Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hot off the film room: the 2016 quarterbacks

Since March of 2014, I've been on a Golden State tour from the Bay Area to Southern California as I've kept my eye out on some of the upcoming signal callers in this state - the Class of 2016 quarterbacks.

These guys have plenty of potential to pile the offers. Some of them have already begun stockpiling the scholarship pledges while others are starting to have their phone ring with college coaches on the other line.

Here's the latest installment of "Hot off the film room" featuring the 2016 quarterbacks:


Henry has already caught the attention of Florida State, Ohio State, Norte Dame and BYU, since all four have offered the 6-foot-2, 175-pound mad bomber. Henry has to have one of the best deep ball passes in the Southern Section.


The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Costello already looks like a college ready quarterback and has attracted national attention with 13 scholarship offers from Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 10 and PAC-12 schools. Along with his strong arm, I'm impressed with his patience in the pocket and his patience toward his wide receivers.


Modster is an aggressive thrower who won't hesitate to fling a football into a tight window. His zip and strong arm, though, allows him to win those tight window battles against two or three defensive backs. He's also excellent on roll out passes.


Ian Book of Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills (photo courtesy of Max Preps).

Book has one of the best quick releases in the Sacramento region. He's developed a knack for locating an open man then fire away fast. He's improved as a running quarterback as well and shows an excellent ability to avoid the middle rush and roll to the outside. At 6-foot-1, 175-pounds, he'll need to grow but has one more year of prep football to do it. He reminds me of former Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore.

More on Book can be found here.


A varsity letterman since his freshman year, Peus has fooled defenses with his play action skills and attacks the secondary with the deep bomb. His pocket awareness is another plus.

More on Peus can be found here


Camarillo quarterback Jake Constantine (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).

Constantine has frustrated defenses with his arm, decision making and his mobility. I'm a fan of his arm strength, though. Constantine won't hesitate to unleash the Hail Mary. He's included a quick release on short throws to his game too. So far, Clemson, Colorado State, Fresno State and Holy Cross are taking interest in the 6-foot-2 signal-caller.

More on Constantine can be seen here.

The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Leppke entered this season facing the daunting task of replacing Emperor icon Marcus McMaryion (Oregon State). While Leppke hasn't put up eye-catching numbers like McMaryion, it's his athleticism and composure that makes him an intriguing quarterback to watch. Leppke led a game-winning drive against Central Section powerhouse Mission Oak-Tulare to start the season and has added victories over Tulare, El Diamante-Visalia, Kingsburg and Central Valley Christian-Visalia - all section powerhouses. His mobility, play action throws and classroom performance (4.0 grade point average) makes him a prospect worth going after. So far, Georgia Southern of the Sun Belt has taken interest in Leppke. But he's also received interest from the U.S Naval Academy for track and field (Leppke runs the 300-meter high hurdles).

More on Leppke can be seen here.


Davidson is likely going to be a headliner in the Bay Area for 2016. He's already got impressive size at 6-foot-4, 220-pounds. But it's his strength and ability to make throws under pressure that I'm impressed with. He's hard to bring down when he's rushed and shows excellent composure in the pocket. His other key strengths are his accuracy and zip. 

More on Davidson can be seen here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

On the Golden State recruiting trail: Fontana stars add offers

Nikolas Navarro of Jurupa Hills of Fontana landed his third scholarship offer from Montana State University on Tuesday, Oct. 28 (photo contributed).
Nikolas Navarro and Wayne Jackson came home to two early pre-Halloween treats: new scholarship offers.

Navarro of Jurupa Hills-Fontana added his third pledge on Tuesday, Oct. 28, from Montana State University. It's the Class of 2015 linebacker's second offer from the Football Championship Subdivision (Sacramento State is the other).

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Navarro has 83 tackles, 49 solo stops and two sacks in eight games for 3-5 Jurupa Hills.

Jackson - a 6-foot-3, 210-pound wide receiver from Summit High in Fontana- earned his first offer from San Diego State University on Oct. 28. The senior has six touchdowns including one rushing score this season.

Week eight gold mines

Some of this week's highlights? A future UCLA Bruin takes over his game against a red-hot Central-Fresno team and a future Fresno State Bulldog defensive back goes over 200 yards while lining up in Edison-Fresno's backfield.

Here's this week's gold mines:


Down 12-0 early against Central-Fresno, the Broncos turned to their speed and work horse Olurunfunmi; and the UCLA recruit responded with 269 rushing yards and three touchdowns that went past 40 yards, as CN cruised to the 41-15 rout and took control of first place in the Tri River Athletic Conference.


Harris shattered a school record with a monumental 402 yards in Tulare Union's 55-34 shootout victory over Porterville to move to 3-0 in the East Yosemite League.


If it weren't for Harris' majestic night, Jones would've gotten the spotlight for running backs in the Tulare-Porterville matchup. Nonetheless, Jones gets credit for his 345-yard evening with four touchdowns.


