Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hot off the film room: the 2016 quarterbacks

Since March of 2014, I've been on a Golden State tour from the Bay Area to Southern California as I've kept my eye out on some of the upcoming signal callers in this state - the Class of 2016 quarterbacks.

These guys have plenty of potential to pile the offers. Some of them have already begun stockpiling the scholarship pledges while others are starting to have their phone ring with college coaches on the other line.

Here's the latest installment of "Hot off the film room" featuring the 2016 quarterbacks:


Henry has already caught the attention of Florida State, Ohio State, Norte Dame and BYU, since all four have offered the 6-foot-2, 175-pound mad bomber. Henry has to have one of the best deep ball passes in the Southern Section.


The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Costello already looks like a college ready quarterback and has attracted national attention with 13 scholarship offers from Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 10 and PAC-12 schools. Along with his strong arm, I'm impressed with his patience in the pocket and his patience toward his wide receivers.


Modster is an aggressive thrower who won't hesitate to fling a football into a tight window. His zip and strong arm, though, allows him to win those tight window battles against two or three defensive backs. He's also excellent on roll out passes.


Ian Book of Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills (photo courtesy of Max Preps).

Book has one of the best quick releases in the Sacramento region. He's developed a knack for locating an open man then fire away fast. He's improved as a running quarterback as well and shows an excellent ability to avoid the middle rush and roll to the outside. At 6-foot-1, 175-pounds, he'll need to grow but has one more year of prep football to do it. He reminds me of former Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore.

More on Book can be found here.


A varsity letterman since his freshman year, Peus has fooled defenses with his play action skills and attacks the secondary with the deep bomb. His pocket awareness is another plus.

More on Peus can be found here


Camarillo quarterback Jake Constantine (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).

Constantine has frustrated defenses with his arm, decision making and his mobility. I'm a fan of his arm strength, though. Constantine won't hesitate to unleash the Hail Mary. He's included a quick release on short throws to his game too. So far, Clemson, Colorado State, Fresno State and Holy Cross are taking interest in the 6-foot-2 signal-caller.

More on Constantine can be seen here.

The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Leppke entered this season facing the daunting task of replacing Emperor icon Marcus McMaryion (Oregon State). While Leppke hasn't put up eye-catching numbers like McMaryion, it's his athleticism and composure that makes him an intriguing quarterback to watch. Leppke led a game-winning drive against Central Section powerhouse Mission Oak-Tulare to start the season and has added victories over Tulare, El Diamante-Visalia, Kingsburg and Central Valley Christian-Visalia - all section powerhouses. His mobility, play action throws and classroom performance (4.0 grade point average) makes him a prospect worth going after. So far, Georgia Southern of the Sun Belt has taken interest in Leppke. But he's also received interest from the U.S Naval Academy for track and field (Leppke runs the 300-meter high hurdles).

More on Leppke can be seen here.


Davidson is likely going to be a headliner in the Bay Area for 2016. He's already got impressive size at 6-foot-4, 220-pounds. But it's his strength and ability to make throws under pressure that I'm impressed with. He's hard to bring down when he's rushed and shows excellent composure in the pocket. His other key strengths are his accuracy and zip. 

More on Davidson can be seen here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

On the Golden State recruiting trail: Fontana stars add offers

Nikolas Navarro of Jurupa Hills of Fontana landed his third scholarship offer from Montana State University on Tuesday, Oct. 28 (photo contributed).
Nikolas Navarro and Wayne Jackson came home to two early pre-Halloween treats: new scholarship offers.

Navarro of Jurupa Hills-Fontana added his third pledge on Tuesday, Oct. 28, from Montana State University. It's the Class of 2015 linebacker's second offer from the Football Championship Subdivision (Sacramento State is the other).

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Navarro has 83 tackles, 49 solo stops and two sacks in eight games for 3-5 Jurupa Hills.

Jackson - a 6-foot-3, 210-pound wide receiver from Summit High in Fontana- earned his first offer from San Diego State University on Oct. 28. The senior has six touchdowns including one rushing score this season.

Week eight gold mines

Some of this week's highlights? A future UCLA Bruin takes over his game against a red-hot Central-Fresno team and a future Fresno State Bulldog defensive back goes over 200 yards while lining up in Edison-Fresno's backfield.

