Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Top 7-on-7 destinations

Bransin Johnson of SWAG (Photo contributed)
It's unique and crazy to think that tournaments allowing players to run around in shorts, cleats and a dri-fit has helped change the way recruiting works in today's football.

The 7-on-7 format has helped revolutionize a player's development and increase their chances of landing a scholarship during the spring and early summer months. The tournament format has been scoffed at by some high school coaches and a few football fans, yet several others have embraced it and taken full advantage of getting their players noticed in front of writers or college coaches, with several prospects going from one to 50 offers.

I'm around the 7-on-7 scene through Passing Down and have noticed 14 club teams who have used tournaments to their advantage. A lot of these teams are led by coaches who are trying to bust down doors for their younger proteges.

In no particular order, here are the top 7-on-7 clubs in California who have produced Southeastern Conference, PAC-12, Big 12, Mountain West and Division I-AA talent:

TMP ELITE (Northern California)

The brains behind TMP Elite is Terrance Leonard, an assistant at Inderkum High in Sacramento. What impresses me the most about Leonard is that he thinks like a college recruiter.

He's reeled in and produced some sharks in the last two years: running back Joe Mixon (Oklahoma), linebacker D.J. Calhoun (Arizona State), cornerback Adarius Pickett (UCLA), linebacker Michael Lazarus (Fresno State), safety Jordan Thomas (Arizona State), linebacker N.J. Falo (Colorado), wide receiver L.J. Reed (UCLA), and also reached out to Colorado to nab defensive back James Jones IV (currently four offers).

Darrell Adams of TMP (Photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna)

Other TMP alums include highly-touted athlete Isaiah Langley (over 30 offers), wide receiver Darrell Adams (photo, Arizona State and Utah offers) and cornerback Chandler Gumbs (Colorado State, Penn and Sacramento State offers).

Oh, looks like TMP's future is solid with emerging Class of 2016 quarterback Ian Book.

ASAP (Sacramento)

Team ASAP had a younger squad this past season, but longtime Arena Football League coach Walt Saunders has helped produce freak linebacker/defensive end Earl Chism (Yale), athlete De'Aundre Terrell (Sacramento State), and wide receivers Wyatt Demps (Nevada) and Alex Van Dyke (UCLA).

DB GURU (Fresno)

Led by the vision of longtime defensive back coach Tony Perry, DB Guru has been on a rampage in the recruiting realm and tournament scene.

Perry and DB Guru have used the 7-on-7 scene to get Fresno and Clovis kids exploding on the recruiting trail. Notable DB Guru alums include athlete Michiah Quick (Oklahoma), safety Hatari Byrd (Oklahoma), cornerback Johnny Johnson (UCLA), safety Devon Brewer (Arizona), running back Nick Wilson (Arizona) and most recently, tight end Ricky McCoy (Arizona), cornerback Dehlon Preston (San Jose State) and cornerback A.J. Greeley (Fresno State).

Khai Williams of DB Guru (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna)

Guru, however, is far from finished and is in the process of adding more to its alum history. Central-Fresno athlete Savion Simms holds four offers. Edison athlete Tyler Horton (currently five offers) and running back Khai Williams (Eastern Washington offer) are next in line through Perry.

I should also add the future of Guru Caleb Kelly of Clovis West. The Class of 2016 linebacker/tight end piled up 15 offers after latching on with Guru.

B2G (Beyond 2 Grand, Southern California)

Arguably the top 7-on-7 destination in Los Angeles County, B2G alums include Super Bowl champion cornerback Richard Sherman, New Orleans Saints linebacker Martez Wilson, Long Beach Poly cornerback Iman Marshall (nearly 20 offers), tight end Darrell Cloy (Arizona), cornerback Denzel Fisher (UCLA), safety Marvell Tell (20 offers) and recent Arizona State quarterback commit Brady White.

Marcus McMaryion of B2G (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna/Mid Valley Publishing)

B2G also reached out to the Central Valley to help produce Oregon State quarterback commit Marcus McMaryion (Dinuba) and athlete Anthony Mariscal (Liberty-Bakersfield, Arizona commit).

