Thursday, August 30, 2012

Prospect watch for week one: The JC scene

Photo courtesy of
This weekend signifies the start of college football, and while the Top 25 will be on display, so will a number of college kids dreaming of the four year level lifestyle.

There's some notable games with some quality prospects this weekend. Here's some of the highlight games from the junior college curcuit:


The Falcons gave the Rams all they could handle, but Fresno City won in exciting fashion 44-37 last year. That was one of many victories for the powerful Rams, as they made their run at the state championship and appears stacked again.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR FRESNO CITY: The Rams have got to have one of the best quarterback depths in the junior college scene. Both quarterbacks on the roster this year Mike Baker (Central-Fresno) and Trey Mitchell (Clovis, Arizona Western College transfer) are identical passers and can even terrorize defenses with their legs. Both are also near similar in size at 6-foot-3 and should fit nicely in this up-tempo approach the Rams have built under veteran head coach Tony Caviglia. While both are new to the Rams, powerful Rob Johnson is not and he's back to terrorize the trenches once again. The north-south grinder is a punishing runner who still has the PAC-12 and Mountain West intrigued with his throwback running style. Josiah St. John, who has drawn interest from the Big XII and the SEC on the offer front, is back. The 6-foot-6, 280 pound St. John protects the blindside for the Rams and is a mauler in the run game, since he's usually seen driving his defenders back 5-10 yards. Another mauler is 6-foot-4, 280 pound incoming freshman tackle Ernie Acosta (Central-Fresno), who could form a nice tackle tandem with St. John. On defense, safety Donell Vercher could be the top playmaker, after a strong freshman campaign with three interceptions under the coaching of former NFL player Cameron Worrell.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR WEST HILLS: Looks like cornerback Motrez Butts returns for the Falcons, who are usually quite athletic on defense. Butts picked off eight passes last season as a freshman.


Modesto would have actually taken the Central Valley Conference championship if it weren't for the Rams last year. As for Merced, they're looking to take the next step from their 4-6 2011 season.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR MERCED: There should be plenty of size and speed for the Blue Devils up front. But it seems it all begins with Adron Collins, who nearly had 15 tackles behind the line and bounces between defensive end and tackle. Versatile weapon Tyrell Vinson also returns to bring back kicks and punts for the Blue Devils. He averaged nearly 23 yards per kickoff last season. 

PROSPECT WATCH FOR MODESTO: It's Aaron Fields' show now at Modesto College. The small but gritty and rugged runner is looking to build off of his 816 yard and eight touchdown freshman year from 2011 with the Pirates.


The Tigers have sent players to the SEC and Big XII ranks in the past. As for the Giants, they got a secondary who's Big XII and SEC bound after this season.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR REEDLEY COLLEGE: Marcus Dallas was one of the lone bright spots for what was an awful Tiger defense last season, which surrendered 40 or more points on seven occasions in 2011. Dallas earned All-CVC honors from his defensive end spot. Freakishly quick with a 4.7 40 yard dash time, Dallas uses his speed to his advantage and has solid size at 6-foot-4, 240 pounds. Dallas currently holds an offer from Jackson State. Linebacker Rodney Thomas is the one the Tigers will probably look to for a blitz in their 3-5-3 look.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR SEQUOIAS: It all starts with the loaded secondary at COS. All four defensive backs, from Darren Dotson, Stormey Butler, Brandon Bagley (photo) and Steven Nelson are all committed somewhere for the 2013 class. Everyone except for Nelson (Georgia) is heading to Texas Tech next season. All four bring imposing size, ball skills and the threat to put six on the board with their speed to go the distance. The Giants also may have struck gold by getting former Norte Dame commit Tee Shepard on board in their secondary. Shepard left the Fighting Irish after enrolling early at the school. He could see some time in the nickel and dime looks.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Prospect watch for week one: Southern Section

Photo courtesy of The Lompoc Record
It's Central versus Southern this week with these highlighted games featuring some PAC-12 commits and some under-the-radar prospects. Here's a closer look:


The Cougars showed last week that last year wasn't a fluke, as they dismantled a talented Edison squad last Friday thanks to another stellar defensive outing. They get one more highly-touted quarterback to contend with this time down south.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR CLOVIS: Adrian Salas had a breakout performance on both sides of the ball, but was especially active on defense with 10 tackles and one interception from his linebacker spot. Salas, who's a 5-foot-10, 185 pound linebacker, could get some looks at safety with his nose for the football and ball skills. Safety Jason Black showed big time ball skills with two interceptions of Khari McGee. Black has garnered interest from mainly Air Force and a few other Mountain West schools. Defensive tackle Nick Nevills brings a nasty motor to the front line that can cause pocket protection to fall apart. C.J Broussard was another player who doubled up as a play-making wide receiver and shutdown cornerback with one interception. If they find ways to humiliate another highly-touted quarterback this week, the curtain might finally be pulled and Clovis could be unveiled as one of the best defenses in the state.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR EL TORO: Conner Manning will look to avoid the kind of performance that Khari McGee endured against this Cougar defense. The Utah commit already got off to a great start with six touchdown passes and 466 yards on 46-of-68 passing. Manning has a deep receiver core, with senior Alec Shoffeit having a career day with 12 catches for 121 yards last week for the Chargers. Dominic Collins, a 6-foot-3, 170 pound junior, had his breakout night with eight receptions for 103 yards and three touchdowns. Senior Blake Murphy had seven catches for 106 yards and two scores in the 47-24 rout over Huntington Beach. Finally, Manning's fourth and last weapon Cody White, a 6-foot-2, 190 pound possession type, hauled in nine catches for 66 yards and one touchdown. White also has the size/speed/height advantage when grabbing the jump ball deep.


In a rare battle between two catholic schools, the brute force of the Panthers takes on the speed and finesse of St. Joseph, who's produced the likes of former San Jose State player Brian Nunez, 2011 Louisiana Tech commit Scott Cathcart and, of course, former NFL All-Pro quarterback Mark Brunell.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR SAN JOAQUIN MEMORIAL: Quarterback Nick Kinder has been very impressive in the classroom, with a grade point average of over 4.0 and the interest of the Ivy Leagues. The 6-foot-1, 195 pound passer might get his true chance of impressing as a quarterback. Kinder has a much younger Panther team and gets his chance to perhaps throw a little more, especially with top running back Chris Brown now carrying the rock at Oregon State. He's impressed people with his ability to adjust his throws versus certain coverages, his improved zip, and his field vision, which could make him one of the better thinking man quarterbacks in the Central Section. Kinder could fit a play-action, pro style offense at the next level.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR ST. JOSEPH: Zak Karsh is on pace for getting over 100 receptions in this spread offense. The leading receiver for the Knights last year already caught 11 passes for 167 yards last week for St. Joseph. Karsh is a smooth route runner who can make all kinds of grabs.


For those in the 805 who gripe that Lompoc High plays too soft of a schedule, and doesn't want to come near the Central Valley, well you finally get your wish, in the form of the Frontier Titans.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR FRONTIER: A clash to watch will be hard-hitting Triton Douglas at linebacker going against elusive and physical Braves running back Lavon Coleman. Douglas brings a mean streak that can energize the Titans. The linebacker and fullback has an Arizona offer and even one from the SEC in Missouri. Eddie Torres and Evan Moore provide strong quarterback depth. Torres is more of the mobile threat while Moore, who's taken unofficial visits to Boise State and Nebraska, has a strong arm. Junior Troy Banks is an emerging star at safety. The 6-foot-tall, 165 pounder has impressed people with his angle pursuits and hip direction. He had one interception in last week's defensive battle with Bakersfield rival Ridgeview.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR LOMPOC: The Braves seem to develop a swagger to them once Lavon Coleman gets going. In what was looking like a closely-knitted and boring contest at home last week versus Arroyo Grande, Coleman (photo) broke loose and ran through four tacklers for a 68 yard scamper, and the rest was over with. The Washington commit finished with 17 carries for 170 yards and three touchdowns in the 31-0 rout, which extended Lompoc's win streak to 21 games. Ainuu Taua anchors the lines as a rugged blocking tight end and defensive end for the Braves three-man front. Taua, who now holds six offers after adding Washington, Hawaii and Cal recently, has a relentless motor but tends to dive for ankles while tackling. If he can correct this and regenerate a pass rush, he's due for an even bigger junior year.

