Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Central Section's no fly zone

From Fresno to Bakersfield, good luck to any quarterback who dares to throw his pass toward these group of defensive backs.

The Central Section has 15 players in the Class of 2015 who have proven to be game changers in the secondary. Some are ball hawks, others are tall and physical, then there are the ones who can line up in so many ways.

Here's a closer look at this deep and talented list (all photos by Lorenzo J. Reyna):




TYLER HORTON, EDISON-FRESNO

Horton is the most wanted Tiger on the recruiting trail, with six scholarship offers and interest from big-time schools in the PAC-12 and Big 12. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Horton has improved his press ability during the offseason. He's no longer lunging at wide receivers and keeps himself squared on a receiver while following his every move. His background as a wide receiver gives him an edge with snatching interceptions and picking up on a receiver's route. Colleges should also be impressed with Horton's football IQ. On a Tiger team with at least 10 potential NCAA Division I prospects, Horton is one of the most versatile athletes at Edison.




A.J. GREELEY, EDISON-FRESNO

Greeley is a machine when it comes to jamming receivers. The 6-foot, 170-pound Greeley has long arms and violent palms that can knock wide receivers back two to five yards. Greeley does a consistent job of locking his hands between a receivers' number and rattle his route. Outside of pressing at the line, he has the cover speed to blanket receivers. The former Tiger quarterback and Fresno State commit has to be the most physical cornerback to come from Edison since former Tiger star Cliff Harris.




JU'WAN MURPHY, EDISON-FRESNO

Murphy might be the most underrated defensive back for the Tigers. He's had a quiet recruiting period but on the field, he shows solid instincts and closing speed from his cornerback spot. Like Horton and Greeley, Murphy is another versatile Tiger who has lined up at safety and wide receiver. He's recently picked up interest from the University of Idaho.



DEHLON PRESTON, CENTRAL-FRESNO

The San Jose State commit is undersized but feisty. The 5-foot-8 Preston is physical at the line and shadows wide receivers all game. He won't back away from a challenge.



SAVION SIMMS, CENTRAL-FRESNO

Simms has improved his cornerback play this offseason at different tournaments and has landed four scholarship offers (Northern Arizona, Montana State, Idaho and Eastern Washington). He does an excellent job of tracking down the football from his cornerback spot. His speed also makes it hard for wide receivers to out-run him. The 5-foot-7 Simms also is a punishing hitter. That's good news for a Central secondary that's produced headhunters Hatari Byrd (Oklahoma) and Devon Brewer (Arizona).



JOVONTE PAGE, CENTRAL-FRESNO

Page is a versatile and wild safety for the Grizzlies. He's a Troy Polamalu-type for Central with his ability to line up near the line of scrimmage and crash down on a running play or screen pass. Page also can jam and disrupt receivers at the line when he lines up at cornerback. He's the Grizzlies' most underrated prospect.

NORUWA OBANOR, CLOVIS NORTH

Obanor is a tall and physical 6-foot-2 specimen who's physical against receivers. His hip direction can use some more work, but Obanor's presence and physical nature makes it hard for quarterbacks to throw his way.

BRANSIN JOHNSON, CLOVIS NORTH

Also a slot wide receiver, Johnson does his most damage at safety with his eyes, closing speed and hands. Johnson has drawn interest from the Mountain West and PAC-12. He holds one scholarship offer from Weber State.

LEANDRE JEFFERSON, MISSION OAK-TULARE

Another versatile playmaker in the 559. Jefferson has speed and wide receiver-like hands on defense. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Jefferson holds two offers from UNLV and Wyoming.

WILLIE FAIRMAN, ROOSEVELT-FRESNO

Fairman led the Rough Riders in interceptions with seven last season. The 5-foot-10, 155-pound Fairman has good vision and reaction skills to the football. Along with interceptions, he led the Rough Riders in all-purpose yards with 2,688.

ANTHONY MARISCAL, LIBERTY-BAKERSFIELD

The Arizona commit is one of the most versatile weapons in Kern County. His future could be at safety based off of his size (6-foot, 190-pounds) and cover speed. Mariscal has the hands to be a ball hawking safety, but he's still learning the position. His speed, though, should make him an ideal safety for the Wildcats' 3-3-5 defense.

