|Photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna|
I remember when former Sacramento State wide receiver and Ex-St. Louis Ram practice squad player Elon Paige created Purpose Field's camps, he had not even 10 players showing up and getting work in. However, on Saturday, Paige brought out nearly 40 kids from Clovis, Fresno, to as far as Hanford, Reedley and Tulare.
One highlight was Paige bringing out his father Stephone to talk to the kids about staying humble, staying in faith and influencing them that you don't need to be the popular kid in high school or a mega star to make it in the NFL. Stephone Paige told the kids his journey as an undrafted wide receiver out of Fresno State who went on to play 11 seasons in the NFL. He then shared what he called one of his greatest accomplishments: raising three athletic children that became college graduates.
Some potential future collegiate athletes took the field at Alta Sierra Middle School behind Buchanan High's Veterans Memorial Stadium. The end result are some 2014, 2015 and 2016 prospects who could break out soon with continued work. Truth be told, every kid stood out for waking up on a Saturday to get better for next season. If I had a choice, though, six players captured my attention. Here's who stood out:
--Bullard High's Dejonte O'Neal (photo) stole the show with his speed and versatility. The 2014 prospect was certainly the fastest player on the field and became the top option as a wide receiver and one of the top cover cornerbacks in the camp. O'Neal, who says his natural position is running back, impressed with his ability to quickly recover from slipping during runs. His breakaway speed made him a match up problem for whoever lined up against him and says Utah of the PAC-12 is the lone school talking to him.
--Speaking of match up problems, fellow Bullard High teammate Ricky McCoy will be one to keep an eye on in West Fresno. McCoy is only a sophomore, but is a 6-foot-3, 220-pound tight end who's capable of giving opposing defensive backs fits. McCoy is currently growing into his tight end role, since he was an offensive tackle early in his Bullard Knight career. However, he showed his size and athleticism on the field. He'll need to polish his routes, because he had a tendency to stop his feet. But make no mistake, continued development could make him the best tight end in the Central Section for 2013-2014 and next in line at the same school that produced former Bullard tight end Ian Taubler (UCLA).
--Clovis West looks like a once proud program that's fallen on hard times. However, two young Golden Eagles could give the school hope for the future. Freshman Quarterback Trace Garabedian became the most impressive quarterback with his ability to make the long throws and quick release. He should grow soon from his current 5-foot-6 frame. Wide receiver Darian Owens showed some fast route running skills and an ability to make the tough middle grabs.
--Reedley High is currently searching for a new head coach, plus a new identity after a dismal 2-8 season in 2012. However, massive 5-foot-10, 200-pound sophomore Greg Quezada will give the new regime something to look forward too. Quezada was a bulldozer best known in Reedley for his 191-yard night versus Roosevelt-Fresno. At the Purpose Field camp, however, Quezada turned heads with how quick his feet were for a guy his size. In an area not known for being a college football factory, Quezada could emerge as a highly touted prospect for the city of Reedley with continued progress.
--Defensively, Mount Whitney-Visalia's Abel Tavarez has shut down corner written all over him. The 2014 prospect blanketed receivers all day and has a physical jam at the line of scrimmage. While his size may be a drawback at 5-foot-8, his speed and physical nature could make him a hidden gem in the Central Section.