Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Byrd over the Big XII

Photo Courtesy of scout.com
Might be time to build a nest in the secondary for this Bryd in Norman, Oklahoma.

The wait, and even anticipation on where Hatari Bryd was going to play his college football at ended on Tuesday afternoon, when the four-star safety from Central-Fresno announced that he will be suiting up for the University of Oklahoma.

"I'm thinking boomer sooner right now," Bryd said on his twitter page.

Oklahoma wound up on Bryd's short list, along with a few PAC-12 schools ranging from UCLA to Cal. Bryd becomes the 12th commitment for the traditional Big XII powerhouse, and the second safety signed by the Sooners through the 2013 class. Ahmad Thomas of Miami-Central is the other safety addition to the Sooners.

At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds of pure muscle, Bryd should bring plenty of boom to the Boomer Sooners secondary. Bryd is definitely an intimidating hitter who's made his living burying his shoulder into ball carriers on Friday nights. He's big and physical enough to play up to the line of scrimmage, just like one other former Sooner star I can think of.

Byrd reminds me of a young Roy Williams. Just like Williams, he's another physical safety who thrives off of contact and is not afraid to help versus the run. While his coverage skills will need to be polished for his senior year, Bryd's size and hits will make him one frightening player to come across if you have the football. He might be the most physical player ever produced by renown defensive back guru Tony Perry of Central-Fresno.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The sleeper list: The 805

Going down Highway 101, you'll see wineries, the Mid-State Fairgrounds for the California Mid-State Fair, the Pacific Ocean going through Avila and Pismo Beach, maybe even Santa Barbara if you go further south.

But you may also run into some solid, even overlooked football action down Highway 101.

The Central Coast may not be a recruiting hot-bed compared to places like the Los Angeles, Bay Area, San Diego or even the San Joaquin Valley regions. Yet, that doesn't mean the 805 hasn't pumped out some high-quality talent on the gridiron.
Photo courtesy of the Ventura County Star

This was the region that once produced Santa Barbara High standout Randall Cunningham before he became a household name in the NFL. Chris Gocong punished people through running and playing linebacker at Carpenteria before starting for the Cleveland Browns. Mark Brunell broke school records at St. Joseph High School in Santa Maria before helping the Jacksonville Jaguars reach the playoffs, even a couple of AFC championship game appearances. Most recently, Lydell Sargent and Vai Taua went from the black and gold at my alma mater Cabrillo in Lompoc before playing in the NFL ranks. Seth Jacobs may have finally revealed how strong Arroyo Grande really is on the field by being offered, then committing to Fiesta Bowl champion Oklahoma State.

Now, Lavon Coleman of Lompoc is heading to the place that made former Brave standout Napolean Kaufman into a first round pick, the University of Washington and the PAC-12 atmosphere. Time though to recognize some of the other players worth looking at between the corridor of Paso Robles to even Ventura County, beginning first with the 805 quarterbacks.

San Luis Obispo County


Only five quarterbacks returning to the Southern Section this upcoming year threw for over 30 touchdown passes. Baty happened to be one of them.

Coming from tiny Mission Prep in San Luis Obispo, Baty may become the quarterback that puts Mission Prep on the football map. He's already earned ESPN HS All-region preseason second team honors.

What strikes me about Baty is his release. He's got a quick hand and mostly threw the ball in just a span of 2-3 seconds. After releasing his pass, a great majority of the time he found someone already open. This tells me two things: His receivers have got to be cat-quick, and Baty's vision is also a major strength.

A few downsides for Baty is likely his size, since he's listed as a signal-caller barely six feet tall. He could have difficulty seeing over the line and may have to resort to rolling out often. The Royals did allow him on numerous occasions to run around.

Still though, Baty has perhaps one of the better arm strengths and releases in the 805. A potential hidden gem who's also gotten some off-season work in through Passing Down, plus also attending the Fresno State camp.

MORE ON BATY: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdOnZnzErNo


Much like Baty, Giovannelli is another city of SLO quarterback with a size issue at just six feet.

However, unlike Baty, Giovannelli does his damage with his feet, as he runs the Tigers' triple option attack with mastery.

With his elusiveness and mobility, Giovannelli just might be the most dangerous running quarterback on the Central Coast. He even had one of his better performances versus Central Valley powerhouse and Central Section Division-III champion Kingsburg in 2011.

Giovannelli is also a very tough kid, who not only can take a hit, but can even truck someone when taking off and running after spending time in my film room looking at his skill set.

Because of the fact though that he seems more like a runner than thrower, Giovannelli is probably better suited for an offense that's geared towards the option. Most of his throws were from option formations too. He may even get a look as a running back or slot receiver.

Still though, Giovannelli's legs and his play-action ability from the option formations makes him a guy who'll keep high school defenders and coaches in the 805 up for awhile.

MORE ON GIOVANNELLI:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZcX9kMWzfc


A freakish-athlete who has a size and athleticism combination, Berwick is also a talented basketball player, who scored 20 or more points in 11 games as a sophomore for the Greyhounds.

On the football field, the 6-foot-4, 190 pound incoming junior thrived off of a rocket arm  in the play-action, plus also faking defenders with his running ability even on the option.

Berwick didn't always throw a consistent spiral, and he also had a tendency to hold on to the football for a long time, which resulted in him taking off running. However, since he'll be only a junior, he's got time to grow. A quarterback to watch for the next two years on the Central Coast.

MORE ON BERWICK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhG_Jsl9Nm8&feature=relmfu

Santa Barbara County


Prober mainly plays in an offense that's heavy on the running game, but he held his own at the Passing Down Best-of-the-West state finals at his home stadium in May, even helping lead his Big Picture Athletics squad, which mostly comprised of 805 talent, to a near title run.

Prober showed excellent vision and timing on his throws. He's also a pretty mobile guy who made some of his throws out of the pocket.

Prober may not have much size at just 6-foot-1 and roughly 170 pounds. Yet, even though the Warriors will try to pound the rock, Prober is trustworthy enough to throw on the run and spread the ball around for Righetti.

Ventura County


Abourisk so far is yet to be offered, but has generated plenty of interest with his summer work, plus his high grades, which has gotten Harvard to come calling.

Abourisk (photo) scored lots and lots of points with me while breaking down his film. His quick-release, his pocket-awareness, his deep ball, even his poise and patience with standing in the pocket and letting routes develop all caught my attention. He even made some throws away from the pocket and on the run.

Maybe mobility is one area I can think of that he can work on. He can still find ways to grow in all other areas of his game. It should be only a matter of time before the offers come rolling in for Abourisk, especially with an even bigger senior year.

MORE ON ABOURISK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvaFUO-NooU

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Sleeper list: RB's (Part 4)

For this one, we'll look at the South Central Valley running backs, which has produced names like Princeton McCarty (Idaho) and of course current San Diego Charger starter and former Fresno State star Ryan Mathews.

Bakersfield Region


Explosive, powerful, determined, and pretty big for someone in the backfield.

