Sunday, August 31, 2014

Wilson has breakout night as Immanuel prevails in opener

Photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna
It didn't matter if Aaron Wilson lined up at tight end, outside linebacker or punter, the senior damaged Dos Palos with his size, hands and powerful right leg for Immanuel-Reedley.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Wilson was a three-way threat in the Eagles' impressive 29-15 victory over the Broncos on Saturday, Aug. 30, at Reedley High's Sal Gonzalez Field. Wilson finished his night with four catches, 92 yards and one touchdown on offense. Defensively, Wilson had five tackles, a 22-yard interception return, one forced fumble and a quarterback hurry. His punts sailed for 121 yards on three attempts, good for an average of 40.3 yards.

Wilson was one of only 21 players who dressed up in shoulder pads for the game, as IHS faced a larger opponent with a roster of 32 on the other sideline. Wilson described the significance of the victory.

"It's big. It's a big time statement. Glory to God on that," Wilson said. "It was hard work that paid off."

Immanuel has faced several questions before the 2014-15 season. The roster depth was one area that was a question mark. Inexperience was another with eight seniors on the IHS roster.  The last issue was how quick IHS could adjust to a new pro set offense after scrapping its no-huddle, Shotgun Wing-T scheme from the last two seasons.

Wilson's play on offense and the Eagles' passing game helped answer those questions in the season opener.

Wilson hauled in two huge consecutive grabs in the third quarter. One catch was good for 23 yards and his next grab stretched for a 41 yard gain.

His touchdown came in the fourth quarter. He was sandwiched between two Dos Palos defenders, jumped for the ball and came down with the catch for 8 yards. 

Immanuel also received a breakout night from junior quarterback Caleb Paulson, who had Dos Palos beat on the play action and threw for three touchdown passes. Seniors Beau Hatch (17 yards) and DayV'aughn Montgomery (12 yards) were the other recipients of Paulson's touchdown throws.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Edison escapes defensive brawl in Clovis

We nearly saw our first upset in the Central Section on Thursday, as Edison High - Cali Gold Mine's No. 1 team in the Division I realm - barely escaped with a 13-7 victory over Buchanan.

This was a Bears team once 1-10 last year. But BHS flew to the football on defense, gave up just three plays of over 20 yards and exposed a young Tiger offensive line with three sacks and one forced fumble.

Four players raised their level of play at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The quartet caught the attention of CGM. Here's who they are:


Kam'ron Lewis could be the most underrated wide receiver in the Central Section. The returning 6-foot-3 senior played in the shadow of Utah commit Tyrone Smith last year, but Lewis emerged as the Tigers' top security blanket with a team-high six catches, 70 yards and one touchdown.

On his 20-yard touchdown catch in the first, Lewis drew one-on-one coverage with his cornerback and made a nice adjustment to the football, as he went for the jump ball and hauled down the catch. Lewis showed solid concentration on his other receptions, as he sometimes had to complete his grabs in the middle of the field and against a hard-charging Bear defense.

Lewis told CGM that San Diego State, Nevada, Colorado State and Colorado are among the schools talking to him. He holds no scholarship offers.

Khai Williams didn't put up 100 yards, but the former 5-foot-10, 180-pound slasher known more for his track speed showed off his gritty side. Williams, a returning senior, helped move the chains with 59 yards on 16 carries. But on a night that saw the Bears control the trenches, Williams helped break BHS' spirits with a gutsy 22-yard run up the middle as Edison faced a 3rd-and-14 situation. If Williams continues to show his ability to run between the tackles, he could pile some late offers. Eastern Washington is the only program that made its scholarship pledge to Williams.


Bryson Young and Ben Parker emerged as Class of 2016 defenders to watch.

Young - a 6-foot-5, 220-pound behemoth - did his damage from a two-point stance as he came crashing down on Edison quarterback Hunter Swearingen and disrupted the Tigers' offensive plans. Young forced one fumble and added one sack for the Bears. His motor went non-stop throughout the game. He could emerge as an Aldon Smith type linebacker for the Bears. Young holds two offers from Fresno State and Colorado State as an outside linebacker.

Parker wreaked havoc in a three-point stance. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound defensive end penetrated through a young Edison line and was a force against the pass. Parker impressed me with his strength, motor and ability to go all four quarters without wearing down.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

It's now Leppke's show in Dinuba

Photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna
The Isaac Leppke era begins at Dinuba High School, as the 6-foot-4, 175-pound junior quarterback not only has the opportunity to lead the Emperors to another Central Section championship run, but continue a strong lineage of signal callers who shined in the green and gray uniform.