Greeley, currently committed to Fresno State as a defensive back, gained 211 yards on just nine carries and scored three times in the Tigers' 52-7 rout of Madera South.


Hoffman combined for five touchdowns (three rushing, two passing) while Segal recorded 10 tackles, four solo stops and three sacks in CW's 42-26 victory over Clovis East.


The underrated 5-foot-9, 165-pound Mansera ran through Santa Ynez for five touchdowns - all in the first half - and finished with 231 rushing yards on 27 carries as the Panthers cruised to the 47-7 trouncing.


The rising Class of 2016 prospect averaged over 11 yards per carry in Jesuit's 35-19 victory over Franklin in a key match up between Sacramento region powerhouses. Bisharat finished with 180 yards and scored two touchdowns on runs of 78 and 54 yards.


Despite falling late to St. Bonaventure-Ventura 21-17 in a battle between two Ventura County heavyweights, Pittman Jr. didn't disappoint in front of the Fox Sports television cameras. The UCLA commit caught five passes for 144 yards and scored twice. He showed his athleticism on both touchdowns: his 3-yard score saw him leap over a defender's back in man coverage and fall down on his side, but still maintained possession of the football. His second touchdown saw him blaze past the cornerback and safety in zone coverage for the 50-yard bomb.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Week eight highlights: Clovis North stampede alive and well

Just when it looked like Clovis North was about to sink against a red-hot Central-Fresno team on Thursday, Oct. 23, the Broncos not only overcame a 12-0 deficit, they galloped to a rout over the Grizzlies; who were winners of four straight entering Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Led by its high-powered locomotive at running back Bolu Olurunfunmi, the Broncos gained sole possession of first place in the Tri-River Athletic Conference, beating the Grizzlies 41-15 to improve to 3-0 in league play.

Olurunfunmi - the future UCLA Bruin - dominated the second half and finished with 269 rushing yards and three touchdowns from 49, 63 and 87 yards out. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound senior was limited to 48 yards in the first two quarters before hitting his stride.

The Broncos (5-3 overall) can clinch at least a share of the TRAC title with a victory over Clovis (5-3, 2-1 in the TRAC) on Friday, Oct. 31, at Lamonica Stadium.


Sanger High followed its nail-biter victory against mighty Edison-Fresno by knocking off the surprise team of the CMAC on Oct. 24: Madera High.

Led by another stout defensive display and its deep backfield, Sanger pounded the 6-2 Coyotes 38-0 at Sanger's Tom Flores Stadium.

The Apaches (6-2, 3-0 in the CMAC) continued to rely on their run-first philosophy and deep backfield. Four of Sanger's five touchdowns were on running plays, with Andrew Azua scoring twice on 5 and 7-yard runs. Sanger tallied 195 combined yards on the ground.

Defensively, the Apaches held the high-octane Pistol Wing-T offense of Madera to 151 yards. None of the Coyote running backs gained over 100 yards individually.

Sanger can clinch at least a share of the CMAC championship by beating Bullard-Fresno on Friday, Oct. 31.


Romello Harris got into a running back's duel with Porterville's Isaiah Jones, with both players combining for 747 yards and nine touchdowns.

But it was Harris' 402 yards, 41 carries and five touchdowns that lifted Tulare Union to the 55-34 shootout victory over the Panthers, putting the Redskins at 5-3 overall and 3-0  in the East Yosemite League.

Harris, who's previous best was 357 yards in the 49-28 win over Kingsburg on Sept. 18, shattered a school record with his 402-yard night.

According to high school website Max Preps, Harris is the state's fourth leading rusher. The junior has 1,765 yards and 20 touchdowns through eight games.


Mondo Mansera of Pioneer Valley-Santa Maria, who's arguably Santa Barbara County's most underrated running back, rushed to 231 yards on 27 carries and scored five times - with all of his touchdowns coming in the first half of the Panthers' 47-7 road rout of Santa Ynez.

Mansera, a senior, had all of his touchdowns ranging from 5 to 37 yards out. In seven games, he has 1,365 yards and 18 touchdowns for the Panthers, who improved to 4-4 and 2-1 in the Los Padres League.


Beau Bisharat - all 6-foot-2, 215-pounds of him - powered his way to 180 yards on 16 carries and scored three touchdowns as Jesuit defeated Franklin 35-19.

Bisharat averaged 11.3 yards per carry. Two of his scores went for 78 and 54 yards.

The Class of 2016 running back is already a wanted recruit by different college teams. He holds five scholarship offers, four of them from the PAC-12 (Cal-Berkeley, Colorado, Washington and Washington State). Eastern Washington of the Football Championship Subdivision is his fifth offer.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Seraphs pull away from Oaks Christian

Chris Santoyo is all smiles, after the backup running back scored two touchdown runs and lifted St. Bonaventure-Ventura to the 21-17 victory over Oaks Christian-Westlake Village in a battle between two Ventura County powerhouses (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).
LaDell Atkins got the St. Bonaventure side to cheer thunderously with less than two minutes to go in the game after completing a wide open 67-yard catch and run for the touchdown, helping seal the 21-17 victory over Oaks Christian-Westlake Village on Friday, Oct. 24, at Ventura High School.

