SAN DIEGO - Feeling Lucky? If you aren't then maybe North Hollywood, Calif., running back Marlon Lucky's performance Saturday at the NIKE Training Camp at San Diego State might change your mind.
Lucky finished in the top 10 in three of four testing categories, including tying for fifth in the 40-yard dash with a 4.44-second time in the 40-yard dash, and showed why he's considered one of the nation's elite running back recruits in the Class of 2005. Lucky, who measured in at 5-foot-11 ½ and 202 pounds, also put up a very impressive 24 repetitions of 185 pounds in the bench press and had a remarkable 36-inch vertical leap.
And that was even before he stepped on the field for position drills.
In those drills, Lucky took another step above the crowd and showed why he's one of the nation's best. He simply dominated, showing he has amazing explosion and a pair of amazingly soft hands. Then in the one-on-one drills there were hardly any linebackers that could even stay with him.
So is he the top running back in the nation?
"I wouldn't say that," Lucky said.
"I'm one of them, but I won't say that I'm the best. I'm up front with everything. I'm a hard working guy and a hard working running back. I work hard to get the extra yards."
Lucky, who listed his top schools as USC, LSU, Florida and Oregon, finished behind another running back in the 40-yard dash. Mike Brown (5-8, 170) of Newark (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep had the fastest time with a 4.31-second time.
That time was tied by Joe Sarpong of Ontario (Calif.) Colony and followed by Cameron Lonzo of Fontana (Calif.) Kaiser at 4.41 seconds. San Pedro, Calif., receiver Nick Armesto (6-1 ½, 182) was fourth with a time of 4.43, followed by four others at 4.44 seconds.
Brown was another running back that impressed with 18 repetitions of 185 pounds, but he had to bow out of the drills late in the camp with a bruised arch.
Still he took another step forward toward proving that he's one of the Garden State's best prospects, with a camp-leading vertical leap of 42 inches..
Richard Pacheco of Moreno Valley (Calif.) Canyon Springs and Chad Sorrell of Bakersfield (Calif.) Liberty had the top bench-press marks at 35 repetitions. Fast rising defensive line prospect Richard Tuitu'u of Gilbert (Ariz.) Highland had 33 and looked amazing in the line drills. Kaluka Maiava of Wailuku (Hawaii) Baldwin had 27 reps, followed by three others at 25.
Sarpong had the top shuttle time at 3.97 seconds, followed by Pomona (Calif.) Diamond Ranch defensive back Titus Jackson Jr. at 3.98 seconds. Pasadena, Calif., defensive back Kirk Alexander had a solid time at 4.0 seconds, and receiver Ben Kelchner of Mission Viejo, Calif., and defensive back Kevin Thomas of Oxnard (Calif.) Rio Mesa were next at 4.03 seconds.
After Brown's camp-high mark of 42 inches, Brett Johnson of Henderson (Nevada) Green Valley was next at 39.3 inches. Simi Valley (Calif.) Grace Brethren athlete Chad Kackert had the third-best leap at the camp at 3.92 inches, followed by Glendale (Calif.) Mountain Range running back Tim Hamm at 38.9 inches and Thomas at 37.2 inches.
While Brown and Lucky stole the show at the running back position, the San Diego Camp will go down as one of the strongest for quarterback, especially with Mission Viejo, Calif., star Mark Sanchez leading the way. Sanchez has been called the top quarterback in California and one of the nation's best, and he did nothing to disappoint on Saturday. He had an amazing arm, displayed great accuracy and ability to put the ball in the right spot during the one-on-one drills.
"I can do it all," he said. "I can make any throw. I can throw it short. I can throw it deep. I'm just a playmaker, and I love to compete. I love throwing the comeback, and I can throw it like nobody's business. That's the play we always look to when we know we need big yards."
There were several other quarterbacks that impressed, including Carlsbad, Calif., standout Sean Canfield and Ridgecrest (Calif.) Burroughs gun-slinger Karsten Sween. But another camp favorite with the many college coaches on hand was Brandis Dew of Hemet, Calif. Even though Dew was a little slow-footed in the drill portions of the camp, he displayed a rocket for an arm and had no problem putting the ball on the money almost every time.
There weren't a ton of great linemen in the camp, but two offensive linemen did stand out about the rest. Aleksey Lanis of Los Angeles Crenshaw and Rodney Picou Moreno Valley (Calif.) Canyon Springs came into the camp with great reputations and they both proved that they are going to be elite national recruits, especially Lanis. He stole the show in the one-on-one drills when he took a defensive lineman and drove him five yards back and into the coaches that were conducting the drills.
"I didn't hear anybody blow the whistle," Lanis, who measured in at 6-5 and 313 pounds, said. "And I've always been taught to go until you hear the whistle."
Picou showed great feet during the drills and his pass-protection looked line one of the best in the entire camp.
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