Leppke is facing the task of joining former Emperors David Rico (Class of 2012 graduate, Cal Lutheran) and Marcus McMaryion (Class of 2014 graduate, Oregon State) as the Emps' next best quarterback. He's also looking to lead Dinuba to its third consecutive title game appearance after finishing as a runner-up in 2012 and winning the section's D III title last year. Leppke makes his varsity football debut at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 29, against Tulare County juggernaut Mission Oak at Dinuba's Claud Hebert Field.

Leppke has heard the McMaryion comparisons as he steps in for the Emps. Leppke has been given advice from both McMaryion and Rico.

"Marcus was his own person, but he told me to be my own person. Not all quarterbacks are the same and we can be great in our own ways," Leppke said. "It's similar with David Rico. He told me the same thing."

Leppke prepared for his future role early. He was active in the spring 7-on-7 tournament season and played with the Los Angeles based Beyond 2 Grand (B2G). Leppke attended various summer camps including Fresno State's camp in June 2014 to build on his quarterback skills. 

He'll play on an offense that lost just two offensive linemen from last year and welcomes back Michael Wright, the Emps' most explosive playmaker at running back with 36 touchdowns rushing and receiving.

Leppke, though, understands what his job is and what his head coach Kevin Scharton expects from him.

"Scharton wants me to be a leader on offense. My team knows I'm in charge and when they're down, I need to be the one who brings them back up," Leppke said.

Rico was known in Dinuba to be a small 5-foot-11 quarterback, but damaged defenses with his arm and legs. The 6-foot-1 McMaryion picked apart defenses with 6,136 career passing yards and 71 touchdown passes.

What type of quarterback is Leppke?

"I'm mobile in the pocket and I have good arm strength," Leppke said. "I need to work on throwing on the run and reading defenses quicker. "

Leppke will deal with a Mission Oak defense that allowed 21 points or less in 12 straight games last year. The highest point total the Hawks surrendered was in their 35-34 loss to Bakersfield Christian in the 2013-14 Division IV title game.

Despite winning the D III championship, Leppke and the Emperors believe that they're getting overlooked in the Central Section.

"I feel like we're underrated big time," Leppke said. "Our defensive line is huge, our offensive line has three returners from last year and I think I can get the job done, just like Marcus from last year. I think we're fine."

Leppke and the Emperors want to take it one game at a time, as they both look to continue their success.

"I'm just excited to see where we are at in the season," Leppke said. "It (the Mission oak game) will give us an idea of what we have on this team and if we still have what we have from last year. It determines if Marcus (McMaryion) was the factor from last year or if it was the whole team together."


What to like: Leppke already has impressive size. However, it's his ability to make plays with his legs that makes him a quarterback to watch. Leppke made a lot of plays with his feet when things broke down. He's slippery with his mobility and can make defenders miss. He thrived off of the play action last year at the junior varsity level. I'm guessing with Michael Wright returning at running back, the Emps will do a lot of play action throws, which was Leppke's strength last season.  Leppke shows off a strong arm and does a solid job of getting his throws to the right areas. I didn't see Leppke making a bad decision with his arm while watching him in the CGM film room.

What to build on: The biggest thing for Leppke will be how well he performs against tougher competition. Mission Oak, El Diamante and Tulare Union are all on the schedule this season. The Tulare County trio has been known for winning more than nine games in any given season, with El Diamante entering the year as the defending Division II champs. I'll also need to see Leppke's ability to locate a receiver while on the run and not worry too much about scrambling all the time.

Overall: Leppke is in a good position. The quarterback at Dinuba has ended up being a game changer and a future college football prospect. He's done a good job preparing for the varsity role by hitting the camp/tournament circuit. How much he learned from McMaryion, Rico and in the offseason will come into play this Friday. If he has a monster season, you could be looking at the latest Emperor college football prospect.

More on Leppke:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The 'Wright' stuff for Dinuba

Photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna
Michael Wright is looking to make some noise this season with Dinuba High football - similar to the row of Harley Davidson's cranking up their engines as the Emperors walk down their 'green mile' before entering Claud Hebert Field.

However, Wright - a four-year varsity running back - wants to do more than just get his home crowd cheering thunderously for the motorcycles revving up their engines. The returning senior hopes to get the home crowd excited when he touches the ball, plus lift Dinuba High to elite company in the Central Section.

Those opportunities will be presented soon for Dinuba's top offensive playmaker from last year and his Emperor teammates, as the reigning section Division III champions will open the season with a huge Tulare County contest against Mission Oak-Tulare on Friday, Aug. 29, in Dinuba. The Hawks will be one of three new heavyweight challenges for Dinuba. El Diamante-Visalia, last season's Division II champs, is on the schedule (Sept. 19). Tulare Union is another key non-league game for Wright and the Emperors (Oct. 3).