ARTIE MAY, BULLARD-FRESNO

The Knights lost Nautica Fleming (San Jose State commit) to graduation in June 2014. May now steps in as Bullard's possible shutdown corner for this season. May has long arms and physical strength. He lacks speed. His physical nature, though, should help the usually physical Knight defense.

JOHN BROWN, BULLARD-FRESNO

Brown has lined up at receiver and cornerback. He's a devastating playmaker at both spots. He's undersized as a cornerback (5-foot-8). But Brown brings speed and hands on defense.

JORDAN MARTINEZ, FIREBAUGH

At an underrated but competitive Division V powerhouse in north Fresno County, Martinez has doubled as a talented receiver and safety. Martinez has 14 career interceptions with the Eagles' varsity squad. The 5-foot-9, 165-pound Martinez had six interceptions last season.

HANK WIGGINS, CLOVIS

Wiggins has risen up to challenges this offseason. At 5-foot-7, he's at a height disadvantage. However, he's shown his physical strength and long arms under the Friday night lights and at different tournaments, especially against taller receivers. His closing speed is another plus.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

On the recruiting trail: Harris and Murphy getting more love

Romello Harris of Tulare Union - a rising Class of 2016 prospect armed with three scholarship offers - now has USC taking a closer look at him.

Harris, who has started on Tulare Union's varsity team since his freshman season, told Cali Gold Mine on Sunday, Aug. 10, that his high school head coach Darren Bennett told him the Trojans are taking a closer look at the Redskins' star. Harris said Trojan running back coach Johnny Nansen has had conversations with Bennett.

"My coach talked to him and he [Nansen] said that he wants me to come to the school, take a private tour and watch a practice," Harris said.

Harris holds offers from Colorado State, Air Force and Washington State. He's added interest from UCLA this month.

Harris has rushed for 2,807 yards in his two varsity seasons. He's scored 30 touchdowns.

Harris and Tulare Union begin the 2014-15 season at El Diamante-Visalia on Friday, Aug. 29.

Photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna
SUN BELT LOVE FOR MURPHY

Ju'Wan Murphy of Edison-Fresno could be close to getting his first offer. Murphy said the University of Idaho of the Sun Belt Conference is showing interest in him. 

Murphy, a Class of 2015 prospect, has lined up at wide receiver and cornerback for the always deep and talented Tigers.

Murphy (photo) has had an active offseason. The 5-foot-9, 175-pound Murphy linked up with Tony Perry and DB Guru for the 7-on-7 season. He also impressed spectators at the July DB Guru Camp with his routes, footwork and hands at receiver.

Edison and Murphy opens the 2014-15 season with a scrimmage against Buchanan-Clovis at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 28. The Tigers' season opener is against state champion Bakersfield on Friday, Sept. 5, at Fresno City College's Ratcliffe Stadium.










Wednesday, August 6, 2014

'Stingers up' for Robles

Photo by Christy Sharp
J.C. Robles of El Diamante-Visalia - first highlighted by Cali Gold Mine as a rising 2015 quarterback prospect in July of last year - has told CGM on Wednesday, Aug. 6, that he's ended his recruiting process and has accepted his scholarship pledge from Sacramento State.

Robles is a 6-foot-5, 195-pound dual threat who led the Miners to the Central Section Division II title in 2013. He said he wanted to end his recruiting process early so he can focus on his upcoming senior season, which begins on Friday, Aug. 29, against Tulare Union at home.

"My family and I thought that it was best to secure it and go into the season focused on high school ball," Robles said.

Sacramento State was Robles' only offer. He received letters of interest from North Texas and Fresno State.

Robles added that former Sacramento State wide receiver Elon Paige played a role in his decision to join the Hornets.

"He was a big influence," Robles said. "I asked him about his opinion on the staff and program. It [his response] was exactly what my thoughts were on everything. I feel like it's a great fit and a program definitely on the rise."

Paige helped train Robles during different offseason workouts. Paige said Robles should be an ideal fit for the Hornets' offense, which plans to be a pro style approach this fall.

"In that atmosphere and offense, he's primed to be a beast," Paige said.