Atkins lined up in the slot wide receiver position on the right side of the line of scrimmage, ran past midfield to catch the ball, then sprinted through the Lions' zone coverage for the long scoring scamper. The touchdown came with one minute and 57 seconds left in the game.

Oaks Christian had one last drive to win the contest, but the Lions couldn't convert on fourth and two after their pass to the right side of the field was batted down.

Along with Atkins, Chris Santoyo - a reserve running back - scored for the 5-3 Seraphs. Santoyo, who had 286 rushing yards in St. Bonaventure's last game against Camarillo (a 28-10 victory on Oct. 10), got two touchdown runs of eight and 12 yards.

"It was a crazy game," Santoyo said. "We knew we were going to be evenly matched."

Santoyo and Marcus Chambers powered a Seraph rushing attack that wore down the Lions with counter runs up the offensive tackles' side. Chambers broke a 35-yard run during the third quarter. On the next play, Santoyo scored his first touchdown of the night - an 8-yard run up the left side.

The game was scoreless for one half before Oaks Christian (4-4) struck first on a 40-yard field goal. The Lions received their most offensive production from junior wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr.

The recent UCLA commit and son of former NFL running back Michael Pittman caught both touchdowns for OCHS: a leaping 3-yard grab over the defender's back in man coverage, then a 50-yarder that saw Pittman Jr. dash past the cornerback and safety down the right sideline for the Hail Mary score.

Pittman Jr. finished with 144 yards on five catches and two touchdowns. The Seraph pass rush accounted for four sacks against OCHS quarterback Matt Corral.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hodge overcomes size to lead the state in tackles

Khalil Hodge of St. Mary's-Stockton reacts to an option play during the Rams' 35-15 victory over Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa on Sept. 5. Hodge is leading the state in tackles and tackles per game according to Max Preps (photo credit
Undersized? Khalil Hodge of St. Mary's-Stockton doesn't want to hear it.

At 6-foot, 225-pounds, he's considered small compared to some of the top linebackers in California for the Class of 2015. Players like Cameron Smith (6-foot-2, 235-pounds, Granite Bay), John Houston (6-foot-3, 210-pounds, Serra-Gardena) and Keisean Lucier-South (6-foot-4, 211-pounds, Orange Lutheran) all tower over their Friday night opponents - and all three are getting courted by some of the biggest college football programs in the nation.

Hodge, however, has this advantage compared to the highly recruited linebacker trio: he's leading the state with 129 tackles through seven games according to prep website Max Preps. That's why the senior doesn't want anyone to tell him that he's too small.

"I don't feel like a small linebacker at all," Hodge said. "I feel like I'm big enough to make all the plays needed for an inside linebacker."

And big plays he's made this season.

Hodge is the battering ram for the St. Mary defense. He throws his body into the middle of the field to pummel running backs and anyone else who dares to run at him. Hodge's role in the Rams' 4-4/4-3 scheme is to stuff the run, guard the slot (inside) wide receiver and blanket a running back who attempts a wheel route out of the backfield.

He's averaged 18.4 tackles per game and intercepted his first pass this season against Tokay-Lodi on Oct. 17, with the Rams shutting out the Tigers 32-0. The victory against Tokay also saw Hodge finish with 19 tackles, including 10 solo stops.

Some of his highlight plays, though, came at the goal line during the Rams' Sept. 26 shootout against Los Gatos. Hodge shot through the gaps and halted any scoring opportunities with the game on the line. Hodge and the Rams came out victorious 35-32, with St. Mary's defensive leader getting 18 tackles and one sack.

Hodge said his work ethic has led to his dominance on the Ram defense.

"I've put in a lot of hard work in the offseason, so I feel like now I'm just starting to reap the benefits," Hodge said. "But, it wouldn't be possible without all the guys around me, especially our huge defensive line."

The Rams' front four have served as offensive linemen for Hodge. They've created openings by shoving around the opposing front line so Hodge can attack the hole. Hodge said that along with his ability to trust his linemen, he takes pride in his reaction skills.

"My strengths would be dissecting and attacking plays, plus being able to see the play and then defeat offensive linemen to the ball," Hodge said.

He's won over one of his teammates. Demetrius Ferguson - the Rams' top wide receiver option - said he admires Hodge's attitude and work ethic.

"He's a comedian outside of football. But once he steps on the field, it's like something clicks in his mind and he turns into a animal," Ferguson said. "He's a great guy and he's amazing to be around."

With three regular season games left for the 6-1 Rams, Hodge wants to improve his sideline-to-sideline ability.

