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L.A. Nike top performers - Defense

NORWALK, Calif. – The amount of talent on hand at the Nike Football Training Camp over the weekend in southern California made it nearly impossible to see every elite performer but there were a few that were impossible to miss.

Chris Hawkins got his hands on lots of footballs.

We take a look at the standouts from Sunday’s camp on the defensive side of the ball.

(ranked in order of performance)

1. Chris Hawkins, CB, Rancho Cucamonga - After Sunday’s competition, Hawkins announced his commitment to USC in front of several cameras and reporters but the show came before that. Hawkins was fantastic on Sunday, rarely giving an inch to opposing wide receivers. I didn’t see a pass completed on him all afternoon and I’m not sure that it happened at all.

2. Priest Willis, CB, Marcos de Niza (Ariz.) - If Hawkins had the best performance of the day, Willis was the best prospect in attendance. He has everything you want in a cornerback with great size, terrific hips, ball skills and quick twitch acceleration out of his breaks. It’s easy to see how Willis has earned such an extensive offer list.

3. Joe Mathis, DE, Upland – The thing that really separated JoJo Mathis on Sunday wasn’t his athleticism or size, both of which were impressive. It was his attitude. Despite his extensive offer list, Mathis took more reps on the defensive line than any prospect in attendance. He was hungry, competitive and when the ball was snapped he showed a great motor and intensity level.

4. Tahaan Goodman, S, Rancho Cucamonga – There aren’t many safeties in the class of 2013 that are as pure as Goodman. He’s got a great safety frame and passes the look test as soon as he walks onto the field but he also shows great range, a great feel for what is taking place in front of him and he is always around the football. Goodman’s stock continues to soar.

5. Taco Charlton, DE, Pickerington Central (Ohio) – Physically Charlton takes the prize. That’s all there is to it. No one has a higher upside from a size, athleticism standpoint. He’s long, well put together and he showed great get-off and quickness in agility drills. As he is coached up on the next level, Charlton has a chance to be very special if a coach can pull out the tremendous amount of talent he has beneath the surface.

6. Tyler Foreman, S, Crespi – Another great safety in the state of California, Foreman has a strong physical frame for the position but is surprisingly fluid and active in coverage as well. He gets off of the ground quickly for jump balls can change directions with ease and fluidity and he has ball skills. As a four-star prospect, Foreman more than lived up to his billing.

7. George Frazier, LB, Monrovia – Frazier looked like one of the bigger linebackers in attendance and he put that size and frame to work in the pass rush one-on-ones where very few running backs could handle his blend of size and quickness. Frazier is a true mike backer that can be a run plugger defensively but in coverage he also showed the ability to be a factor.

8. Daquawn Brown, CB, Dorsey – I love the foot quickness and springy athleticism of Brown. He is natural going backwards, has an effortless backpedal and has an explosive first two steps out of his backpedal. Currently with a handful of offers, Brown should steadily add more over the spring and summer.

9. Kevin Palma, LB, Mission Oak – Not only was Palma one of the better linebackers in attendance on Sunday, but he preceded that by scoring the second highest rating at the SPARQ combine on Saturday. At 6-2, 235 pounds, Palma is a 4.7 guy in the 40 yard dash and he ran a 4.15 short shuttle. Look for his recruitment to really take off in the coming months.

10. Alex Olivas, CB, Upland – In the “super sleeper” category on Sunday, nobody was more fitting than Olivas. He is a small cornerback at only 5-9 but his feet were off the charts. Olivas seemed to jump inside the hip pocket of wide receivers and stay there for the entire afternoon. He fights an uphill battle with his size but that didn’t stop him from getting his hands on numerous balls over the course of the day. Olivas’ recruitment should be very interesting. He’ll have an underdog label but could be a steal for a mid-level program.

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