CRONEY GETTING MOUNTAIN WEST LOVE

Sheldon Croney of Ridgeview-Bakersfield has now received scholarship offers from half of the Mountain West Conference. New Mexico emerged as the newest offer for Croney on Wednesday, Aug. 6.

Croney, formerly of Garces and first highlighted by CGM in Sept. 2013, has received scholarship pledges from the Lobos, Colorado State, Nevada, Fresno State, Boise State and Nevada-Las Vegas of the MWC.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Croney also holds offers from Oregon State of the PAC-12 conference and Idaho of the Sun Belt.

"It's surreal that I have eight full ride scholarships before my senior year," Croney said on his twitter page. "Have to thank God, my family and everyone else who supported me."








Saturday, August 2, 2014

Under the radar wideouts: who will go their 'route'

There's some explosive playmakers in the this state who I feel aren't getting much love, but are worth looking at this fall.

These wideouts either hold two scholarship offers or none at all. Some play at a talent-rich high school powerhouse. Other wide receivers on this list are players lining up for rising powerhouses.

Here's some key targets to keep a close eye. One of them could be a sleeper in the 2015 class:

Contributed photo


J.J. KOSKI, DANVILLE-SAN RAMON VALLEY

Koski doesn't have prototypical size for a receiver (6-feet, 195-pounds), but he's a smooth route runner and one of the hardest receivers to cover. Koski damages secondaries with his burst off the line, separation and second gear after a catch is made. He's not the best jumper. Koski, though, wins a lot of one-on-one battles and holds offers from Cal Poly and Montana.

More on Koski: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuI_RY5-iIc

Photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna


DEMETRIUS FERGUSON, ST. MARY'S-STOCKTON

Like Koski, Ferguson looks thin at 6-feet, 165-pounds. But he plays like he's four to five inches taller. Ferguson is explosive off the line and finishes his routes. He'll win the jump ball battle in the red zone. His strengths are his routes, hands and athleticism. He's got one offer from New Mexico State. Oregon State and Fresno State also have shown interest in him. He's playing at the same high school that's produced Doug Martin (running back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Na'im McGee (safety, San Diego State) and Josh Harper (wide receiver, Fresno State).

More on Ferguson: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1875416/highlights/127406378

Photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna


KAM'RON LEWIS AND JUWAN MURPHY, EDISON-FRESNO

The incoming seniors were overshadowed by their more heralded wide receiver teammate Tyrone Smith (Utah) last season. Lewis and Murphy, however, have put together a solid offseason with improving their routes and technique. Lewis is the tall target at 6-foot-2. He's shown excellent focus on his catches and is hard to bring down. He'll likely be the possession target for the Tigers. Murphy (attempting one handed catch in the photo) is undersized at 5-foot-9 but has versatility. Murphy might get more interest at defensive back because of his closing speed. But at receiver, Murphy has solid footwork and gains separation from his defender. A big year at receiver could land him late offers.

More on Lewis:  http://www.hudl.com/athlete/675511/highlights/118767378

MORE ON MURPHY:  http://www.hudl.com/athlete/3407574/juwan-murphy

JORDAN PADILLA, TULARE WESTERN

Padilla was one of the reasons why the Mustangs emerged as a nice surprise in 2013 (7-4 record, 4-1 in the East Yosemite League). Padilla caught 31 passes for 604 yards and averaged over 19 yards per game. The 5-foot-10, 150-pound receiver has a small stature. I'll also need to see his ability to fight off jams against bigger and more physical cornerbacks. Still, though, Padilla is an underrated playmaker in the 559.

More on Padilla: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/788209/jordan-padilla

EVAN HEROD, DINUBA

He was one of Oregon State commit Marcus McMaryion's favorite targets last season. Like most of the guys on this list, Herod isn't the most physically imposing wideout (5-foot-11, 160-pounds). But he makes up for it with his routes and speed. Herod has a nice second gear after the catch is made and is a reliable deep threat. Herod was the defending Central Section Division III champions' second best receiver with 31 catches, 424 yards and three touchdowns.

More on Herod: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2148891/highlights/85031232

JAVIN WHITE, VANDEN-FAIRFIELD

White holds two offers from New Mexico and New Mexico State. However, after breaking him down in my film room, White plays like he can have 10-15 offers. He's a tall target at 6-foot-2, 170-pounds. He beats defenders in man coverage with his size and vertical jump. Another thing that impressed me about White is his body control after the catch.