Despite the tough non-league slate, Wright said he's motivated about going against some of the section's top powerhouses.

"We're really excited," Wright said. "Mission Oak has a lot of hype. Everyone seems high on them in the Valley. I feel like we're underrated. I think everyone feels that way here."

Is Dinuba - winners of 33 of its last 39 games - still getting slept on in the Central Valley?

"We're definitely the sleeper team," Wright said. "We feel very overlooked. But, I guess it's better to be overlooked than someone who has people expecting a lot from them."

Not only has the Emperors been tagged with the "overlooked" label, but Wright finds himself as a superstar running back who's had colleges looking past him.

Wright has 3,425 career rushing yards for the Emperors. He's scored 61 offensive touchdowns, including 36 during the Emps' DIII title run.

And there's been no scholarship offer for the 5-foot-10, 185-pound scoring machine.

He said he's been in contact with some mid-major programs in the Football Championship Subdivision and the Mountain West Conference.

"I've talked to Sacramento State a lot. I've also talked to UC Davis. Fresno State talked to me over the summer. Cal Poly as well," Wright said.

Wright brings back versatility to the Dinuba offense. He doubles as an elusive, breakaway threat in the running game and can catch out of the backfield. He gets the Dinuba fans energized with his burst through the open hole and the second gear he shows with his speed.

Wright, though, doesn't boast about his own skill set. He gives credit to who clears the way for him.

"I think I've gotten a lot closer to my offensive linemen," Wright said. "I understand what they see (in this offense). My patience is getting better with this offensive line. A strength for me right now is reading my linemen."

Wright added that a winter sport got him to be the football talent he's become.

"Wrestling has helped me a lot," Wright said. "I can stay low when I hit people. It also helps with my speed because I have a quick burst. Wrestling has been a big part of my success in football."

The returning senior has had an illustrious career - the kind of career that could get him to be the school's all-time leading rusher this season. But despite his success in shoulder pads and helmet, he said he still looks to improve his overall game, particularly his ball-handling ability.

"I always work on carrying the football. You have to work on ball security no matter what," Wright said. "I want to have it (the ball) at all times. If I give it away, then it gives the other team a chance to score."

Is he also thinking about going down in the Dinuba High record books?

"No. I actually haven't really thought about it," Wright said. "My line, though, cares about it. I think it'll be an accomplishment for them. But I'm sure my mom and others will be proud of it once they announce 'Michael Wright: all-time leading rusher at Dinuba High.' But I can care less."


What to like: We have to start with Wright's speed. He'll quickly shoot through a hole like a torpedo leaving a submarine. His vision and patience with his blockers also makes him an ideal running back for the next level. He has quick feet and can run around defenders. He shows breakaway speed when he has the football in his hands. His wrestling background gives him an edge in stamina and with keeping his pad level low.

What to build on: I'll need to see his ability to pass block and how he picks up on blitzing linebackers. I'll also need to see if he can break multiple tacklers. Another key will be how well he performs against a much tougher schedule.

Overall: Wright is, in Cali Gold Mine's book, the biggest sleeper in the Central Section. He plays like a running back who can have up to five scholarships by now. He'll be perfect for any option style offense, like Nevada's pistol system or New Mexico's triple option approach. If he improves his ability to go between the tackles, I'm sure more schools will take notice of him. Wright should continue to keep college coaches glued to Dinuba, especially after the Emperors produced Oregon State quarterback commit Marcus McMaryion.

More on Wright:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Clovis North transfer ready to lead Immanuel

Photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna
Last year, Aaron Wilson couldn't get on the football field right away for Immanuel High of Reedley because he had to sit out six games due to the CIF Central Section transfer rules.

Now, the IHS coaching staff doesn't plan to pull him off the field during games, as Wilson - the former Clovis North Bronco - has shown his versatility on offense (tight end), defense (outside linebacker/defensive back) and special teams (punter).

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior will be used in a variety of ways for the Eagles, as they prepare to open the 2014-15 season against Dos Palos at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 30, at Reedley High's Sal Gonzalez Field.

"He's not coming off the field," said his head coach Matt Armstrong. "We've got a lot of good athletes and I consider him one of them."

Wilson has given the Eagles a security blanket at tight end for the passing game. During a three-team scrimmage against Roosevelt and Madera South on Aug. 22, the senior was a mismatch for opposing safeties because of his size, hands and separation on his routes. Wilson burned defensive backs while running out routes and ran over any safety who tried to tackle him above his waist.

Wilson said his biggest strength is his ability to catch.

"God blessed me with some big hands," Wilson said. "It makes me catch anything that comes my way."

Wilson added that his receiving ability isn't his only strong trait.

"I also like my speed and strength," Wilson said. "I can break tackles and execute my routes. My size also is a big thing, but I can also get low (with pad level). In our division (Division V), we go against much smaller guys, so I need to get low when I hit them. I want to be able to run through them and run them over."

One program from the Mountain West Conference has been impressed with Wilson's size and ability. The University of Wyoming stopped by IHS during the NCAA Spring Evaluation period to learn more about him.

"They're saying I do have talent. I have potential too," Wilson said. "They did tell me I've got a lot of work to do but I need to keep working as hard as I can and give a 100 percent effort each play."

The Cowboys are moving to a pro style offense this season that could feature a three tight end set. The offense is similar to what Stanford runs under head coach David Shaw. Armstrong said Wyoming has talked to Wilson about possibly playing tight end.

Wilson won't just be an asset to the IHS offense. He hopes to make a similar impact on the IHS defense, which plans to use him as an outside rusher in the Eagles' 3-4 (three defensive linemen, four linebackers) scheme.

"I'm really looking forward to playing defense. We'll be way better than last year," Wilson said. "We have a really athletic team even though we've got short roster numbers."

Wilson showed his nose for the football during the Eagles' opening scrimmage. He disrupted some outside running plays while lining up as a weakside linebacker. Against the pass, Roosevelt and Madera South saw No. 5 come crashing down on quarterbacks for the sack.

Armstrong said Wilson has speed and a strong work ethic, which allows Wilson to be a moving piece on the IHS defense.

"He runs a 4.74 40-yard dash time. He's done a lot of work in the weight room and he's trimmed himself down," Armstrong said. The third-year IHS football coach added that Wilson has lost 15 pounds from last season.

Wilson is excited about playing an entire season this time for IHS. He said sitting out those six games is his motivation for this year. 

"It makes me want to work harder and improve my game a lot, Wilson said. "This year will be way bigger (for me)."


What to like: Wilson is considered a raw prospect because he's transitioning to tight end this season. However, he has the tools to flourish in the Eagles' new pro style offense, which plans to throw the ball more. Wilson already has impressive size for a high school tight end. He'll win a lot of one-on-one battles because of his size, separation and strength to out-muscle defensive backs for the ball. On defense, Wilson is an intriguing prospect as an outside linebacker because of his closing speed, size and instincts.

What to build on: I need to see his consistency with his route running, especially since he's still undergoing a learning curve at tight end in a new offense. He also can build on his footwork during run blocking. On defense, he's a disruptive force against the run and with rushing the quarterback, but I need to see his ability to drop back into coverage and play the pass.

Overall: If he has a breakout season, Wilson is capable of getting on a mid-major program's radar. He could be the difference maker for the Eagles' offense and defense.

More on Wilson:

Monday, August 25, 2014

CGM spends its night on Sunday Sidelines

Let me begin this by saying thanks to the great people at CBS 47 and Scott Bemis for bringing me on the Sunday Sidelines show on Aug. 24. It's the second year in a row Cali Gold Mine has been featured on television!

In case you missed it, here's what Scott and I touched base on, as the opening kick off of the 2014-15 season comes close (begins with week zero on Friday, Aug. 29)

Top five teams in DI:

1) EDISON - Too much talent and experience return to the Tigers. Big tests loom against Bakersfield (Sept. 5) and Clovis North (Sept. 19).

2) BAKERSFIELD - They don't rebuild at BHS, they reload. NT Nigel Brooks will lead an athletic and hard-nosed defense.

3) CLOVIS NORTH - Despite their injuries, future PAC-12 players Bolu Olurunfunmi (UCLA commit) and Jacob Daniel (USC) will lead the Broncos' offense and defense, respectively. Broncos also have OLB Hayden Haupt (Army and Colorado State offer), tall shutdown cornerback Noruwa Obanor (Fresno State offer) and versatile athlete Bransin Johnson (Weber State offer).

4) LIBERTY-BAKERSFIELD: The Patriots welcome back the electrifying ATH Anthony Mariscal, who committed to Arizona as a safety.

5) CENTRAL - An experienced defense will lead a younger offense. The Grizzlies are still stacked in the secondary with Dehlon Preston (San Jose State commit), Savion Simms (four offers, three from the FCS) and Jovonte Page. Cal commit Zeandae Johnson leads the defensive line.

Top five in DII

1) RIDGEVIEW - The difference will be the arrival of RB Sheldon Croney, who holds eight offers (six from the Mountain West).