Jountii stands at 6-feet-1 and nearly 200 pounds of punishment. He seems to thrive on contact and has shown an ability to not only bounce off of defenders, but lower the boom with his shoulder pads. He's also an effective cutback runner, and shows tremendous vision up the field which helps explain his long breakout runs.

One flaw I can think of though is after looking at Jountii closely, he does tend to carry the football away from his chest, plus he sometimes resorts to swinging his arms with the ball still away from his body. That led to three fumbles for him last season. He also doesn't appear to have blazing speed. Carrying nearly 200 pounds at the high school level won't always make you a speed demon.

If he can correct that ball-handling skill, plus build off of last season's 200 carry, 1,349 yard, and 12 touchdown season in 2011 though, Jountii could be the next best running back in the Bakersfield region, even with former Cal commit Deon Martin of Stockdale nearby.

MORE ON JOUNTTI:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3mpApzK6C4


Tripp shared running back duties last season for the nearly perfect Wolf Pack, but Tripp might be more of the trailblazer.

The incoming senior, who's also a track star for Ridgeview, finished the 2011 year with 1,042 yards on 159 carries, an average of 6.5 yards per carry, and 13 touchdowns for the 12-1 Pack.

Tripp has the blazing speed, but his size may be somewhat of a drawback, since he was listed at 5-foot-8, 175 pounds.

Still though, for a much younger Wolf Pack squad, expect Tripp to see the football lots and lots of times.


He's another small, but gritty and hard-nosed back for the state of California.

Perez stands at 5-foot-9, and around 190 pounds. He didn't appear to be easily brought down by too many defenders though, since he showed an ability to keep himself balanced, stay squared, and keep his legs moving for the extra yards. He also showed some good vision and was able to make cuts when needed.

Perez, like Jountii, is another runner that may not be the fastest as of now, since Perez's reported 40 time was 4.8. However, he does have a very strong lower body thanks to a 540 pound squat, which should definitely explain why he's able to break a few tackles. Perez might be one of the more underrated backs in the 661.

MORE ON PEREZ:  http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1401826/highlights


contributed photo
There's no telling what the 5-foot-11, 220 pound Douglas will be at the next level, especially with Arizona and Missouri currently on the table. What I can tell you is this, he's got a nasty streak.

As a runner, Douglas is a gritty north-south grinder who even shows stunning burst for a guy his size. He also seems to look for someone to run over when he has the rock. He shows a running back-like vison and even makes cutbacks on his own. If you also watch his film, he even has a shocking hurdle over a few defenders.

Douglas (photo) can even catch out of the backfield from his fullback spot. I also like his nasty streak as a blocker. He didn't come off as a guy who will just pop you once and that was it. Douglas will try to drive block you until the back of your jersey gets planted on the field.

Douglas also plays middle linebacker and showed to be a tackling machine there as a run-stuffer. While he does tend to run upright as a runner, and while he hasn't been utilized as a pass rusher at linebacker, Douglas is capable of making one Division-I school very happy. He can be an effective force as either an h-back, short yardage runner, or inside linebacker. He's one to watch down in Kern County.

MORE ON DOUGLAS:  http://www.hudl.com/athlete/338952/triton-douglas

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Feeling Grizzly

photo courtesy of scout.com

Central-Fresno just might very easily bust out a 40 in the secondary--their four defensive backs getting nearly a combined 40 offers that is.

Led by the coaching of well-known Central Valley and even state known defensive back guru Tony Perry, the Grizzlies should once again have one of the most ridiculously talented secondaries not just in the Fresno region, but the entire state.

All four men, including one up-and-coming 2014 prospect, have been offered by more than three schools.

Cali Gold Mine takes a closer look at all of them:


It won't be hard to miss or even identify Moore on the football field. Just look for No. 2 flying towards the ball, and either going for the turnover or delivering the big hit.

While Hatari Bryd (whom we'll get to soon) just might be the hardest hitter the Grizzlies have, Moore is capable of being the most complete defensive back in Central's secondary.

His size at 6-foot-1, 170 pounds is a plus. His long arms and ability to jam at the line also scored some points. But the other two areas that solidifies the skill set Moore has? His smooth footwork with his backpedal and closing pursuits, and his jumping ability.

Moore (photo), who also was a state track and field qualifier in the high jump, has actually used that leaping and jumping ability to swat down some crucial passes in the closing seconds. He made those game-changing type plays versus Central Section Division-II champion Clovis North in the Grizzlies' regular season win.

Through all the praise people can give Moore, at the end of the day, I'm still a firm believer that he needs to continue to build his craft. Adding bulk to his frame is one area he can certainly build on. Maybe not always buying into the hype and continuing to work on his skill set can be another.

But plain and simple, in the end, you could be looking at the best defensive back in the state. Yes, the state.


Byrd is the most muscular out of the four defensive backs in Central's secondary. He's so big, if you were to place him on Fresno State's secondary depth chart in 2011, the chiseled 6-foot-2, 200 pound safety would have been the biggest and most muscular defensive back the Bulldogs would have, as a high school junior keep in mind.

 If that size won't intimate you, maybe his hits will. Bryd is probably Central's knockout artist, who thrives on delivering the punishing blow and getting the straps and helmet to come loose.

Last season though, Bryd appeared to look more like a run-stuffing linebacker from his safety spot. He often bit on plays, and his backpedal wasn't fluid enough to recover. However, his hip flexibility and direction has improved over the summer, and he's even showing his breaks and ball skills in the secondary.

Truth be told, the safety class in California is very loaded, with talented prospects like new USC commit Su'a Cravens, Max Redfield of Mission Viejo (another USC commit), Tyler Foreman of Crespi-Encino, and another highly-touted safety in Tahaan Goodman of Rancho Cucamonga. Bryd, though, also ranks as one of the more sought-after safeties in the state and country with PAC-12 and even SEC schools (Georgia and Ole Miss) offering him. 


Might want to remember this name if you attend a Grizzly game this upcoming year.

Yes, Johnson didn't even play the entire season with his last team San Joaquin Memorial during his junior year. So how is it that a kid with limited varsity experience still gets offered by 10 different schools?

Simple, he's showing his skills through his summer work, and his skills have captured a number of BCS schools' attention.

Johnson is already a typical Tony Perry defensive back--he'll press at the line of scrimamge and play very physical. He shows excellent body control when adjusting to different routes, and has enough speed to blanket someone's No. 1 receiver. The downside I can think of for Johnson is he's not the tallest or biggest compared to Moore and Byrd.

But why did I mention remembering his name? Since most Central Valley or Central opponents already know who L.J Moore is from last year, they'll likely try to throw away from him. That could mean a huge breakout year in Johnson's lone season with the Grizzlies.


The youngest member of the Grizzly secondary already has a bright future, with four offers already on the table.

Brewer was overshadowed by UNLV bound Matt Lea last season, but did show some spurts of what he can do in nickel coverages the Grizzlies had.

