Redfield showing skills on both sides of the ball

MISSION VIEJO, Calif. -- Max Redfield (Mission Viejo Calif./Mission Viejo) had a rather modest start at the South County passing league tournament on Saturday. The simple drag route at first appeared harmless. The Mission Viejo athlete maneuvered his way toward the middle of the field, caught the pass and turned the corner.

Good morning, defensive backs.

The havoc that ensued showed why Redfield is the state’s second-ranked athlete, only behind USC commit and good friend Su’a Cravens of Vista Murrieta. One Redfield touchdown quickly turned into three, three turned into six and, by the end of the all-day event, the 6-foot-2 star had guided host Mission Viejo to a championship.

Redfield did as he pleased on offense, gliding past defensive backs on his way to the end zone time and time again. Yes, he’s a speed burner but when the field got shorter, Redfield ran crisp routes and used his impressive vertical skills to find space against double coverage.

The one-man show left defenders panting, shaking their heads and asking questions. After one Redfield catch in traffic, one defensive coach put his hands on his head and laughed to himself.

The intriguing thing, though, is that cornerbacks and safeties at the next level might not have to worry about Redfield, the receiver. When asked what position he enjoys playing most, Redfield said free safety.

“Defense is a lot of fun,” he said. “Getting after guys and making hits is probably the best part of the game.”

That’s the side of the ball Redfield intends to play in college, though some coaches haven’t ruled out the possibility of using him on offense. And why would they?

Redfield is coming off a stellar showing at the USC Rising Stars Camp, which he called a fun experience due to the high number of elite recruits that participated. A highlight, undoubtedly, was when he lined up next to Cravens during seven-on-seven competition, forming a dream secondary that has Trojans fans hoping becomes a reality.

“It was great,” Redfield said. “It felt like I was pretty much playing with a copy of myself. I feel like our games are a lot alike. [Cravens] is a great player.”

Cravens’ commitment to USC is a factor, as is the influence of current Trojans Tre Madden and Jahleel Pinner, former Mission Viejo teammates. They’re in his ears often, but Redfield is doing his due diligence.

“Right now I’m just narrowing it down, calling coaches and letting them know I won’t be going to their college,” Redfield said. “I’m still trying to narrow it down to probably five and take all my official visits. ... Right now it’s pretty much USC, Oregon, LSU, Cal, Washington and Oklahoma.”

When it comes to USC, the Trojans have a few things going for them.

“They have great tradition and they’re getting a lot of recruits in this year,” Redfield said. “They have great coaching. I feel like I’ve developed a good relationship with the coaches.”

Redfield also knows he’s a priority to USC’s coaching staff.

“It’s motivation to work hard out here in 7-on-7s, in the weight room and everywhere,” he said. “To have that in the back of your head is great.”

Trips to check out Oregon and Washington are next on Redfield’s offseason agenda.

Redfield was invited to The Opening, but turned down the opportunity to showcase his talents against some of the nation’s premier recruits, opting instead to stick with his high school teammates. It was a decision that provided a glimpse into his character.

“I’m dedicated to Mission Viejo before any other camp, but it was fun to watch [The Opening] on TV though,” Redfield said. “They’re all looking up to me and I have to fulfill that role. I’m expecting to have a good season. We lost a lot of talent but I think we’re making up for it in the weight room. We’ve worked hard this offseason so I’m excited.”