Prospect watch for week one: Central Section

Contributed photo
The games in the Central Valley of California should be loaded with not only talent, but also schools and certain prospects looking to redeem themselves. Here's a closer look at some key games under the lights in the 559 and 661:


Two renown coaching minds in the Valley square off in this contest, with Buchanan's Mike Vogt back for one more year, while Bullard's Don Arax continues to place his stamp on the Knights being a physical, hard-nosed football team in this match up at Fresno.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR BUCHANAN: The Bears struck gold when they got Billy East from Kingsburg. Funny thing is, East (photo) is playing for the school he was with last year. A dynamic athlete who's used in a variety of ways, East runs a 4.4 40-yard dash and holds offers from the Ivy Leagues and even Army (four offers total). He's the one playmaker the Bears will look to on offense. Defensively, Connor Martinez is one of the better pass rushers in the Central Valley, after producing 12 sacks in 2011. Though slightly undersized at 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, Martinez has a relentless pursuit thanks to a freakish explosion off the line, plus an array of moves ranging from the rip move or even a Dwight Freeney-like spin. He attacks from all corners of the line for the Bears. A future prospect to watch is tall 6-foot-2, 190 pound safety Adam Soseman, who can run, jump and fill space in the running game. Soseman turned heads with his athleticism at the DB Guru Skills Camp over the summer and showed off a wide receiver-like leap when grabbing interceptions. He's playing a position that also produced former Bear and NFL safety Matt Giordano.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR BULLARD: Isaiah Justice was who provided a jolt of electricity for a Knight team that was once down 14-0 versus Paso Robles. The safety took a 90 yard interception for the end zone to cut the deficit to 14-7, then the rest was history in Bullard's 33-14 stomping. Justice, a junior, doubles as play-making safety and wide receiver for the Knights. Tay O' Neal also emerged from the always utilized Knight backfield as he ran for 20 carries, 102 yards and two touchdowns as he looks to replace last year's superstar Demetrius Warren (Sacramento State). Junior fullback and linebacker Josh Newman is a very rugged hitter on both sides of the field for the Knights.


In what could be one of the more highly anticipated match ups in the 2012 season for the Central Section, the ridiculously loaded Grizzlies face off against an always big and physical Liberty squad, who also seems to carve out a Division-I prospect on their end down in Kern County.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR CENTRAL: Devon Brewer emerged as the next best defensive back prospect for DB coach and guru Tony Perry at Central. The junior intercepted two passes in Central's easy 44-3 stomping over Hanford. With Oklahoma commit Hatari Byrd and four-star cornerback L.J Moore on one side, Brewer could see teams throw the ball away from them, which means Brewer could see a spike in picks. Teshawn Smallwood anchors a rugged defensive front that produced six sacks against what some believe will be a highly touted quarterback prospect in Hanford's Jacob Young last Friday. Offensively, Nick Wilson will look to build on his strong performance in the Grizzly backfield after 181 yards and three touchdowns last week. Helping clear the way is massive 6-foot-7, 300 pound Dorian Smith, who has very quick feet for a tackle and is starting to pick up interest. A big matchup in this game will be the hard-hitting Byrd going against this prospect for Liberty...

PROSPECT WATCH FOR LIBERTY: Corbin Jountii is starting to emerge as one of the premier running backs in the Central Valley. After a highly productive junior year, Jountii hit the ground running with 192 rushing yards and five touchdowns in the Patriots' 56-7 rout over Delano. Another big playmaker starting to get noticed is wide receiver Kenny Davis, who caught three receptions for 90 yards and the opening touchdown. Davis is a speedy presence and the 5-foot-9, 185 pound target could be paired up with L.J Moore in this one. Davis could have his breakout party with a strong contest here versus a stacked Central secondary. Long snapper and Alabama commit Cole Mazza will also be on the field.


After a 1-9 disaster that saw the Miners get dropped back to the Division-II realm in the Central Section, El Diamante clearly looked nothing like last year in their Friday contest, after dispatching Tulare Union 34-20. As for the Broncos, the reigning Division-II Central Section champion began their pursuit of a D-I Valley title by going down to the 805 and smashing Atascadero 41-21.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR EL DIAMANTE: A potential top 2014 recruit was born in Deangelo Torres, as the 5-foot-9, 210 pound boulder smashed his way to 266 yards on 24 carries with three scores for the Miners last Friday. Blake Edmondson (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) also had a breakout game on the receiving end, thanks to 133 yards on four receptions plus two touchdowns.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR CLOVIS NORTH: On a team loaded with talent, versatile Marcus Rose had a breakout performance with five catches for 110 yards and a touchdown, plus a 35 yard punt return for a score. Quarterback Christian Rossi had a solid outing with 220 passing yards. San Diego State commit David Wells caught four balls for 68 yards from his tight end spot. Isaiah Duran will be one to watch in both trenches, as he doubles as a powerful offensive lineman and high-motor defensive guy.


Two proud high school programs are facing this unlikely scenario-an 0-2 start in 2012.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR CARSON: The Colts' defense and special teams sputtered bad in their 42-26 loss to Long Beach Poly last week. Pu'e Togia is one to watch with his mean streak, more so on the offensive line.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR EDISON: All eyes will be on quarterback Khari McGee. The dual-threat had one of his worst performances in his prep career with 149 passing yards and four interceptions. How he rebounds from that nightmarish performance versus Clovis will determine what kind of character McGee has.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Prospect stat tracker from week zero: Cali defenders

Photo courtesy of sportswurlz
Here's how some under-the-radar state defenders fared during their Friday action:


Stats: 15 total tackles (10 assisted, five solo) in 58-26 loss to Norwalk.

Overview: Faaiu has solid size at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds and he's got a great nose for the football. He's also freakishly versatile as a pass rusher with 11 sacks last year and had four forced fumbles. Might be one of the best kept secrets in the Los Angeles region and Southern Section.


Stats: One fumble recovery, one tackle, 4.5 sacks in 58-26 victory over Cabrillo-Long Beach.

Overview: McAlister was on the winning side and he was on the heavy pressure side in the Norwalk-Cabrillo contest. The 6-foot-2, 230 pound McAlister is currently the state's leader in sacks with his total from Friday. The high-motor defensive end has interest from San Diego State, Arizona State and Arizona.


Stats: Two tackles, three interceptions for 39 yards in 49-12 rout over Morningside.

Overview: A potential rising junior at safety, Cuha had three interceptions as a sophomore last year. He's already matched that total this year after one game. He's got sharp pursuit angles that helps with his ball skills on defense. If he can be more consistent with his tackling, he could become one to watch.


Stats: Two sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, 13 solo tackles in 20-17 loss to Sanger.

Overview: A very underrated and hard-hitting safety, Wingfield (photo) plays the game like a glorified linebacker and his instincts led to another breakout game for him and the Wildcats despite the loss. He helps bring a nasty tone to any defense. Should also add, his twin brother Errian, another underrated talent, ran for 170 yards and two touchdowns.

Folsom duo now one to watch

Near the state capitol, there was a quarterback and wide receiver team that placed their own star on the California map with their monster Friday performance.

Phillip Carter is apparently being recruited as a strong safety through Yale and Harvard. His receiving performance may end up changing that.

And as for his sophomore quarterback, the record books, Folsom opponents, college programs and finally scouts (including this guy typing this) now has to follow this kid's move.

Both Carter and his quarterback Jake Browning had a Madden NFL '13-like outing on Friday during the Bulldogs' 68-28 rout over Woodcreek. For Carter, the senior tallied 10 receptions, 318 yards and five total touchdowns on the defensive side and receiving.

Browning actually became seven touchdowns shy from shattering the single national high school game record of most touchdown throws. He did break a Sac-Joaquin Section record, with a ridiculous 10 touchdowns and 686 passing yards.

Maybe Carter sneaks in more offers with continued progression. I already like his route-running skills, his size at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds and his run-after-catch ability. He's especially dangerous on screen passes because of his elusive nature and field vision. He's a player that defenses should probably not play zone with, because he'll devour that open space and go for the end zone.

As for Browning, if he averages 10 touchdowns per game, that means 100 in a single season. Doubtful he'll get to that point. However, I'm sure people had doubts that he would reach 10 touchdowns in one game, plus over 600 yards.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Prospect stat tracker from week zero: Southern California

Here's how some prospects fared last night down in the So Cal region:


Stats from last night: One reception, 20 yards, good for a touchdown. One interception return for 34 yards. Four total tackles versus Indio High.

Overview: Seems like Terry doesn't touch the football often. However, when he does, watch out, he's a threat to score at any time. One of the more under-appreciated but dangerous players in the Inland Empire region, perhaps also the state. A three-way threat as a receiver, cornerback and return ace.


Stats from last night: Ten receptions, 117 yards, three receiving touchdowns. One forced fumble, recovered it for a 34 yard score. Totaled 153 yards off of kick and punt returns. Threw one pass for a 40 yard touchdown. Totaled over 300 yards and five touchdowns.