Brewer already has excellent size for a junior at 6-feet, 170 pounds. He has good instincts for the ball that can only continue to improve. Brewer, like Johnson, could be in for a huge year if teams also throw the ball away from Central's big safety Hatari Bryd.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Kinder fire

Photo courtesy of berecruited.com
It seems that if you were to play running back or on the offensive line for San Joaquin Memorial in Fresno, that would be your best bet to be spotted and recruited (Chris Brown at Oregon State, David Keller at Fresno State).

But can the same be the case if you throw passes for the Panthers?

Looks like for incoming senior Nick Kinder, maybe he gives a Panther quarterback a greater chance at getting spotted on the recruiting trail.

The 6-foot-1, 195 pound Kinder has already generated the interest of Dartmouth, Cornell, and Brown through the Ivy Leagues even with zero offers right now. Portland State is also picking up steam when looking at him.

Maybe one explanation for Kinder having a slow recruiting period is because realistically, the Panthers have always built themselves through offensive line play and a punishing ground attack, which makes the passing game pretty irrelevant.

Yet, I also will say, after looking and evaluating him, he's not the most fleet-footed passer and certainly not the quickest with his mobility. Even though the Panthers allowed him to roll out on a few occasions, Kinder doesn't look like a trailblazing runner. He's clearly a pocket passer and benefited greatly from having Brown in his backfield, plus those big boys up front run blocking. Kinder also completed just 51% of his throws last year.

However, again keep in mind, the Panthers only threw the football nearly 200 times, and pounded the rock on nearly 400 plays in 2011.

This time around though, with the rumbling of San Joaquin Memorial being downsized to just 24 players on varsity for 2012, and with a much younger backfield, maybe the Panthers will allow Kinder to throw it around even more.

He recently scored points with me thanks to an improved accuracy. Kinder made the short throws, but also the long ones at the recent DB Guru Skills camp in Visalia on Saturday. He also showed off his smarts when adjusting to certain coverages, which caused him to change his throwing motion and also give him more patience before tossing the ball. Those traits can give him momentum for his senior year. His smarts also allowed him to not get intercepted once, even at a camp where there was highly touted defensive backs Hatari Bryd, L.J Moore, even former Panther teammate and wide receiver Johnny Johnson, all of Central-Fresno.

He'll be a very effective play-action pro style quarterback at the next level. He'll need to continue to polish his football IQ, his patience when allowing routes to develop, and of course his running ability. The potential is there for him to become one of the better thinking-man quarterbacks in the Central Valley, and maybe some increased numbers in what could be a much smaller Panther roster.

MORE ON KINDER:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6IgQW-1aQY

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fresno/Clovis stars allign in Visalia through DB Guru

There was a sea of black, orange, yellow, even Bullard gray and the kid brother of one former Norte Dame commit clad in blue who all made the drive from the Fresno/Clovis area to set foot on College of the Sequoias.

With no Tulare or Visalia kids taking part, the Fresno and Clovis scene took advantage at the Giants' sprint turf practice field, as they looked to not only show what they could do in front of former NFL and college football players, but in front of the man that has produced nearly 30 different Division-I prospects and NFL players, Tony Perry.

The same coach that molded the likes of Ricky Manning Jr., Courtney Viney, Devin Ross, Rob Golden, Clifton Smith, and most recently highly touted Central-Fresno prospects L.J Moore, Hatari Bryd, and Johnny Johnson was looking for the next set of Central Valley players ready to showcase their talents on the gridiron, at the 2012 DB Guru Skills Camp.

Perry, who has been known for bringing the Valley star power from his former players to even the highly touted prospects, once again provided plenty of competition at each position.

For quarterbacks, three from the area were present, but the main headliner had to have been Edison-Fresno's Khari McGee. The 6-foot-3 McGee showed off his quick feet during latter shuffling drills, but was equally impressive with his deep ball during the one-on-one drills. McGee currently has five offers on the table, but he wasn't the only Tiger who stood out.

In fact, for linemen, junior Yasmin Haynes showed some stunning agility and quickness during drills. Haynes was one of the 2014 selections hand-picked by Tony Perry and his staff to participate in the Semper Fi Proving Ground Combine, a camp where the best talent gets their chance at playing in the U.S Marines All-American Bowl.

An even more impressive lineman was another class of 2014 potential star Gage Garabedian of Clovis West. Playing in the shadow of his much-heralded teammate Chad Specht (Colorado, Fresno State, Nevada offers), the 6-foot, 250 pound Garabedian showed some smooth feet for an interior offensive linemen. His athleticism helped steal the show for the linemen at the skills camp. Garabedian looks to be next in line at a school that's been known for being a Division-I factory in football thanks to his athleticism and stunning quick feet.

But speaking of athleticism and being quick, a wide receiver with the surname of Quick blew the competition away in front of his Central coaches, including Mr. Perry.

Class of 2014 wide receiver Michiah Quick burned up the football turf and defensive backs worse than the triple digit heat at College of the Sequoias. It didn't matter if it was the latter drills, cone drills, or going one-on-one and fighting jams, the only time the 5-foot-11, 170 pound Quick slowed himself down was when Perry and the coaching staff had him walk over to the front, and get recognized for his selection to the Proving Ground Combine.

Quick, who holds seven different offers from the likes of Oklahoma, Norte Dame, UCLA, and Cal, simply beat cornerbacks with his footwork and breaks, especially on out routes. Quick even told one defensive back "you should stick to offense" after going against him.

Quick wasn't the only Central star who stood out in front of some of his coaches. Fellow 2014 rising junior Nick Wilson showed off his athleticism, and even his receiving ability at the camp. Wilson, who led the Grizzlies with 649 rushing yards and eight touchdowns last season, will join Quick and six other Grizzlies at the prestigious combine.

Switching over to the defensive side of the football, even with the star-studded Grizzly defensive backs on hand, it was some city of Clovis stars who caught the attention of the coaches.

For one Buchanan prospect, his defensive back coach Bernard Hicks (Cal safety) boasted about the play of 2014 safety Adam Soseman. Hicks was even overheard saying that with the kind of performance Soseman had, the tall 6-foot-2, 190 pound safety would have competed with fellow Golden Bear defensive backs.

But what was it that got Soseman to blow so many spectators away? For one, his impressive tall stature. But also factor in his hands, hip direction, even leaping ability when snatching interceptions up. He will most definitely become a prospect to watch in the Central Valley for the Bears.

While Soseman proved to be worthy enough to gain an invite to the Proving Ground Combine, Clovis High senior C.J Broussard also proved he's pretty raw too.

Broussard, who helped spearhead a very quick and aggressive Cougar defense last year, showed off his fast feet, but also an ability to bump at the line of scrimmage. The 5-foot-11, 175 pound Broussard held up very nicely going against a deep receiving group at the camp thanks to his aggression level. So far, Azusa Pacific is his lone offer, but had some good praise from the defensive back guru Tony Perry.

Other city of Clovis stars present were the Sunnsyide twin brothers Errian and Eric Wingfield. Errian, the running back, actually stood out with his ability to catch out of the backfield. He did though show off that low center of gravity and track speed that made him rush for over 2,000 yards in 2011.

