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.



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.



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.


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.


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