More on White: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1625361/highlights/84738398

RUSSELL MCCLUNG, BUCHANAN-CLOVIS

McClung is a Wes Welker type for the Bears. What stands out the most about him is his footwork and jumping ability. McClung is a blazer who runs a 4.5 40-yard dash and he won't shy away from using his speed. He surprisingly can out-jump a defensive back despite his size. I'll need to see how he handles the middle catches and if he can damage defensive backs in man coverage, since I've noticed he's done his best work against zone schemes. In the end, McClung is a sleeper in talent-rich Clovis.

More on McClung: http://caligoldmine.blogspot.com/2014/05/rising-star-watch-russell-mcclung.html

EVAN RAMBO, VERBUM DEI-LOS ANGELES

Rambo lines up in a variety of ways at Verbum Dei (quarterback, wide receiver, safety and return man), but his future has to be at receiver because of his size and hands. Rambo is a tall target at 6-foot-4, 190-pounds and he's a nightmare for cornerbacks in the red zone because of his size. Rambo shows excellent control of his catches. He also plays mind games with defensive backs and can make defenders second guess his moves. Rambo holds one offer from San Diego State.

More on Rambo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWXKb4BsjOo

RICKIE GARCIA, REDWOOD-VISALIA

Garcia (6-feet, 175-pounds) has a running back-like elusiveness to his game and can turn on the jets after the catch. Garcia finished 2013 with 52 catches, 948 yards, averaged over 18 yards per game and scored 11 touchdowns.

More on Garcia: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1810104/highlights/149111606

AUSTEN HAMMERSTROM, KINGSBURG

Hammerstrom is a rugged tight end at 6-foot-1, 215-pounds. He runs like an old school fullback with the ball in his hands. He shows excellent vision after the catch and has a nose for the end zone, proven by his 12 touchdowns last season.

More on Hammerstrom: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1485798/highlights/121641375

RANEIL ROGERS, WASHINGTON UNION-FRESNO

Rogers isn't as tall or physical as the Panthers' last big-time wideout Deontay Greenberry, but Rogers earned the nickname "Mr. Go Get It" because of his leaping ability and big play capability. Rogers can haul the tough grabs in the middle or against two defenders with his 6-foot-1 frame. He's a deadly deep threat. Rogers has mainly heard from Mountain West schools.

More on Rogers:  http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1963674/raneil-rogers

Photo contributed


BRANSIN JOHNSON, CLOVIS NORTH

It's not known if the 5-foot-8 Johnson will line up as a slot receiver or defensive back, but on a Broncos team loaded with NCAA Division I talent, Johnson might be the most underrated college prospect at CNHS. He damages defenses from the slot by going deep and showing a knack for completing his catch, even against heavy traffic. He's got some elusiveness to his game when he has the football and shows an excellent nose for the end zone. He may end up playing safety because of his closing pursuits and hands. Johnson is worth a look at receiver, though. He holds one offer from Weber State.

More on Johnson: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1493760/highlights/70296378







Tuesday, July 29, 2014

DB Guru images

Photos from Sunday's Guru camp at the Fresno Regional Sports Park.

All photos by Lorenzo J. Reyna of Mid Valley Publishing



















Friday, July 18, 2014

Under the radar big men

Time to give the big boys some love, especially the ones who might not be getting much of it on the recruiting trail.

Granted, some of these mammoth high schoolers are linemen who are Class of 2016, but then there are others who have caught the attention of the Ivy Leagues and Football Championship Subdivision ranks.

Here's some big guys worth watching this fall:

NICK VILLALOBOS, DEFENSIVE END, DINUBA

Villalobos - Class of 2015 - brought plenty of speed and athleticism to the defending Central Section Division III champions' front line. Villalobos is an athletic 6-foot-4, 230-pound outside rusher with a good explosion off the edge. Will need to build on his hand technique this fall. His size and speed makes him a convincing prospect to look at.