FRAT BOYZ (Southern California)

Former NFL linebacker and USC great Chris Claiborne helps spearhead the Frat Boyz.

Quarterback Tyler Hilinski (Washington State), safety Su'a Cravens (USC), safety Justin Strong (Oregon State), cornerback Malik Cyphers (Portland State) and cornerback John Plattenburg (USC) are among the notable prospects who rolled with Claiborne and the Frat Boyz.

BODY BY TRA (Inland Empire)

Body By Tra has been a contender at Passing Down the last two seasons, winning back-to-back So Cal Regional titles and producing some big time talent out of the Southern California area in the process.

Body By Tra (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna/Passing Down)

Wide receiver Adam Young (Duke commit) is one alum. Hilinski also played quarterback for BBT. Chiseled running back Kurt Scoby (Fresno State) and highly-touted cornerback Stanley "Scrappy" Norman (nearly 30 offers) are former BBT talent.

GROUND ZERO (Inland Empire)

Ground Zero is a machine, proven by winning the Passing Down Best of the West 7-on-7 challenge in 2014 and producing 25 players with a scholarship offer.

That's right, 25.

Mike Bell of Ground Zero (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna/Passing Down)

San Jose State wide receiver commit Ray Surry, San Diego State cornerback commit Mike Bell, athlete Damion Alloway (four PAC-12 offers), and big-time 2016 linebacker prospect Lokeni Toailoa (eight PAC-12 offers) are among Ground Zero's young bulls. USC commit Chris Hawkins covered wide receivers with Ground Zero before moving on to the Land of Troy.


GAMECHANGERS L.A. (Southern California)

Former Oregon wide receiver James Finley is on a roll with nabbing under-the-radar L.A talent.

Don'Yeh Patterson (Hawaii wide receiver commit), Evan Rambo (athlete, San Diego State offer), cornerback Kalan Montgomery (San Diego State commit) and cornerback Treshon Broughton (Oregon State) all have linked up with Finley.

S.W.A.G (Merced and Fresno)

Team SWAG (Students With Aspiring Goals) was the team who ripped off a curtain and unveiled the Merced area playmakers.

Tyrone Williams of SWAG (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna/Passing Down)

SWAG stunned opponents at Passing Down with its championship run in the 2014 Cen Cal Regional. Quarterback Tyrone Williams (Merced High) has seen his recruiting pick up after his performances in the camp/tournament scene with PAC-12 schools and Missouri asking more about him.

Linebacker Frank Ginda (Pacheco-Los Banos) added a San Jose State offer recently. SWAG also snatched up under-the-radar Clovis North athlete Bransin Johnson, who does damage as a slot receiver and cornerback, plus added his first offer from Weber State on June 24.

FIELD UP (Fresno County)

Former Sacramento State wide receiver Elon Paige has a powerhouse in the making through his venture Purpose Field.

The upstart Field Up took some marquee powerhouses to the limit at Passing Down and produced a Junior High Division championship on June 22.

J.J. Wills (right) of Field Up (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna/Mid Valley Publishing)

Paige's top prospect has to be J.J. Wills of Clovis High. The 2016 wide receiver has received interest from the PAC-12.

Field Up, however, has three hidden gems in the 2015 class: Buchanan slot receiver Russell McClung (FCS and Mountain West interest), Clovis High lock down cornerback Hank Wiggins (interest from Cal Poly) and Edison OLB Xavier Hamilton (Mountain West interest).

Young talent emerging with Field Up is wide receiver John Gurrola (USA Junior Football All-Star) and linebacker Bryan Wilcots (Clovis West).


Stockton has been on the rise thanks to the work of former Raiders Al Smith and George Atkinson through Diverse Sports.

The team hailing from the 209 has made championship runs at different tournaments with predominantly under the radar talent.

Demetrius Ferguson of Diverse Sports (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna/Mid Valley Publishing)

One of those players is Demetrius Ferguson. The St. Mary's-Stockton wide receiver has impressed the Fresno State coaches at the Bulldogs' 7-on-7 tournament and holds a New Mexico State offer.