As for Eric, the aggressive hitter showed off that same nasty streak during one-on-one drills, even getting way too aggressive and jamming receivers to the ground. The other Wingfield was even caught with an awkward back pedal when playing cornerback on a few occassions. Still though, his aggressive nature caught the attention of one College of the Sequoias coach in a good way.

Finally, an underrated but impressive prospect was San Joaquin Memorial quarterback Nick Kinder. The 6-foot-1 Kinder, who holds no offers as of now but has received heavy interest from Portland State, some interest from Sacramento State, and even became the recipient of some letters from Dartmouth, Cornell and Brown University of the Ivy Leagues showed off his arm and smarts in Visalia.

Kinder showed an effective short ball, but also went deep on numerous occasions and went mainly with a three-step drop. Kinder wasn't intercepted once and showed some smart reads when going against zone or press man coverages.

Here are the complete list of players hand-picked by Perry to compete in the Semper Fi Proving Ground Combine:

DB Andre Chachere, Fresno (Calif.) Clovis West
DB Kevion Foster, Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial
C Gage Garabedian, Fresno (Calif.) Clovis West
DT Yasmin Haynes, Fresno (Calif.) Edison
RB Trelani Johnson, Fresno (Calif.) Central
WR P.J. Magdaleno, Fresno (Calif.) Central
DB Elijah Moody, Lakewood (Calif.)
DB Dehlon Preston, Fresno (Calif.) Central
WR Michiah Quick, Fresno (Calif.) Central
DE Anthony Shepard, Fresno (Calif.) Edison (2015) (younger brother of Tee Shepard)
DT Teshawn Smallwood, Fresno (Calif.) Central
S Adam Soesman, Clovis (Calif.) Buchanan
RB Nick Wilson, Fresno (Calif.) Central

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wingfield wreaks havoc

contributed photo
It didn't matter if the name was Errian or Eric, if the last name was Wingfield, they made their impact for Sunnyside High in Clovis.

While Errian went wild with the running game, Eric went wild with his low pad level and disruptive hits.

Eric Wingfield (photo) helped anchor a Wildcat defense that proved to be very rugged last season, especially in the secondary. If you saw any Sunnyside game closely on defense, you likely saw No. 20 flying around making tackles.

I'm impressed by his aggression level when playing the strong safety spot. He seems like he's unafraid of closing in, going towards the line, then lowering the boom. His reaction to short passing plays is also a plus for someone looking for a safety, I saw No. 20 sprinting then burying the ball carrier after being in my film room scouting him.

While he does tend to come too high and sometimes resort to muscling someone down, the 5-foot-10 Wingfield does get low enough to explode into the torso and legs of his opponent. His nose for the football, speed, and his aggression level all scored major points for me.

One other thing, if one of his teammates picks off a pass, and you see Eric Wingfield around, know that he'll try to knock the decals and logo off of someone's helmet, he's a head hunter. He and Central-Fresno's Hatari Bryd are two of the hardest hitting safeties in the Central Valley.

MORE ON ERIC WINGFIELD: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkDjIUkV2tg


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Release the Macklin

Photo courtesy of Max Preps
Much like his fellow Sacramento Charter teammate Demetrius Watts, Louis Macklin also appears to have a size issue when he gets on the field.

But just like Watts, he too will make up for it, in a variety of ways.

While Watts bounces inside and outside from his linebacker spot, the slightly taller 5-foot-8, 170 pound Macklin (photo) is utilized in a variety of ways for the Dragons, as he lines up as a slot receiver and even gets carries from the backfield.

Macklin looks to me like he can be an effective fly sweep guy. It seems like his biggest strength when carrying the rock is his ability to turn the corner and work up the field. However, he's also exhibited a knack for cutting back inside then exploding through that open hole.

An area though that stood out to me for Macklin? Not his receiving, tackling, or even his running, his blocking. Yes, his blocking.

Macklin showed off a grittiness to him when going down field and opening things up for the Dragon run game. He may not go for the highlight-reel lay out with his blocking, but he'll get in front of a guy, place his hands between the numbers, and show off a feisty drive block reminiscent of a glorified offensive tackle.

He also plays on the defensive side of the ball and he'll use his hands very effectively there too. Macklin doesn't seem to be afraid to play up and press hard at the line. His size just may come in handy there too, since he can get low enough to win the leverage battle. He's also shown a rare jumping ability when getting interceptions, proven by his highlight film.

Because of his outside speed, vision when running and even his drive blocking, I actually tend to favor him more as an offensive guy, either as a slot man in a traditional offense, or perhaps a cutterback in a spread look. Watts and Macklin have the potential to help set an aggressive tone for the Dragons this upcoming year.

MORE ON MACKLIN: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/916084/highlights

Could Sacramento linebacker become the next Sam Mills?

contributed photo
At just 5-foot-7, 175 pounds, Sacramento Charter two-way player Demetrius Watts already looks too small on the football field.

But too me, that's just for the offensive line.

He's not the biggest linebacker with that frame, but you know what, I'm sure the same thing was said to former NFL pro bowler Sam Mills, and look at the career he had.

Well, right here in California and over at the state capitol, it looks like we got perhaps a potential Sam Mills in Demetrius Watts (photo) to look out for.

After watching him closely, he already has versatility. The Dragons used him both inside and outside in their pretty versatile schemes. The Dragons, who play Division-III football in the Sac-Joaquin Section, bounced between a 3-4 look and also went with nine in the box on a few occasions. But Sacramento Charter allowed Watts to roam around. Playing multiple positions in the linebacking unit is already a plus.

He really scored points with me because of his mean streak. Not once did I see Watts miss a tackle after watching his film, plus even with his small frame he's running through blocks and blowing ball carriers up.

I've talked about in the past how small running backs are extremely effective with setting up blocks, since they're small enough to play hide-and-seek behind their 240-330 pound road clearer, then sprint for the goal line.

With defenders that have that similar frame though, the advantage they potentially bring is hiding behind a big defensive linemen, then coming out of nowhere and behind the lead blocker's back to disrupt the play. Watts, with his frame, is fully capable of doing that.

My gray areas for Watts is actually not his size when playing defense. Right now, its whether or not he can rush the passer. I didn't see much out of him in that aspect. Maybe his senior season the Dragons could allow him to blitz from the outside more. He also wasn't seen getting interceptions, so his play-making ability there may need some refining for the upcoming year.

Yet, his small frame actually gives him an advantage with his lower body, where he can get low enough to blow a play up. He's a tackling machine who can either be a strong safety that plays up to the line at the next level or, like Mills, stick to a linebacker spot.

He was also the starting center for the Dragons. With his frame, its good to hear he's moving to running back for his senior year, he's way too small for the interior line. However, he can use his past line play as an advantage, because he should know how offensive linemen think when setting blocks up.

Yes, he's small, but if you watch a Sacramento Charter game this upcoming year, you probably shouldn't miss him, he'll likely be around the ball.

MORE ON WATTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/528095/demetrius-watts#.UAUI3OPkA5M.mailto

Monday, July 16, 2012

SEC school is about to have another Carta-Samuels

Photo courtesy of Passing Down
By the time Austyn Carta-Samuels is through at Vanderbilt, it looks like current Commodore head coach James Franklin will have to get used to seeing another Carta-Samuels on his roster for 2014.

