue to receive interest from the SC staff.
There were a lot of eyes on Craig Noble as a defensive tackle following his impressive performance at the Scout combine but he didn’t make as much of an impact on Sunday. Craig has the size you’re looking for to plug up the middle of the line but he seemed to have trouble getting separation from the offensive linemen in pass rush drills.
Cameron Meredith from Mater Dei has a frame that is similar to Jeff Schweiger and he is another high motor guy. Unfortunately for Cameron, he got matched up in the one on one finals a couple times against Matt Kalil and he lost both times in a classic Servite vs Mater Dei battle. What I like about Cameron is his pursuit ability and feel for the game, he is one of those guys who is always around the ball and that will serve him well as he transitions to the next level.
The St. Bonaventure Seraphs had a trio of players taking part including Christian Mohan, Ryan Medina and Raphael Washington. Mohan is a huge tackle and he was one of the best bull rushers in attendance, he would just overpower many of his opponents on the way to the quarterback. Medina has nice quickness off the edge and good fundamentals while Washington showed good flexibility by switching over to defense after taking part in the skills camp on Saturday as a tight end.
A couple side notes from the camp: LB Poly safety Vaughn Telemaque stopped by on Sunday to watch the action and he spent a lot of time talking with Coach Rocky Seto….It was good to see former Trojan offensive lineman Lenny Vandermade as a coach during the camp. Lenny is a grad assistant this year at San Diego State and said he really likes the on-field teaching part of the job….New Trojan commit Morrell Presley and Carson quarterback Dominique Blackman attended the camp on Sunday to show support for teammate Matt Hunt…..