More on Villalobos: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2148881/highlights/113611169

NICK BIANCO, GUARD, REDWOOD-VISALIA

Bianco is a powerful run blocker who can bury a defender on his back. The Class of 2015 prospect needs to improve on his feet during pass blocking. Bianco, though, sets an aggressive tone in the Rangers' trenches. Another strength is Bianco's hand placement. The 6-foot-3, 265-pound Bianco does a consistent job with keeping his palms up and getting them locked on to a defenders' numbers. He recently caught the attention of the Oregon State coaches at the Get It Done Sports camp in June. His grade point average is between 3.5 to 3.9.

More on Bianco: http://www.ncsasports.org/football-recruiting/ca/visalia/redwood-high-school1/nicholas-bianco

BLAKE WALKER, OFFENSIVE TACKLE, CENTRAL VALLEY CHRISTIAN-VISALIA

Walker will be one to watch in the 2016 class in Visalia. He already has impressive size (6-foot-6, 280-pounds). His run blocking is his strength. Will need to use the next two seasons to improve his foot technique in pass protection and prove he won't just rely on his upper body strength to finish his blocks. Walker sometimes came up too high. But the Cavaliers have a rising big man in the 559.

More on Walker:  http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1777489/highlights/99499376

RUBEN GUERRA, TACKLE, LIBERTY-BAKERSFIELD

The blindside protector for Liberty, Guerra, Class of 2015, brings size (6-foot-5, 290-pounds) and power to the Patriots' front line. Needs to improve his lower body leverage. Guerra, though, gets most of the running plays on his side because of his ability to dominate a defender one-on-one.

More on Guerra: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1777489/highlights/99499376

MATT AND AUSTIN WILLMORE, GUARD/TACKLE, MISSION OAK-TULARE

The Willmore brothers both stand at 6-foot-3, 270-pounds and bring nastiness to the Hawks' line. Both are valuable run blockers. Austin, Class of 2016, has a quick first step and drives defensive linemen to the sidelines.

More on Austin Willmore:  http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2414243/highlights/88939767

JOSEPH PRICE, TACKLE, REDLANDS EAST VALLEY

Price has two offers from Cal and Washington State, but he plays like he can have 10-15 offers. The big 6-foot-5, 290-pound Price has a viscous drive block.

More on Price:  http://www.hudl.com/athlete/3442972/highlights/108740381

CHRISTIAN CRONK, GUARD/TACKLE, OCEANSIDE

Cronk is an animal down in the San Diego area. Cronk shows excellent hand extension on his blocks and can decleat defenders. Will need to get quicker with his feet. He holds four offers (Utah, Hawaii, San Diego State and Weber State).

More on Cronk: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/3094678/highlights/110362382

 BEN OLSON, GUARD/DEFENSIVE TACKLE/DEFENSIVE END, KINGSBURG

Olson's future could be on defense. He bounces inside and outside on the Vikings' front line. He's disruptive in the trenches because of his explosive first step. Olson is helping turn Kingsburg into a lineman factory, with Ryan Steele (Fresno State) and Isaiah Trevino (six offers) being Vikings who were produced in the trenches.

More on Olson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSCw283CA30

DEANGELO BRAGG, DT, BAKERSFIELD CHRISTIAN

Bragg is a 6-foot-3, 330-pound space eater who's looking like Kern County's version of Vince Wilfork. He disrupts the run game and dominates one-on-one blocks. He needs to improve his explosion off the ball. Bragg, though, will get a school interested because of his size, power and run-stuffing ability.

More on Bragg:  http://www.hudl.com/athlete/3394825/highlights/106966375

NIGEL BROOKS, DT, BAKERSFIELD

He plays in an exotic defense which sometimes has him lining up in a two-point stance from his nose guard spot. The 6-foot-1, 293-pound Brooks is an excellent gap shooter and run stuffer. An instinctive player with a quick first step. Brooks' Hudl film says that he runs a 4.83 40-yard dash time.

More on Brooks: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2547651/highlights/124148376

MARCUS ALONZO, CENTER, TULARE UNION

The Class of 2016 prospect is one of Tulare Union's top options with paving the way for the run game. Stands at 6-feet, 270-pounds.










Thursday, July 17, 2014

Goal line camps 2

More images from the Goal line camp from June (all photos by Christy Sharp)