2) SAN JOAQUIN MEMORIAL - The Panthers will ride the power of RB Stevan Johnson (PAC-12 interest) and the red zone presence of WR Chris Paz (PAC-12 and Oklahoma interest).

3) SANGER - A deep backfield led by Kris Elizondo returns to the Apaches.

4) SUNNYSIDE - Plenty of speed returns for the two-time North Yosemite League champs. Malcolm 'Smash' Williams should get plenty of touches. Williams holds an Eastern Washington offer.

5) KINGSBURG - The Vikings have been humbled in DII, but they have lots of size with Isaiah Trevino, Ben Olsen and Tristan Workman on the front line.

Top team in DIII:

BAKERSFIELD CHRISTIAN - The reigning D IV champs bring back highly touted prospects Brandon Jones (QB) and Matt Smith (RB, Colorado State offer).

DARKHORSE: MISSION OAK-TULARE - QB Trey McJunkin and WR/DB LeAndre Jefferson (UNLV and Wyoming offers) will be a duo to watch in Tulare this fall.

Top team in DIV:

LIBERTY MADERA RANCHOS - The DV champs have speed and experience returning. Do-everything type Wade Wallace returns. He has 27 touchdowns in his varsity career and two CIF titles.

DARKHORSE: CENTRAL VALLEY CHRISTIAN - The Cavaliers have size and a hard-nosed running attack returning. CVC gave Central Sequoia League heavyweights Kingsburg and Dinuba a scare last season (lost by eight to KHS, lost by three to Dinuba).

Top team in DV:

FARMERSVILLE - DV is wide open, but the Aztecs welcome back a deep wide receving core and four-year varsity starting QB Sam Metcalf.

DARKHORSE: It's a toss up between Mendota and Kern Valley. Mendota has to replace the illustrious career of RB Edgar Segura, but head coach Beto Mejia will keep this team motivated. KV brings back dual-threat QB Dalton Gallis, who combined for 37 touchdowns throwing and rushing.

Top team in DVI:

STRATHMORE - The DVI runner-up could air it out more, with the return of QB Carlos Lopez and WR's Daniel Guzman and Andrew Avalos.

DARKHORSE: The rest of DVI is up for grabs, but I'll admit Orange Cove could be moving in a better direction. Head coach Emilio Botello (former Fresno State linebacker) has more one-on-one time with his team since he's no longer the school's athletic director. He was highly successful before taking the AD duties. Plenty of experience returns to the Titans, including lineman Diego Rivera and running back Keanu Garcia.


1) Bolu Olurunfunmi - He's a high-powered locomotive at RB for Clovis North. Has the size/speed/power trifecta.

2) Tyler Horton - He doubles as a big-play wideout and physical shut down cornerback for the deep and talented Tigers.

3) A.J. Greeley - Love physical cornerbacks? You'll love the Fresno State commit Greeley, who thrives on rattling receivers. Greeley plays like an angry offensive lineman with a mean streak. He's the Tigers' best shutdown corner since Cliff Harris.

4) Michael Wright - Wright might be the biggest sleeper in the Central Section after rushing for over 1,800 yards and scoring 36 touchdowns. He has breakaway speed and stamina. With a younger quarterback, look for an increased load for Wright at Dinuba. Wright is yet to be offered a big-time football scholarship.

5) Caleb Kelly - The freakish 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior is already the most highly-sought prospect in the Class of 2016 (holds 15 scholarship offers). Will double as a OLB and TE for Clovis West.

Savion Simms - Central should use him in a variety of ways with Michiah Quick now at Oklahoma.

Khai Williams - He was the third RB behind Kevin Nutt and Blake Wright at Edison, but still got playing time. It's Williams' show now and Edison plans to give him the rock.

Darian Owens - The Clovis West junior receiver holds four offers (including USC and Oklahoma) and will play in a spread offense this season.

Romello Harris - The Tulare Union running back has improved every season since joining the varsity as a freshman. Already has 30 career touchdowns and holds three scholarship offers (Air Force, Colorado State and Washington State).

Ricky McCoy - The Arizona TE commit will play a full season now for the Rough Riders. He had to sit out half of 2013 after transferring to Roosevelt from Bullard.


Greg Quezada - When healthy, the big 6-foot, 209-pound Reedley High back is a freight train who can flatten a defender and run like an old school running back. The Pirates have hinted at giving him the ball more this year. Quezada has gotten interest from Nevada and Fresno State during the offseason.

MacIntyre Garbani - He won't wow people with his physical skill set and he's undersized at 5-foot-8, but he's a touchdown and big play machine for the Cavaliers at running back.

