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.

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