"I want to make every play and be able to go the distance," he said.

He's also hoping to get more recognition on the recruiting trail. He has just one scholarship pledge that came from 47.5 miles away: Sacramento State of the Football Championship Subdivision.

"I definitely feel underrated," Hodge said. "I'm putting up huge numbers right now and I'm not really getting much recognition from colleges."

Hodge, though, said his primary focus is to get the Rams to make a state bowl run.

"One word to describe us would be 'special,' " he said. "We have the talent to go all the way to state this year."

More on Hodge:

Next game: Hodge and St. Mary's will take on Tracy (5-2) for a 7:15 p.m. showdown on Friday, Oct. 24.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Week seven gold mines

This week's highlights: two PAC-12 recruits wore out their opponents in the Central Section. In Los Angeles County, a highly coveted Class of 2016 running back dashed to 386 yards against a state power.

Here's the week seven gold mines:


The future Arizona Wildcat couldn't be tamed in the Patriots' 49-21 trouncing of Stockdale-Bakersfield. Mariscal ran for 121 yards on nine carries and scored twice. He also added an 86-yard kickoff return for the touchdown.


Olurunfunmi continues to add to his already decorated prep career. The UCLA commit rushed for 260 yards on 18 carries and scored five touchdowns in the Broncos' 63-28 rout of Clovis East.


In a heavyweight, high-scoring brawl between Bosco and Serra-San Juan Capistrano, it was the Braves moving to 6-1 overall and handing the dominant Serra its first loss of the season, a 49-44 shootout. McGrew, Class of 2016, was largely responsible for helping end Serra's fast start, with career-high's in rushing yards (386), carries (26) and touchdowns (five).


McDaniel continues to power through defenses and keep Hanford's unbeaten run alive. The Bullpups improved to 8-0 overall behind McDaniel's 186 yards and five touchdowns in the 56-44 victory over Golden West-Visalia.


Jones only threw 17 passes, but completed 14 of them for 327 yards and had four touchdowns. The senior led BCHS to a 56-7 thumping of Shafter.


The dual-threat combined for 424 yards (341 passing) and four touchdowns as Lemoore stayed perfect at 8-0 following the Tigers' 49-15 rout of Mt. Whitney-Visalia.


Playing against a massive Kingsburg offensive line, the 6-foot-2, 275-pound Davis was Warren Sapp-like after getting three sacks in the Emperors' 34-21 victory.


Hodge continues to be an enforcer for the Rams' defense. The 6-foot, 218-pound senior had 19 tackles, 10 solo stops and one interception in St. Mary's 32-0 shutout victory over Tokay-Lodi.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Week seven highlights: Santa Maria running back strikingly similar to former Mendota star

Mondo Mansera of Pioneer Valley-Santa Maria gets hoisted by one of his linemen after scoring one of his four touchdowns for the Panthers. Pioneer Valley defeated Cabrillo of Lompoc 38-20 (photo credit Phil Klein/contributed).
I didn't know anything about Mondo Mansera of Pioneer Valley-Santa Maria before the Panthers' game against Cabrillo of Lompoc on Friday, Oct. 17.

After watching him go off for 218 rushing yards and finish the evening with four touchdowns in Pioneer Valley's 38-20 romp, Mansera gave me flashbacks of a former Central Section star I got a chance to watch: Mendota High icon Edgar Segura.

Mansera, a senior, doesn't have half of Segura's credentials (Segura owns Central Section records with 8,029 career rushing yards and 137 touchdowns). In fact, Mansera has 1,663 career-rushing yards with 17 touchdowns. But Mansera's style of play is similar to Segura.

What traits do they share? Both are listed at 5-foot-9, 165-pounds. They can juke defenders. They can catch out of the backfield. The most impressive trait, though, is their ability to wear down defenses toward the end of the game. Segura got stronger as the carries increased during his career. Not once did I see Segura look gassed after a game. I witnessed Mansera execute the same strength as he broke Cabrillo's spirit late in the 18-point win.

With the Conquistadors looking to rally back from a 31-7 deficit, the Panthers turned to their workhorse on a 16-yard scoring run, extending the lead to 38-20 and deflating Cabrillo's comeback attempt.

I don't know if college football is in Mansera's future, but he showed me that he's skillful enough to compete at the next level.


Led by a deep backfield and stout defense, Sanger handed heavyweight Edison-Fresno its first loss of the season, a 15-14 stunner that sent shock waves throughout the Central Section and CMAC.

How did the Apaches do it against the section's top brawler in Division I? They overcame a 14-0 deficit, held the stud Tiger backfield duo of Khai Williams and DeAndre Lockhart to 74 combined yards after getting 251 total last week and lastly, a late interception in the end zone by Ray Aguirre sealed the victory.

Sanger - who had an up-and-down 3-2 non-league start - is now at the top of the CMAC standings at 2-0.