Ju'Wan Murphy - If teams throw away from A.J. Greeley and Tyler Horton, look for this under-the-radar Edison defensive back to potentially see an increase in interceptions. Murphy has had an impressive offseason by improving his closing pursuits.

Nick Bianco: The big man at 6-foot-3, 265-pounds has a nasty demeanor on the Redwood-Visalia offensive line and will use it. Bianco has to be one of the top run blockers in the Central Section.

Nick Villalobos: Colleges might like Villalobos' size at 6-foot-4, 230-pounds. But its the Dinuba defensive end's motor and explosion off the line that makes him a prospect to watch for the defending D III champs.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Central Section's no fly zone

From Fresno to Bakersfield, good luck to any quarterback who dares to throw his pass toward these group of defensive backs.

The Central Section has 15 players in the Class of 2015 who have proven to be game changers in the secondary. Some are ball hawks, others are tall and physical, then there are the ones who can line up in so many ways.

Here's a closer look at this deep and talented list (all photos by Lorenzo J. Reyna):


Horton is the most wanted Tiger on the recruiting trail, with six scholarship offers and interest from big-time schools in the PAC-12 and Big 12. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Horton has improved his press ability during the offseason. He's no longer lunging at wide receivers and keeps himself squared on a receiver while following his every move. His background as a wide receiver gives him an edge with snatching interceptions and picking up on a receiver's route. Colleges should also be impressed with Horton's football IQ. On a Tiger team with at least 10 potential NCAA Division I prospects, Horton is one of the most versatile athletes at Edison.


Greeley is a machine when it comes to jamming receivers. The 6-foot, 170-pound Greeley has long arms and violent palms that can knock wide receivers back two to five yards. Greeley does a consistent job of locking his hands between a receivers' number and rattle his route. Outside of pressing at the line, he has the cover speed to blanket receivers. The former Tiger quarterback and Fresno State commit has to be the most physical cornerback to come from Edison since former Tiger star Cliff Harris.


Murphy might be the most underrated defensive back for the Tigers. He's had a quiet recruiting period but on the field, he shows solid instincts and closing speed from his cornerback spot. Like Horton and Greeley, Murphy is another versatile Tiger who has lined up at safety and wide receiver. He's recently picked up interest from the University of Idaho.


The San Jose State commit is undersized but feisty. The 5-foot-8 Preston is physical at the line and shadows wide receivers all game. He won't back away from a challenge.


Simms has improved his cornerback play this offseason at different tournaments and has landed four scholarship offers (Northern Arizona, Montana State, Idaho and Eastern Washington). He does an excellent job of tracking down the football from his cornerback spot. His speed also makes it hard for wide receivers to out-run him. The 5-foot-7 Simms also is a punishing hitter. That's good news for a Central secondary that's produced headhunters Hatari Byrd (Oklahoma) and Devon Brewer (Arizona).


Page is a versatile and wild safety for the Grizzlies. He's a Troy Polamalu-type for Central with his ability to line up near the line of scrimmage and crash down on a running play or screen pass. Page also can jam and disrupt receivers at the line when he lines up at cornerback. He's the Grizzlies' most underrated prospect.


Obanor is a tall and physical 6-foot-2 specimen who's physical against receivers. His hip direction can use some more work, but Obanor's presence and physical nature makes it hard for quarterbacks to throw his way.


Also a slot wide receiver, Johnson does his most damage at safety with his eyes, closing speed and hands. Johnson has drawn interest from the Mountain West and PAC-12. He holds one scholarship offer from Weber State.


Another versatile playmaker in the 559. Jefferson has speed and wide receiver-like hands on defense. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Jefferson holds two offers from UNLV and Wyoming.


Fairman led the Rough Riders in interceptions with seven last season. The 5-foot-10, 155-pound Fairman has good vision and reaction skills to the football. Along with interceptions, he led the Rough Riders in all-purpose yards with 2,688.


The Arizona commit is one of the most versatile weapons in Kern County. His future could be at safety based off of his size (6-foot, 190-pounds) and cover speed. Mariscal has the hands to be a ball hawking safety, but he's still learning the position. His speed, though, should make him an ideal safety for the Wildcats' 3-3-5 defense.


The Knights lost Nautica Fleming (San Jose State commit) to graduation in June 2014. May now steps in as Bullard's possible shutdown corner for this season. May has long arms and physical strength. He lacks speed. His physical nature, though, should help the usually physical Knight defense.


Brown has lined up at receiver and cornerback. He's a devastating playmaker at both spots. He's undersized as a cornerback (5-foot-8). But Brown brings speed and hands on defense.


