|Photo courtesy of Chris Martinez/DB Nation|
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:
AUG. 24: EDISON AT CLOVIS
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.
HANFORD AT CENTRAL
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.