Overview: He's armed with just New Mexico State and UNLV offers. He did pick up interest from UCLA, winning Most Valuable Player awards for his individual performance at UCLA's summer camp. The interest meter, though, may have now increased after a ridiculously explosive performance under the lights on Friday. He's a do-everything type for Franklin and more performances like this one could make him one of the best receivers in a rich recruiting region.


Stats from last night: Caught nine passes, 163 yards and had three touchdowns in 60-47 loss to Santa Paula.

Overview: The 5-foot-11, 170 pound Surrell, who comes from the same school that produced former USC receiver Keary Colbert, had his career-best performance despite the loss. Maybe he's somebody that can sneak up on people this coming year in the Southern Section and 805.

Upon further review: week zero

Now that the first week has officially come and gone, here's an overview on certain prospects:

--Lavon Coleman of Lompoc isn't just as good as advertised, he might be the greatest running back ever produced in their program history, even better than former Brave Napolean Kaufman. At 5-foot-11, 210 pounds, Coleman already has better size than the 5-foot-8, 190 pound Kaufman. He's already got more power and bounced off of four different Arroyo Grande defenders on his biggest run of the evening on Friday, a 68 yarder in the second quarter. The biggest stunner, though, is how fluid Coleman is with his elusiveness, which is scaringly identical to Kaufman when the former Oakland Raider was a Brave. The Washington commit finished with 17 carries, 170 yards and two touchdowns in Lompoc's 31-0 romp over the traditional 805 powerhouse Arroyo Grande, who could have sorely needed Oklahoma State commit Seth Jacobs in their secondary last night.

--The jury is still out for me regarding Ainnu Taua. I could see why schools like Arizona and Utah are after him, thanks to Taua's combination of speed, power, and hand technique. He doesn't appear to be the most discipline of players though, especially on defense. He was in a good position to make at least three stops behind the line of scrimmage, but dove at the ankles from his defensive end spot. He can correct this with nine games left. I do like his aggression level as a blocking tight end. He may grow into a guard at the next level thanks to his upper body strength, hand leverage, and motor.

--Taylor Cornejo needs to build off of not only his 1,075 yard performance from last season to draw heavy interest, but also must show people he can wear down the trenches inside. He clearly looks like a one-dimensional back with acceleration to the outside. He can be an effective fly sweep guy. But bulk and an improved ability to break tackles will be a must for him to draw interest somewhere. Maybe he can fit someone's pistol or triple option offense.

--Going over to the Central Section, Adrian Salas of Clovis looks like a player to watch. Salas had his coming out party for the Cougars thanks to 10 tackles and one interception on defense, while two touchdowns running and receiving on offense, as the Cougars stunned area and state powerhouse Edison-Fresno 27-10. Salas, a 5-foot-10, 190 pound senior running back and linebacker, was on a Clovis defense who frustrated highly-touted quarterback Khari McGee all night, thanks to four interceptions, two of them from ball-hawking safety Jason Black, a three-year varsity starter.

--Speaking of McGee, I know it's just one game, and Clovis will likely be the last real legit defense the Tigers will face all season, since their league opponents have been rather up-and-down on defense over the years. But, this one game was against last season's No. 1 Central Section defense, and McGee was intercepted four times and appeared to also be flustered as a runner. This may cause college coaches to wonder how he'll fare against other speedy and athletic defenses, or some of the top defenses he'll face in general. It will be interesting to see how he bounces back with Carson and Crenshaw coming up. McGee's character will clearly be tested.

--Another character being tested this season is 2014 quarterback prospect Jacob Young of Hanford. I heard rumblings that Young is reminding people of former Centennial-Bakersfield star and USC backup quarterback Cody Kessler. I don't think Kessler would have been sacked six times, picked off twice, or held to 59 yards passing in any games even against a loaded defense. Not discouraging Young, he's got a great deep ball, but last night could have cemented his case of being a highly-recruited quarterback in the state by going against the Grizzlies' renown secondary. Central took him and the air attack away easily last night.

--Devon Brewer of Central is next in line for Tony Perry for the Grizzlies. The junior, who's already armed with four offers from the mid-major ranks, led the way with two interceptions and one 31 yard touchdown score. Teams will likely throw away from L.J Moore and Oklahoma commit Hatari Byrd. Unless something catastrophic happens, Brewer is due for a huge junior year, and may become one of the more highly-recruited safeties in 2014.

--Nick Wilson is already appearing to be comfortable in the Grizzlies' new run-heavy pistol offense. Wilson, who's in the same backfield that once produced Brendon Bigelow (Cal) and Rob Johnson (Fresno City, Mountain West and PAC-12 offers), ran for 181 yards and three touchdowns in Central's 44-3 romp over the Bullpups.

--A sleeper in the Central Section at quarterback could be Marcus McMaryion of Dinuba. He's actually a much taller prospect than last year's starter David Rico, who's now at Cal Lutheran. The 6-foot-2 McMaryion has size, a smooth rocket arm, and even a sense of comfort in the pocket. His pocket awareness has what got me sold along with his delivery. More exposure and a breakout junior year could lead to heavy interest for him. He already introduced himself to Dinuba fans thanks to five touchdown passes in the Emperors' 42-26 win over Madera on Friday.

--Finally, Bakersfield has a strong chance at being the best team in the state period with their talent level, and their 48-14 trouncing against a proud Ventura squad that was 11-1 last year. Jeremiah Reddick should get heavy interest soon, the junior opened the year up with 118 yards, on just six carries and a score. Fellow junior Derrick Vickers also reached the end zone twice. Both are around six feet, 170 pounds and explosive through the open holes.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Will anyone go their "route?"

contributed photo
The Southern California region has long been the one stopping area for recruiters and college football programs to pick up all the necessary items they feel they need on their trip to a championship.

However, along with the guys who play for the likes of Long Beach Poly, Carson, Crenshaw, Monrovia, Dorsey, Loyola, etc., there also tends to be some players in that same So Cal region who may get overlooked.

One position that's heavily deep in this region is the wide receiver spot. I found at least seven different names who may be worth looking at even more and could be some potential sleepers.

Here's what I dug up:


He's actually a former quarterback transitioning to the wide receiver position, and he's starting to pick up interest after a solid performance over at Passing Down's So Cal Regional back in the spring.

So far, the 6-foot-3, 195 pound Swindell has Tulsa and UNLV offers. He's freakishly quick with a 4.3 40-yard dash time for a receiver that tall and physical. Speaking of being physical, he seems to toy with any defensive back who dares to try to jam his strong upper-body at the line, and he's one nasty blocker who can deliver an offensive guard-like pancake block.

He still looks like a guy who can polish his skills as a receiver, especially with being familiar with his routes and the offense. He has shown his catching potential by making the tough sideline grab or even the ones away from his body. He's an effort player who could be due for a breakout season. He's also got the backing from one former Oregon receiving star James Finley.



He's the younger brother of former Washington wide receiver and now Illinois State transfer Marlion Barnett. Much like his brother, this Barnett also brings the size aspect, except Dorion stands at 6-foot-3.

Looking at Barnett, he does the kind of things that gets his sidelines in a frenzy, and the Shark fan base on their feet. For one, he's shown to be a deep threat with his impressive 6-foot-3, 200 pound frame. He's also made the tough sideline grabs, but even shows an elusiveness to beat defenders one-on-one, then out-sprint people for the lengthy touchdown. He's also got the jump ball aspect down when he's glued to two defenders in the end zone, the same trait that helped turn Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, and now Calvin Johnson into NFL stars.

His size and leaping ability makes him a dangerous red zone target. He's also powerful enough to give defenders a piggy back ride on his back if they try to tackle him. He's even made one-handed grabs in a tight man-to-man coverage. Maybe an area of improvement will be his overall speed, since he's not much of a burner with a 40-time of 4.7. But if that improves, you could be looking at one of the more dangerous wideouts in the Inland Empire. His size, power, and soft hands makes him one to watch.



Savage has two offers in South Dakota State and Eastern Washington. Sherwood is seeking his first. Both, however, have made head-turning plays, especially one of them at the Passing Down So Cal regional.

The 6-foot-1, 190 pound Savage is an explosive target who averaged over 23 yards per catch and seven touchdowns. He has very smooth feet, can haul in the tough middle reception, and can even break tackles like a glorified running back. He's got quality wheels on him thanks to his 4.5 40-yard dash time. He's also a willing blocker who stays on his defender and can even shove them out-of-bounds.

Sherwood tends to get picked on by some defenses because of his small size. But then the 5-foot-7 slot man picks on defenses with his stunning big-play potential. He had defenses fooled on wheel and screen routes as his 7-on-7 team won the So Cal regional title back in April. He's a Danny Woodhead type who can be utilized in a variety of ways. He also shows to be unafraid of going inside on short routes, and still breaking tackles for the long touchdown reception as proven by his highlight video. Sherwood scored 10 total touchdowns receiving and running last season for Damien.