Here's this week's gold mines:


Down 12-0 early against Central-Fresno, the Broncos turned to their speed and work horse Olurunfunmi; and the UCLA recruit responded with 269 rushing yards and three touchdowns that went past 40 yards, as CN cruised to the 41-15 rout and took control of first place in the Tri River Athletic Conference.


Harris shattered a school record with a monumental 402 yards in Tulare Union's 55-34 shootout victory over Porterville to move to 3-0 in the East Yosemite League.


If it weren't for Harris' majestic night, Jones would've gotten the spotlight for running backs in the Tulare-Porterville matchup. Nonetheless, Jones gets credit for his 345-yard evening with four touchdowns.


Greeley, currently committed to Fresno State as a defensive back, gained 211 yards on just nine carries and scored three times in the Tigers' 52-7 rout of Madera South.


Hoffman combined for five touchdowns (three rushing, two passing) while Segal recorded 10 tackles, four solo stops and three sacks in CW's 42-26 victory over Clovis East.


The underrated 5-foot-9, 165-pound Mansera ran through Santa Ynez for five touchdowns - all in the first half - and finished with 231 rushing yards on 27 carries as the Panthers cruised to the 47-7 trouncing.


The rising Class of 2016 prospect averaged over 11 yards per carry in Jesuit's 35-19 victory over Franklin in a key match up between Sacramento region powerhouses. Bisharat finished with 180 yards and scored two touchdowns on runs of 78 and 54 yards.


Despite falling late to St. Bonaventure-Ventura 21-17 in a battle between two Ventura County heavyweights, Pittman Jr. didn't disappoint in front of the Fox Sports television cameras. The UCLA commit caught five passes for 144 yards and scored twice. He showed his athleticism on both touchdowns: his 3-yard score saw him leap over a defender's back in man coverage and fall down on his side, but still maintained possession of the football. His second touchdown saw him blaze past the cornerback and safety in zone coverage for the 50-yard bomb.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Week eight highlights: Clovis North stampede alive and well

Just when it looked like Clovis North was about to sink against a red-hot Central-Fresno team on Thursday, Oct. 23, the Broncos not only overcame a 12-0 deficit, they galloped to a rout over the Grizzlies; who were winners of four straight entering Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Led by its high-powered locomotive at running back Bolu Olurunfunmi, the Broncos gained sole possession of first place in the Tri-River Athletic Conference, beating the Grizzlies 41-15 to improve to 3-0 in league play.

Olurunfunmi - the future UCLA Bruin - dominated the second half and finished with 269 rushing yards and three touchdowns from 49, 63 and 87 yards out. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound senior was limited to 48 yards in the first two quarters before hitting his stride.

The Broncos (5-3 overall) can clinch at least a share of the TRAC title with a victory over Clovis (5-3, 2-1 in the TRAC) on Friday, Oct. 31, at Lamonica Stadium.


Sanger High followed its nail-biter victory against mighty Edison-Fresno by knocking off the surprise team of the CMAC on Oct. 24: Madera High.

Led by another stout defensive display and its deep backfield, Sanger pounded the 6-2 Coyotes 38-0 at Sanger's Tom Flores Stadium.

The Apaches (6-2, 3-0 in the CMAC) continued to rely on their run-first philosophy and deep backfield. Four of Sanger's five touchdowns were on running plays, with Andrew Azua scoring twice on 5 and 7-yard runs. Sanger tallied 195 combined yards on the ground.

Defensively, the Apaches held the high-octane Pistol Wing-T offense of Madera to 151 yards. None of the Coyote running backs gained over 100 yards individually.

Sanger can clinch at least a share of the CMAC championship by beating Bullard-Fresno on Friday, Oct. 31.


Romello Harris got into a running back's duel with Porterville's Isaiah Jones, with both players combining for 747 yards and nine touchdowns.

But it was Harris' 402 yards, 41 carries and five touchdowns that lifted Tulare Union to the 55-34 shootout victory over the Panthers, putting the Redskins at 5-3 overall and 3-0  in the East Yosemite League.

Harris, who's previous best was 357 yards in the 49-28 win over Kingsburg on Sept. 18, shattered a school record with his 402-yard night.

According to high school website Max Preps, Harris is the state's fourth leading rusher. The junior has 1,765 yards and 20 touchdowns through eight games.


