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June 16, 2010

Defense rules at Provo NIKE Camp

PROVO, Utah - Taniela Tupou has been to three NIKE camps this off-season - Eugene, Corvallis and Wednesday's camp held at BYU - and has earned defensive line MVP all three times.

A pattern sure seems to be forming.

The Washington commit has proven he's one of the best players in the Pacific Northwest, a fierce, competitive, take-no-prisoners defensive end who thrives in one-on-ones and plays with an impressive relentlessness.

"I've been in those one-on-ones before when I was an underclassman," said Tupou, a 6-foot-2, 260-pounder from Everett (Wash.) Archbishop Murray.

"You're kind of hesitant about going in there because you don't want to get embarrassed but during the off-season before I came to the camps I was lifting a lot, getting bigger, getting ready and I just love doing one-on-ones.

"What I've been known for at all the other camps is the bull rush and just picking kids up and throwing them so they asked me to work with my hands a little bit more so I worked the hands and then at the end I had to end it with the bull rush."

Defensive line was clearly the deepest position at the Provo NIKE Camp but Tupou, committed to the Huskies since early April, was the best. Rivals.com rates him as the No. 30 strong-side defensive end in the 2011 class and he's making a case to move up the rankings soon.

"I'm showing the hard work that I've put in on and off the field, in the weight room and spending time with my dad and my team," Tupou said.

A bunch of other defensive linemen stood out as well. BYU commits Kesni Tausinga, Bakker Pritchard and Moses Kaumatule along with Desmond Collins, Jarett Finau, Weslee Kavanagh, Landon McKell and Paula Kavu led the way.

The offensive line MVP went to Ryker Mathews, a 6-foot-6, 277-pound tackle from American Fork, Utah, who has offers from BYU, Utah, Kansas and Utah State. Mathews rarely gives up ground and has outstanding technique. Blood splattered on the front of his white NIKE shirt showed he's not afraid to get down and dirty, either.

"I definitely worked hard for it," said Mathews, the No. 12 offensive tackle and No. 104 prospect by Rivals.com.

Adam Ingersoll, Clark Gardner and Kellen Broadnax all stood out on the offensive line as well but no one was tougher and more consistent than Alex Taumoepeau from Bingham High.

Quarterback is top heavy with names

Quarterback was not an incredibly deep position but it was top heavy with Stanford commit Evan Crower out of San Diego (Calif.) St. Augustine earning MVP honors.

The lefty doesn't have an overpowering arm but he's consistent and rarely missed receivers, which was impressive because timing can be an issue at these camps. Rated as the No. 21 pro-style quarterback by Rivals.com, Crower has been committed to the Cardinal since September of his junior year.

"I wanted to come out and get better," he said. "I heard the Elite 11 was a lot of fun with fun drills and there was a lot of competition out here so I just wanted to get better and have fun.

"I just wanted to get it over with and just relax my senior year, not have the pressure of looking at schools last minute and then making changes. I love coach (Jim) Harbaugh. He's real, he's a nice guy and I have family up there so I'm glad to get involved in the Stanford program."

BYU commit Alex Kuresa, out of Hyrum (Utah) Mountain Crest, is small in stature - maybe cracking 6 feet - but he's got a strong arm and the ball comes out quickly.

Highlands Ranch (Colo.) Valor Christian's Brock Berglund went through drills but didn't throw during one-on-ones because of shoulder tightness. He's also busy taking visits and a decision could come by the end of the weekend.

Other quarterbacks who looked good included Boston Handley, Kyle Faunce, Brady Lail and Rhett Bird.

Receivers are put on display

Speedy wide receivers were hardly found at the camp but there was an abundance of rangy and oftentimes oversized prospects who could grow into tight ends. It was a tight end, BYU commit Colby Jorgensen, who took home MVP honors for the position and rightfully so because the 6-foot-7 recruit is a big target who has good hands and is athletic.

Fellow BYU pledge Stehly Reden, who could be a tight end or an offensive lineman in college, showed off his athleticism in the receiver group. Josh Weeks and Alex Litzen also looked the part.

One of the most electric receivers seen at camp was Dana Day from Maple Heights, Ohio, who said a few Big Ten teams are showing interest. Tre Ofahengaue, Jordan Micalef and Jaleel Awini also made some plays.

California kid leads LB group

New Mexico State and Yale have now offered Temecula (Calif.) Temecula Valley linebacker Adam Pulsipher, who also has a Buffalo offer, and if he continues to perform well like he did at the NIKE Camp then more offers could be arriving soon.

Pulsipher has an aggressive camp schedule planned - which included a multi-day stop at BYU - in the hopes of having more options. He's big and physical and can cover space so there's no reason more schools won't at least show interest.

"It's definitely great to compete against the guys you're competing for scholarships against and it's great to see the schools where you might be playing," Pulsipher said. "It was great coming here. I've been here at camp all week just hoping to earn a scholarship."

Other linebackers who looked good included Jeff Lark, who came all the way from Cushing Academy in Massachusetts, Karl Mickelsen and Creed Richardson.

RBs and DBs make impressions

Bryson McKenzie won the MVP award for the running backs but right there with him was Jeremiah Laufusa, who was exceptional especially catching the ball out of the backfield.

Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., recruit Sateki Finau took home the defensive back MVP honors. Walter Santiago was in the running as well and 2012 prospect Taylor Taliulu also impressed.

Note on Harvey Langi: Langi, the four-star running back from South Jordon (Utah) Bingham who starred at the Miami, Los Angeles and Palo Alto NIKE camps, did not work out in Provo. He was on campus, though, taking an unofficial visit.


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