These are two explosive wide receivers who aren't even the protypical playmakers colleges mainly look for. A big senior year for both could make them get more love on the scholarship front. They're a very underrated wide receiver duo in the L.A region and both run a 4.5 40 time.




Clark is one of many weapons at the disposal of Washington commit and highly-touted quarterback Troy Williams.

The tall 6-foot-1, 180 pound Clark is a blazing route runner who even has a leap to his catching ability. He caught just 32 passes and four touchdowns for Narbonne, but he averaged over 17 yards per catch for the Gauchos.

Clark has the speed to create separation and space between his defenders. He's also got some elusiveness in him. So far, New Mexico State is his lone offer. But an increase in numbers, especially with Troy Williams looking to improve even more his senior year could mean a breakout season for Clark.



Karsh comes from an area that has often been heavily overlooked in the southern section, the Central Coast region.

The dynamic wide receiver, though, has become active this off-season thanks to both Passing Down and the Fresno State camp, and the potential is there for him to become perhaps the most explosive wide receiver in the 805 region.

Karsh is already a speed demon with soft hands. He scored points with me though because of how smooth his feet are when going down field and even breaking off of defenders for the extra yards. He's a tough, competitive spirit who even has enough size and jumping ability to be a red zone target. He totaled nine touchdowns as a receiver and return specialist.

I can't think of any real downsides to him, other than the fact that maybe he's barely six feet tall and maybe the team he played on was 3-7 in 2011. However, he lead his team in receptions, yards and tied the lead for touchdown receptions in a spread offense. Maybe a mid-major who runs a spread offense can look into him, especially if he has an even bigger 2012.



Terry (photo) is probably also facing the dilemma of not being big enough to be a wide receiver.

That changes though with his speed and competitive attitude.

On defense, Terry (5-foot-9, 160 pounds) gets low enough to make the necessary stops from his cornerback spot. He'll latch onto a defender and won't let go, plus he'll use his size to his advantage to make his stops. His defenders on defense also have a hard time trying to keep him at bay with his speed and route-running. He's capable of making the 15-50 yard grab for the first down. He's also an effective end around guy and a valuable return weapon on kickoffs. 

Maybe teams are turned off by his size. Or maybe, West Valley didn't use him as much. However, the fact he received an unofficial visit to Oregon does say something about him. If he's used even more, watch out. He could be a potential sleeper in the Inland Empire.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

2014 class deep in the trenches for the Central Valley

Photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna of Mid-Valley Publishing
If there's any college football program looking to add more strength to the defensive line, looks like the Central Section just might be a great place to start.

There's five guys I can think of who bring versatility, size, leverage, and a motor all to the table. Every single one of them aren't even seniors yet, all are 2014 prospects.

Here's a closer look at who I dug up:


It didn't matter if he was lining up at nose tackle or defensive end, Smallwood created so many mismatches and bullied his way to nearly 15 sacks on the Grizzly front three.

At 6-foot-1 and roughly 270 pounds, Smallwood keeps his feet under him and has an improving hand technique. It's his motor, leverage and desire to make plays, though, that won me over. Even at a school with a loaded and renown secondary, Smallwood just might help turn Central-Fresno into a defensive line factory as well. The versatile Smallwood already has a Nevada offer. Maybe another reason why the Grizzlies were so good in the defensive backfield last year was because of Smallwood helping create plays for them with his pursuit towards the quarterback. He'll be one of the better pass rushers and one of the most versatile defensive linemen in the Central Section for the next two years.


An impact player since his freshman season, where he actually landed a starting role with the Broncos' varsity squad, Duran has been one of the main cornerstones on a Clovis North team that won the Division-II Central Section title last season, and appears to be a threat to make a run at the D-I title this upcoming year.

Duran has been the most dominant lineman on both sides of the football for the Broncos. On offense, his run blocking spearheads a pro style attacks that's being run by former NFL safety and Clovis North head coach Cory Hall. It's his play on defense, though, that has me convinced.

Duran has the hands, motor and, thanks to also his wrestling background, a strong lower body that can win the low pad level battle. He has linebacker-like instincts when closing in on quarterbacks and ball carriers. He's bounced between defensive end and tackle at 6-feet, 260 pounds.

One other thing about Duran too, in this video at a Passing Down lineman challenge, Duran also proves to be a workout warrior. Even on a team with San Diego State commit David Wells at tight end and an emerging star quarterback in Christian Rossi, Duran could become the best college football prospect for the Broncos and the top of Clovis North's 2014 class.



The Edison 2014 class seems to be in strong hands with Haynes likely leading the Tiger pass rush.

The 6-foot-1, 270 pound Haynes already turned heads in front of Tony Perry,, and that performance over at the DB guru skills camp earned him a selection to the Proving Ground National Combine, which also is a ticket to the U.S Marines bowl thanks to Haynes showing off stunning feet and athleticism.

When you think about quick feet and the athletic portion, you immediately begin thinking about how he is when it comes to rushing the passer. Haynes has shown good angles and a full-year of being on the Edison front line under first year head coach Ricky Manning can lead to great potential for him. He's already at a high school that's proven time and time again to be a college football factory.


With the departure of Dakota Gordon inside, the Central Section's No.1 ranked defense from last season will likely count on the play of junior Nick Nevills.

He's got more size on him at 285 pounds. He also has shown an explosive first step once the ball moves. His power and leverage also has to come from a wrestling background, since Nevills competed as a state wrestler in his weight class.

Clovis thrived off of speed and running to the football last season, which included their defensive linemen. Nevills, even on a defense with an impressive secondary, could be the hidden gem of this Cougar defense with his brute force, power and motor.


The city of Reedley hasn't always been a hotbed when it comes to getting big-time college football talent. However, something tells me that the 6-foot-3, 290 pound junior just might change things up for the Pirates on the recruiting front.

Espiritu (photo) doubles as the Pirates' center and nose tackle. He's got a nasty streak at both spots and can set the tone for his team. However, it's his defensive game that has me in a situation where I got to keep my eyes on how he progresses.

Already in his second varsity year, Espiritu uses his massive size to occupy a lot of attention, but still have enough force and leverage to create penetration into the backfield. When you block him one-on-one when he's on defense, forget it, he'll either blow past you and eat your running back or just shove you to one side.

His run-stopping ability from his nose tackle spot should be a plus for a team going with mainly a 3-4 look. He'll need to refine his pass rushing skills and hand technique for the next two years. He's got a great opportunity to draw heavy interest if the work, exposure and desire to get better is there.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Prospect watch for week zero: The Sac-Joaquin region

Photo courtesy of 24/7 sports
We wrap up our anticipated games for this coming Friday with the northern area of California, which goes from Stockton to Sacramento and highlight some games featuring a few PAC-12 and Mountain West commits and others worth looking at.

Here's the slate for this side of the state:

Sac-Joaquin Region


The Thundering Herd will be looking to build off of their 12-1 campaign, while traditional Stockton-area powerhouse Lincoln will feature some quality prospects in this Aug. 24 showdown.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR ELK GROVE: Robert Frazier gets to shoulder the load this time around and build off of his 1,494 rushing yards with 15 touchdowns from last season. The 5-foot-8, 180 pound two-way star also drops back into coverage for Elk Grove, thanks to four interceptions with a defensive touchdown last season. Frazier has excellent burst and even power for a player his size. Another 5-foot-8 running back in junior Wadus Parker also should see lots of carries in this offense after 813 yards, 15 touchdowns and an average of over nine yards per carry as a sophomore last year. He's also one of the Thundering Herd's top pass rushers after a nine sack season in 2011, including three games with two or more. Fellow junior defensive end/linebacker B'won Canada brings versatility, instincts, and a nose for the football. He too had nine sacks last season to go along with four fumble recoveries.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR LINCOLN: All eyes will likely be on Trojan running back Justin Davis, who will happen to become a Trojan in 2013, after committing to USC this past off-season. The five-star running back according to already has nearly 60 career touchdowns and ran for 2,613 yards in his junior year. At quarterback will be Zack Greenlee (photo), who's armed with just a Fresno State offer but has generated plenty of interest from the PAC-12 and recently Wisconsin after a 24 touchdown, 2,415 yard passing season in 2011.


