Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Muay Thai Cottrell

Photo courtesy of
Cali Gold Mine recently highlighted a few Southern California running backs that look small on film, but provided lots of big play potential.

Time to provide an update on one of those backs: Oceanside's Thai Cottrell.

On Wednesday, May 29, Cottrell landed offer No. 2 and his first from the Football Championship Subdivision ranks with Northern Arizona. This is a sign that he's starting to explode on the recruiting trail, since there's schools noticing his explosive running style.

As this previous post stated, Cottrell leaves behind a trail of dust when he runs and also a trail of faked out defenders with the ball in his hand. His elusiveness, speed and ability to also catch passes are strengths.

One final thing to point out: Cottrell comes from a county that's produced some ankle-breaking running backs. San Diego County has helped introduce football fans to Marcus Allen (Lincoln-San Diego), Reggie Bush (Helix-La Mesa) and recently Fresno State all-time leading rusher and new Cleveland Brown Robbie Rouse (James Madison-San Diego).

More on Cottrell:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Hornet hitman

Contributed photo
Time to dive into the junior college realm in California. At Fullerton College, looks like the Hornets will have one of the hardest hitters in the state in Corey Ferguson.

Teams may have to think twice when attempting a swing pass on Ferguson's side. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound cornerback will find the football, then arrive in a bad mood. Ferguson delivers the kind of hits where it looks like a head-on car crash.

A four-year school seeking aggression in the secondary should love Ferguson's style of play.  Along with his physical nature, he has enough speed to cover wide receivers on deep routes.

He'll need to show he's a true ball-hawk in the secondary this upcoming year to prove he's the complete package at cornerback. He made just three interceptions last season. However, South Alabama became the first to offer recently and this big hitter could land more between now and the end of the 2013 season.

More on Ferguson:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Young Valley prospects enter "The Colosseum"

Contributed photo
Purpose Field, a training and mentorship program through former Sacramento State wide receiver Elon Paige, brought out some potential rising Central Valley football stars on Sunday, May 19, behind Buchanan High School in Clovis for a special 1-on-1 camp named "The Colosseum."

The purpose of "The Colosseum?" An intense battle between wide receivers versus defensive backs, with only one person being hailed the winner with whomever finished holding the football in their hands.

The camp brought out some future varsity football players from the Central Valley who have already impressed Paige, his father and former NFL wide receiver Stephone Paige and Cali Gold Mine writer Lorenzo J. Reyna. A number of rising prospects had spectators in awe with their route running, strength, hands and attitude. Cali Gold Mine already has a few of those potential prospects on its radar. Here's who to keep a close eye on:


The 2015 prospect looks like he's next in line at a school who produced highly-touted athlete Billy East (former Army commit, now going to Azusa Pacific). McClung had the fastest 40-yard dash time at 4.62 even though he had a slow get-off from the line. However, McClung ran the smoothest routes and showed the softest hands. He zig-zagged through defensive backs and also drove defensive backs backward when they were trying to jam him at the line. He'll still need to polish his strength, since he had trouble fighting off jams right away at the line. In the end, though, he's a prospect that's growing into his body and blossoming into a rising 2015 prospect.


Beckenhauer was the smallest defender on Immanuel last season, but ended up being the best ball-hawk with a team-high six interceptions on varsity last season. The 2015 prospect, who's also a star baseball player, displayed a scrapper attitude and didn't back down from any receiver, even with his current 5-foot-8, 150-pound frame. While he does have trouble with adjusting his hips and having experience with jamming at the line, Beckenhauer has the speed to blanket receivers and also came away with two picks. He excels in a zone coverage right now, but added muscle and improving his jams at the line of scrimmage can make him one to keep a close eye on in Reedley.


An incoming senior and 2014 prospect earned the Defensive Most Valuable Player award for hauling down the most pics and delivering the most swats. Bustos was also the best at pressing wide receivers at the line and rarely gave up any touchdowns or big plays when he was on the field. The 5-foot-8, 170-pound Bustos is a possible under the radar prospect in Kern County.


The 2015 prospect is not only a tall 6-foot-5, 195-pound kid with a cannon, he's also a smooth runner with his 4.8 40-yard dash time. Robles showed off a quick release and impressive field vision during the 2-on-2 session versus zone coverages. His throwing motion will need some adjusting, but he may be in for a position battle at quarterback over at El Diamante this summer with his size and arm strength.


