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Notes and Whispers from L.A. NFTC

The Los Angeles Nike NFTC event was once again one of the top groups of talent in the nation. There was a very impressive group of defensive backs and wide receivers which featured many intriguing match ups.

Chris Hawkins made his verbal commitment to USC at the Nike NFTC in L.A. yesterday.

Perhaps the biggest news of the day was Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) cornerback Chris Hawkins spurning Stanford for the late offer from USC. It's no secret only a few short weeks ago he was ready to commit, but the day prior the Trojans offered and changed things. Hawkins was also named the camp MVP for the defensive back group at the event. Considering other top players such as Tahaan Goodman, Priest Willis and Tyler Foreman among others were in attendance, it was a lofty award.

Hawkins would say this about his MVP performance: "I just wanted to show everyone it's not all about muscles and being big and us 'skinny' dudes can play too."

To cap off the great news for Hawkins following his commitment, he was also one of five players that received an invite to Nike's coveted premier event 'The Opening' in Portland (Ore.) in early July.

Four other top performers earned a coveted invite. Bishop Alemany (Calif.) wide receiver Steven Mitchell will be in Portland in July. Defensive backs Priest Willis (Marcos De Niza/Ariz.) and Tahaan Goodman (Rancho Cucamonga/Calif.) will also join Chris Hawkins after receiving their invites.

The final invite was made to defensive lineman MVP Joe Mathis. Mathis also performed well at Las Vegas the week before at the NLA 7-on-7. He moves incredibly well for a big body and 247Sports national analyst Barton Simmons noted he was almost 'unblockable' yesterday.

Nike has now issued 15 invites to 'The Opening' which will feature 150 of the nation's premier athletes.

The other MVP's from the event include running back Zachary Green (St. Bonaventure/Calif.), quarterback Conner Manning (El Toro/Calif.) and sophomore linebacker Dwight Williams (Serra/Calif.). It was the second straight solid week in a row for Williams who also performed well for the 1925 All-Stars in Vegas the week before.

Green is another prospect I've felt has flown under the radar for some time now. Some schools may be 'put off' by his height at 5-foot-10, but he brings the wood and has the speed to back it up.

Steven Mitchell was not only camp MVP at wide receiver, he also earned respect from his peers.

Most of the recruits in attendance will be on Spring Break starting today. Several commented about making nearby stops at UCLA and USC this week including four-star athlete Sebastian LaRue.

LaRue added new offers from Tennessee and Arizona last week. He said he plans on visiting UCLA this week, possibly on Thursday for their second Spring practice. LaRue would go on to add he felt Steven Mitchell was one of the top receivers there in his opinion. He also noted quarterbacks Troy Williams and Brandon Cox had big days at the event.

Troy Williams continues to take the recruiting process in stride. He reminds me of a more polished Teddy Bridgewater from a couple years back. May not always wow you in drills, but an absolute gamer with a winning mentality. Williams would love to add offers from Oregon and USC but continues to evaluate his options.

Pasadena (Calif.) Brandon Cox also singled out Steven Mitchell following the event and his good friend, Sebastian LaRue as top performers. Arizona made an early offer to Cox who seems to have the slight upper hand. Oregon, Notre Dame, Washington and others. This may be a case where programs wait to evaluate in person and his offer list explodes. He is currently playing baseball.

Priest Willis once again showed why he is such a highly touted prospect. He has not begun to narrow things down but he did make another unofficial visit to USC before the event which only bodes well for the Trojans' chances. In two weeks he will be in Virginia for their Spring game with family. Later in June he plans to take several trips to SEC country and visit LSU, Florida and Florida State among others.

It should be noted that Willis seems to have made a strong attachment to B2G teammate Tahaan Goodman. The two were often together in Vegas last week and much of yesterday. Hawkins was busy with commitment photos and interviews but he's also more than just a 'third wheel' in the trio.

Michael Hutchings was also at USC Friday with his father. It was the first time his father had been on campus. He’s thinking of narrowing his list to around five or eight schools after spring break. Some schools with a good shot at that group of finalists are Washington, Oregon, Miami and Notre dame. USC still looks like the slight favorite at this time.

Not to be lost in the shuffle is four-star safety Max Redfield. The nation's No. 33 ranked player added an offer from LSU this week and has serious interest in the program. He said Oregon, USC, Notre Dame and Washington are a few schools he has considerable interest in. He's hoping to visit Washington, Arizona and USC at some point this Spring.

Barton Simmons contributed to this report.

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