After the seventh installment of the B2G Elite Football Program, held at Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks, came to an end, founder Henry Bell was feeling pride about the 65 players who came through the program.
“This might be the first time that I am extremely pleased with every kid that came through the program,” said Bell. “I would not exchange any one of our kids that came through the program. This was as good or better a group that we’ve had.”
Yet Bell wasn’t quite ready to concede this as the most talented group of prospects. Yet.
“I would rank this group, right now, third. The (USC receiver) Steve Smith year (2002) is probably still our best. Last year might be number two because we had three five-star players. But this could be the best when it is all said and done,” Bell said.
Still, Bell was extremely pleased with the results of the camp, which was punctuated by the offense beating the defense, 43-27 in the A-Game on Sunday.
“We had the biggest attendance that we have had, overall,” said Bell. “There were some guys that people didn’t know about, but we knew about, who did well, and then the guys we expected to have big camps, they did.”
Bell and co-founder Ron Allen started B2G in 2000, and it has quickly grown to become the premier summer football program in the West. Unlike many camps that focus on the basic fundamentals of the game and teach those that are new to the game the nuisances, B2G set out to be a model of the Division I atmosphere that so many of the prospects who come through, will be a part of.
Instead of learning how to do a basic three-step drop, run a post-corner or how to bump-and-run, the players spend more time on picking up the intensity, work on footwork, scope out tendencies, watch film and work on seven-on-seven. In other words, the two days spent practicing at B2G are not unlike the first day of fall practice on a college campus.
The coaches are intense, constantly teaching and encouraging the players to get better. Drilling into them that they are no longer to think like a high school player, but that they need to consider themselves D-I. Positional challenges brought out the best in each participant. Pride in the game was clearly evident.
All in a weekends work for Bell and Allen.
Here is a quick roundup of some of the prospects who stood out to Bell.
“We had some guys who were expected to have big camps and they didn’t disappoint. Guys like Raymond Carter (Crenshaw), Lance Mitchell (Muir) and Akeem Ayers (Verbum Dei). I really think that Raymond was the best running back there. His footwork is the real deal.
We were very excited to see Akeem do so well. We didn’t get to see Marc Tyler much because he was only at one practice but when he was there, he looked great. Lance Mitchell, hands down, from start to finish, was the best DB overall and talent-wise. Zion Babb (Alhambra) as well. Zion also has to be one of the top three receivers. He gets off the ball well and a lot better than most guys his size.
“Russell Carr (Don Lugo), we thought he was one of the top five receivers there. Reggie Dunn (Verbum Dei) definitely stood out and showed that he is easily one of the top three receivers in the state. The thing about Reggie is that he can go to any D-I school and play corner. He is going to be a game-breaker.
“Chris Rainey (Lakeland) came out from Florida and we expected him to do well even though he was playing receiver for the first time. Sean Wiser (Oaks Christian) was just at the first practice and did well. Anthony Gildon (Oaks Christian) looked good the first day. Vonzell McDowell (Rainier Beach), I was impressed with him overall. His speed, his change of direction, he would have to be in my top five (cornerbacks) at the camp.
“Malachi Lewis (Rio Mesa), played safety and running back. I think he may be the best athlete in the state. He is such a phenomenal athlete. I would personally put him at free safety.
“D.J. Holt (Crespi) and Jordan Campbell (Norco), did real well. I was impressed with them.
“Omar Bolden (Colony), he impressed me. He’s hungry and he wants to learn. Really, he had no technique coming in because he was a running back, but he looked good. He’s definitely a close second to Malachi Lewis as the best athlete all-around. Akeem would be third.
Then there were the guys that didn’t come in with all of the hype but that Bell certainly wasn’t surprised by.
“Definitely Mike Avila (Seaside). I knew he was going to do his thing. He already knew how he had to be, since he was there last year. He caught everything thrown to him and guys couldn’t stay with him.
“Michael Evans (Carson), I saw Mike at the Nike Camp and there was a lot of hype around Antwoine Baker (Jordan) and David Ross (Dominguez). But I thought Mike had the best technique out of any of those guys. He didn’t have ultimate confidence in his speed, but it got better each practice. He went against the best receivers and shut them down. He outperformed them. What made me really say Mike was special was Eric Scott (the receivers coach at B2G) raved about him. The kid is not slow. He had four breakups and a 98-yard interception return in the A-Game.
“David Potts (Monrovia), I thought he was a good guy that came out and did well. Johnny Fields (Fresno) had a good showing. Maxwell Lacy (Verbum Dei) looked really good at corner. Terrance Dennis (Diamond Ranch), he looked good. Steve Stepter (Crenshaw), he looked good at corner too. When he plays well, he does good things. Anthony Wright (Compton), he did a good job too.
“Terrell Turner (Crenshaw) was the best linebacker at the camp. Coming from the linebacker coach (Willie Champion), he said he was easily the best linebacker at the camp, and he can run.
“James Davis (Monrovia), he’s another guy. He’s bigtime and has a nice little physique. I think he was the number three running back: Raymond Carter, Marc Tyler and James Davis respectively.
“Eric Brooks (Monrovia), the tight end, he’s big time. He ran good routes and has nice hands.
“TJ Simpson (Peoria) has pretty good speed. When we worked on the bump, he did pretty well.
“Will Chandler (Birmingham), he did well. He’s still learning on the job. He caught two deep balls at the A-Game and did a good job. He’s a lot quicker than I expected. I could see him as a corner
“Jamal Womble (Sierra Vista Buena and 2008 prospect), he looks like he could be a senior. His size is amazing.
“Kemonte Bateman (Crenshaw), what can I say. He bounced back from Friday (he suffered an injury), and was the MVP of the A-Game.
So as Bell and Allen say goodbye to the 2006 participants, they know that another crop of talented future stars will sweep through next summer.
2006 B2G Awards:
A-Game MVP: Kemonte Bateman, WR, Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw
Offensive MVP: Reggie Dunn, WR, Los Angeles (Calif.) Verbum Dei
Defensive MVP: Mike Evans, CB, Carson (Calif.)
Most Improved: Omar Bolden, CB, Ontario (Calif.) Colony
Most Versatile: Akeem Ayers, LB, Los Angeles (Calif.) Verbum Dei