Mondo Mansera of Pioneer Valley-Santa Maria, who's arguably Santa Barbara County's most underrated running back, rushed to 231 yards on 27 carries and scored five times - with all of his touchdowns coming in the first half of the Panthers' 47-7 road rout of Santa Ynez.

Mansera, a senior, had all of his touchdowns ranging from 5 to 37 yards out. In seven games, he has 1,365 yards and 18 touchdowns for the Panthers, who improved to 4-4 and 2-1 in the Los Padres League.


Beau Bisharat - all 6-foot-2, 215-pounds of him - powered his way to 180 yards on 16 carries and scored three touchdowns as Jesuit defeated Franklin 35-19.

Bisharat averaged 11.3 yards per carry. Two of his scores went for 78 and 54 yards.

The Class of 2016 running back is already a wanted recruit by different college teams. He holds five scholarship offers, four of them from the PAC-12 (Cal-Berkeley, Colorado, Washington and Washington State). Eastern Washington of the Football Championship Subdivision is his fifth offer.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Seraphs pull away from Oaks Christian

Chris Santoyo is all smiles, after the backup running back scored two touchdown runs and lifted St. Bonaventure-Ventura to the 21-17 victory over Oaks Christian-Westlake Village in a battle between two Ventura County powerhouses (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).
LaDell Atkins got the St. Bonaventure side to cheer thunderously with less than two minutes to go in the game after completing a wide open 67-yard catch and run for the touchdown, helping seal the 21-17 victory over Oaks Christian-Westlake Village on Friday, Oct. 24, at Ventura High School.

Atkins lined up in the slot wide receiver position on the right side of the line of scrimmage, ran past midfield to catch the ball, then sprinted through the Lions' zone coverage for the long scoring scamper. The touchdown came with one minute and 57 seconds left in the game.

Oaks Christian had one last drive to win the contest, but the Lions couldn't convert on fourth and two after their pass to the right side of the field was batted down.

Along with Atkins, Chris Santoyo - a reserve running back - scored for the 5-3 Seraphs. Santoyo, who had 286 rushing yards in St. Bonaventure's last game against Camarillo (a 28-10 victory on Oct. 10), got two touchdown runs of eight and 12 yards.

"It was a crazy game," Santoyo said. "We knew we were going to be evenly matched."

Santoyo and Marcus Chambers powered a Seraph rushing attack that wore down the Lions with counter runs up the offensive tackles' side. Chambers broke a 35-yard run during the third quarter. On the next play, Santoyo scored his first touchdown of the night - an 8-yard run up the left side.

The game was scoreless for one half before Oaks Christian (4-4) struck first on a 40-yard field goal. The Lions received their most offensive production from junior wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr.

The recent UCLA commit and son of former NFL running back Michael Pittman caught both touchdowns for OCHS: a leaping 3-yard grab over the defender's back in man coverage, then a 50-yarder that saw Pittman Jr. dash past the cornerback and safety down the right sideline for the Hail Mary score.

Pittman Jr. finished with 144 yards on five catches and two touchdowns. The Seraph pass rush accounted for four sacks against OCHS quarterback Matt Corral.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hodge overcomes size to lead the state in tackles

Khalil Hodge of St. Mary's-Stockton reacts to an option play during the Rams' 35-15 victory over Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa on Sept. 5. Hodge is leading the state in tackles and tackles per game according to Max Preps (photo credit
Undersized? Khalil Hodge of St. Mary's-Stockton doesn't want to hear it.

At 6-foot, 225-pounds, he's considered small compared to some of the top linebackers in California for the Class of 2015. Players like Cameron Smith (6-foot-2, 235-pounds, Granite Bay), John Houston (6-foot-3, 210-pounds, Serra-Gardena) and Keisean Lucier-South (6-foot-4, 211-pounds, Orange Lutheran) all tower over their Friday night opponents - and all three are getting courted by some of the biggest college football programs in the nation.

Hodge, however, has this advantage compared to the highly recruited linebacker trio: he's leading the state with 129 tackles through seven games according to prep website Max Preps. That's why the senior doesn't want anyone to tell him that he's too small.

"I don't feel like a small linebacker at all," Hodge said. "I feel like I'm big enough to make all the plays needed for an inside linebacker."

And big plays he's made this season.