Side note: while several followers of high school football in the Central Valley view Sanger's victory as an upset, I'm not surprised by this for three reasons:

1) Sanger is used to challenging the monsters of the CMAC.

2) The Apaches have a 25-year veteran head coach in Chuck Shidan who knows how to prepare his teams.

3) Sanger has been a major player in the Central Section's DII title race for the last couple of seasons.

Sanger's victory, however, helped create a logjam for the rest of the CMAC with four teams sitting at 1-1. I've got a feeling that the CMAC could see co-league champions by season's end.


Central-Fresno, led by quarterback Nick Szpor's career-high four touchdown passes, extended its winning streak to four games with a 28-14 victory over Clovis.

The Class of 2016 prospect Szpor, who was once on Reedley High's varsity football roster as a freshman, threw two strikes that were good for 52 and 55 yards. He added two passing touchdowns to his tight end Zeandae Johnson, who's committed to Cal-Berkeley.

Central, once 0-3, is now 4-3 overall and 2-0 in the Tri-River Athletic Conference.


St. John Bosco-Bellflower and Serra-San Juan Capistrano had perhaps the game of the year in the Los Angeles region, as Bosco held on for the high-scoring 49-44 victory.

Junior Sean McGrew did most of the damage for the Braves, as he finished with career-highs in rushing yards (386), carries (26) and touchdowns (five).

McGrew, who's listed as a four-star recruit by of Yahoo! Sports, holds seven offers including five from the PAC-12 (UCLA, Washington, Washington State, Colorado and Cal-Berkeley).

The victory knocked Serra from the undefeated ranks. Both teams are now 6-1 overall.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lima now the big target for Camarillo

Nico Lima averaged 15.3 yards per catch and was a tough tight end to bring down in Camarillo's 28-10 loss to St. Bonaventure-Ventura on Oct. 10. Lima is expected to be the Scorpions' new top target with four regular season games left (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna)
Nico Lima was considered an afterthought by St. Bonaventure-Ventura while heading into Camarillo High's highly anticipated clash with the Seraphs on Oct. 10.

However, with one reception on a post route, Lima put St. Bonaventure on notice - and literally on his back.

The 6-foot-4, 255-pound tight end caught the short pass and had a majority of the Seraph defense latching on to him, hoping they could slow down the big tight end. But Lima galloped and dragged the clinging white uniformed defenders through the middle of Carl Thompson Field for a 21-yard gain.

"Every catch that I get, I have the attitude of 'don't die easy.' I've got fight for the team and keep them going," Lima said when asked about that reception. "Some people saw that my receptions were down before the game and that I wasn't considered that big of a threat. But once the game continued, I could tell that I started to get more looks from them (St. Bonaventure)."

Now - after his four reception, 61-yard evening in the 28-10 loss to the Ventura County kingpin - Lima is the Scorpions' newest big receiving option as Camarillo makes its push for the Camino League title.

Lima is now expected to get an increase in touches for the Scorpions' No-Huddle Pro Set offense, as CHS (4-2) heads toward its final four-game stretch, beginning first with a home contest against Calabasas on Friday, Oct. 17. The Camino League slate starts on Oct. 24 with a road trip against another Ventura County monster: Newbury Park (5-1).

Lima is stepping up as the Scorpions' top threat in the absence of Frankie Tostado, who had a season-ending right elbow injury in the 34-32 victory over Saugus on Oct. 2.

Lima said the Scorpion coaches are making better use of him.

"They're now putting me in situations where I can get more one-on-one match ups and I can win those battles every time," Lima said. "Or, they (the opposing defense) can get people to try and box me in, but that gets more of our people open."

The senior said his strengths as a tight end are "catching in space and my blocking." He added that his blocking has improved a lot.

He also said he admires NFL Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham, who he emulates on the football field.

"He started with nothing especially growing up with a single mom, but he made all the right choices and worked his way up in life," Lima said. "I feel like I can relate to him with my work ethic."

Lima is one of a few NCAA Division I prospects on the CHS roster. He holds a scholarship offer from Holy Cross of the Football Championship Subdivision (I-AA) and said San Jose State, San Diego State, Arizona and Colorado have inquired about him. 

Lima - a 3.0 student - said he'll wait it out when making his college choice between now and National Signing Day in February 2015.


What to like: Lima already has the physique of a college football tight end and plays like it. His ability to keep his legs moving and carry defenders on his back is reminiscent of a young Mark Bavarro (former New York Giants tight end). Lima is excellent in space and isn't afraid of grabbing the middle reception. He carries this mindset: he's not going down on first contact, which is something teams want out of their tight end.

What to build on: Lima can get quicker off the snap in the final stretch of games for the Scorpions. He doesn't have breakaway speed and, despite carrying a bevy of defenders as he runs, can still get caught from behind. I'll need to see his consistency in the red zone during these final games, especially with CHS planning to get him involved more in the offense.