At an underrated but competitive Division V powerhouse in north Fresno County, Martinez has doubled as a talented receiver and safety. Martinez has 14 career interceptions with the Eagles' varsity squad. The 5-foot-9, 165-pound Martinez had six interceptions last season.


Wiggins has risen up to challenges this offseason. At 5-foot-7, he's at a height disadvantage. However, he's shown his physical strength and long arms under the Friday night lights and at different tournaments, especially against taller receivers. His closing speed is another plus.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

On the recruiting trail: Harris and Murphy getting more love

Romello Harris of Tulare Union - a rising Class of 2016 prospect armed with three scholarship offers - now has USC taking a closer look at him.

Harris, who has started on Tulare Union's varsity team since his freshman season, told Cali Gold Mine on Sunday, Aug. 10, that his high school head coach Darren Bennett told him the Trojans are taking a closer look at the Redskins' star. Harris said Trojan running back coach Johnny Nansen has had conversations with Bennett.

"My coach talked to him and he [Nansen] said that he wants me to come to the school, take a private tour and watch a practice," Harris said.

Harris holds offers from Colorado State, Air Force and Washington State. He's added interest from UCLA this month.

Harris has rushed for 2,807 yards in his two varsity seasons. He's scored 30 touchdowns.

Harris and Tulare Union begin the 2014-15 season at El Diamante-Visalia on Friday, Aug. 29.

Photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna

Ju'Wan Murphy of Edison-Fresno could be close to getting his first offer. Murphy said the University of Idaho of the Sun Belt Conference is showing interest in him. 

Murphy, a Class of 2015 prospect, has lined up at wide receiver and cornerback for the always deep and talented Tigers.

Murphy (photo) has had an active offseason. The 5-foot-9, 175-pound Murphy linked up with Tony Perry and DB Guru for the 7-on-7 season. He also impressed spectators at the July DB Guru Camp with his routes, footwork and hands at receiver.

Edison and Murphy opens the 2014-15 season with a scrimmage against Buchanan-Clovis at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 28. The Tigers' season opener is against state champion Bakersfield on Friday, Sept. 5, at Fresno City College's Ratcliffe Stadium.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

'Stingers up' for Robles

Photo by Christy Sharp
J.C. Robles of El Diamante-Visalia - first highlighted by Cali Gold Mine as a rising 2015 quarterback prospect in July of last year - has told CGM on Wednesday, Aug. 6, that he's ended his recruiting process and has accepted his scholarship pledge from Sacramento State.

Robles is a 6-foot-5, 195-pound dual threat who led the Miners to the Central Section Division II title in 2013. He said he wanted to end his recruiting process early so he can focus on his upcoming senior season, which begins on Friday, Aug. 29, against Tulare Union at home.

"My family and I thought that it was best to secure it and go into the season focused on high school ball," Robles said.

Sacramento State was Robles' only offer. He received letters of interest from North Texas and Fresno State.

Robles added that former Sacramento State wide receiver Elon Paige played a role in his decision to join the Hornets.

"He was a big influence," Robles said. "I asked him about his opinion on the staff and program. It [his response] was exactly what my thoughts were on everything. I feel like it's a great fit and a program definitely on the rise."

Paige helped train Robles during different offseason workouts. Paige said Robles should be an ideal fit for the Hornets' offense, which plans to be a pro style approach this fall.

"In that atmosphere and offense, he's primed to be a beast," Paige said.


Sheldon Croney of Ridgeview-Bakersfield has now received scholarship offers from half of the Mountain West Conference. New Mexico emerged as the newest offer for Croney on Wednesday, Aug. 6.

Croney, formerly of Garces and first highlighted by CGM in Sept. 2013, has received scholarship pledges from the Lobos, Colorado State, Nevada, Fresno State, Boise State and Nevada-Las Vegas of the MWC.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Croney also holds offers from Oregon State of the PAC-12 conference and Idaho of the Sun Belt.

"It's surreal that I have eight full ride scholarships before my senior year," Croney said on his twitter page. "Have to thank God, my family and everyone else who supported me."

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Under the radar wideouts: who will go their 'route'

There's some explosive playmakers in the this state who I feel aren't getting much love, but are worth looking at this fall.

These wideouts either hold two scholarship offers or none at all. Some play at a talent-rich high school powerhouse. Other wide receivers on this list are players lining up for rising powerhouses.

Here's some key targets to keep a close eye. One of them could be a sleeper in the 2015 class:

Contributed photo


Koski doesn't have prototypical size for a receiver (6-feet, 195-pounds), but he's a smooth route runner and one of the hardest receivers to cover. Koski damages secondaries with his burst off the line, separation and second gear after a catch is made. He's not the best jumper. Koski, though, wins a lot of one-on-one battles and holds offers from Cal Poly and Montana.