A 2016 prospect, Willis kept winning the jump ball battles in the end zone and impressed with his toughness, hands and route running. He'll need bulk down the road, but the 5-foot-11 receiver could be one to watch inside legendary Lamonica Stadium in the future.


A smooth route runner who showed off his long arms and became a top deep threat on the day. Williams is nearly 6-feet-tall and and also impressed in the jump ball sequence. Bulk will be needed, but the 2015 prospect has potential.


Daggs has impressive size for an incoming sophomore at 6-foot-2 and the 2016 prospect is looking like he's penciled in to be the next starting quarterback at Immanuel. He's got a strong arm on him and has a zip to his passes. He does need to polish his decision making and composure, but he became one of the top quarterbacks inside the Colosseum and is starting to grow.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Small So Cal backs doing it big

photo courtesy of 24/7 sports
Their potential is great, even if they stand at nearly 5-foot-8.

At a state where big running backs like Imperial 2014 6-feet, 210-pound prospect Royce Freeman (19 offers) and Freedom-Oakley's freakish 6-foot-2, 200-pound Joe Mixon (48 offers) have generated plenty of buzz, we can't overlook the small backs either.

In fact, I found four in Southern California who can break ankles and break off the long runs. Here's a closer look:


Height: 5-foot-8

Weight: 215

Offers: Four (Miami, Fresno State, Oregon State and South Dakota State)

Scoby (photo) is a deadly straight line runner who turns on the jets after he gets the ball. His burst, his ability to turn the corner and take off on counter runs are strengths. He's also been impressive as a linebacker during the off-season, since he closed fast on opposing wide receivers and tight ends and even shoved them around to throw off their routes. Even with his size, Scoby has long arms to make swats and become a quality cover man. However, it's his big plays on offense that's generating buzz for him. He can run around and through defenders.

More on Scoby:


Height: 5-foot-8

Weight: 170

Offers: One (Oklahoma State)

Interested schools: Took unofficial visit to UCLA.

Holmes has been labeled a Barry Sanders-type running back and on the field, it does show. Holmes spins and jukes past defenders, then turns on the afterburners for the long run. He does tend to go down with one good shoulder pop, but Holmes is slippery with the ball in his hands. He's also a destructive pass blocker who buries his shoulder like a safety closing on the football. Looks like he's next in line at a school who just produced USC commit and mammoth safety Su'a Cravens.

More on Holmes:


Height: 5-foot-8

Weight: 165

Offers: One (Western New Mexico)

Cottrell, who's considered a scat back and wide receiver, does damage with both positions. As a slot receiver, he's got an explosive get-off after the snap and, in three seconds, has his defenders turning their hips and playing catch-up with him. He's most dangerous in the fly sweep, with his ability to quickly locate a hole then burn through it. Like Holmes, he's another ball carrier with an array of juke moves. He reportedly runs a 4.62 40-yard dash time. After watching his film, though, he runs as if his 40 time is in the 4.3 range.

More on Cottrell:


Height: 5-foot-8

Weight: 165

Offers: None

Interested schools: Mid-majors and Football Championship Subdivision programs have sent letters.

Brownlow is another ankle-breaking, cat-quick back who turned heads at the Passing Down tournaments with his ability to change direction, then take off running. His vision and patience with running behind his blockers also scored points for me. Lastly, even at 165-pounds, he can run through defenders too.

More on Brownlow:

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Bay Area bombers

Photo courtesy of
The Bay is looking like the top destination to snatch a 2014 quarterback, with seven highly-touted ones gearing up for their senior season, plus some already committed to places like Oregon or Vanderbilt.

Here's a look at the signal-callers up North generating lots of attention:


Total offers: Six (USC, Stanford and Alabama among the offers).

*Chryst (photo) is the son of current San Francisco 49ers quarterback coach Geep Chryst and Keller looks every bit of a pro style quarterback. He's got a cannon, zip, size at 6-foot-4, 215-pounds and his decision making is also a strength. He doesn't do much running, but he's definitely looking like someone who can fit a pro style offense at the next level:

More on Chryst:


Total offers: Four (Arizona, Utah State, Colorado State and Wyoming).

Other schools interested: Oklahoma, Tennessee, Fresno State, California and Wisconsin have either watched him throw or sent letters.

*Wilkins may have the strongest arm out of the bunch. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Wilkins won't hesitate to go 40-50 yards, since he's done that often at different 7-on-7 tournaments. His zip and study habits when it comes to reading defenses are also strengths. He'll also escape rushers and make throws out of the pocket. Lastly, his composure is another added plus. He could land an offer from Wisconsin real soon since he's developed a nice relationship with the Badgers' offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, who had previous California stops at Fresno State, Cal and San Diego State.