Hodge is the battering ram for the St. Mary defense. He throws his body into the middle of the field to pummel running backs and anyone else who dares to run at him. Hodge's role in the Rams' 4-4/4-3 scheme is to stuff the run, guard the slot (inside) wide receiver and blanket a running back who attempts a wheel route out of the backfield.

He's averaged 18.4 tackles per game and intercepted his first pass this season against Tokay-Lodi on Oct. 17, with the Rams shutting out the Tigers 32-0. The victory against Tokay also saw Hodge finish with 19 tackles, including 10 solo stops.

Some of his highlight plays, though, came at the goal line during the Rams' Sept. 26 shootout against Los Gatos. Hodge shot through the gaps and halted any scoring opportunities with the game on the line. Hodge and the Rams came out victorious 35-32, with St. Mary's defensive leader getting 18 tackles and one sack.

Hodge said his work ethic has led to his dominance on the Ram defense.

"I've put in a lot of hard work in the offseason, so I feel like now I'm just starting to reap the benefits," Hodge said. "But, it wouldn't be possible without all the guys around me, especially our huge defensive line."

The Rams' front four have served as offensive linemen for Hodge. They've created openings by shoving around the opposing front line so Hodge can attack the hole. Hodge said that along with his ability to trust his linemen, he takes pride in his reaction skills.

"My strengths would be dissecting and attacking plays, plus being able to see the play and then defeat offensive linemen to the ball," Hodge said.

He's won over one of his teammates. Demetrius Ferguson - the Rams' top wide receiver option - said he admires Hodge's attitude and work ethic.

"He's a comedian outside of football. But once he steps on the field, it's like something clicks in his mind and he turns into a animal," Ferguson said. "He's a great guy and he's amazing to be around."

With three regular season games left for the 6-1 Rams, Hodge wants to improve his sideline-to-sideline ability.

"I want to make every play and be able to go the distance," he said.

He's also hoping to get more recognition on the recruiting trail. He has just one scholarship pledge that came from 47.5 miles away: Sacramento State of the Football Championship Subdivision.

"I definitely feel underrated," Hodge said. "I'm putting up huge numbers right now and I'm not really getting much recognition from colleges."

Hodge, though, said his primary focus is to get the Rams to make a state bowl run.

"One word to describe us would be 'special,' " he said. "We have the talent to go all the way to state this year."

More on Hodge:

Next game: Hodge and St. Mary's will take on Tracy (5-2) for a 7:15 p.m. showdown on Friday, Oct. 24.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Week seven gold mines

This week's highlights: two PAC-12 recruits wore out their opponents in the Central Section. In Los Angeles County, a highly coveted Class of 2016 running back dashed to 386 yards against a state power.

Here's the week seven gold mines:


The future Arizona Wildcat couldn't be tamed in the Patriots' 49-21 trouncing of Stockdale-Bakersfield. Mariscal ran for 121 yards on nine carries and scored twice. He also added an 86-yard kickoff return for the touchdown.


Olurunfunmi continues to add to his already decorated prep career. The UCLA commit rushed for 260 yards on 18 carries and scored five touchdowns in the Broncos' 63-28 rout of Clovis East.


In a heavyweight, high-scoring brawl between Bosco and Serra-San Juan Capistrano, it was the Braves moving to 6-1 overall and handing the dominant Serra its first loss of the season, a 49-44 shootout. McGrew, Class of 2016, was largely responsible for helping end Serra's fast start, with career-high's in rushing yards (386), carries (26) and touchdowns (five).


McDaniel continues to power through defenses and keep Hanford's unbeaten run alive. The Bullpups improved to 8-0 overall behind McDaniel's 186 yards and five touchdowns in the 56-44 victory over Golden West-Visalia.


Jones only threw 17 passes, but completed 14 of them for 327 yards and had four touchdowns. The senior led BCHS to a 56-7 thumping of Shafter.


The dual-threat combined for 424 yards (341 passing) and four touchdowns as Lemoore stayed perfect at 8-0 following the Tigers' 49-15 rout of Mt. Whitney-Visalia.


Playing against a massive Kingsburg offensive line, the 6-foot-2, 275-pound Davis was Warren Sapp-like after getting three sacks in the Emperors' 34-21 victory.


Hodge continues to be an enforcer for the Rams' defense. The 6-foot, 218-pound senior had 19 tackles, 10 solo stops and one interception in St. Mary's 32-0 shutout victory over Tokay-Lodi.