Powerhouses from the Southern California region and the Sacramento realm collide in this huge contest. Del Oro is looking to build on their Cal state bowl game appearance, while Oaks Christian is looking to bounce back from their Southern Section title game loss to Westlake Village last season.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR DEL ORO: Brandon Monroe combines power, speed, vision and size from his running back spot. The leading rusher for the Golden Eagles last season with 1,662 yards, Monroe already has three offers from Cal Poly, Fresno State and San Jose State and committed to the Spartans back on Aug. 13. If he has another breakout year where he gains more yards than his junior year, plus improve on his 4.64 40-yard dash time, Monroe could land even more offers. The 6-foot, 180 pound talent is also a hard-hitting linebacker who can knock footballs loose. Returning senior Dalton Hudec, (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) brings versatility, a motor and a pass rush for the Golden Eagles. Hudec lines up at tackle and end on defense, and also has a Dwight Freeney-like spin move to his pass rushing skills.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR OAKS CHRISTIAN: The best is probably yet to come for Brandon Dawkins. As a sophomore playing for the 805 powerhouse, Dawkins threw for over 3,000 yards and 33 touchdown passes compared to just 12 interceptions. He also had 344 yards rushing and seven scores on the ground, giving him a combined 40 touchdowns in the Lions' 11-3 season. Dawkins already has a Utah and Norte Dame offer and even broke a single-game passing record for touchdowns once held by Oaks Christian legend Jimmy Clausen. If he can polish his drop step, plus become better at securing the football (fumbled eight times, lost four of them), the 6-foot-4, 200 pound Dawkins could emerge as one of the most highly-sought quarterbacks in the nation.Teammate Francis Owusu is already highly-coveted from the wide receiver spot and committed to Stanford back in June. The 6-foot-3, 195 pound target is very effective in the red zone with his jump ball ability and can move the chains as a third-down option with his ability to go over the middle. UCLA commit Cameron Judge (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) will also be one to watch at linebacker with his range, huge hits, and improving coverage ability. Fellow linebacker Marcus Jones is yet to be offered, but the 6-foot-1, 245 pound defender comes back after a 12 sack season, and to a defense that produced 58 sacks in 2011. Jones has enough size to not only line up at defensive end, but also inside.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Prospect watch for week zero: Central Section

Photo courtesy of Chris Martinez/DB Nation
Since I've been in the Fresno/Clovis area, I've seen this area explode with the talent that gets pumped out here.

Gone are the days of the best player from Fresno or Bakersfield fortunate enough to end up at Fresno State, but getting overlooked by the PAC-12, SEC, Big XII, etc. Now these days, if you're among the best at the position you play, you can go to not only Fresno State, but end up at USC, UCLA, Cal, Oregon, Miami, Arizona, Arizona State, Oklahoma, etc.

And with these two games being highlighted for Aug. 24, there will be plenty of talented prospects on four different schools worth looking at. Here's some of the highlighted week zero contests for the Central Section:


Clovis High has had one unique journey in recent years. This was a team who was once 0-10 in 2007. Last season, the Cougars went on a 9-0 run before finishing out the year at 10-2. They were spearheaded all season long by the Central Section's top defense.

On Edison's side, speed and athleticism continues to be the theme for the traditional Fresno-area powerhouse. Except this time, former Edison alum and NFL veteran Ricky Manning Jr. steps in for long-time Tiger head coach Tim McDonald. Manning Jr. will have loads of talent across the board in his first year of coaching, including one quarterback generating some PAC-12 interest.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR EDISON: It all begins with dual-threat Khari McGee. The 6-foot-4, 200 pound running and throwing threat is armed with five total offers ranging from Eastern Washington, San Jose State, Arizona, Utah and Oregon State. He's also picking up interest from his head coach's alma mater, UCLA. His coming out party had to have been versus cross-town rival Bullard, where he even made touchdowns out of nothing thanks to this film. An even bigger senior year could earn him even more offers, and he'll be going against the best defense from 2011 in the section. While McGee brings the electricity, perhaps massive Brandon Wright brings the thunder. The right guard and nose tackle brings occupying size (6-foot-2, 320 pounds) and a nastiness to both lines. He has enough size and power to become a Vince Wilfork or Casey Hampton for someone's 3-4 defense. Junior Yasmin Haynes brings a bright future for the Tigers' front line after showing off stunning agility and athleticism for his size. The athletic Haynes could emerge as Edison's top pass rusher especially if Wright draws lots of double teams. An underrated prospect for Edison will be safety Ronnie Manning. The former Clovis North backup running back has shown to be an active blitzer and has drawn interest from Cal Poly, Arizona and Oregon State through letters.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR CLOVIS: They may have lost some of their talented pieces from the defensive side of the football. But make no mistake, the Cougars should be stacked again, especially in the secondary. Safety Jason Black returns for his third varsity year and has been an excellent ball-hawk. The most talented defensive back and hardest hitter though could be former quarterback C.J Broussard. The 6-foot-tall, 180 pound Broussard has long arms and a viscous stick when receivers try to jump for a football in front of him. Junior defensive tackle Nick Nevills shows strength, explosion and lower body leverage off the snap and also made the state finals for wrestling in the 285 pound class.


The Bullpups have carved out speed and consistency in the shadow of the Fresno and Bakersfield scene. Most recently, Hanford produced one three-year varsity sensation at wide receiver who's now walking on at Fresno State, Brayden Sanchez.

As for Central, the Grizzlies produce a Division-I prospect literally every year now. And this year's squad has ridiculous talent everywhere, even under new head coach Justin Garza.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR HANFORD: Jacob Young hit the ground running as a sophomore quarterback. In his first varsity season, the Bullpup completed 67.6 percent of his throws with 18 touchdowns and just seven picks. He throws one of the best deep balls in the valley and looks like a pro-style quarterback, since he thrives off of the play action. He gets a golden opportunity to burst onto the scene even more, because of who he's about to go against on the Grizzlies' side...

PROSPECT WATCH FOR CENTRAL: Led by renown defensive back guru Tony Perry, the Grizzlies not only have the best secondary in the valley or state, but perhaps even the nation. This unit is so stacked, players on the sidelines even land offers because of the amount of work Perry puts them through. The cornerback duo of L.J Moore and Johnny Johnson will make it hard for quarterbacks to throw their way. Both have drawn interest from the PAC-12, Big XII, even the SEC ranks. Junior Devon Brewer (Nevada, Houston, UNLV, Eastern Washington offers) will likely man one safety spot, while Oklahoma commit Hatari Byrd will provide the intimidating size (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) and knock out hits. On the defensive line, Teshawn Smallwood brings size and versatility. The 6-foot-1, 285 pound Smallwood bounced between nose tackle and defensive end and snatched up nearly 15 sacks for the Grizzlies. He's already received an offer from Nevada. On offense, wide receiver Michiah Quick (photo) should be one of the most coveted wide receivers in the nation soon. Already armed with seven offers, the 5-foot-11, 175 pound Quick has rapid fire quick feet and smooth route running. He emerged as the go-to wide receiver last year for the Grizzlies' spread offense. Running backs Nick Wilson and Michael Grimes could emerge as the best backfield duo in the Valley in Central's new pistol offense under Garza.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Prospect watch for week zero: Los Angeles City Section

Photo courtesy of 24-7 sports
We stay in the Southern California region, but this time highlight some of the top week zero action in the Los Angeles region, which has been the biggest hotbed on the recruiting trail for the PAC-12, Mountain West, and even the Southeastern Conference.

Los Angeles City Section


Crenshaw not only produced the football version of the Black Mamba (De'Anthony Thomas of Oregon), but the inner-city Los Angeles school has been one of the more consistent programs in the L.A region. As for the Sharks, they've been rather up-and-down under head coach Jeff Steinberg, but this year's squad brings back lots of experience and size.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR CRENSHAW: Versatile Mossi Johnson will be one to watch in this game. He won't just line up at wide receiver. The 6-foot-1, 185 pound three-star prospect also lines up at safety and even quarterback for the Cougars. Johnson is an explosive weapon who even returns kicks. And, for a guy that tall, he's got juke moves for days, proven by this highlight film. Johnson only has one offer right now from UNLV. He's got potential to play wide receiver and return kicks for someone. He led the Cougars in rushing yards last season with 493. Junior Jacob Knight (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) could be the next best running back for Crenshaw after averaging 6.2 yards per carry and scoring seven touchdowns as a sophomore in 2011.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR SANTIAGO: Quarterback Michael Darr provides a dual-threat for Crenshaw in this game. He was actually the Sharks' second leading rusher with 597 yards and four touchdowns in 2011. The big-time prospect though for Santiago could be Dorion Barnett, a 6-foot-3, 200 pound football and basketball star for the Sharks with soft hands and an ability to snatch the jump ball from defensive backs. Barnett (photo) is capable of being someone's red-zone target and needs to build off of his 4.7 40-yard dash time to draw even more interest. So far, letters from the Mountain West and PAC-12 have come his way. Safety Mychel Irving brings good size (6-foot, 185 pounds) and speed (4.63 40) to the Sharks' secondary. Versatile tackle and guard Chris Lacroix brings a nasty streak through both pass and run blocking on Santiago's offensive line.