Overall: Lima is a late bloomer down in the heart of Ventura County. His throwback playing style as a tight end can make him valuable for a school preferring to line up with three or five wide receivers. He's not the complete package at tight end yet, but judging by his performance against St. Bonaventure, Lima is capable of energizing an offense and brings a nasty demeanor to the Scorpions.

More on Lima:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hot off the film room: wide receivers

J.J. Wills of Clovis High has emerged as the Cougars' top receiving option - and rising Class of 2016 prospect in the Central Valley (photo contributed). 
Cali Gold Mine's inbox got flooded with highlight reels from some top targets in the state. Time for CGM to show love for the wideouts.

From Stockton, to Clovis, all the way to Long Beach, these 2015 and 2016 prospects have either landed their first offer or are leading the way for their teams' passing attack.

Here's the wideouts who caught CGM's attention this week:


Already one of the top deep threats in the "delta," Ferguson (6-foot-2, 158-pounds) has added a fearlessness to his game; he's caught passes between two defenders and can haul down the touchdown. His burst off the snap, quick feet, route running and hands continue to make him a sleeper in Northern California.

More on Ferguson:


The 6-foot-2, 160-pound Rogers - nicknamed "Mr. Go Get it" - has emerged as the Panthers' first big-play target since former WUHS great Deontay Greenberry (University of Houston). Rogers doesn't have Greenberry's speed, size or physical strength; but Rogers can break tackles, win one-on-one battles and stretch the field.

More on Rogers:


Lewis has been a mismatch for opposing cornerbacks, especially in man coverage. Lewis is yet to lose a one-on-one battle and defeats his opponents with his size (6-foot-3, 177-pounds), vertical jump (32 inches), and hands. I've been mostly impressed with his ability to finish his routes and he hasn't had any key drops. Lastly, he just landed his first offer from the University of Nevada.

More on Lewis:


Like the rest of the 2015 guys on this list, Vines brings size (6-foot-3, 177-pounds) to the line. Except Vines has a smooth plant-and-go when he goes against press coverage. He fakes defenders to his right, sprints upfield, then hauls in the jump ball. He's a versatile weapon for the undefeated Tritons because he can return kicks and play free safety. Vines has 36 receptions, 907 yards, an average of 25.2 yards per catch and 12 touchdowns in seven games.

More on Vines:



The Cougars have started to find ways to utilize the 6-foot, 171-pound Wills, who's the son of former UCLA running back Shawn Wills. J.J. has a combined seven touchdowns in the first six games. As a receiver, J.J. impresses with his route running, hands and body control after a catch. His most exciting trait, though, is what he does after the catch - as he can turn a short pass into a 30+ yard gain.

More on Wills:


Once nicknamed "Megatron" during his youth football days in Reedley, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Paz has given the run-oriented Panthers a deep threat/possession target. Paz is one of the most physical targets in the Central Section and has also returned kicks.

More on Paz:


Could the 5-foot-11, 160-pound Jones become the next DeSean Jackson for the Jackrabbits? With his rapid fire feet and deep threat capability, Jones - who's already at five offers including a recent pledge from Texas Tech - has some of the smoothest routes and is looking like a young D-Jax or Michiah Quick of Oklahoma:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Week six gold mines

Vance Sams of Edison-Fresno had a breakout game against San Joaquin Memorial in a battle of unbeatens. Sams, a senior, led a fierce Tiger defense in the 44-14 rout on Oct. 9 (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).
In Ventura County, one backup running back stole the show in a heavyweight battle between two Southern Section powerhouses. In Fresno County, a linebacker nicknamed "Area 51" controlled his territory against a national recruit at running back.

Here's this week's gold mines:


Santoyo wasn't listed as the Seraphs' starting running back heading into their contest against Camarillo, but the junior stung the Scorpions with 286 yards on 27 carries and one touchdown, as St. Bonaventure held off CHS 28-10.


"Area 51" had one of his best games of the year in the 44-14 rout of San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno: 12 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble and a recovery - all against the previously unbeaten Panthers with powerhouse running back Stevan Johnson on the opposite side of the field.


The backfield duo combined for 251 rushing yards and five touchdowns as the Tigers moved to 6-0 and 1-0 in the County Metro Athletic Conference. Both Williams and Lockhart hold a scholarship offer from Eastern Washington.


In the biggest game of the season for the rising Coyotes and facing an opponent in Bullard High who's defeated Madera 10 straight times, Rios nailed four field goals - including the game-winning 37-yarder - to defeat the Knights 32-31, lifting MHS to a stunning 6-0 start.


Playing against a traditional state powerhouse in Mater Dei, Franklin caught six passes for 148 yards and one touchdown in Bosco's 28-25 victory.


The rising sophomore finished with 170 yards on 32 carries and one score, as the Bearcats continued their undefeated march by defeating Arroyo Grande 28-27 in a game that saw Paso facing a 17-point deficit.