Former Stagg quarterback Wayne Brooks is another one to watch. The Diverse Sports alum runs like a 100-meter sprinter at safety and is suiting up for junior college powerhouse San Francisco City College this fall.

KENION TRAINING (Northern California)

Led by Nathan Kenion and NFL running back Maurice Jones-Drew, Kenion Training has lured in tight end Tyler Petite (17 offers) and emerging Class of 2016 quarterback Kevin Davidson. 

Cornerback Arthur Hayes (San Jose State offer) is another Kenion alum.


The duo out of Orange County had a big spring season this past year. Gridiron/Get It Done made noise in the Pylon 7-on-7 Tournament in Las Vegas and took home the top prize.

Utah commit Donzale Roddie, Kyle Sweet (Northern Arizona offer) and Nick Anderson (Boise State offer) are among the alums.

PRO SPORT (San Jose)

Pro Sport had a down year this past season, but the Silicon Valley boys have done damage in the past, especially with the Bellarmine Prep players.

K.J. Carta-Samuels (Washington, former Vanderbilt commit) and linebacker Joe Castignani (Cal) are two notable alums.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Clovis East 7-on7 tournament images

Fourteen schools, including Central Section Division II champion El Diamante High, Bullard, Clovis, Tulare Western and Clovis East were on hand at the June 7 Clovis East summer 7-on-7 tournament.

Here are some of the images from the event (all photos by Christy Sharp).

Bullard High lines up on offense
Clovis High practice snap

Bullard High TE/LB Cvaughn Stewart (Class of 2016). Already holds a Utah offer.

Cvaughn Stewart of Bullard
Clovis High 2016 RB/LB Tyler Estrada chases down the ball.

El Diamante QB J.C. Robles, who has interest from Mountain West and Conference USA schools.

Tulare Western vs. Clovis.
Fabian Cerna of Clovis.

J.J. Wills of Clovis High. Class of 2016 WR.

Wills plays DB and tries to swat a pass.

Wills running a route. Also the son of former UCLA RB Shawn Wills.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Rising star watch: Chris Paz

Photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna/The Reedley Exponent
San Joaquin Memorial in Fresno has assembled powerhouse running backs and big linemen for the college ranks over the years, but could the Panthers have a versatile wide receiver/tight end on the horizon?

Chris Paz could be that guy judging from what I saw in the Cali Gold Mine film room.

Paz, Class of 2016, has already begun to gain steam in the recruiting world with schools in the Mountain West, Big 12 and programs from the Football Championship Subdivision gaining interest.

Here's a breakdown of Paz:

WHAT TO LIKE: A big target at 6-foot-3, 200-pounds. As a receiver, he does an excellent job of adjusting his body to make either the jump ball catch or haul a reception low to the ground. Has a good burst from the line and is a mismatch for smaller cornerbacks. Fights off jams well. Does a consistent job of extending his hands in front of his chest to reel in the reception. Has powerful legs and can move a pile with him after the catch. For a 200-pounder, he has good elusiveness in the open field. Without the football, he's a viscous down field blocker who can knock opponents five yards back. Also a valuable return man with good vision and a burst through the hole. On defense, he has solid reaction skills to the football at safety. A good hitter who can knock the ball loose.

Photo courtesy of the Fresno Bee

WHAT TO BUILD ON: Though he runs a 4.6 40-yard dash time, he can always bring that down. Tends to run upright and not keep himself low, but that's common for tall players. If he's to line up at tight end, will need 10-20 pounds of muscle by the time he's a senior. Doesn't have the quickest feet when trying to get off of his wide receiver breaks.

OVERALL: Paz is a possession target and red zone threat, but Memorial has used him in a variety of ways. His size, versatility, hands and blocking ability convinces me he'll have a home on offense. His blocking ability reminds me of former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, who was a devastating blocker. The usually run-heavy Panthers have gone to a spread offense look. This could mean an increase in touches for Paz since he's SJM's biggest target. Wyoming, New Mexico, Sacramento State, Portland State, Eastern Washington and Oklahoma have already taken notice of Paz. He's also teamed with high-powered talent evaluator and recruiting guru Tony Perry in Fresno to assist him on the recruiting trail.

