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May 22, 2004

Reynolds rips up the Palo Alto NIKE Camp

PALO ALTO, Calif. - Ryan Reynolds is used to the attention of being the top player on his team. He's also used to the attention of being the top player in Nevada. What he might need to get used to, is being the top player in the nation.

Reynolds, the amazing linebacker from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, dominated the Palo Alto NIKE Training Camp Saturday at Stanford and staked a major claim toward being named the nation's top player in the Class of 2005.

A new feature at the NIKE Camps this year is that each player was ranked on a SPARQ rating scale. SPARQ - which means speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness - is the first-ever system designed to capture the overall athleticism of any football player. The previous high of 101.7 was held by Florida linebacker Spencer Atkins. Reynolds blew that away with a 108, which included a jaw-dropping 47-repetitions in the bench-press and a very solid 4.7-second time in the 40-yard dash.

"I don't know about me being the top linebacker or the top player in the country," Reynolds said. "I do know that I'm one of the hardest working linebackers in the country. My dad helped me develop this great work ethic through my childhood by making me do pushups and stuff like that. I just kept at it and took it from there."

The end result is a beast of a linebacker that stands 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, can run like a deer and bench-press the moon. Superman better watch out, because he's no longer the Man of Steel.

That title now belongs to Reynolds, and he proved it throughout the day.

In the position drills and then in the one-on-one competition Reynolds excelled in everything he did. He was a blur coming off the edge in blitz-technique drills, and he more than held his own in coverage situations against a talented group of running backs. Without question, Reynolds is the prototype weakside linebacker at the next level, and when you throw in all of his physical attributes it's hard to think there are too many players better than him in America.

But a few at the NIKE Camp on Saturday gave Reynolds a run for the money, especially Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral defensive tackle Ekom Udofia.

If it wasn't for Reynold's super-human testing results, Udofia would have earned top camp honors and held the mark for the top SPARQ rating in the nation. Udofia (6-1, 288) finished with a 5.09-second 40, 48 repetitions in the bench press and finished with a SPARQ total of 102.3.

He was also impressive in pass-rushing drills and throughout the one-on-one competition. Even though he has talked about playing some defensive end in college, Udofia looked like the perfect three-technique defensive tackle that many coaches are searching for.

"I'm just aggressive, and I come off the ball really hard," Udofia said. "I also use my hands really well and then let my strength come through inside with my moves to get past the blockers to the quarterback."

Eureka, Calif., linebacker Rey Maualuga was disappointed with his 4.7-second time in the 40-yard dash and said it was relatively slow because of a pulled hamstring he suffered earlier this week. But it still doesn't matter because Maualuga is special. He put up 37 reps in the bench and was the most physically put together player not named Ryan Reynolds.

Simply put, Maualuga looks like a college player now and with his great instincts for the football, he should be able to step on the field right away and play quickly next season.

Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep cornerback Michael Ray Garvin came all the way from the East Coast to test his mettle and he passed the exam with flying colors. Widely regarded as one of the best in the East, Garvin wanted to see how he matched up against the best of the best in the West, and he dominated the defensive backs and proved to be the lock-down cover corner you want in one-on-one drills.

Garvin also tested quite well, running a 4.28-second 40 and then following that up a few minutes later with a 4.31.

In true California fashion, the quarterback group was loaded with several big-time signal callers.

NorCal was heavily represented with Fresno (Calif.) Edison's Arkelon Hall, Concord (Calif.) De La Salle's Kevin Lopina, Stockton (Calif.) St. Mary's Willie Tuitama and Oakland (Calif.) McClymonds Kyle Reed showing they have the talent to be top 25 quarterbacks in the nation.

Hall came into the camp with a reputation of an athletic quarterback with a big arm, and he didn't disappoint. Lopina is a great field general that wasn't overly better at one thing compared to another, but he always right with everything he did. Tuitama showcased a very accurate arm and some great moxie in one-on-one drills, proving that his stock the rise in the nation.

Reed is probably the least-talked about quarterback in NorCal, but he showed on Saturday why he might be the best in the bunch. Reed had a great setup, a strong arm and put the ball on the money time after time in the one-on-ones and throughout the drills. With a bevy of good scholarship offers, including ones from Cal, Washington State and UCLA, look for more national programs to suddenly get involved because he impressed in front of a huge collection of college scouts.

Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft signal caller Josh Portis also looked great. His long and lean frame will fill out just as big as his big-time right arm by the time he's finished in college. He has a real shot at being something special.

The receiver group was also loaded with quite a few national blue-chip prospects.

Long Beach Poly's (Calif.) DeSean Jackson has quickly become one of the hottest recruits in the nation. Just about every school in the country including Michigan, USC and LSU has offered Jackson and after watching him work Saturday you can see why. Jackson was bummed because he ran a 4.43 in the 40, but when it came to catching balls and making sudden changes of direction he was amazing.

Los Angeles Jefferson receiver Austin Usher was one of the most physically put together receivers in the camp. With his bulging biceps and great frame, Usher had the size and speed coaches want in today's game.

Several college coaches talked openly about how he compares to former Washington Husky receiver Reggie Williams because of his combination of size, strength and speed.

Another receiver that sparked a lot of interest was Jesse Canada of Monrovia, Calif. Canada, who is 6-0 and had 4.6 speed, was fluid in drills and had some amazing hands. Canada hasn't been talked about a lot in recruiting circles, but he already has picked up more than 10 scholarship offers from all over the nation.

Edmond (Okla.) North receiver Marquis Hamilton was also impressive in one-on-one competition, and with an offer on the table from Wyoming, expect more to come if he can work on lowering his 4.7 speed.

With all the talk about Udofia, it was hard to overlook some other standout defensive lineman but there was a huge buzz about how good Matt Kopa of Elk Grove, Calif., looked. Several college coaches said they loved the way Kopa shot off the ball and one coach even went as far as to call the Stanford commitment the best defensive lineman at the camp. Kopa still has a long and lean frame and will be able to fill into it quite nicely, and it looks like the Cardinal got a heck of a steal in this case.

For expanded coverage of the Stanford NIKE Training Camp, you should check out StudentSports.com. Access to StudentSports.com requires an additional membership. Coming Soon! The best is getting better. The Rivals.com Recruiting Database will include all authentic data from this summer's NIKE Training Camp schedule.


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