That's because the younger brother to the Wyoming quarterback transfer K.J Carta-Samuels has committed to Vanderbilt, which was so far his first and only offer.

K.J (photo) has been very active this off-season with getting himself prepared to take over for Travis McHugh at state powerhouse Bellarmine Prep in San Jose. The younger Carta-Samuels did show off what he's capable of doing against elite competition back in May.

Carta-Samuels guided his 7-on-7 squad Pro Sport to the Passing Down Best-of-the-West state title during Memorial Day weekend. Using the same roll out talent and arm that made his older brother highly-sought by mid-major schools, K.J claimed the Most Valuable Player award in the tournament.

The way I see it, the older brother looks more faster than K.J Carta-Samuels. Yet, the younger brother will probably admit that too. K.J though has a good edge on him in pocket awareness and making his reads. He also showed that he won't lock in on just one wide receiver, he spread the ball around very frequently the last time I saw him. He also showed off a tremendous young cannon when going deep.

Its not often you get a California quarterback committing to SEC country. It's also very rare when that quarterback happens to be an incoming junior, with little to no varsity playing experience. But maybe Vanderbilt seems to like the Carta-Samuels name, and the much taller 6-foot-4, 207 pound K.J should be one of the more highly-touted quarterback prospects for the 2014 class.

MORE ON CARTA-SAMUELS:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-49Uw94O8g

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The sleeper list: RB's (Part 3)

We stay in the Central Valley for running backs, but this time, head up Highway 99 and towards the Merced-Modesto pipeline, another underrated place that has produced some mid-major and even PAC-12 talent.

Here's the 2013 backs that caught my attention:


He had a 311 yard outing versus Casa Roble during the year, and in the end, the 5-foot-10, 175 pound Sams tallied 1,872 yards and 20 touchdowns for the 10-2 Tigers.

One slight setback for Sams is his 40-yard time, which was clocked in at a reported 4.80 by ESPN's Recruiting Nation page. His overall speed may not get tons of schools jumping for attention, but his production from last year should for Sams. He's expected to pound it even more for the Tigers' always physical run game.

photo courtesy of the Modesto Bee

I don't know what it is, but I seem to favor small running backs a little bit more for some reason.

Maybe its their speed, or their hide-and-seek ability when setting up blocks then bolting, it could be their production, or its their heart.

With Aden Ruiz Jr., he's another small running back that made my eyes get big after seeing the film on what he could do.

At barely 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds, Ruiz (photo) blew me away with his speed, cutback ability, vision, low pad level and one other area that got me sold, his instinctive and determined running style, which allows his small stature to still break loose from tackles and even run people over.

Much like any small running back barely above 5-foot-11, Ruiz may probably get the "he's too small to be an every down back" stereotype. He won't get it with me. If he builds off of his 1,174 yard, 12 touchdown year, he should make someone very happy at the next level.

MORE ON RUIZ JR.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-x_qJw7rO8


Gold and Miles come from a place known for producing grown men on the lines.

Well, if the Thunder can be at an advantage with all those big buys up front, then the running game should get some attention too. And these incoming seniors just might strike "Gold" and go the extra "Miles" for the upcoming year.

The 5-foot-8, 175 pound Gold darted past defenses for four 100-yard running games and 931 total rushing yards. He also crossed the goal line 16 times for 12-1 Buhach Colony.

Gold was the bell cow for the physical Thunder running attack. Miles (5-foot-9, 175) though was the change-of-pace back and showed a darting running style where he bursts to the outside, then makes his cuts to get defenders to miss, and even blow past arm tackles.

If both build on their speed and improve from their junior year, they could be additional Thunder prospects with college recognition.

MORE ON MILES:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoXc9pb9XdI

Smith impresses in the desert

contributed photo
Birmingham-Lake Balboa quarterback Trae Smith turned out to deliver the biggest stinger in a place known for some very sharp cactus's.

At the Antelope Valley Passing Tournament this past weekend, Smith helped lead his Birmingham 7-on-7 squad to not only eight victories, but even the final scoring touchdown over Sierra Canyon with just eight seconds left in that contest. The end result was a 26-22 victory in the title game for the passing tournament.

For the Patriots, this continues their impressive turnaround run. Birmingham endured back-to-back eight loss seasons before a change was made at quarterback, with the 6-foot-3, 190 pound Smith coming on board.

As for Smith, its sounding like he's picking up right where he left off from last year with his summer work. And if people think the summer passing leagues and running around in shorts and shirts aren't a big deal, know that Smith and the Patriots defeated a Sierra Canyon team that was undefeated last year, and has lost just six games since the 2008-2009 season.

The sleeper list: RB's (part 2)

Right where I live, in my own backyard, I can honestly tell you that the running game does matter for many Central Valley teams.

In fact, squads like Bullard, San Joaquin Memorial, Clovis, Clovis North, Wasco, and even Central Section Division-I champion Bakersfield all thrived on the running attack when making a deep run in the playoffs.

This might possibly be the deepest list of running backs I can think for any region. Here's a closer look at some 2013 running backs right here in the Central Valley worth getting a look, beginning with this region:

Fresno County

Photo courtesy of Central Valley Football

He's got to be one of the more under-appreciated running backs in this area. All this guy did last year was accumulate 2,002 yards through the ground, score 22 touchdowns, and help lead run-heavy Sunnyside to a seven win season.

There are rumblings down in the Southeastern part of Clovis that the last regime the Wildcats had wasn't too excited about recruiting. Could that have played a role for Wingfield (photo) not getting his name out there? Or is it because not too many people are quick to get a 5-foot-6 running back?

Yes, his size can be a drawback. However, Demetrius Warren over at Bullard had a size issue at barely 5-foot-7. He ran over just about everyone for the Knights last season and helped make a D-I title run for Bullard. With Wingfield showing similar traits in terms of size, elusiveness, a burst to the outside and even power, the Sunnyside star running back could become this year's Demetrius Warren for the Central Valley and Fresno County region.

MORE ON WINGFIELD: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM1VDu9Fym0


Much like Wingfield, Conner happens to be another city of Clovis star running back with perhaps a size issue.

However, in games I attended when watching the Cougars play, Conner was clearly Clovis High's horse for a deep running attack.

Conner, a 5-foot-7  speed demon, ran the fly sweep with mastery for Clovis thanks to his blazing speed to get outside and turn the corner. If it weren't for leg injuries during the year, Conner would have gone well over 1,000 yards.

Conner doesn't appear to be a complete back, since most of his runs were to the outside. It was mainly massive 5-foot-10, 225 pound truck Dakota Gordon who pounded it inside for the 10-2 Cougars. With Gordon now graduated, its Conner's show at Lamonica Stadium. An even bigger and healthier senior year could catapult him to new heights.


Ballin is an all-purpose back beginning to get noticed. Its also not just through his play in the city of Fresno though.