More on Paz:  http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2596524/highlights/132476379

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Deep backfield in the Central Section 2015 class

The high school scene from Madera to Kern County has been known for the ground game and witnessing its share of running backs dominating defenses under the Friday night lights.

Backs like Nick Wilson of Central (Arizona), Xavier Stephens of Tulare Union (Northern Arizona, former Nevada recruit), Demetrius Warren of Bullard (Sacramento State), Chris Brown of San Joaquin Memorial (Oregon State) and the Edison High duo of Kevin Nutt (Colorado State) and Blake Wright (Nevada) have run through, around and over defenses in the Central Valley.

Looking ahead to the 2014 season, I found 12 backs who have either garnered college football interest or who are fully capable of getting on a school's radar. All of them can do damage to defenses in a number of ways.

Here's who to look out for:


Photo courtesy of centralvalleyfootball.com

The UCLA commit is a high-powered locomotive when he has the football. He's a combination of size, destructive power and freakish speed for a 5-foot-11, 205-pound back. Olurunfunmi is an old school type of runner who can leave defenders gasping for air with his speed or from feeling bruised by his shoulders with his power.


If it weren't for Olurunfunmi, Johnson of the Panthers would be considered the top power back in Fresno County. At 5-foot-11 and 200-pounds, Johnson is another big high school running back who bounces off of tacklers and trucks defenders. Johnson, though, elevated his versatility during the offseason. He burned defensive backs with his hands and route running at wide receiver during two tournaments at Passing Down in April 2014. If he can improve on his 4.58 40-yard dash time, Johnson could pile the offers during his senior year. He's already gotten interest from various PAC-12 and Mountain West programs.

More on Johnson: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2075312/highlights/90881390


Croney is another throwback RB with the size/speed/power trifecta. Croney has imposing size at 6-foot-1, 215-pounds. But its his athleticism that makes him who he is on the football field. Croney has stunning straight line speed for a back his size. He got on CGM's radar last year and, as I predicted, the offers have piled up for Croney. Eight schools have made their scholarship pledge to him, with six Mountain West schools pursuing him.


Like Croney, Smith has similar size at 6-foot-1, 215-pounds. However, after breaking him down in CGM's film room, Smith is a more elusive back. He can spin and run around defenders. Yet, like all big backs, Smith does bury his shoulder into defenders and moves the chains. Smith landed a recent offer from Colorado State.

More on Smith: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/430795/highlights/139941377


I have to wonder what position Mariscal will play at the next level, because he's done damage as a slot receiver, safety, cornerback and running back. He'll enter the 2014 season as the most versatile athlete in Kern County, hands down.


Wright turned out to be the Emperors' top offensive weapon during their Central Section Division III championship run, and he was on a team that had the top quarterback in the section with Oregon State commit Marcus McMaryion. Wright has breakaway speed, receiving ability and incredible stamina. He's also a star wrestler at Dinuba. He's a big-time sleeper in the Central Section with no word on any scholarship offers for football. He finished the 2013 season with 36 touchdowns (32 rushing).

More on Wright: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1063236/highlights/63656375


Photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna

Williams played behind Nutt and Wright, but did enough to break into the Tigers' offensive plans and showed his track speed. Williams has one of the most explosive bursts in the Central Section. He enhanced his receiving ability after strong showings at the Pylon 7-on-7 showcase in Las Vegas and at Passing Down in the spring of 2014. If he improves his ability to go between the tackles and shows his power, you could be looking at a collection of awards or offers by season's end for Williams. Right now, Eastern Washington extended an offer to Williams. But Oklahoma, Cal, Arizona, Colorado State and Fresno State have had its eyes on him too.

More on Williams: http://caligoldmine.blogspot.com/2013/10/third-edison-tiger-running-back-earning.html


Nicknamed "Smash," Williams is one of the most electrifying runners in the section. He can run around and break ankles with his elusiveness. He also does an excellent job with maintaining his balance after bouncing off of defenders and he'll finish his runs. Williams runs a 4.4 40-yard dash and, like Khai Williams, Smash has an Eastern Washington offer.

