Prior to this weekend's Football University Camp in Los Angeles, Brandon Dawkins was expected to be the marquee name in attendance. The high-profile prospect and junior from Westlake Village (CA) Oaks Christian didn't disappoint either. He lived up to the advanced billing.
Dawkins performed well during the morning session and it was more of the same from the 6-foot-3 and 206-pound quarterback in the afternoon's individual drills. His counterparts paled in comparison, in fact. That's something that simply comes along with territory nowadays, however.
“I've been coming to the FBU Camp since I was in the seventh grade, this is my home away from home, I always feel comfortable in this type of setting,'' Dawkins said. “I might be more well-known than some other players, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to work hard and improve.''
He was indeed a more recognizable recruit than most of his peers on hand. That's saying something too given the fact there was plenty of talent to go around. In the 247Sports Composite Rankings, Dawkins is the country's No. 7 dual-threat quarterback and the No. 245 individual overall.
Nationally, he compares to Class of 2014 signal-callers Clemson commit Deshaun Watson of Gainesville (GA), Texas commit Jerrod Heard of Denton (TX) Guyer, Arkansas commit Rafe Peavey of Bolivar (MO) and Texas Tech commit D.J. Gillins of Jacksonville (FL) Eagle's View Academy.
“Brandon started the FBU Camp when he was young, he's an old-timer now and could probably teach the other guys here a few things, that's how far he's come along,'' said Erik Richards, National Scouting Director for U.S. Army All-American Bowl. “Here's the thing, he never stops working. His relentlessness is going to take him places. He'll make an impact when he plays college ball.''
Whether that happens or not for him remains to be seen.
Dawkins, however, is taking steps in the right direction.
It appears as if the next step is the next level. Notre Dame and Utah have scholarships waiting. Alabama and Tennessee have also recently expressed varied levels of interest in him, but have not offered. The same thing can be said about programs such as Michigan and Oklahoma.
“Talking with schools in the SEC, that's big for me, that's big for anyone if you think about it, that's when you know that recruiting is really starting to finally pick up,'' Dawkins said.
Closer to home, he has been in contact with more than a few Pac-12 Conference teams. Both Oregon and UCLA have reached out to him. Both unfortunately have not put a scholarship on the table. USC is high on his list and plans are in the works to meet with the Trojans coaching staff.
“I think USC is close to offering, it could be a matter of time,'' Dawkins said. “If they wanted me, I'd have to seriously think about going there. The school is right here in my own backyard.''
If the Trojans offer, there is no guarantee that he commits. The strategy is to wait things out and signs point to Dawkins making a decision during his senior season, perhaps afterward.
In the meantime, there's work to be done. Similar to how things played out at the Football University Camp in Los Angeles, chances are, Dawkins goes and out handles his business.
ROSENE RISES TO THE OCCASION
Reno Rosene was a man among boys at the Los Angeles FBU. The 6-foot-5 and 300-pound sophomore lineman from Westlake Village (CA) Oaks Christian was seemingly without peer. The lone individual to offer up any competition was camp coach and NFL veteran David Diaz-Infante.
Given the circumstances, the two worked together on an individual basis at times during the morning session. Little changed in the afternoon as Diaz pulled his protege to the side to presumably pass along his knowledge after winning a two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos in the 1990's.
As it stands now, Rosene has one scholarship, from Notre Dame. Things could be on the verge of changing, however, especially if words starts to spread about his recent effort.
Rosene said powerhouse programs Alabama, Oklahoma and Michigan have been in contact with him the last couple of months. TCU and Wisconsin are also interested. In an attempt to not miss the boat, Pac-12 Conference schools such as Oregon, UCLA and Stanford have also reached out.
KAAYA LEAVES A LASTING IMPRESSION
A day after attending Junior Day at Arizona State, Brad Kaaya was at back his Southern California home in time to make an appearance for the final workout at the Los Angeles FBU. For the 6-4 and 215-pound junior quarterback from West Hills (CA) Chaminade, it was better late than never.
Despite not being there from the jump, Kaaya opened eyes during his brief stint at the camp. In terms of recruiting, the effort will have a positive impact for a prospect who recently landed his first scholarship, from Miami. Boise State, Oklahoma State and Wisconsin are others interested.
Signs point to Kaaya wanting to stay close to home for college. At least, at this stage. Pac-12 Conference schools Stanford, Washington and UCLA have contacted him, but still haven't offered. It is reasonable to expect that status to change given the upside he displayed in a short period of time.
NEWS AND NOTES FROM LOS ANGELES FBU
C.J. Spiller of the Buffalo Bills arrived in the mid-afternoon and spoke with the running backs for ten minutes, or so. Believe it or not, he has some ties to FBU. During his days on the prep circuit, Spiller attended camps and eventually received an invite to the 2006 Army All-American Bowl.
NFL quarterback veterans Jeff Rutledge and Chris Miller worked with prospects throughout the afternoon. “Having coaches like that, who've been where we all want to go, that's the best part about FBU,” Dawkins said. “You have to be like a sponge and soak up everything from guys like that.''
Sean Ceglinsky has covered prep and college sports on the West Coast for the better part of the past 15-plus years. Follow him on twitter: @SeanCeglinsky