Ballin was named the running back Most Valuable Player at the National Underclassmen Camp in Los Angeles for his performance over the summer.  The 5-foot-9, 160 pound back showed his receiving skills and return ability at various camps he's attended.

His size may prevent him from carrying the rock full-time at the next level. He also runs a 4.6 40-yard dash time, so that speed isn't going to always make him the fastest on the field. Yet, with his receiving ability and even the route running he displayed out of the backfield during the NUC camp, Ballin just may convince someone to try him at wide receiver, or even still keep him in the backfield.

As of right now, Utah has shown medium interest in Ballin's services.


The former Buchanan High standout will play for the three-time valley champion Vikings for his senior year. And, with touchdown machine Trevor Price now graduated and moving on to play wide receiver at Cal Lutheran, East could become the next go-to touchdown maker for Kingsburg.

In his last season with the Bears, the versatile 5-foot-10, 185 pound East totaled 2,178 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns. He also scored eight of those touchdowns through running the ball, so that is probably why East is listed as a running back.

With his 4.42 40-yard dash speed though, East is fast and explosive enough to be utilized in a variety of ways for the Vikings. I won't be surprised if head coach Dave Steele, who's produced the likes of Tyler Bray (Tennessee) and Garrett Steele (Cal Poly) for the Division-I college football level lines up East at wide receiver, or gets him returning kicks and punts. East is also in great shape on the recruiting trail, with four offers total, including two from the Ivy Leagues.

Along with his breakaway speed, I also like the vision East displays when he has the ball. He knows when to cut inside or when to bounce and go towards the hashmarks. His speed and his vision are two very deadly traits that defenses will have to deal with.

East's playmaking ability just may be another reason why Kingsburg could go for four straight valley championships, even at the much higher Division-II level in the Central Section. Increased numbers could see even more offers for East.

MORE ON EAST: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHOvJIgox88


Grimes has shown spurts of what he's capable of doing for the Grizzlies.

Except this time, with an untested quarterback replacing three-year varsity starter Mike Baker, as well as an all-new pistol offense approach coming in under head coach Justin Garza, Grimes could finally be due for a breakout year as a senior.

Grimes, a three-year varsity letterman, already has 142 carries for 949 yards and 14 touchdowns for a normally pass-happy Grizzly offense.

The 6-foot, 180 pound Grimes had his breakout party back in 2010, when he replaced an injured Brendon Bigelow and carried the ball just eight times, but scored four touchdowns and an eye-popping 224 yards. He does fit the mold of a Brendon Bigelow, who's now at Cal, since Grimes has some open field speed and shiftiness to his game.

Grimes will likely share the load with junior Nick Wilson in the backfield. But do know this, Central will probably run the ball more, so that could mean Grimes' first 1,000 yard season and maybe becoming the next Grizzly to get noticed on the scholarship front.

The sleeper list: RB's (Part 1)

Even in a football era where we're seeing more NFL teams go pass-first, and in a new time frame where college football is spreading it out with the spread offense, the running back position still remains a hot recruiting commodity for different schools.

Even places like USC, UCLA, Cal, Stanford and outside of California in Texas, Oklahoma State, or even SEC country, its realistically hard to ignore the running game.

And upon further review, I managed to dig deep in the Golden State and discover that there are a number of playmakers in the backfield that's being slept on.

We'll start with region, and begin first with the Northern part of the state:


He went from enduring a rough junior year with a fractured ankle, to making life rough and breaking ankles at the Passing Down Best-of-the-West state finals back in May.

Yarber showed some shiftiness and an outside burst very reminiscent of Fresno State's Robbie Rouse or even Barry Sanders. Looking at his film though also showed his strength and power even at 5-foot-7, which is nearly ideal to Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew.

As a small back, he has the advantage of hiding behind a big offensive linemen, then suddenly appearing and taking off. And when he takes off, he'll show his 4.51 40-yard dash speed. He also shows that same speed and vision when returning kicks and catching out of the backfield, so he is very versatile

His size may be the biggest drawback, since not too many teams will take a chance on a 5-foot-7 runner. He also hasn't been seen much as a blocker when picking up blitzes, so that right now probably won't make him the complete package. Yet, if MJD can explode in the NFL with his small stature, if Robbie Rouse can pull off back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons for Fresno State, and if Barry Sanders can make it to Canton, then there should be a place for this 5-foot-7 spark plug in Yarber.

One other thing, Yarber sounds very articulate when he speaks. He's also receiving Ivy League letters, so his grades are real high. Good behavior and smarts to go along with his explosive running style.

MORE ON YARBER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z26oyOkNzQU

Photo courtesy of scout.com

It says on Champman's Scout.com profile that he's yet to receive an offer.

I would like to think that its a computer glitch or misprint, because what I saw was another explosive talent at running back.

There have been some rumblings though that Champman turned out to be lost in a shuffle of running backs over at Bellarmine in San Jose. The Bells' top three running backs were all seniors and they combined for 3,589 yards and 47 touchdowns.

He does, however, look as if he's ready to pick up the flag for the often run-heavy Bells of Silicon Valley judging by his film. Like Yarber, he's another versatile threat with a tremendous burst through the open hole through carrying the rock and returning the ball. His vision and ability to cut back or bounce outside are other pluses. One other thing, when he sees daylight, I didn't see anyone catching up to him.

Champman (photo) can probably correct two things: preventing himself from running upright and keeping himself lower, and also hold the ball closer to his shoulder pads. His carrying ability tends to show the football away from his body, a very dangerous trait that can lead to fumbles at the next level.  

In the end though, the explosive and even powerful 6-foot, 177 pound back could finally lead the running back shuffle, instead of getting lost in it. A huge senior year could land him at a place where the running game is something the program can still believe in. Maybe hometown San Jose State can make a push.

MORE ON CHAMPMAN: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHMS6RFTrmI


 Mark Jenkins took the bulk of the carries for the Eagles and the end result was 1,785 yards, 34 touchdowns, and a 12-2 season.

However, Saunders was also a part of that 12-2 campaign, and one-half of that dynamic running game the Eagles have in the Sacramento region.

The 5-foot-11, 210 pound boulder Saunders finished second in rushing with 625 yards and 13 touchdowns for Pleasant Grove. This time, in his senior year, he could become the lead back. He has camped out at UCLA, Washington, Sacramento State, Tulane and Weber State, so he has generated interest.

He's still awaiting his first offer, but the younger brother of former explosive Fresno State wide receiver Jalen Saunders (Oklahoma) has impressed people with his combination of speed, vision, power, even cut-back ability so far. Increased numbers could see increased demand on the scholarship front.

MORE ON SAUNDERS: http://hscalifornia.scout.com/2/1181115.html

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Sleeper list: DB's

Continuing on with a list of potential gold mines, here's a group of players I've gotten a chance to see first hand, or even actually sent me video and information on.

When I look at defensive backs, I don't want to look at guys who are fast. I want to know if they can press, if they can adjust to different routes with how fluid their hips are, if they're not afraid to throw their body around and most important, if they can create turnovers.