More on Malcolm Williams: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2654784/highlights/76895376


Fairman, like Mariscal, is utilized in a variety of ways with his team. He's played RB, wide receiver and safety. He's not only Roosevelt's top offensive weapon, but he led the Rough Riders in interceptions with seven. Sacramento State is the latest school showing interest. His cutbacks and second gear are his two deadliest traits.

More on Fairman: http://caligoldmine.blogspot.com/2014/02/rising-star-watch-willie-fairman.html


Photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna/The Reedley Exponent

Quezada has battled injuries and fumble issues, but at 6-feet, 209-pounds and with a reported 4.7 40-yard dash time, he's a truck who's tough to bring down. He's capable of dragging two to four defenders on his back and bounce to the outside. He's received interest from the Mountain West and the Football Championship Subdivision ranks during the NCAA Spring Evaluation period.

More on Quezada:  http://www.reedleyexponent.com/articles/2014/06/05/sports/doc538f673055005162921096.txt


Wallace is undersized at 5-foot-9, 175-pounds, but he's been the Hawks' top scoring machine with 27 touchdowns during their back-to-back Division V championship runs. His speed, cutback ability, second gear and hands in the passing game are his strong traits. Wallace and the two-time section champion Hawks are moving on to Division IV this season.

More on Wallace:  http://www.hudl.com/athlete/658037/highlights/117647376


Garbani lacks size (5-foot-8, 185-pounds) and speed (4.85 40-yard dash time according to his Hudl account), but he was CVC's go-to-guy when the Cavaliers needed a big play. Garbani shows excellent vision and determination when he runs. He finished 10th in the section last year with 1,509 yards and scored 12 touchdowns.

More on Garbani:  http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1777466/highlights/114230375

Monday, June 2, 2014

June stacked with events

June isn't just a month when people sit poolside or chill at the beach, it's also the month of summer football tournaments and camps, as players continue to grind away for the upcoming season.

This month has a trio of intriguing opportunities for prospects entering the sixth grade or their senior year. Here's some events to look into:

PASSING DOWN JUNIOR DIVISION ELITE 7-ON-7: The state's top 7-on-7 high school challenge now gives the future of prep football an opportunity, by introducing the first-ever junior high 7-on-7 tournament for players entering the sixth to ninth grade starting on June 14. Elk Grove's Bartholomew Sports Park will be the site for the first regional. June 28 will be the Southern California Summer Showcase at Fullerton College.

Passing Down has had Cody Kessler (USC), Brendan Bigelow (Cal, Tampa Bay Buccaneers), B.J. Kelley (Oregon), Adarius Pickett (UCLA), Joe Mixon (Oklahoma), Su'a Cravens (USC) and many other big-time prospects blowing up on the recruiting trail after competing at PD.

More on the tournament can be seen here.

GET IT DONE SPORTS CAMP: Karif Byrd, former University of Georgia wide receiver, is bringing back the Oregon State football coaching staff for the weekend of June 14.

The Southern California camp is June 14 at Westminster High School. Contra Costa College will be the site of the Northern California camp on June 15.

The Get It Done Sports Camp was where Sumner Houston (defensive end, De La Salle-Concord) and Marcus McMaryion (quarterback, Dinuba) got on the Beavers' radar and eventually landed scholarships from the PAC-12 school. 

More on the camp can be found here.

GOAL LINE CAMP (FRESNO): Legendary defensive back coach Tony Perry (Edison High) is teaming with another coaching legend in the Central Section - Bullard-Fresno's Don Arax - to bring this combine/tournament to life during the week of June 23.

The camp includes guest speakers from the college football and NFL ranks, offensive/defensive position instruction, a 7-on-7 competition, lineman competition, nutritional seminar and leadership/character teaching.

Perry is credited for producing over 40 Division I college football athletes from Fresno. Arax is one of the top coaching names in the 559, with a Central Section title in 2009 and also producing Division I players from Bullard.

The youth camp for grades fourth to eighth runs from June 23-25. The high school camp goes from June 26-28.

More on the camp can be seen here: