Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rising star watch: Tyrique Carter

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We'll head up to the state's capitol for our next prospect. He's a Sacramento-area cornerback flying under the radar at an emerging talent-rich high school.

Tyrique Carter of Inderkum has put together a busy and solid offseason. Carter has hit up Passing Down, NFTC and the Rivals! camps to get his name out in the recruiting world. He comes from the same high school that recently produced 2013 quarterback C.J. Spencer (UC Davis) and hard-hitting safety Jordan Thomas (Arizona State).

Here's a closer look at Carter:

WHAT TO LIKE: Instincts is where we'll start. Carter does an excellent job with keeping his eyes locked on the football, then charge at a ball carrier like a bull seeing red. He doesn't hesitate to run at the football and blow a play up. Takes good pursuit angles to the ball on running plays. At 5-foot-10, 175-pounds, he has an advantage with keeping his body low and wrapping up a defender. He never tackled a defender too high and does a solid job of keeping his pad level low. Against the pass, Carter has enough speed to shadow a wide receiver and has a nose for the football. He's reliable in the zone coverage thanks to his speed and hands.

WHAT TO BUILD ON: Even though his fastest 40-yard dash time is 4.56, he can always get his speed down. Noticed that he made most of his pass break ups and interceptions while playing off of a wide receiver. Need to see if he can press and be physical at the line of scrimmage on a consistent basis. Though he's an instinctive player, he tends to stop his feet while finishing a tackle. His size might become an issue when going against taller and more physical receivers.

OVERALL: Carter might not be the biggest cornerback or show elite speed as of now, but he's got a mean streak to him. The kind of nastiness any defensive coordinator would crave. This could be a big-time sleeper in the Sac Joaquin Section.

More on Carter:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Rising star watch: Zeandae Johnson

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Central-Fresno has been on a roll with producing NCAA Division I football prospects. The Grizzlies, though, haven't had a legit college football tight end during their streak of pumping out football prospects.

Looks like that's changing - in the form of big 6-foot-4, 245-pound Zeandae Johnson.

The 2015 prospect has seen an increase of interest from different programs by hitting the camp/tournament season hard. Here's a breakdown of Johnson:

WHAT TO LIKE: Already has the size of a college level tight end. A fundamentally sound blocker in the running game. Shows excellent leverage on a defender. Places his hands inside the chest and drives opponents out of the play. Has an offensive lineman's mean streak with his blocking and can bury opponents to the ground. As a receiver, he's improved his speed by getting down to the 4.7 40-yard dash range. Shows good control of his catches. Runs like an old school fullback and is hard to bring down.

WHAT TO BUILD ON: Can continue to work on his routes, especially with getting in and out on his breaks. Not a deep threat. Though he has good speed for a high school level tight end, he can always build on that aspect.

OVERALL: Johnson has received interest from Auburn, Nebraska, Fresno State, Washington, Cal and other schools. With the Grizzlies top offensive weapons Nick Wilson (Arizona) and Michiah Quick (Oklahoma) gone, don't be surprised if Central opens up its offense and feeds Johnson the ball. At talent rich Central, Johnson might be the most underrated college prospect the Grizzlies have.

More on Johnson:

Monday, May 19, 2014

Rising star watch: Russell McClung

Buchanan-Clovis wide receiver Russell McClung went from undersized wideout to an emerging under-the-radar talent in the Central Valley.

Photo courtesy of
McClung, who played on a Buchanan team that went 1-10 overall in 2013, has spent January to now perfecting his routes, hands and speed. The 5-foot-9, 154-pound McClung first caught the attention of Passing Down by averaging 8-10 catches per game, including 10 receptions against a stacked TMP Elite squad full of the best talent in Northern California.

McClung's latest breakout performance came in the Nike Sparq Combine on May 17-18 at Oakland's Laney College. His 40-yard dash time of 4.59 was the second fastest at the combine. His vertical jump was measured at 37.4 inches, the 10th highest mark among participants.

He's looking like the 559's version of Wes Welker. Here's a closer look:

WHAT TO LIKE: Shows rapid fire feet on his breaks against defensive backs, then turns on the jets and gets open. Does an excellent job of extending his arms in front of his chest to haul in the reception. Has a running back's elusiveness in the open field and can run around defenders. Tough competitor who has caught passes against two or three defenders swarming at him. Stuns defenders with his leaping ability and can snatch the jump ball. Finishes his routes and receptions. He's never afraid to show his speed.

