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May 19, 2012
Dallas Jackson is the National High School Sports Analyst for Rivals. Email him your questions and comments at DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
Orange (Calif.) Lutheran offensive tackle John Lopez understands the importance of film study as a way to evaluate your opponents, as well as break down your own game.
But according to the 6-foot-5 328-pound player, he watches too much video. Thanks to his parents.
"They are a little much with it," he said. "They pay attention to all the rankings out there and leave me notes about who is ranked where and by who to get me motivated, and they make me sit down and show me the highlights of guys ranked ahead of me.
"They mean well and they really support and love me but I guess it has gotten to the point that it goes in one ear and out the other."
With his invitation to the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge on June 22-24 at Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta, Lopez will get to see for himself what nuances the film study sessions missed.
"There is only so much you can learn on film before it is time to get on the field and see it for yourself," he said. "I am excited to get there and see where I really measure up with these other guys."
The inaugural, invitation-only event will be bringing in the best players from coast to coast in a camp setting. It will provide individual instruction broken down by position groups by former NFL players, followed by a lineman's challenge and a 7-on-7.
For Lopez, the No. 15 offensive lineman and No. 126 overall player, it is a chance to increase his ranking and help further, what he calls, his football career.
"Being able to play with the best and go against the best will be a test," he said. "I can show all the Rivals guys that I can (go) against the No. 1 and No. 2 defensive lineman and that I can hold my own. ...
"For all of us recruits at this level we have dreams of the NFL. We are making decisions all the time about what we think can help further our football careers and this camp is a step in that direction."
Lopez said that his decision to accept the invitation to the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge was an easy one, even as he scales back his participation on the summer circuit.
"This was a really pleasant surprise to get invited so I wanted to go," he said. "Before my freshman year I did every camp I could, as a sophomore I was more selective, as a junior I only did the select camps, and now I look for elite camps like this one."
As his offers approach double-digits, Lopez finds his desire to get better grows.
"I am really trying to fine-tune myself and be what college coaches want," he said. "I am trying to lose my chubby body and be leaner; I know that it will help my speed and once I get to school I will be ready to be whatever they want me to be."
Being one of the top linemen in the country, and through plenty of parent-induced film study, Lopez is aware of his strengths and what he hopes to improve on prior to his trip to Atlanta.
"I am in the average range for athleticism," he said. "But I really make up for that with my technique. A lot of kids are just ridiculous athletes and they rely on that speed and bull-rush, sometimes they can beat you with that speed, but I think having the technique I have gives me the edge overall.
"I think come time for this event I will have made some changes to my body and my speed will have increased. It will be great to take coaching and combine with being a better athlete."
Mike Farrell's take
Lopez is a huge offensive lineman who will have a big challenge in Atlanta because he'll be going against so many speedy and athletic defensive ends who have a natural advantage in camp settings. He's trying to work on his quickness and athleticism and that will be key for him at this event, but his technique is excellent and it can help him overcome some of those disadvantages. His size can also help as he has a nice wingspan and when he gets out of his stance fluidly and extends his arms, he's hard to get around. Lopez doesn't do many camps anymore so it will be great to see him out there against the best in the country trying to improve his stock and battling for regional supremacy.