Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Class of 2014 quarterbacks deep in the Central Valley

Photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna
If there are some who say the Central Valley 2013 class wasn't too heavy on top-tier quarterback talent, then those same people might reconsider for the 2014 class.

At least three are drawing interest from Boise State. One is playing with a bunch of Division-I prospects already in West Fresno. Another one is a dual-threat quarterback playing the same position and in the same city that produced Tennessee's Tyler Bray and finally, the headliner could be a guy that finally puts the city of Dinuba on the map.

The 2014 quarterback class is talent-rich in the Central Section. Here's a look:


I heard the hype surrounding McMaryion (photo) following his performances at the National Underclassmen Combine and other summer camps, and all I heard was how this 6-foot-2 incoming junior had a rocket launcher with his right arm and talent written all over him.

Upon further review and after watching him play this season, he's better than the early predictions indicated. Now, you may be looking at the most highly-recruited Central Valley quarterback this off-season.

The size is already there. But its his decision-making and composure that makes him a special kind of quarterback at the high school level. He's got the kind of composure where, if two or three defenders surround him on a blitz, he'll still sit in the pocket, unleash a spiral and see a 20 to 60-yard completion. His zip and field vision got him to throw 34 touchdown passes during the regular season and throw zero interceptions. That's right, zero picks.

I've never seen a junior quarterback more prepared for the next level. More progression in the Central Section Division-III playoffs coming up and the off-season camps could get the PAC-12 or other BCS schools after this Dinuba stud, who also carries a 4.25 grade point average. He'll need some bulk since he's roughly 175-pounds. So far, the Big East, Mountain West and Conference USA are already taking notice.



After a very strong first varsity season as a sophomore that saw 18 touchdown passes, seven interceptions and a completion percentage of 67.6 percent in 2011, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Young was emerging as the talk of Hanford, and also drew some Cody Kessler (USC) comparisons by some local sports personalities who follow the Central Section. 

His junior year, however, has left me wondering how good Young really is and if he's really worth the hype.

His Bullpups team took a drastic step backwards this past year, going from a 9-3 campaign in 2011 to a 1-9 disaster in 2012. Young's completion percentage dipped to 57.5 percent. He was also limited to eight touchdown passes with a younger Bullpup supporting cast. His worst outing was on the night where he could have had his coming out party - a 44-3 disaster versus Central's stacked secondary where he tossed four interceptions and was held to 59-yards passing.

However, Young has done something to keep some Football Bowl Subdivision schools intrigued. He did take an unofficial visit to Boise State a week ago.

Young is a talented quarterback with great potential. There's no denying that. He does have a zip to his throws and he can scramble. He's also a deadly runner who can fool defenses on quarterback keeper runs. However, his decision-making and ability to read defenses must improve in order for him to be heavily recruited.



Seems like every year, and after producing Tyler Bray, the Vikings will pump out one legit college football prospect, especially for the Division-I level.

Defensive tackle Ryan Steele was the latest K Town product, as he committed to Fresno State. Brandon looks to be next in line.

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Steele emerged on the scene as part of a quarterback rotation during his sophomore season with Austin Bray in 2011. Bray was the pocket passer, but Steele kept defenses on their heels and sometimes, on their back with his bruising running style.

Brandon Steele has become one of the better dual-threat quarterbacks in the Central Valley with his ability to make the short throws and his mobility. He seems like one of the few quarterbacks at the high school level who's not afraid of contact. He's gotten the Vikings seeking a fourth straight Central Section title with the playoffs looming and this time, its at the D-II level.

If Steele continues to polish his accuracy and running style, he could become the next Steele at the Division-I level, since Ryan will be at Fresno State and Garrett Steele is currently at Cal Poly.



The 6-foot-tall, 188-pound Dragt could emerge as a dark horse 2014 prospect in the Valley, despite being on a Cavaliers team that went 2-8 and 0-4 in their own league (Central Sequoia League).

Dragt has a good play-fake and can be effective in the play action throws. He has a deep ball and can even get out of the pocket and run. He also looks unafraid of burying his shoulder pads into defenders.

He'll need to polish his zip, though, since he doesn't always throw the most consistent football. Though he's mobile and strong like a fullback with the football in his hands, Dragt does tend to stop his feet after making contact. Another area that needs tweaking is his decision making on his passes. Dragt made some dangerous throws where two to three defenders were near his intended receiver. His decision making and film study need to come into play here if he's going to sneak up on people in the Central Section next season. In the end, he does have enough tools to become the most sought after CVC quarterback since former Fresno State Bulldog Ryan Colburn.



Moore hasn't been asked to throw the football much, since he's in the realm of 11-19 passing attempts per game in 2012.

Still though, Moore has done enough with his quarterback game to get nearly 20 schools from Nebraska, to UCLA, to Boise State interested.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Moore was active in the off-season with polishing his throwing and mobility. He led his seven-on-seven team into a deep run at the Best-of-the-West Regional at Passing Down, which earned him recognition. Along with his zip, he's a deadly runner with two 100-yard games this season for a Frontier team that went undefeated in the rugged Southwest Yosemite League.

Decision-making will need an improvement since he's been caught making bad reads on passing plays. The potential is there for him to become the most highly-recruited quarterback in Kern County, especially with helping lead the Titans past the likes of Kern County heavyweights Liberty-Bakersfield and last season's Division-I Valley champion Bakersfield this season. Plus, he's also worked with Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez and renown quarterback guru Steve Calhoun.



How it works for the Drillers is whoever is the fastest runner or best all-around athlete, that guy usually plays quarterback in Bakersfield's option-approach.

Rufus has taken the reigns and hasn't disappointed at BHS thanks to his elusive running and breakaway speed.  He'll need to polish his ability to sit comfortably in the pocket and throw all day if he wants a bevy of offers on the scholarship front. But he's got the skills to thrive for someone's pistol or triple option attack at the next level.



The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Jimenez is another deadly running quarterback when he's on his game.

He runs the Pistol offense to near perfection on numerous occasions for the Grizzlies. His throwing ability will probably need some touching up once the season ends. Right now, he's an effective short yardage quarterback who does have a solid zip and quick decision making.

But for any defense that gets caught out-of-position after Jimenez takes the snap, just know you'll probably see a 20+ yard gain.



Gatewood hasn't really been asked to take over a game with his arm, since the Cougars rely heavily on the running attack.

However, that doesn't mean they haven't found ways to utilize the 6-foot-5, 180-pound junior and Redwood-Visalia transfer.

Gatewood is athletically gifted enough to hit the perimeters and hurt a defense with his legs. His size, though, plus athleticism could make him an intriguing prospect for someone in the 2014 class. He'll just need to show schools he can beat a team with his arm and accuracy, since he's barely past the 60 percent completion mark. But he took over for R.J Hartmann and now has the Cougars at 9-1 and the No. 1 seed in the Central Section D-I playoffs.

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