More on Wilkins:



(Committed to Vanderbilt)

*He's taller than his older brother Austyn (also playing quarterback at Vanderbilt) at 6-foot-4 and nearly 210-pounds. Carta-Samuels has turned heads with his field vision, accuracy and big arm. His patience in the pocket is another strength. Lastly, he's held a 3.8 grade point average.

More on Carta-Samuels:


(Committed to Oregon)

*Mahalak has gotten Marin Catholic to produce two Pac-12 quarterbacks. Last year's starter, Jared Goff, committed to Cal in the 2013 class. Mahalak bring more mobility to the table and is more athletic than Goff. He may not have Goff's zip, but Mahalak also has a laser on him too.

More on Mahalak:


Total offers: One (from Harvard)

Other schools interested: Cal, Penn, Princeton and Yale

*A kid with a 4.4 grade point average off the field, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound quarterback who threw 25 touchdowns and was intercepted just five times on it, Dunsford has thrived running plays out of the shotgun at Cardinal Newman and is another one who won't hesitate to go deep. His feet work could use some tweaking, but his smarts, accuracy and throwing motion can make a college offense quite happy. He's also a dangerous option keeper with a quick burst through the hole and being tough to bring down.

More on Dunsford:


Total offers: Six (Offers include Arizona, Sacramento State, Texas State and Army)

*One of the best dual-threats in the Bay area, Lawson hits a second gear when he sees an open hole and runs like a running back. He can also break tackles with his 6-foot-1, 193-pound frame. Foot work when dropping back can still use some work. Questions of whether or not he can stay consistently in the pocket will likely surface. He's an effective play action quarterback, though, who can get the ball 40 to 50 yards. He looks like a guy who can thrive in an offense where they'll allow him to run and throw.

More on Lawson:


Total offers: None

Schools interested: Yale, Arizona, Arizona State, Princeton, Penn and Harvard have sent letters or shown interest.

*He's another mobile QB who's thrived in the play action. Zamora hides his fakes real well, then strikes it deep. His drop step can improve, but his cannon and size at 6-foot-2, 200-pounds can earn him potential offers.

More on Zamora:

The 21 and over club - Central Valley version

Photo by Chris Martinez
Looks like the Central Valley for the 2014 class is in the process of exploding again, especially in the high school realm, with over 21 different prospects getting the attention of different colleges.

What was once considered an area long overlooked has evolved into a place where Oklahoma, USC, Arizona, Houston and, back-to-back national champion Alabama have now traveled to.

Who are the players gaining interest from schools on the recruiting trail for 2014 in the 559 and 661? I counted 24 total up and down the Central Valley so far:


Total offers: 16

Notable schools that have surfaced: Alabama, Norte Dame, USC, UCLA, Oregon have offered.

*He's already the most sought-after prospect in the Valley. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Quick (photo) has one of the most ridiculous foot work I've ever seen out of a high school player. Quick rapidly gets out of breaks then hits a second gear for the potential 40-70 yard play on offense. He's got the same explosive ability on defense with his cover speed and hands. Central's secondary won't have Hatari Byrd (Oklahoma), L.J Moore (Oklahoma) or Johnny Johnson (UCLA), but expect Quick to help ease those losses.

More on Quick:


Total offers: six

Notable schools: Houston, San Diego State and Nevada are among the offers.

*With Byrd gone, Brewer's likely to become the big hitter now in Central's secondary for 2013-2014. Brewer has excellent angle pursuits and delivers a viscous stick to wide receivers. Also, if quarterbacks throw away from Quick, look for Brewer to potentially see an increase in picks.

More on Brewer:


Total offers: two

Notable schools: Arizona and San Jose State has offered. Oklahoma, USC, Oregon State and Cal have shown interest.

*He's a big and powerful 6-foot-3, 310-pound road clearer on offense and a space eater on defense who can even push double teams around. Williams is also a hustle player who doesn't stop until he reaches the quarterback or whoever has the rock. He can work on staying low after contact with an offensive linemen, since he's been caught standing straight up. However, Williams helps set the tone in the trenches for Central.

More on Williams:


(Committed to USC)

*While Williams takes away space at defensive tackle, the versatile 6-foot-1, 285-pound Smallwood wreaks havoc on quarterbacks after Williams helps open the door on defense. The USC commit has an explosion off the ball that college coaches should adore and has nearly 35 career sacks in his two years at the varsity level, including 20 last year.

