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Northwest Showcase: A look at the top performers, led by camp MVP Micah Banuelos

SBLive Sports Director of Recruiting Andrew Nemec takes a look at the top performers at this year's Northwest Showcase at Western Oregon University

The Northwest Showcase at Western Oregon University on Saturday was loaded with talent and organized so well that those prospects were easy to pick out.

More than 700 athletes attended the event and there were a few dozen standouts.

While the camp did not give out MVP awards, SBLive Sports Director of Recruiting Andrew Nemec has thoughts on the event's top performers.

Camp MVP: Offensive lineman Micah Banuelos, Kennedy Catholic HS; Washington (2023) 

Simply put, Micah Banuelos did everything right at the Northwest Showcase.

Great footwork and hands were the key to his great day, but he also showed plenty of assertiveness to ensure he got in front of as many college coaches as possible and took reps against the best defenders. 

The 6-foot-3, 285-pound offensive lineman lacks the height of an elite tackle prospect, but his technique (particularly feet) more than made up for that Saturday.

Banuelos holds offers from California, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas A&M, USC, Washington and others, and his performance had college coaches buzzing.

Best defensive lineman: A.J. Tanupo, Eastside Catholic HS; Washington (2024)

A.J. Tanupo was absolutely dominant.

The 6-foot-3, 265-pound defensive lineman had a quick first step and enough power and wiggle to make interior offensive linemen look silly on one-on-one reps.

He has a lone offer from Arizona.

But that's about to change.

Tanupo looked like a sure-fire Power 5 conference defensive lineman Saturday. 

Best running back: Jason Brown, O'Dea HS; Washington (2024)

Unsurprisingly, the camp's lone five-star prospect played like one Saturday.

Brown is rated the nation's No. 26 overall prospect and No. 4 athlete and just flat-out looked different than every other running back at the camp.

He had the best cat-and-mouse rep of the day, breaking a linebacker's ankles for easy rep win.

The 5-foot-10, 194-pound ball-carrier has early offers from Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State, Oregon, Oregon State, Texas, Texas A&M, USC and others. 

Ready to take the spotlight: Jayshon Limar, Lake Stevens; Washington (2025) 

The younger brother of Notre Dame commit Jayden Limar, Jayshon Limar looks like he could develop into the "bigger brother."

Limar already has massive legs and is a high-end prospect at both running back and defensive back (although he could grow into a linebacker).

Washington has a recent history of producing dominant running backs, and despite still recovering from a shoulder injury, Limar already looked ready to carry the torch.

He holds an early offer from Arizona, but is likely to explode on the recruiting trail in the coming months. 

Top offensive play: Leo Pulalasi's downfield catch, Lakes HS; Washington (2023)

Lakes athlete Leo Pulalasi is a powerful running back, but can do a lot of things on the football field.

He showed that with a spectacular downfield grab. 

Top defensive play: Blake Nichelson's pass break-up against 5-star prospect, Manteca HS; California (2023)

During "good-on-good" 1-on-1s, 4-star linebacker Blake Nichelson drew Washington five-star athlete Jason Brown.

And he had no idea - until he broke up a downfield pass, which immediately drew plenty of camp excitement.

Nichelson, the nation's No. 12 linebacker, has official visits set to Florida State and Oregon this month, but is far from certain about his future landing spot. 

Best group: Linebackers 

This one wasn't close. Blake Nichelson. Brayden Platt. Isaiah Patterson, Xe'ree Alexander. Dorian Thomas (TE/LB hybrid). Mark Hamper (SS/LB hybrid). 

The linebacker group was loaded and brought it all day long.

Nichelson had a big rep vs. five-star athlete Jason Brown. Dorian Thomas showed off his physicality and both Isaiah Patterson and Xe'ree Alexander showed why so many think they are about to "pop" on the recruiting trail.

A Pac-12 coach could stick  to the linebacker group all camp and find talent he liked.

Billed as the best group heading into the camp, the stars delivered! 

Character matters award: Patrick Wooley, Liberty HS; Oregon (2024) 

Liberty two-way lineman Patrick Wooley (6-foot-5, 350 pounds) had a solid day.

But the reason he was a standout was the way he carried himself.

Wooley was assertive in getting his reps, but not pushy. He hustled constantly. He was engaged in the camp cheering on his teammates and was noted by camp volunteers as being coachable.

Far too often prospects think camps are only about how they perform during their reps.

Wooley wasn't the absolute No. 1 prospect on the field for OL/DL drills, but he was solid and checked every single box a camp athlete could.

I hope his peers were paying attention. His behavior was a clinic for how one should act to get noticed at a crowded event. 

Special athlete award: Rahshawn Clark, Federal Way; Washington (2024)

Already a top-100 prospect nationally, Rahshawn Clark didn't need to do much to be standout.

The 6-foot, 180-pound playmaker is just fun to watch.

Every time I see him he does something special that makes me say, "Wow!"

Clark added an offer from Washington following his camp showing.

He could (and maybe should) be an All-American game invitee down the road.

If you attend a Federal Way game this fall, get your phones out and your popcorn ready, because Clark will deliver jaw-dropping plays every Friday night. 

Best Oregon running back: Jordan Fisher, Westview HS; Oregon (2023) 

There's been a lot of debate about who the state's top running back prospect is in the class of 2023.

But at this point, the case seems to be closed. 

It's Westview's Jordan Fisher.

The 5-foot-8, 170-pound ball-carrier continues to prove he's a scholarship back.

Fisher added his sixth offer at the camp when Idaho State was able to corral him and let him know they were extending a scholarship. 

Criminally under-recruited award: Tyson Brown, Bothell HS; Washington (2024)

Bothell athlete Tyson Brown played quarterback last season, so schools haven't seen him at linebacker, which is his real position as a college football prospect.

Brown generated buzz at Oklahoma and Texas camps playing the linebacker position and again looked the part of a quality linebacker prospect Saturday.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound playmaker feels ready to "pop" and both an offer and a star rating seem imminent.

State that brought it: Washington 

Special credit goes out to Ford Sports Performance and Heir Football for bringing their athletes to the event.

Washington is an increasingly talented and deep state and that was clearly evident Saturday.

Whether it was five-star athlete Jason Brown, camp MVP Micah Banuelos, elite athlete Rahshawn Clark, a collection of big-time linebackers or talented wide receivers Malachi Durant and David Wells, the state of Washington flat-out took over the camp. 

Northwest Showcase camp grade: A+

Too often camps in the state of Oregon promise an elite prospect and schools list only to see many of the top prospects and Power 5 schools bow out at the last minute.

The Northwest Showcase delivered a 700-athlete camp loaded with quality prospects that was remarkably well-organized and streamlined to get its athletes reps at the correct competition level.

That meant plenty of good-on-good for the Power 5 schools, but also lots of quality-on-quality reps for small school programs seeking out hidden gems.

The rosters were accurate with names and jersey numbers and the recruits were easily accessible for both college coaches and media.

If the talent level remains that high and the camp remains that well organized I'd like to see it split into a two-session camp next year so more athletes can participate.

Special credit to Western Oregon for hosting. Head coach Arne Ferguson and his program crushed it.