Kyle Allen was one of the first prospects on the field for Sunday's Nike Football Training Camp in Los Angeles. There was no particular reason for the high-profile quarterback from Scottsdale (AZ) Desert Mountain to be preparing earlier than most his peers, not given his resume.
The 6-foot-1 and 185-pound junior had something to prove, apparently. Allen did just that. And then some. He was impressive during the morning session's individual drills, picked up where he left in the afternoon's passing session and ended up with MVP honors for his position.
“This was an opportunity for me to come out and make a statement, cement my name as one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, that was my goal,'' Allen said. “There was pressure on me, I had a target on my back and that's fine. You have to work hard to succeed at this level.''
In the 247Sports Composite Rankings, Allen is the country's No. 6 pro-style quarterback and No. 99 player overall. It will be interesting to see if his recent effort prompts a move up the charts at some point in the near future. His stock is about as high as it gets, regardless.
Pac-12 Conference programs Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA have expressed the most interest, and accordingly, each has offered. Allen has close to 20 scholarships, including Ole Miss, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Texas A&M is another school with an offer sitting on the table.
“Ole Miss and Texas A&M, the SEC showing some interest in me, that's big time. Now my name's out there,'' Allen said. “I'm seeing that all of the hard work is starting to pay off. First one on the field, last one off, that's the plan, and why I was here trying to prove myself at this camp.''
Mission accomplished. Allen proved his point indeed, with an MVP trophy.
MAMA IS A MAN AMONG BOYS
At 6-5 and 340 pounds, Damien Mama is all too familiar with how it feels to stick out in crowd. It was different story at the Los Angeles NFTC, however. The junior offensive lineman from Bellflower (CA) St. John Bosco was the center of attention for the right reasons this time.
One of the country's more promising prospects, Mama looked the part. And played the part. The end result was an MVP award at his position despite competition from Viane Talamaivao of Corona (CA) Centennial and USC commit Toa Lobendahn of Lakewood (CA) Artesia.
“I came here to compete, to ball-out and look for dudes to ball-out against me,'' said Mama, the nation's No. 13 player at offensive guard in the 247Sports Composite Rankings.
With a laundry list of potential suitors currently standing at more than 20 scholarships, Mama received another three offers from powerhouse programs in the last week alone.
Alabama was one of the schools: “When I think about playing for the top team in the nation and having a chance to win championships every year, that's a humbling thing,'' he said.
Notre Dame joined the Mama sweepstakes as well: “I've received letters from them, but the offer came out of the blue,'' he said. “Having a chance to play there, it's an honor.''
Oklahoma stepped up its efforts too: “I've been staying in contact them for a while now and talk with the coaches a lot, almost every week now. It's a great school,'' he said.
With regards to making a decision about a future destination, Mama said he doesn't plan on committing anytime soon. Keeping all of his options open appears to be the strategy.
RETURNING TO THE SCENE OF THE CRIME
For the second time in as many years at the Los Angeles NFTC, Dwight Williams was named MVP at linebacker. According to 247Sports national recruiting analyst Barton Simmons, the 6-1 and 210-pound junior from Gardena (CA) Serra was on a different level than his counterparts.
“Last year, I was a younger guy and had a little something to prove. This time, there was a lot more on my shoulders, people were gunning for me. I still came out and did what I had to do,'' Williams said. “There was business to take care of, I did that and everything fell into place.''
In terms of the whole recruiting game, things are starting to fall into place for Williams, the country's No. 7 player at his position in the 247Sports Composite Rankings and No. 125 overall. He has 30 offers and Kentucky, Missouri and South Florida are the most recent additions.
Alabama and LSU continue to express interest, but haven't offered.
“I'm going to cut down my list soon, but until then, I'm enjoying the process,'' Williams said. “Some of the schools that stick out now are Georgia, Florida, UCLA and Washington.''
TAUA TAKES A TURN IN THE SPOTLIGHT
The talent pool on the defensive line at the Los Angeles NFTC was about as deep as any position, right on par with every other spot on the field. That didn't deter Ainuu Taua of Lompoc (CA) from emerging as the premier player in his group and taking home the hardware for MVP.
“There was some great talent out here, everywhere you looked, and I was pumped to go up some of the best players on the West Coast and the best players in country,'' Taua said.
Humble as they come, Taua falls into the category of one of the best in the business for the Class of 2014. In the 247Sports Composite Rankings, the 6-1 and 270-pounder is the nation's No. 9 player at defensive tackle. Also worth mentioning is that Taua is No. 147 overall.
Most schools in the Pac-12 Conference have offered him, with the exception of USC and Oregon. In fact, it appears as if UCLA could have the inside track for a commitment.
“I like the Bruins, they are on the move and coming up,'' Taua said. “With Jim Mora there, that's a good thing. I mean, he knows a lot about football. He was an NFL guy and can help me take my game to the next level. The whole coaching staff is great. UCLA is a great option.”
An all-important commitment to the Bruins is not a done deal. Far from it, mind you. Ole Miss recently offered Taua and is among seven schools he is currently considering.
NEWS AND NOTES FROM LOS ANGELES NFTC
Royce Freeman opened plenty of eyes. So much so, in fact, the 5-11 and 215-pound junior athlete from Imperial (CA) was named MVP at running back. He holds offers from seven programs, perhaps most notablyArkansas and Tennessee. Arizona and Cal are also in the mix.
Another surprise was Christian Kirk. The 5-10 and 175-pound sophomore athlete from Scottsdale (AZ) Saguro got the nod as MVP for the wide receivers. His days of flying underneath the proverbial radar on the national level are officially over based on Kirk's well-rounded effort.
Similar to Kirk, Denzel Fisher was a relative unknown. His status on the national level, however, will most likely change after the 6-1 and 165-pound junior from Compton (CA) Centennial was announced as MVP for defensive backs. He does not after any offers to speak of right now.
Highly-touted Tyler Luatua of La Mirada (CA) was a late addition. The 6-4 and 230-pound junior tight end, however, didn't miss a beat during the morning and afternoon sessions. According to the 247Sports Composite Rankings, he's the nation's No. 1 player at his spot on the field.
If Luatua turned out to be a no-show, Alize Jones could have earned the distinction of top tight end. The 6-4 and 212-pound sophomore impressed from start to finish. He does not have any offers at this stage of the game. Several Pac-12 Conference schools have expressed interest.
High-profile prospects from the Class of 2014 Adoree' Jackson of Gardena (CA) Serra and Jalen Brown of Phoenix (AZ) Mountain Pointe were on hand, but didn't participate due to injuries. Jackson has been dealing with an ankle issue and Brown was nursing a shoulder problem.
MVP's Mama, Williams and Taua were among the individuals receiving invites to Nike's The Opening. Talamaivao will also be in attendance in Beaverton (OR) for the festivities taking place in July, as will defensive back Naijiel Hale from Bellflower (CA) St. John Bosco.
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