More on Smallwood:


(Committed to Arizona)

*The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Wilson is everything you look for in a college football running back with speed, burst, vision, elusiveness, cut back ability, hitting a second gear with his speed, toughness and finally, being a touchdown machine.

More on Wilson:


Total offers: one

Notable schools: Arizona (offered), Washington, Washington State, Michigan, BYU, Nevada, Fresno State, California, Princeton, UC Davis have either sent letters or visited him.

*It's perplexing that the 6-foot-2, 175-pound McMaryion only has one offer, because with all the schools that's visited Dinuba to watch him throw, it makes it look like 20 schools have offered him. However, McMaryion has earned the interest with his production, strong arm, decision-making and composure. There's also his intelligence, with his 4.2 grade point average during the fall semester and being in the academic honor roll throughout his time at Dinuba. He doesn't have the quickest release, but he's been trying to hone that skill while attending different 7-on-7 tournaments. Seems like its a matter of time until McMaryion gets up to five offers before August. His next set could come from the Washington schools.

More on McMaryion:


Total offers: Two (Houston and Boise State)

*The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Nutt is one of the most explosive and fastest players in the Valley with his 4.4 40-yard dash time and track 100 meter time of 10.9. Always a threat to take it to the end zone from 30-60 yards out. 

More on Nutt:


Total offers: One (Eastern Washington)

Notable schools: Utah, Colorado State and BYU have shown interest.

*He's a smaller back at 5-foot-7 and nearly 165-pounds, but so was current Sacramento State running back Demetrius Warren, who shredded defenses while at Bullard. While O'Neal looks like he's the same back as Warren, O'Neal may end up being more elusive and versatile. He's got a quick burst through the open hole and he can fake out two to three defenders who try to square up and tackle him. He's been active this off-season with burning up the track at Bullard and developing his skills as a receiver on the 7-on-7 circuit. Off the field, he's carrying a 3.3 GPA and has shown to be a likeable presence among his coaches thanks to his personality and work ethic.

More on O'Neal:


Total offers: Six

Notable schools: Arizona State, Oregon State and Washington State among the schools who have offered.

*Perhaps not since current NFL safety Matt Giordano has there been a more hyped safety at Buchanan, but the tall 6-foot-2, 175-pound Soesman has athleticism and hops when grabbing the football. His angle pursuits and run-after-catch ability are strengths.

More on Soesman:


Total offers: One (Northern Arizona)

Notable schools: Nebraska, Boise State and UCLA have sent letters.

*The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Moore should be one of the most highly sought-after quarterbacks in Kern County. He looks like a pro-set quarterback with his ability to excel in the play-action. He's got a quick release and improved his decision making with being more patient with his wide receivers on the 7-on-7 circuit. He's also an athletic runner who can be deadly in the spread option.

More on Moore:


Notable schools: No offers yet, but has received interest from Boise State.

*The versatile 5-foot-10, 170-pound Vickers hit the 7-on-7 scene hard and has showed off his versatility at different camps. At Bakersfield, he's one of the top running back options with his speed and cut back ability.

More on Vickers:


Notable schools: No offers yet, but has received interest from Cal, Fresno State, Colorado and Utah.

*Norris has actually been one Grizzly that's had a quiet off-season recruiting-wise. However, he made noise at Passing Down's Cen Cal Regional in Elk Grove in April with his size (6-foot-3, 180-pounds), route-running and hands. He emerged as the go-to-guy for Team DB Guru. He lacks breakaway speed and is built more like a possession target. However, if Quick gets doubled or tripled covered on offense, expect a breakout senior year for Norris.

More on Norris:


Notable schools: No offers yet, but has earned interest from USC, UCLA and Oregon.

*At Edison, Nutt's the lighting back, while Wright looks more like the thunder back with his size (6-feet, 210-pounds) to go between the tackles and wear defenses down. Don't let the big stature make you think he's just a power back, though. While he does break tackles and is tough to bring down, Wright is also just as elusive as Nutt and has breakaway speed.

More on Wright:


Notable schools: No offers yet, but has earned interest from Boise State, Utah and Iowa State.

*The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Steele is one of the more dangerous and powerful scramblers in the Valley, simply because he drags defenders and runs like a fullback. He rarely throws because of his running ability, but is effective in the play action and can continue to polish his quarterback skill set. He may end up being a tight end/h-back at the next level because of his size and running style, but can definitely thrive in an option style offense at QB.