The Jackrabbits have long been a football factory that has produced the likes of Darnell Bing, Herchel Dennis, Mercedes Lewis, and DeSean Jackson. Carson has also had a tremendous run of success and played in the CIF L.A Section title game back in 2010.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR LONG BEACH POLY: The Jackrabbits have one small but dynamic running back in Manusamoa Luuga. The 5-foot-9, 180 pound Luuga has tremendous acceleration through the open hole and even displays terrific change of direction. Luuga even has lined up at wide receiver for L.B Poly. Size is a drawback, but he's seems real competitive and unafraid of contact. Fellow backfield mate Gerard Wicks (5-foot-11, 190 pounds) is another explosive back that fits in nicely with the Jackrabbits' speed. The three-star and track and field burner so far has a Washington State offer and is currently committed to Mike Leach and the Cougars. Wicks is just as similar to Luuga but has also shown some power at 1:30-1:35 of his film. He led the way with 772 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR CARSON:   Pu'e Togia will be the one making things go for the Colt offense, as a member of the trenches. Togia brings good height at 6-foot-5, excellent hip adjustment, good hand placement and, the best trait, his mauling attitude to the Carson line at tackle.

Prospect watch for week zero: southern section

Photo courtesy of 24/7 sports
We're less than 10 days away from seeing the bands come out, the high school students staying up past 9 p.m, the alumni back in the seats and, finally, the lights illuminating the football field.

Zero week is upon us here in California. But this is no exhibition contest, these games count and there's some notable games up-and-down the Golden State worth looking into by the end of August.

Here's a closer, in-depth look and who to watch out for, beginning with some notable Southern Section contests:

Southern Section


Many in Kern County believed that it was the Drillers, not Washington Union, who should've represented the Central Valley of California in the CIF State bowl game, especially after their impressive 13-0 run.

Nonetheless though, the Drillers are stacked again and are considered the heavy favorite to win the Central Section Division-I crown. As for the Cougars, what was looking like a dream undefeated season was halted at the hands of Santa Monica and got Ventura to finish 11-1 last season.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR VENTURA: Losing Conner Armstrong and his 1,632 yards plus 23 touchdowns shouldn't hurt the Cougars too much. Returning senior and change-of-pace back Leo Camacho is a capable gritty runner with a receiving ability too. The 5-foot-7, 180 pound Camacho touched the football 81 times on offense, while totaling 885 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns. Ventura has also done very well with small runners. Maybe 2001 Cougar graduate Tyler Ebell rings a bell for some. Evan Roth (6-foot-1, 270 pounds) should be the main guy paving the way for the Cougars line.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR BAKERSFIELD: The Drillers should have some heavily-sought prospects real soon, since they actually won the D-I Central Section title with at least seven sophomores getting playing time. One big-time prospect will be 6-foot-3, 170 pound Kevin Hayes, who doubles as a deep threat/red-zone target and ball-hawking defensive back. Hayes led the Drillers in receptions, receiving touchdowns and had four interceptions as a sophomore last season. Top interception artist Jermaine Ervin (5 picks) comes back for his senior year in a very stacked Driller secondary. Derrick Vickers and Jeremiah Reddick are two junior running backs ready to shoulder the load. Both had over 300 yards rushing and a combined seven touchdowns as sophomores on varsity.


This has actually been one of the better rivalries on the Central Coast for many years, and names like former NFL player Jamie Martin, Oregon State committs Brent VanderVeen, Garrett Owens and Garrett Weinrich and most recently Seth Jacobs (Oklahoma State) played in this rivalry game for Arroyo Grande. Lompoc has had names like Napolean Kaufman (Washington, Oakland Raiders), former NFL punter Tommy Thompson, former Utah fullback Matt Sims and Ex-Baylor defensive end Michael Slaughter play against the Eagles.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR ARROYO GRANDE: The traditional 805 powerhouse Eagles will be much younger this time around. But their future does look bright in the secondary with returning junior Tyler Auerbach, who had five interceptions as a sophomore and played in the shadow of Seth Jacobs. Matt Willkomm (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) also returns after a seven interception season. Despite Jacobs and Garrett Owens moving on, the Eagles should have a very well-stacked defensive backfield.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR LOMPOC: Before he suits up for Washington just like Napolean Kaufman, four-star running back and Husky commit Lavon Coleman (photo) gets one more year of pounding the rock for the always run-heavy Braves. The 5-foot-11, 210 pound Coleman isn't just a north-south grinder, he also shows stunning elusiveness for a massive back. Coleman ran for 2,038 yards and 26 touchdowns in Lompoc's Wing-T offense. Fellow back Taylor Cornejo also returns. Cornejo is a lot smaller and probably less powerful than Coleman at just 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, but he's got quickness that helps spell Coleman. Cornejo ran for 1,075 yards and 14 touchdowns in the Braves 14-0 run in 2011. Returning junior Ainuu Taua is another player to watch on the line especially on defense. The freakishly quick 6-foot-1, 270 pound Taua had seven sacks as a sophomore last season. Taua already has Arizona, Utah and UCLA offers.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Grind time: The Junior College RB's

Photo courtesy of Lee Central Coast Newspapers
Back now to the junior college scene, and the backfield list here is one of the more deeper ones for the beginning stage of collegiate football.

The thing that strikes me the most about these guys is their determination and their desire to pound inside to wear down a defense. Here's some of the running back talent to look out for in the junior college circuit:


The Bulldogs have long been known for producing a punishing ground attack spearheaded by plenty of size and physicality on the line. Yet, Artis-Payne just may be, potentially, the best to come out of Hancock's backfield.

Artis-Payne (photo), who currently holds New Mexico and Utah State offers, is a 5-foot-11, 220 pound bowling ball of a man who seemed to only stop his feet when the fourth quarter came to a close. He's got to be one of the more instinctive runners in the California junior college scene, even bouncing off of nearly eight defenders and still scoring a touchdown in his highlight film. Some defenders even looked like Artis-Payne was giving them a piggy back ride, since the Bulldog runner dragged some people with him too.

While Artis-payne is built like a north-sound grinder (which is his strong suit), he does have enough speed to dash outside, proven by his 4.5 40-yard dash time.

I haven't really seen him catch out of the backfield, so there's no telling how consistent of a receiver he'll be on swing passes or even inside hooks. He does have great size to be a blitz pick-up back on passing plays. Yet, in the end, with his burst, power, vision and refusal to stop his legs when running the rock, Artis-Payne is keeping a solid tradition of physicality at Hancock alive and well. A nasty and gritty running back in the 805.



At 5-foot-8 and 190 pounds, you would think Fields wouldn't be big enough or even be allowed to carry the rock between the tackles.

Wrong sentiment. Fields came off as a guy who made his most explosive runs between his offensive tackles.

An even faster running back with his 4.4 40-yard dash time, Fields is another quick burst guy who also also has stunningly good power for a college football running back at that size. He even violently tosses one poor defender between 1:57-2:10 of his highlight film.

Fields will likely need to be more cautious of how he carries the ball. He has been caught holding the ball away from his body when swinging his arms, even juking one defender with the ball coming across that defender's facemask, which got him away from fumbling.

Still though, Fields has an explosive runner style and a mean streak when carrying the rock that I like. He can even truck people despite his small frame. Might be one of the best kept secrets at running back for the J.C scene in California. He would definitely fit someone's triple option or pistol offense.



Sowell is another small, feisty and explosive running back who can do damge on inside runs and even on screen passes.

He's a 5-foot-9, 190 pound back with fast feet and a burst that can get him outside. He does have a tendency to run upright, even with his small frame. But he also can make up for it with his instincts when carrying the rock.

He holds a 4.5 40-yard dash time. I'm equally impressed though with his leaping ability, which is a 36" vertical jump for a player his size. He may have enough speed and jumping ability to be tried at wide receiver.

For the time being, he's definitely one of the more talented running backs in the Inland Empire.



Johnson came on the scene with a 1,246 yard freshman season and eight touchdowns. His speed and running style can help explain his huge year.

Like all the other running backs on this list, Johnson has enough acceleration to bounce inside or out and leave a trail of dust in his wake. But what I actually liked even more from him? His ferocious blocking ability, because he gets low enough to blow up a blitzing linebacker.

Want a gritty, explosive runner who also is willing to throw his shoulder pads around in blocking? He can probably be your guy.



I've actually watched Johnson over the years from when he was at Central High School in Fresno with Cal return ace Brendon Bigelow and Oregon wide receiver B.J Kelley. Johnson was always the north-south grinder who did the dirty work for the Grizzlies.

Some things never really change, he's still the north-south pounder that he was at Central-Fresno, except this time, he's pounding defenses for the always talented and physical Fresno City Rams.

