NW stars shine at Barton/Next Step

Alameda Ta'amu (Scout.com)

SALEM, Ore. - Franklin Pierce (WA) tight end prospect Austin Olson thought enough of the event to race down via plane as soon as his track meet was over just to make sure he caught a few passes in front of college coaches.

When it's May and you are a Division-One college prospect, any face-time in front of scouts is a bonus, and this was no more evident than at the 2nd annual Barton Football/Next Step Marketing workout, held Saturday at Willamette University.

"Coach (Greg) Barton said that even just catching a few passes down here was better than not coming at all," Olson said after the event, as father Steve added that they actually chartered a private plane to make sure Austin – a two-time all-league standout – was able to take advantage of a rare opportunity.

Because of changes to NCAA rules, college coaches cannot be at workouts where prospects are timed and tested, but at Barton/Next Step, there are no such hassles – which allows for coaches from all levels to attend the camp and also comply with the new restrictions. Known throughout the northwest for their weekend skill and line camps, this marketing workout was nothing more than a normal – albeit lengthy – Barton workout, except for the camp-ending one-on-one drills. In fact, a couple of west coast coaches offered up the opinion that the Barton/Next Step workout is the best and most efficient combine they've ever been to, which is a testament to Greg and Taylor Barton, as well as the rest of the Barton family.

This workout was so important for the region, that the four Scout.com National Hot 100 entrants – Kavario Middleton, Ethan Johnson, Senio Kelemete and Alameda Ta'amu – were all present, although Johnson didn't work out due to track obligations. He did take the time to travel the hour south from Portland with teammate Jordan Polk to make sure he was noticed.

As far as the actual workout, it was split up into three distinct groups; the Oregon quarterbacks and skill players; the linemen from both states, and then the quarterbacks and skill players from the state of Washington. Of the 70 players from the two states that made up Scout.com's initial Northwest Hot 100 rankings, over half (37) were in attendance Saturday. Here's a breakdown of each grouping, including an unofficial MVP, as well as a big-riser and top underclassman for each.

GROUP ONE – Oregon QB's and Skill Players:
MVP: Raphiel Lambert – Jesuit. The diminutive skill player from back-to-back state champs Jesuit has it all – speed, shake, moxie and a will to just be the best player out there. Whether it was as a lock-down corner or as a play-making wideout, Lambert beat out a very good crop of prospects to get this award.

Top offensive prospects:
QB Nick Green – Central Catholic
QB Andre Broadous – Grant
RB Sam Buckingham - Grant
WR Paul McCoy – Grant
WR Jordan Freelander – Central Catholic
TE Demetrius Guice – Central Catholic

Top defensive prospects:
LB Tony Wilson – Sprague
LB Alex Melson – Grant
S Jay Matthews – Lake Oswego

Top underclassmen:
QB Josh Hill – Westview
RB Marcus Smith – Aloha
WR Gianni Carter – Marist
WR Mitch Mathews – Southridge
WR Mitch Singler – South Medford
S Billy Mitchell – Lakeridge
GROUP TWO – the Linemen:
MVP: Alameda Ta'amu – Rainier Beach. Many in attendance were suitably impressed by the 6-foot-3, 330-pound Ta'amu, as they were expecting a bigger man that didn't have the feet or game that he brings to the field. But Ta'amu was the top performer in arguably the best group of the day, and he only elevated his status as one of the top offensive linemen in the state of Washington in a year where big men are in plentiful supply.

Top offensive prospects:
LeRoi Edwards – Kentridge
Nick Cody – Hockinson
Senio Kelemete – Evergreen (Seattle)
Matt Lipski – Ashland
Jon Opperud – Milwaukie

Top defensive prospects:
Trevor Guyton – Redmond

Top underclassmen:
DT Charles Siddoway – Marist
DE Rahkim Price – Marist
GROUP THREE – Washington QB's and Skill Players:
MVP: Cody Bruns – Prosser. This one was brutal to pick, as there were so many great performances. Even a couple of Oregon players specifically waited to work out in the last session because of the quality of competition. But Bruns won out for his consistency in his route-running and also his ability to singularly focus and cut out all distraction to make a play. He showed great top-end speed, and while he isn't the big prototypical wideout that's all the rage in the college and pro ranks, Bruns is the kind of player that is a rarity nowadays – he makes plays.

Top offensive prospects:
QB Calvin Schmidtke – Lakes
QB Luther Leonard – Evergreen (Seattle)
TE Kavario Middleton – Lakes
WR Vince Taylor – Eastside Catholic
WR Vincente Cordova – Evergreen (Seattle)
WR Geno Munoz – Mount Tahoma
WR Scott Grady – Tigard (Ore.)

Top defensive prospects:
DE/LB Everette Thompson - Kennedy
DB Brandon Jimenez – Lakes
DB Justin Glenn – Kamiak
DB Brandon Turner – Kentridge

Top underclassmen:
QB Jake Heaps – Skyline
WR Kirby Moore – Prosser
WR Devon Delaney – Bellingham
DB Nolan Washington – Kennedy
DB Tre Watson – Kennedy
DB Jamal Atofau – Bellevue

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