WHAT TO BUILD ON: Though he's fearless, he seems to make his most catches on out routes and in the corner of the end zone. Need to see his consistency on hauling in the middle grab. Also need to see his ability to fight off press coverages, since he's done most of his damage against a zone. Can also look to reach to 170 or 190-pounds so he can have the ideal physique of a slot receiver.

OVERALL: McClung's work ethic, big-play capability and attitude is turning him into one of the Bears' top college football prospects. Cal Poly, Fresno State and UC Davis have shown interest in him, with Davis visiting him at Buchanan on May 19. If he continues his offseason rampage and has a breakout senior season, the Class of 2015 prospect could see a collection of awards or offers.

More on McClung:

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Simms, Mariscal, land first offers

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Savion Simms, first discovered by Passing Down and Cali Gold Mine back in March 2013, landed offer No. 1 on May 8 from Eastern Washington University.

Simms, Class of 2015 at Central-Fresno, triples as speedy cornerback, deep threat wide receiver and return ace for the Grizzlies. This offseason, Simms has mainly honed his skills as a cornerback.

One thing I like about Simms is his speed. On defense, he's reliable in zone coverage because of his legs. Simms puts the blanket on wide receivers and has a nose for the football. Offensively, Simms does his most damage on fade and post routes. He's a hard match up in single coverage with his 4.4 40-yard dash time.

He'll still need to improve his press ability at cornerback. He has added more muscle to his frame but can use more bulk over the summer. Nonetheless, Eastern Washington should be the first of many offers for this versatile machine. And, with Central's two biggest offensive weapons getting ready to graduate come June (Michiah Quick, Oklahoma and Nick Wilson, Arizona), look for Simms to get plenty of touches this fall on offense.

Down in Kern County:

Anthony Mariscal, labeled the Liberty Patriot Missile by CGM back in October 2013, also received an offer from Eastern Washington on May 8.

Like Simms, Mariscal is another versatile threat. However, after breaking him down in my film room numerous of times, I like him better on offense.

Mariscal is an ankle-breaker with the ball in his hands. He's one of the most dangerous elusive threats in the Central Section. Vision and cut back ability are strengths for him. He's improved his closing speed durng the offseason at safety.

It'll be interesting to see which position Mariscal plays at the next level. But he's likely to add more offers down the road. Schools from the PAC-12, Big 12 and Mountain West have had him on their radar since last year.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

On the recruiting trail

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Cali Gold Mine has come out of hiatus after a lengthy period off!

Lots have gone on during the NCAA Spring Evaluation period. Most prospects first highlighted by CGM have now either piled up the offers, landed offer No. 1 or have committed.

Here's a run down:

-- Caleb Kelly (Clovis West, photo) has gone from a rising star to watch to the headliner of the Central Section's 2016 class. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound linebacker/tight end is already up to 10 offers and added Alabama on Wednesday, May 7. Kelly is a freak athlete with closing pursuits, speed off the edge, wide receiver-like hands and as a linebacker, he runs like a cornerback.

-- Fellow Clovis West teammate Darian Owens added his first scholarship offer. The University of Oklahoma came through for the rising 2016 wide receiver. Owens is a chiseled 5-foot-11, 180-pound target who has hit the weight room and camp circuit hard this offseason. Owens is a smooth route runner with nice hands. Still needs to refine his routes and improve his focus. But Owens could also pile the offers up at CW.

-- James Williams of Burbank went from sleeper running back to Washington State pledge today. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound back made his commitment on May 7. Williams is a shifty, elusive back with receiving ability. Those traits should make him ideal for Cougars head coach Mike Leach's Air Raid offense.

-- Hayden Haupt of Clovis North is beginning to gain steam on the recruiting trail. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound outside linebacker landed a recent offer from Colorado State, his first. Haupt is an excellent rusher from his OLB spot and has a strong upper body. He'll need to improve his pass coverage skills, but Haupt has the skills to give a college program a pass rushing option.

-- Lastly, Edison-Fresno running back Khai Williams ended his anticipation of receiving offer No. 1. The rising 2015 prospect got an offer from Eastern Washington on May 6. Williams, who's drawn interest from Oklahoma, Cal, Colorado and Fresno State, has added 10-15 pounds to his frame and also has spent the offseason marketing himself. He did damage at Passing Down's Cen Cal Regional on April 13 in Elk Grove with his hands, quick feet, and elusiveness at wide receiver. Williams added a visit to Cal recently. He first caught CGM's attention following his breakout evening against Madera last season.