More on Koski:

Photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna


Like Koski, Ferguson looks thin at 6-feet, 165-pounds. But he plays like he's four to five inches taller. Ferguson is explosive off the line and finishes his routes. He'll win the jump ball battle in the red zone. His strengths are his routes, hands and athleticism. He's got one offer from New Mexico State. Oregon State and Fresno State also have shown interest in him. He's playing at the same high school that's produced Doug Martin (running back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Na'im McGee (safety, San Diego State) and Josh Harper (wide receiver, Fresno State).

More on Ferguson:

Photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna


The incoming seniors were overshadowed by their more heralded wide receiver teammate Tyrone Smith (Utah) last season. Lewis and Murphy, however, have put together a solid offseason with improving their routes and technique. Lewis is the tall target at 6-foot-2. He's shown excellent focus on his catches and is hard to bring down. He'll likely be the possession target for the Tigers. Murphy (attempting one handed catch in the photo) is undersized at 5-foot-9 but has versatility. Murphy might get more interest at defensive back because of his closing speed. But at receiver, Murphy has solid footwork and gains separation from his defender. A big year at receiver could land him late offers.

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Padilla was one of the reasons why the Mustangs emerged as a nice surprise in 2013 (7-4 record, 4-1 in the East Yosemite League). Padilla caught 31 passes for 604 yards and averaged over 19 yards per game. The 5-foot-10, 150-pound receiver has a small stature. I'll also need to see his ability to fight off jams against bigger and more physical cornerbacks. Still, though, Padilla is an underrated playmaker in the 559.

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He was one of Oregon State commit Marcus McMaryion's favorite targets last season. Like most of the guys on this list, Herod isn't the most physically imposing wideout (5-foot-11, 160-pounds). But he makes up for it with his routes and speed. Herod has a nice second gear after the catch is made and is a reliable deep threat. Herod was the defending Central Section Division III champions' second best receiver with 31 catches, 424 yards and three touchdowns.

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White holds two offers from New Mexico and New Mexico State. However, after breaking him down in my film room, White plays like he can have 10-15 offers. He's a tall target at 6-foot-2, 170-pounds. He beats defenders in man coverage with his size and vertical jump. Another thing that impressed me about White is his body control after the catch.

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McClung is a Wes Welker type for the Bears. What stands out the most about him is his footwork and jumping ability. McClung is a blazer who runs a 4.5 40-yard dash and he won't shy away from using his speed. He surprisingly can out-jump a defensive back despite his size. I'll need to see how he handles the middle catches and if he can damage defensive backs in man coverage, since I've noticed he's done his best work against zone schemes. In the end, McClung is a sleeper in talent-rich Clovis.

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Rambo lines up in a variety of ways at Verbum Dei (quarterback, wide receiver, safety and return man), but his future has to be at receiver because of his size and hands. Rambo is a tall target at 6-foot-4, 190-pounds and he's a nightmare for cornerbacks in the red zone because of his size. Rambo shows excellent control of his catches. He also plays mind games with defensive backs and can make defenders second guess his moves. Rambo holds one offer from San Diego State.

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Garcia (6-feet, 175-pounds) has a running back-like elusiveness to his game and can turn on the jets after the catch. Garcia finished 2013 with 52 catches, 948 yards, averaged over 18 yards per game and scored 11 touchdowns.

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Hammerstrom is a rugged tight end at 6-foot-1, 215-pounds. He runs like an old school fullback with the ball in his hands. He shows excellent vision after the catch and has a nose for the end zone, proven by his 12 touchdowns last season.

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Rogers isn't as tall or physical as the Panthers' last big-time wideout Deontay Greenberry, but Rogers earned the nickname "Mr. Go Get It" because of his leaping ability and big play capability. Rogers can haul the tough grabs in the middle or against two defenders with his 6-foot-1 frame. He's a deadly deep threat. Rogers has mainly heard from Mountain West schools.

More on Rogers:

Photo contributed


It's not known if the 5-foot-8 Johnson will line up as a slot receiver or defensive back, but on a Broncos team loaded with NCAA Division I talent, Johnson might be the most underrated college prospect at CNHS. He damages defenses from the slot by going deep and showing a knack for completing his catch, even against heavy traffic. He's got some elusiveness to his game when he has the football and shows an excellent nose for the end zone. He may end up playing safety because of his closing pursuits and hands. Johnson is worth a look at receiver, though. He holds one offer from Weber State.

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