More on Steele:


Notable schools: Ohio has shown interest.

*Another versatile option at Bullard, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Justice looks like he's made his most mark on defense as a safety. He closes on angles very well and is a sure tackler. He's also a ball-hawk. However, like O'Neal, Justice is another one who's fast and elusive, plus can run around defenders.

More on Justice:


Notable schools: Colorado State, Northern Arizona, Eastern Washington, Holy Cross and Cal Poly are among the schools that have shown interest. No offers yet.

*The 5-foot-11, 225-pound Duchett is physical on both sides of the ball. He opens up running lanes at fullback with plowing into linebackers and also buries his shoulder into defenders when he has the football. At linebacker, he's a heady player who's quick to spot the football, then get to it. He lacks breakaway speed, but he can help bring a physical identity to any team.

More on Duchett:


Notable schools: South Dakota has shown interest

*The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Thind has emerged as a late bloomer on the off-season recruiting trail thanks to his ball-hawking skills at safety at different football tournaments. He's also got an explosive get-off from the line at wide receiver and has hops to haul in the jump ball. Bulk will be needed down the road, he also hasn't been seen much fighting off jams at the line versus cornerbacks and seems to excel more versus a zone coverage. However, in the end, he's starting to become one of the best kept secrets in Kern County with his work ethic and should become Evan Moore's No. 1 option.

More on Thind:


Notable schools: No offers yet, but has gained interest from Fresno State, Boise State, Nevada and Washington.

*His size at 6-foot-7, 325-pounds makes him look like a prototypical offensive tackle in the college ranks or NFL. However, the young man known as "Dorton The Destroyer" is also a valuable defensive tackle with his ability to drive back opposing guards and stop the run. Pass blocking will need some tweaking since he doesn't have the quickest feet and tends to turn his hips the wrong direction. However, his run blocking has gotten him some attention on the recruiting trail, along with his play at defensive tackle.

More on Dorton:


Notable schools: Holds San Jose State offer.

*Chachere is a physical cornerback who's unafraid of stepping up and deliver the viscous hit. He'll need bulk, but he's got long arms and loves to be aggressive. Easily one of the hardest hitters in the Valley this upcoming year.

More on Chachere:


(Committed to San Jose State)

*Flemming has the speed to blanket receivers all day and has long arms to either press at the line or make deflections. His 39 inch vertical jump also makes him reliable to swat down the potential jump ball versus a receiver. Lastly, Flemming is a wicked hitter and, like Chachere, should be another physical one this upcoming year at cornerback.

More on Fleming:


Notable schools: No offers yet, but has received interest from Arizona, Portland State, Humboldt State and San Diego State.

*He's only 5-foot-8 and approximately 160-pounds, but Tavarez brings heart, speed, and aggression to the table. He's stood toe-to-toe against some of the top receivers at Passing Down and held his own thanks to his coverage skills. His ability to press at the line, though, is what's turning him into a very underrated prospect in the Central Valley. He's a tone-setter for any defense.

More on Tavarez:


Notable schools: Colorado State, Northern Arizona, Cal Poly, Princeton, Harvard, Cornell and Fresno State have shown recent interest.

*The 5-foot-8, 184-pound Doctor can run circles around defenses with the ball in his hand on offense. While he lacks size and bulk, he's an electrifying playmaker capable of getting fans out of their seat cushions on Friday nights.

More on Doctor:


Notable schools: Boise State and San Diego State have shown interest. No offers yet.

*Young was clearly better his sophomore year than his junior season in what was a disastrous 2012-2013 for the Bullpups (1-9 season). He ended up throwing more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (eight). However, he's still done enough on the field to keep colleges interested in him. He looks like a pro-style quarterback with his zip and play-action ability. He'll need a huge senior year, though, to land some late offers since things seem to be pretty quiet on the recruiting trail.

More on Young:


Notable schools: Fresno State, Cal, Portland State, Colorado State and Nevada have shown interest. No offers yet.

*The massive 6-foot-3, 290-pound Espiritu was one highlight during what was a disappointing 2-8 season for the Pirates in 2012-2013. He played all five line spots on offense and was still the best offensive lineman thanks to his motor and run blocking. Espiritu could thrive in a run-first offense thanks to his strength and legs to drive defensive linemen to the ground. His work ethic is also something that should make coaches happy - he's usually spotted in Reedley working on linemen techniques after school.

More on Espiritu: