|Photo by Chris Martinez|
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:
MICHIAH QUICK, WR/DB, CENTRAL-FRESNO
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: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/625517/michiah-quick
DEVON BREWER, DB, CENTRAL-FRESNO
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: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/596258/devon-brewer
SHARIF WILLIAMS, OL/DT, CENTRAL-FRESNO
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: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1256104/sharif-williams
TASHON SMALLWOOD, DE/DT, CENTRAL-FRESNO
(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: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1266414/tashon-smallwood
NICK WILSON, RB, CENTRAL-FRESNO
(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: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/912713/highlights
MARCUS MCMARYION, QB, DINUBA
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: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1592131/marcus-mcmaryion
KEVIN NUTT, RB/DB, EDISON-FRESNO
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: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1351610/highlights
DEJONTE O'NEAL, RB/WR/DB, BULLARD-FRESNO
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: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/412864/dejonte-oneal
ADAM SOESMAN, DB, BUCHANAN-CLOVIS
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: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/912713/highlights
EVAN MOORE, QB, FRONTIER-BAKERSFIELD
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: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/823595/evan-moore
DERRICK VICKERS, RB/WR/DB, BAKERSFIELD
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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDNntFeGJQ4
LOUIS NORRIS, WIDE RECEIVER, CENTRAL-FRESNO
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: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/654170/louis-norris
BLAKE WRIGHT, RB/OLB, EDISON-FRESNO
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: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1363777/blake-wright
BRANDON STEELE, QB, KINGSBURG
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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_zcKaLUlDI
ISAIAH JUSTICE, RB/QB/WR/RETURN MAN, BULLARD-FRESNO
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: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/401933/highlights/31133397
DARIAN DUCHETT, FB/MLB, BULLARD
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: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1137128/darian-duchett
JASMIT "JAZ" THIND, WR/DB, FRONTIER-BAKERSFIELD
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: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/845112/highlights/50619375
JARRED DORTON, OT/DT, NORTH BAKERSFIELD
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: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2152212/highlights
ANDRE CHACHERE, CORNERBACK, CLOVIS WEST
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: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/773668/andre-chachere
NAUTICA FLEMMING, DB, EDISON
(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: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/912698/highlights
ABEL TAVAREZ, DB, MT. WHITNEY-VISALIA
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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4UhPGmaGNE
RICHARD DOCTOR, RB/DB, LEMOORE
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: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1628590/richard-doctor
JACOB YOUNG, QB, HANFORD
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: http://centralvalleyfootball.com/video-highlights-jacob-young-qb-hanford/
IVAN ESPIRITU, OL/DL/MLB, REEDLEY
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: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1749747/ivan-espiritu