LOS ANGELES - In the 1840s settlers flocked to California in search of gold. On Saturday more than 300 prospects from all over the nation will head to the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles for the second stop on the NIKE Training Camp Tour.
And just like in the past, there are plenty of golden prospects to be discovered.
That's especially true at the offensive line position. When most people think of California thoughts of quarterbacks, receivers and running backs dance through their heads.
But the focus of the camp starts up front with blue-chip offensive linemen Ryan Miller of Littleton (Colo.) Columbine, Jaivorio Burkes of Phoenix Moon Valley and Martin Coleman of Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison.
"It's not very often, if ever, that we've had offensive linemen the headliners in the camp, but that's going to be case on Saturday," Student Sports and Rivals.com recruiting analyst Greg Biggins said.
"The highlight for me going in will be to see the three big linemen go at it. It's a fair argument to say that Burks and Coleman are the two top linemen in the West, and a lot of people believe that Miller is the best in the Midlands Region."
Actually, a lot of schools are calling Miller the nation's top offensive line prospect, period.
Miller already has offers from a who's who in college football, including Colorado, Colorado State, Kansas State, Miami, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, USC and Washington. And Burks, who sports offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Oregon, USC, Tennessee and many others, isn't too far behind and is widely considered the top prospect in Arizona for the class of 2007.
There's a lot of talk also about Coleman's stock.
The 6-foot-6, 285-pounder has offers from Arizona State, Ole Miss, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah and is getting heavy interest from USC and some interest from UCLA. On film, Coleman just jumps off the screen when you watch him with his great feet and amazing lover body strength. Coleman's ability is even harder to believe when you consider he moved only a year ago from Tonga and has played just one year, last season, of organized football.
"In 20 years of coaching, I don't think I've ever seen scouts go instantly insane over a player like they do when they see Martin on the field," Edison coach Dave White said. "Martin's upside is unlimited, and he's done a phenomenal job in quickly making friends with his teammates."
Biggins was also excited about a very deep running back group expected to be there Saturday. Several of Southern California's top backs won't make it to the even because of track, but still it doesn't diminish the talent at the position.
"Guys like Raymond Carter, Brandon Johnson and Marc Tyler won't be there because of track meets or other things," Biggins said. "We expect those guys to be at the camp in Palo Alto, Calif., but still it doesn't take away from the depth of this running back group."
It'll also be a first chance for a several analysts to see Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure teammates Blaine Irby and Michael Williams in person.
Williams, a top 100 cornerback, is nursing a slight injury and might not be 100 percent on Saturday but is still going to give it a go. Irby, who has blown up with offers from Arizona State, California, Miami, Michigan, Ole Miss, Oregon and Texas, will get a chance to impress also. It's not clear what position Irby plans on working out at since he's projected at H-back in college, but with his 6-3, 235-pound frame, expect him to look good no matter where he's at.
Immediately after the NIKE Training Camp, there will be an EA Sports Elite 11 regional workout that could feature several of the nation's top quarterback prospects.
Heading into Friday, Michigan State commit Keith Nichol from Lowell (Mich.) and Orange (Calif.) Lutheran quarterback Aaron Corp were scheduled to participate. Nichol is one of the top signal callers in the Midwest and Corp is widely considered one of the best signal-callers in the West.
Peter Lalich of Springfield (Va.) West Springfield will also be in attendance. He was originally scheduled to participate in the NIKE Camp, but now is set to only workout at the Elite 11 camp. Lalich, who is 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, already has an impressive resume of offers from Virginia, Miami, Michigan, N.C. State and UCLA with Florida and Florida State showing interest.
There will be several quarterbacks that will double dip both the NIKE and Elite 11 camps looking to impress. Analysts will have a close eye on Ronnie Fouch of Redlands (Calif.) East Valley, Ryan Lindley of Lakeside (Calif.) El Capitan, Kellen Moore of Prosser, Wash., Griffin Robles of Spanish Fork, Utah, and Chasen Stangel of San Jacinto, Calif.