The 5-foot-8, 170-pound junior dashed past Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove with 209 yards on just 10 carries and scored twice in the Pacers' 56-7 rout.


The electrifying and versatile Vines caught seven passes for 200 yards and scored three times for the undefeated Tritons, who cruised to the 56-7 romp over Channel Islands-Oxnard.


The stat sheet from Clovis High's 61-35 trouncing of Clovis East said that Wills only touched the ball four times through rushing and receiving and accounted for 57 yards. However, the rising junior scored three touchdowns - two on receptions - as the Cougars won their fourth straight game. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

On the Golden State recruiting trail: Ginda chooses the Spartans

Pacheco-Los Banos linebacker/fullback Frank Ginda (third person from the left) took to social media to announce his college decision and - through a family photograph - made his choice to join San Jose State (contributed photo).
Frank Ginda of Pacheco-Los Banos took a family picture on Monday, Oct. 13, with a special kind of towel being held up for the camera: a San Jose State towel that helped announce the linebacker/fullback's college decision.

Ginda announced that he's committing to the Spartans, ending his recruiting process that saw San Jose State, Air Force and a few PAC-12 schools coming after him. Ginda, though, said the Spartans were the right fit.

"I felt like that it would be a great place for me to play football," Ginda said. "The coaches were welcoming and the players really buy into the team."

The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Ginda - who holds a 3.93 grade point average - is currently the Panthers' leading tackler with 55 stops. He's averaged 11 tackles per game during Pacheco's 5-2 start. He also has a team-high seven tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles.

Offensively, Ginda leads the Panther rushing attack with 241 yards on 20 carries and averages 12.1 yards per carry. He's also leading PHS in receiving yards with 228 on eight receptions.

His trainer and 7-on-7 football coach Devon Hillard said Ginda was blown away by the experience of attending the Spartans-UNLV game on Oct. 4, which factored into Ginda's commitment.

"The San Jose State coaching staff made him feel comfortable," Hillard said. "They are looking for him to play early."

Ginda and Pacheco will play a home game at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 17, against Ceres (1-6). 

On the Golden State recruiting trail: Nevada now after big Edison-Fresno target

The wait for scholarship offer No. 1 ended for Kamron Lewis of Edison-Fresno during the weekend of Oct. 11, as Nevada emerged as the first official pledge for the wide receiver.

The 6-foot-3 Lewis said Wolf Pack head coach Brian Polian extended the offer to him. Lewis, who's leading the Tigers with 21 catches for 346 yards during Edison's 6-0 start, told Cali Gold Mine that he can rest easy thanks to the Mountain West program.

"I can relax, just play football and not worry any more," Lewis said. "Between all the coaches I've talked to, I felt accepted there. They were all respectful and just great to talk to."

Lewis doesn't plan to commit right away. He added that Colorado State, San Diego State, Eastern Washington, Colorado, Houston and Washington State also are asking about him.

The senior, who was largely overshadowed by teammate and Utah commit Tyrone Smith last season, said he's enjoying the way he's played so far this season, as he's become the new top receiving option for Edison.

"I haven't dropped any passes and my blocking on run plays is where I've improved," Lewis said. "I still can improve on my overall game; as in speed, route running, ball skills, catching, strength, everything."


Tyler Horton came home to his ninth scholarship offer following Edison's 44-14 rout of San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno on Oct. 9. His latest one is from Boise State.

The Broncos are now Horton's sixth offer from the Mountain West. San Jose State, Nevada, Colorado State, Wyoming and Fresno State have all extended a pledge to the versatile 6-foot-1 athlete.

Horton also holds Eastern Washington, Houston and California-Berkeley offers.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Week six highlights: St. Bonaventure makes its own statement in Camarillo

Tight end John McGill and the big St. Bonaventure-Ventura front line helped open up the running game against Camarillo in a huge Ventura County contest on Oct. 10, with the Seraphs winning 28-10 (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna)
Camarillo High had aspirations of knocking off a traditional Ventura County powerhouse on Oct. 10, and solidify its case as the new top team in the region as they entered Carl Thompson Field.

But St. Bonaventure-Ventura proved its not ready to give up its supremacy in the 805 just yet.

After a rocky first quarter, the Seraphs (4-3) turned to their big offensive line and backup running back Chris Santoyo, who responded with 286 yards on 27 carries and one touchdown, as St. Bonaventure defeated the feisty Scorpions 28-10.

St. Bonaventure lost two turnovers in the first half, including a fumble that fell inside the Camarillo 10-yard line. Ricky Town - the USC quarterback commit - also was held in check and dealt with an array of blitzes and mixed coverages from the Scorpions.

The Seraphs, though, turned to its big offensive line and wore down Camarillo (4-2) with their blocking and inside running attack. Senior tight end John McGill was one Seraph who used his bullish 6-foot-3, 237-pound frame to create running lanes for Santoyo and St. Bonaventure.