Johnson had a very nice freshman season as the Rams' top workhorse option. Even though Fresno City went with a more up-tempo, fast paced approach with a heavier emphasis on the passing game, the Rams still didn't neglect the running attack with Johnson in their backfield.

The big thing for Johnson though this upcoming season is two things: his academics and his weight. Johnson had to sit out briefly due to grade issues during off-season workouts. He even looked out-of-shape at one time during the spring.

Seems though those issues have been fixed for the time being. Johnson was last seen looking much leaner and more like a true running back. He says interest still remains from the likes of Eastern Washington and Utah. An even bigger sophomore year should make him the next Ram to see the four-year level.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Going deep, and going wide

Photo courtesy of
Time now to look at the perimeter play and how that stacks up, with guys that have no real problem running up and down or even control the jump ball.

Not talking about basketball here, talking about some wide receivers who show speed, ball-control, consistency and, the most important trait, the big-play ability.

It's a deep list. In fact, I came up with over 30 names that are potential sleepers who can help at any level. We'll begin with what I came up with up north:


A fellow teammate of explosive running back Avante Yarber, Walker is perhaps the most versatile weapon for the Falcons.

The 6-foot-1, 190 pound Walker averaged over 17 yards per reception with five touchdowns. He also added five consecutive 100-yard games for Christian Brothers. Walker also serves as the team's wildcat, punt return and kick return man. He scored nine touchdowns total, including a 103 yard scamper on the defensive side.

Walker hasn't been offered according to, but has generated interest from the likes of Tulsa, TCU, and schools from the Big XII, PAC-12 and Mountain West. Walker should see the football a lot for the Falcons.


Betson is a tall target at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds. A receiver like that automatically gets you thinking about being a red-zone target, which is exactly what he is.

The tall weapon may have done something to impress a PAC-12 school. His lone offer right now is from bay area school Cal. He was one of the top wideouts in the IMG Madden West Regional 7-on-7 Tournament with his squad Team 808. 

A big receiver with soft hands, an impressive leap and solid route running, Betson has room to grow. His speed though isn't known, so there's no telling if he can outrun people with the ball in the open field.

In the end, a huge senior season in the bay area could see schools outside of Cal garner more interest.


He caught just 35 passes last season, and he's only 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, so he may not qualify for the "prototypical" status.

Yet, with those 35 catches, came 13 receiving touchdowns and the kind of speed where he'll get behind you, and leave defenders playing catch-up, proven by his 32.8 yard average per catch.

The explosive Gomes (photo) tied a state record last season with a 99-yard touchdown score during his junior year. He's a smooth route-runner who can also maintain great balance when breaking tackles, and even juke out defenders on swing passes.

His biggest strengths though are going deep with his blazing speed. He's got to be one of the more explosive and fastest receivers in the bay area, possibly the state. He also showed off a rare jumping ability for a player his size, who keep in mind isn't even six feet yet. In fact, he has a reported 35' vertical jump.

While Gomes may need to add more muscle to his 175 pound frame, plus also perhaps cut down on his arrogance, he's a talented prospect who could be due for an even bigger senior year with the Dragons.


Central Valley


Hall is actually returning as the Central section's leading receiver in terms of receptions (64), yards (1,334) and touchdowns (17).

Hall appeared to be more of a possession-type for the Aztecs. But he can make all kinds of catches, even made some grabs between traffic. He also wasn't seen taking any plays off.

One area of concern for Hall is the fact that on one end, his Aztec football team plays in the lowest division of football in the Central section and two, not too many people probably know where Farmersville, CA is located. An on-field flaw I can think of is Hall didn't appear to be the fastest receiver on the field, and may benefit from playing other lower-tier teams.

Hall, though, still scores points with me based off of his route-running, soft hands, his ability to gain separation, his stunning elusiveness and his competitive nature. Is he capable of playing at the next level? I say yes.



A track and field burner for the Broncos, Rose brought that same speed to the field for former NFL safety and Clovis North head coach Cory Hall.

Rose turned out to be the No. 1 deep ball option for the Broncos' pro style attack. Rose became quarterback Christian Rossi's top deep threat in the play action. He averaged 23.1 yards per catch to rank ninth in the state.

At 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, Rose can be an effective slot guy at the next level. He's not the most physical receiver and will likely have to fight off lots and lots of jams at the line this upcoming year. But he's a playmaker, and one of the reasons why the defending Division-II Central Section champions are loaded again for 2012.



Mount Whitney seems to carve out some very underrated playmakers, and Armstead looks to be next in line.

The 5-foot-10, 170 pound Armstead showed to be as good as advertised for the Pioneers during his junior year when helping run the spread, no-huddle approach for the first time last year.

Armstead impressed me recently at the Redwood-Visalia passing tournament with his route-running, speed and ability to go deep. Most spread offenses ask for more shorter routes out of their receivers. Seems to me the Pioneers won't hesitate to send Armstead deep.

He'll have to prove he can fight off jams since he's likely going to be the Pioneers' No. 1 receiving threat. He's also going to likely face the "you're not tall enough" stereotype. But Armstead is capable of providing big plays this season, and at the next level.


The only real downside for Davis is that he played on a Patriot team who rarely throws it to their wide receivers.

But when they did throw it, Davis was the likely recipient thanks to his size, skill-set and even toughness.

What sticks out about Davis to me is his run-after-catch ability. He can get into a second gear and just take off running, leaving a trail of turf dust behind in his wake. He even shows off a running-back like cut when trying to evade tacklers. He can even make the difficult jump ball or sideline grab.

If Davis can see an increase in passes thrown his way, then that can catapult him to new heights on the recruiting trail for the incoming senior.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Broussard closes in

Photo by Chris Martinez/DB Nation
If you may need one explanation as to how Clovis High had the best defense in the Central Section in 2011, I can probably tell about one man coming back that had things on lock down for the Cougars, a former junior varsity quarterback.

C.J Broussard wasn't hard to spot on the field if you were ever inside legendary Lamonica Stadium or in other Central Valley football fields. Just look for a tall 6-foot, 180 pound cornerback wearing No. 3 flying around and getting his hands on the football, from his defensive back spot.

A swat down artist with a tremendous nose for the football, Broussard used his long arms and instincts to help spearhead a very fast and aggressive Cougar defense, which on five occasions gave up zero points. Broussard showed off tremendous angle pursuits, hip direction, and was unafraid to sacrifice his body by leaping forward and disrupting a potential first down pass.

Broussard mainly played in a zone coverage, but he has been active with refining his press man, especially being around renown defensive back guru Tony Perry of Central-Fresno. I like his potential as a cornerback because of his long arms and hands. He's also capable of delivering the big hit when receivers try to jump for a football. He'll get low enough to bring them back down quickly to the turf.

He'll obviously need some bulk. Plus he can continue to build on his jamming of wide receivers. It's also likely that the Cougars won't call on him so much as a quarterback. But speaking of playing the signal-caller position, Broussard can use that to his advantage at the next level, with knowing how quarterbacks will think and their different throwing motions.

So far, Azusa Pacific has shown the most interest. Eastern Washington seems intrigued. An even bigger season though, plus Clovis High reclaiming the title as the Central Section's best defense in 2012, could mean even more interest.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Junior College talent also golden in this state

photo courtesy of max preps
The 16 or 17-year-old prospect aren't the only football players seeking exposure. Sometimes, there's no real age limit when chasing down a scholarship.

Look at players like Matt Giordano of the Oakland Raiders. Long before his NFL days and suiting up for Cal, he was chasing a scholarship opportunity more so through Fresno City College. Same was the case for one former Florida commitment who wound up winning a national title at not only Auburn, but at Texas Junior College powerhouse Blinn College, Cam Newton. Even Aaron Rodgers, before being a high draft pick out of Cal and winning a Super Bowl had some of his humble roots at Butte College in Northern California.

Any chance some of these guys in California at the junior college level goes down a path that made Newton, Rodgers and countless others successful down the road? Being around the JUCO scene, a number of those guys come out even hungrier and more determined, plus more motivated. They'll face the stereotype of being washed up or being in a situation they never should have gone too, which led them to the J.C level. Still though, this is a level of football that can't always be overlooked.

So here's a look at some of the top JUCO talent that caught my attention, starting with the quarterbacks:


He seemed to do so much out of so little while at Clovis High School. In his senior year back in 2009, many saw No. 6 running around and making huge gains with his legs, but also doing the same thing with his rocket-launching right arm.

The knock on Mitchell (photo) is maybe the fact that he didn't have the winningest prep career with the Cougars. His senior year saw a 3-7 season and a new transition under then first-year head coach Rich Hammond.

However, when it comes to the on the field stuff, followers of Fresno City Rams football could be in for a potential treat at Fresno's legendary Ratcliffe Stadium.

Mitchell's arm, even despite his last real full-time action being back in 2009, still seems to have not lost any rust. His gun is still pretty active and has worked tirelessly this off-season to show he's ready to take charge of the state junior college runner-up from 2011. His size at 6-foot-3 and nearly 200 pounds also is a plus. He even gives the Rams this dimension perhaps not seen since former Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz was a Ram, a scrambling dimension. Even during the 3-7 season, Mitchell swiftly blew past defenses with his feet.

The Rams have pumped out some quality NFL names like Maurice Morris, Zach Diles, Calvin Schexnayder and Cameron Worrell in the past. With his continued determination to lead his next team and his on-field skills already in place, Mitchell has great potential to become the next Rams' sensation.



The former Ridgeview-Bakersfield quarterback gained late interest from Idaho and San Jose State, but a broken collarbone sealed his fate, now he's ready to take control of the Giants.

That setback towards the end has got to be fuel to Ferguson's fire. He already has very impressive size at 6-foot-4 and roughly 200 pounds. His arm strength, especially in the play action, has got to be his biggest strength. Ferguson seemed unafraid to throw it deep in the run-heavy Wolf Pack offense. He even showed some rare escapability by shedding pass rushers and still throwing it down field.

Ferguson isn't the most feet-footed of passers though, and still won't always take off and run. He seemed to also look more comfortable throwing the ball out of play-action plays, so that makes me wonder if he can make all kinds of throws or is just a one-dimensional passer.

His size though and his strength in his right arm makes him an intriguing prospect at this level. He might be the main headliner of the Giants' 2012 recruiting class.



Neyer is a pretty interesting story. He was once a walk-on at USC, now finds himself at nearby Los Angeles Pierce College.

The Xavier College Prep-Palm Desert quarterback is now seeking a scholarship and more exposure at the junior college level. He also shares this thing in common with the likes of Cam Newton, Florida State's E.J Manuel, Washington's Keith Price and Nebraska's Taylor Martinez, he's worked with renown quarterback guru Steve Calhoun in Southern California.

Like Ferguson, Neyer comes off as a deep ball, play-action guy. Except, when breaking his film down closely, Neyer seems to be much more smoother with his feet in the roll out passes. He even was given the freedom to throw the ball frequently out of the triple option scheme, which rarely emphasizes down field passing. He also showed some poise despite facing a heavy rush on a few occasions.

He isn't as tall as Ferguson or Mitchell at barely 6-foot-2. Because of his play-action ability and the fact that he ran an offense that was mainly run heavy, Neyer is probably better suited for a pro-style offense after L.A Pierce College. But certainly an incoming J.C quarterback to watch down in Southern California.



Fennell comes from one football factory in Long Beach Poly, who has produced the likes of Herschel Dennis, Darnell Bing, Mercedes Lewis, even DeSean Jackson.

Fennell was even a winner at Poly, with a 28-2 combined record and being the first quarterback in school history to guide his team to back-to-back CIF titles.

The 6-foot-2, 215 pound Fennell though found himself lost in the shuffle at Cerritos College last year and wound up sitting out with a redshirt year. He's penciled in to get the job though this time around in Southern California. Fennell is a dual-threat who can beat opponents with his arm and feet.

One setback he may have had at Long Beach Poly was the fact that he wasn't the most accurate of throwers, with his 48.9% completion rating during his senior year. But thanks to a powerful Jackrabbits running game, that aspect was able to hide Fennell's deficiencies.

Still though, if he's to take the next step, he'll have to prove he can be an accurate thrower, while also running around pass rushers and blitzers.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The sleeper list: The 805 RB's

We continue on and stay in the Central Coast region for this one, and on this list, for a squad who has one man committed to Washington, there's another running back that helps take the load off of Lavon Coleman at Lompoc High.

Here's a few 805 running backs who caught my attention:

Photo courtesy of the Ventura County Star

A hard-nosed 5-foot-11, 200 pound running back, all Gray has done is two things: showing heart and not stopping his legs, and even getting his team to show more heart and make Channel Islands High relevant in Ventura County.

The incoming three-year varsity letter winner fits perfectly with the Raiders' old-school, smash mouth approach. He's the bell cow and the guy they want to give the rock too.

Gray (photo) has 10 100-yard games on his prep resume, with over 2,100 career rushing yards and 14 rushing scores in his two years of varsity experience. He also helped energize a Raider football team that was 2-8 his sophomore year, and even had their first season of being above the .500 mark since 2004.

Gray isn't much of a receiver right now, and he also had some fumbling issues with three lost fumbles off of four coughed footballs. In the end though, he's a workhorse back who can wear down the trenches. He would be a perfect fit for someone's pistol offense or just a run-heavy system.


DeBeikes is already committed to BYU. And, according to, BYU seemed to be his lone offer.

DeBeikes is a two-way machine who already sports excellent size at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds. He doubles as a versatile offensive playmaker and tackling machine at middle linebacker.

I tend to swing more towards the offensive side more for him. He showed some elusiveness for a 6-foot-2 back carrying the rock, with most of his scores coming from runs where he bounced to the outside after going between the tackles. He showed some patience with setting up his blocks and even came off as a determined runner thanks to his ability to break tackles. I didn't see anyone bring him down after first contact, it usually took the second or even fourth defender to bring him down.

One flaw on offense is that he doesn't seem to have the quickest burst through an open hole. He seems to spend more time trying to get his blocks set up, which isn't always a bad trait, but BYU will face lots and lots of defense speed in all likelihood. He may get caught from behind and even his toughness may not always break him loose.

But, I like his size, power and bounce when running the rock. Maybe the Cougars try him out at running back or with his tall frame and 4.54 speed, they move him around as a tight end/h-back.

He's also on this list because maybe he can get more additional love on the scholarship front, especially from the mid-major level.



Not since the days of Randall Cunningham has there been a buzz about someone with the same surname.

This Cunningham dazzled the Santa Barbara High crowds with his electrifying runs as a sophomore, en route to his breakout 1,153 yard season to go along with 16 touchdowns.

Cunningham will have room to grow with his 5-foot-10, 175 pound frame. He'll also likely need to develop some inside power to show people he too can grind it out inside. He's also in a situation where for his junior year, he'll have to show people that he can finish the year strong.

After a huge 160 yard, four touchdown performance versus San Marcos-Santa Barbara, Cunningham was held to 139 yards and just one score in the final three games for the Dons.

Still though, this Cunningham will be one to watch down in Santa Barbara, just like another Cunningham was back in the 1980's.


Farrar is actually heading to Purdue University for an engineering camp, but no, doesn't sound like the Boilermakers offered him a full ride.

In fact, even after the trip, the 5-foot-9, 190 pound Farrar will not only be looking at an engineering career, but a career at the collegiate level for football someplace.

Farrar showed off excellent vision and a cutback ability that's common for running backs his size. He's a shifty back with some nice moves and even looks to be unafraid to go between the offensive tackles and pound it inside.

He does tend to go down right away on first contact. I rarely saw him catch the football or block, so I will probably not say right away that he's not the complete package most schools would look for. However, he can play at a smaller school who's big on engineering, and would want a productive back with a 4.1 grade point average.



He's much smaller compared to the freakish 5-foot-11, 210 pound Coleman, but Cornejo seems to be an even faster running back for the Braves.

The 5-foot-7, 165 pound Cornejo has a very quick burst that will leave defenders playing catch-up. He can make people pay if they over-pursue especially on the outside. He too played a significant role for a Braves team currently on a 20-game win streak and two straight Southern Section championships, with his 1,075 yard and 14 touchdown season in 2011.

Cornejo obviously doesn't have the same size compared to Coleman, so there's one setback for him. He's also not as powerful or built like the future Washington Husky. Yet, he seems just as important to Lompoc's traditional wing-t offense just like his much-heralded teammate. Like Farrar, maybe another smaller school can take a chance on Cornejo.


One of the most versatile athletes in the 805, Davis doubles as a running and throwing threat for the Tritons.

The 5-foot-10, 185 pound Davis does his most damage on roll outs and the play action for Pacifica in the passing game. After looking at his film closely, he's probably better off being a running back or even wide receiver at the next level.

He doesn't have a very strong drop step as a quarterback, even taking no more than two steps, then throwing the ball down field. He also seemed to be more comfortable with play action passes and the roll out ones, so he doesn't make all kinds of throws.

However, I will say, he's got a burst to his running mobility and has an excellent change of direction when carrying the ball. He can even break tackles even with his rather small 5-foot-10, 185 pound frame.

If he does play quarterback at the next level, he's better off in an option offense where he'll take off and run a great majority of the time. He may not impress too many people with his arm, but when he takes off running, that's when you got to keep an eye on him.