I found some potential gold mines right with these guys that have gained my attention:

Photo courtesy of 24/7 sports

Strong has two offers (San Diego State, Oregon State). But after talking with former USC great and NFL linebacker Chris Claiborne, who was one of Strong's 7-on-7 coaches, I do agree that Strong is what you would call a hidden gem.

The Inland Empire prospect showed the kind of closing speed that defensive coordinators searching for ball hawks would adore. His angle pursuits and closing speed made him a huge star down in Fullerton the last time I saw him. He's already running a 4.4 40-yard dash and his size (5-foot-11, 185) already makes him look like a bonafide safety for the next level. He's naturally a running back and outside linebacker at Summit High School. But I loved his nose for the football and angle pursuits. And after watching his highlight film, I was even more blown away by his speed and determination when carrying the rock.

Strong (photo) does tend to stop his feet when making contact, and resorts to muscling a defender down. That can be something to polish up. But if he continues to polish up his defensive ball skills even more, he can help a defense searching for playmakers. If Oregon State can offer him, maybe even more PAC-12 schools can come on board. He can even play for a school like Fresno State and another USC guy, new defensive back coach Tim McDonald. The Bulldogs too me need more guys who can help create turnovers in the secondary, since they were torched bad in Pat Hill's last season. I'm sold on Strong's angle pursuits and play making ability. He even took the spotlight away from USC commit Su'a Cravens when I saw them at Fullerton.

MORE ON STRONG: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZDlk0FQetw


Polk and Hicks happen to play at the same high school of Washington QB commit Troy Williams. The 5-foot-10, 175  pound Polk and the 5-foot-11, 175 pound Hicks though help bring the back bone of the Gaucho defense.

Polk is the ball-hawking free safety for Narbonne.  He's shown excellent eyes when tracking down the quarterback's move and locating the ball. As for Hicks, he's more of a cornerback and was seen playing in a zone coverage. He did show excellent jumping ability when swatting down passes. And like Polk, he also has shown to have a good nose for the football.

Both Polk and Hicks combined for six interceptions last season. They also seem like they're not afraid to step in and sacrifice their body to make the tackle. Hicks can probably use more press coverage if he's allowed to in order to become a complete shutdown corner. For Polk, making even more plays and building off of a solid junior year could get him more attention.

MORE ON POLK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYxNKRzUGrQ

MORE ON HICKS:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4Z5-o7hzKw


Salvador turned heads, including mine, down in Santa Maria for the Passing Down Best-of-the-West 7-on-7 state finals.

The 6-foot-tall Salvador showed a very smooth foot speed and covering speed when lining up against some of the top receivers the state had to offer down in Santa Maria. One reasoning behind that strength is the fact Salvador is also a track guy, with a 10.8 timed 100 meter run while at Carson.

Salvador though did tell me he's trying to get his weight up. He stands at 155 pounds and admits that can be a disadvantage, though he makes up for it in speed and hustle. He looks like a zone defender right now at cornerback, but a senior year of bulking up and jamming at the line could land him his first offer.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sleeper Signal-Callers

One of the great debates in the world of football is which state produces the best talent on the field.

For Alabama, their bragging right is the fact their top two college football programs have won the last three national championships with mostly in-state prospects. For Florida, they seem to always believe that speed kills and the Sunshine State has all the burners. For Texas, a state that loves boasting about how everything is big around there also believes that football was born there.

Not to brag about my home state, but as of 2011, California has actually produced the most NFL talent. If you don't believe me, know that DeSean Jackson (Long Beach), Marshawn Lynch (Oakland), Jared Allen (Los Gatos), Troy Polamalu (Garden Grove), Tom Brady (San Mateo), Aaron Rodgers (Chico) as well as NFL legends Marcus Allen (San Diego), Troy Aikman (West Covina), Daryle Lamonica (Clovis), and Lorenzo Neal (Hanford) are among the handful of talent California has produced.

Yet, no matter what state you're from, I'm a firm believer that you don't need to be a huge star in a city like Los Angeles, San Diego, or San Francisco to get recognized. The same should be the case for Dallas, Houston, or San Antonio in Texas, or Miami, Orlando and Tampa Bay for Florida.

That being said, there's been a number of talented players from small areas outside of the big cities that should be getting offers at their door on the recruiting trail, but seem to be overlooked. Most of these young men I've not only seen under the lights, but also through tagging along with Passing Down.

Here's some of those players at QB I can think of:

Contributed photo

Corbin is teammates to Kevin Palma, a versatile tight end/outside linebacker who has captivated the attention of UCLA, Oregon State, Colorado, Fresno State and eight other schools all on the offer front. Palma even showed his rare skills as a tight end at a football championship tournament I attended while in Santa Maria. But guess who was making Palma into a tight end star? The man throwing it his way.

If Palma can gain the attention of many schools, so should a young 6-foot-4, 195 pound kid with a 4.2 grade point average, an ability to run and roll out thanks to his basketball background, and what I feel is one of the strongest arms in the Central Valley, perhaps the state too.

Quinonez went wild with the deep ball, and even out-dueled Cal commit Jared Goff in a recent 7-on-7 camp. Even without Palma recently, Quinonez continued his deep zip at the Redwood High Tournament in Visalia's Mineral King Bowl. Along with his summer work, Quinonez was also the quarterback who helped give Mission Oak their first-ever winning season in 2011.

Quinonez (photo) has the look of a pro style quarterback with his ability to set the play action up and go deep. Polishing his mobility and becoming faster on the run is one issue that can be worked on. As of now, its just San Jose State in contact with him, but no offer has been made. A huge senior season, including a valley title, should see a flock of schools though.

More on Corbin can be found here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOcDMGrE7g4
 and here:  http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1243996/corbin-quinonez


Smith, like Quinonez, has hit the ground running during the summer, with a strong desire to land offer No. 1. After not only looking at his films, but also exchanging messages with him, I'm very perplexed with how a young quarterback with nearly 20 letters is yet to land a single offer.

The 6-foot-3, 195 pound Smith though sounds like he's not too distraught over that. He tells me that's added motivation for him. But he's also told me that he wants to focus on his weaknesses so they can become strengths, surround himself with people who want a bright future, and even emerge as the top student-athlete in his graduating class through his academics.

His attitude is a plus. And if colleges are overlooking that, than they may regret overlooking his on the field potential. What I saw from his films was a kid with a smooth zip to his throws, a deep ball that can make you drop your popcorn while jumping in the stands with excitement, and even a running ability that can hurt defenses when Smith isn't throwing the ball.

As of now, a trip was made to Portland State on an unofficial visit. Maybe the Vikings will come through. Truth be told though, there should be more. A huge senior year could finally get perhaps the best kept secret in the L.A prep football scene to finally be heard.

MORE ON SMITH: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nuq4uTimrDI


Though Greenlee actually has an offer from Fresno State, he's impressed enough people over the summer to land more than just one offer.

Much like these other two quarterbacks, Greenlee is another play-action, deep ball type. Greenlee though looks more like a pocket passer, since he hasn't been seen much with taking off and running. While I do like his arm strength and his reads, an ability to make the quick throws will have to be needed if he ends up playing in the spread offense that the Bulldogs are trying to implement.

MORE ON GREENLEE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exjs-rDRvZw 


He only started seven games for the Scorpions, but his worse performance was a 240 yard outing with three interceptions, and he still threw four touchdown passes in that 36-29 win over Channel Islands. All other games, Valdez passed for 300-400 yards.

Valdez picked up Camarillo's pass-happy approach right away, so that's a plus. He can also spread the ball around, with ten different receivers catching his passes last year.

One thing to pinpoint though is that Valdez has this awkward looking lunge forward type set up when dropping back. Before releasing his throw, the right-hander was caught lunging forward while putting weight on his left leg. Foot work and his set up will likely need refining this upcoming year. Another area of concern will likely be his size (6-feet, 175 pounds).

Still though, Valdez showed to be a big-time performer in the 805. He threw 34 touchdowns in seven games. That number could go up with a full year and more knowledge of Camarillo's down field passing attack during his senior season. At the most, he has the look of a mid-major quarterback. He could be perfect for someone like June Jones at SMU, who's done very nicely with undersized quarterbacks who throw all day.

MORE ON VALDEZ: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KR8hhnvN4hc

No Holiday for wide receivers

Photo courtesy of 24/7 Sports
Think of Mission Hills-San Marcos defensive back Devin Holiday as this, he's a smooth Mercedes Benz, only its going in reverse when you see it.

Long story short, Holiday had one of the smoothest backpedals I've seen out of any defensive back when I last saw him down in Fullerton with Passing Down.  His quick feet was one of the highlights from watching him at the Best-of-the-West So Cal Regional back in April.

Its not just his quick feet though that makes him stick out at DB. He has a low center of gravity and excellent hip direction that can allow him to adjust to any wide receiver routes.

Holiday originally told me that he was going to wait until National Signing Day to make his decision, especially with Arizona and Hawaii the only offers on the table for him. However, three more offers later, plus heavy interest from Rich Rodriguez and the new regime at Arizona was perhaps what convinced Holiday to pull the trigger now and become a Wildcat.

Whether if he's sold on Arizona in the end, or he adds more interest with a breakout senior season, the San Diego region has a defensive back that plays the zone coverage like an Asante Samuel. He has though spent time on his press coverage, thanks to a new relationship with well-known defensive back guru Tony Perry of Fresno, who has produced the likes of Ricky Manning Jr., Courtney Viney, former Arizona DB's Devin Ross and Rob Golden, and now highly touted DB's Johnny Johnson, Hatari Bryd and L.J Moore of Central-Fresno.

Holiday should fit perfectly in the new Desert Swarm 3-3-5 look, which places a heavier emphasis on nickel coverage looks. His ability to play in zone coverage can make him a potential safety. If his press coverage also becomes a greater strength, he could become the 'Cats next shutdown corner, just like Ross, Golden, and another former Arizona star Chris McAlister.

MORE ON HOLIDAY: http://www.youtube.com/user/devinisland13

Worth the Steele

Photo courtesy of Central Valley Football
Know this about Kingsburg defensive linemen Ryan Steele, once the fourth quarter ends, that's when his motor stops.

But during games, that motor is revving for four quarters straight.

The massive 6-foot-2, 280 pound Steele plays as if he's an angry bull being dropped in the middle of his defensive line and is now chasing down the matador.

I attended numerous games down in Kingsburg last season. Not once did I see Steele take a single play off. In fact, in games versus Coalinga and star running back Brian Alvarado (College of the Sequoias), Steele devoured the running game up the middle and simply changed the phase of that contest. He's also made similar plays versus the likes of South Bakersfield and previous unbeaten Dinuba in the playoffs.

Steele even played in a few games with a cast on his right hand, so that also should indicate he'll display toughness and a don't-hold-back attitude.

With his bulk and feisty demeanor, he's capable of making a defensive line coach and a defensive coordinator very happy at the next level. Speaking of the next level, eight different offers from mid-major schools have flooded Steele's room.

For his senior year, Steele can use his last prep season to become a complete force versus the pass, especially if he winds up on a four man front. Yet, his size and run-stuffing ability makes him an ideal 3-4 nose tackle to me.

Steele is already the most sought-after defensive linemen in the Central Valley. An even bigger senior year could make him one of the most sought-after linemen period, and the toast of K Town just like former Viking star quarterback and Tennessee starter Tyler Bray.

OFFERS: Nevada, Fresno State, Utah State, New Mexico State, New Mexico, Colorado State, Northern Arizona and Eastern Washington

MORE ON STEELE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsKOW8JrhGA

Thursday, July 12, 2012

An open letter

Getting recruited can become a mad scramble, especially one where it leaves the prospect and even those around them exhausted.

However though, through the blood, the sweat, the grind and even the tears, there does come a gold mine from each and every team, and its time to recognize some of these prospects in the Golden State.

With Cali Gold Mine, you'll get an even more in-depth look at some of the top talent in the state of California through the prospective of newspaper sports editor and college scout Lorenzo J. Reyna. Some of Lorenzo's work has been seen on Fox Sports' Scout.com, three separate newspapers through the Mid-Valley Publishing company, and most recently, the fast-rising Passing Down, which features the fastest growing 7-on-7 football camps right here in California.

Lorenzo started out in the Central Valley corridor of Fresno to Bakersfield, but has now been granted the opportunity to discover prospects in places like Fullerton, the bay area, the Central Coast, to even the San Diego area.

He's exhibited an eye for talent and has helped discover the likes of Brendon Bigelow (Cal kick return man), B.J Kelley (Oregon wide receiver), Fred Wilson (UNLV defensive back), Trevor Price (Cal Lutheran), and most recently, class of 2013 prospects Devin Holiday (Arizona commit DB),  Darren Carrington (Oregon commit WR), Chidobe Awuzie (Oak Park-San Jose DB), Justin Strong (Summit-Fontana DB), Hatari Bryd (Central-Fresno), L.J Moore (Central-Fresno), Corbin Quinnonez (Mission Oak-Tulare QB), Ryan Steele (Kingsburg DT), Avante Yarber (Christian Brothers-Sacramento RB), and even 2014 prospects Evan Moore (Frontier-Bakersfield QB), and K.J Carta-Samuels (Bellarmine Prep-San Jose QB).

Past prospects Lorenzo has talked to before even committing include Tevin McDonald (UCLA), Holiday, Carrington, Wilson, Bigelow, Kelley,  and most recently, new Washington quarterback Troy Williams.

The goal for Cali Gold Mine is to help create another platform for prospects to receive added exposure. Recruiting news, recruiting thoughts, and videos will be the norm here. The high school scene isn't the only area Lorenzo is targeting, he's also looking to hit the often overlooked junior college circuit hard, and look to help give those players a fighting chance, just like the teenage prospect.

If anyone knows of a California prospect seeking exposure, e-mail Lorenzo at caligoldmine@gmail.com, or at lorenzo.reyna805@gmail.com.

Enjoy! And let's see who's a Cali Gold Mine!