"We struggled in the beginning. It was a lot of mental mistakes, but then we got going," McGill said. "In the second quarter, we found a rhythm with running the ball. We realized that we could run it and we got going."

LaDell Atkins added two scores for the Seraphs. He gashed through the Scorpion defense on a 45-yard touchdown run, then defeated the CHS secondary on a post route for a 14-yard score.

Cristian Hernandez scored the only touchdown for Camarillo on a 17-yard slant route. The score was previously set up by tight end Nico Lima, who caught a short pass from quarterback Jake Constantine but rumbled his way to a 31-yard pickup.

The St. Bonaventure-Camarillo contest was heavily hyped before the game, with local newspapers making it the game of the week and the Scorpions getting the chance to upset the traditional Ventura County boss, who's won 10 Southern Section championships and five state titles. Camarillo's resume before the showdown included five straight Pacific View League championships and winners of 49 of its last 64 games.

The Seraphs have a bye on Friday, Oct. 17. Their next opponent is Oaks Christian-Westlake Village at Ventura College on Oct. 24. Camarillo returns home against Calabasas on Oct. 17.


Edison-Fresno, labeled by many Central Valley high school football fans as the Central Section Division I favorite, rolled to a 44-14 rout of previously undefeated San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno on Oct. 9 to open County Metro Athletic Conference play.

The Tigers - deep in talent with nearly 10 players getting courted by NCAA Division I programs - was led by one of its under-the-radar stars: inside linebacker Vance Sams.

Nicknamed "Area 51" by his teammates because of his ability to prevent ball carriers from trespassing him, Sams finished with 12 tackles, an interception, one forced fumble and a recovery for the 6-0 Tigers. The 6-foot-1, 230-pound Sams holds an Eastern Washington offer and has heard from schools in the PAC-12, Mountain West and Big 10.

Sams also made his plays against powerhouse running back Stevan Johnson, who was limited to 32 yards rushing on 14 carries.

Offensively, Edison punished the Panthers with its ground attack. Senior Khai Williams - who, like Sams, holds an Eastern Washington offer - finished with 126 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns. Rising junior DeAndre "Black Mamba" Lockhart added 125 yards on 15 carries with three scores.

Edison travels to Sanger on Friday, Oct. 17.


Madera High - once considered a laughingstock in the CMAC and entered this season with seven consecutive sub. 500 seasons - finally put the Central Section on notice by ending a 10-game losing streak against CMAC juggernaut Bullard-Fresno, upsetting the Knights 32-31.

The league contest came down to a final kick from Evan Rios, who nailed his 37-yard try to put the Coyotes at 6-0 overall and 1-0 in the CMAC. Rios finished with four field goals made, including a 51-yard boot.

The Coyotes not only haven't beaten Bullard in the last 10 meetings, but Madera's last win against the Knights came 20 years ago, which was a 20-6 Coyote victory in 1994.

Madera brought a balanced offensive attack against Bullard, as the Coyotes racked up 394 total yards, including 248 through the air. Kris Bueno had a breakout night with seven receptions, 138 yards and a 46-yard touchdown.

Lead running back Jesus Jimenez finished with 112 yards on 18 carries.

Madera will host San Joaquin Memorial (5-1) on Oct. 17.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Hot off the film room: under the radar linebackers

Hayden Haupt of Clovis North during a 2012 game as a sophomore. Haupt currently holds two scholarship offers as an outside linebacker (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).
Cali Gold Mine has received an inbox full of highlight films from different aspiring prospects, so I decided to do this: launch a new series called "Hot off the film room."

We'll showcase different playmakers from the prep scene to the junior college level.

Making their debut in this new feature are the linebackers. From Stockton to Fontana, there's some animals pumping out huge performances under the lights, including one junior college 'backer worth noting. Here's who they are:


Though undersized at 6-foot, 218-pounds, Hodge has one of the best reaction skills at linebacker in the 'Delta.' His junior year saw 102 tackles and two interceptions. This season, through five games, Hodge has 91 tackles, averaging 18.5 per game:


Ginda is a disruptor and hustle player who never stops trying. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Ginda, who's been offered by Air Force and San Jose State of the Mountain West Conference, does an excellent job with throwing his body around and wrapping a defender up when making a tackle:


Haupt is quick off the snap and wreaks havoc in the backfield. He can be an effective outside rusher in a college program's 3-4 scheme. Haupt is one of many NCAA Division I prospects on the Broncos, with scholarship offers from Army and Colorado State. 



The Cavaliers are off to a 4-0 start and are looking like the heavy favorite to win the Central Section Division IV crown thanks to a feisty front seven led by Nelson. His eyes and nose for the football are major strengths after breaking down his latest film. He's one of the best at shooting through the 'A' gap and wreaking havoc. Nelson - who holds a scholarship offer from the University of Idaho - also lines up at defensive end and can run circles around offensive tackles. He and the Cavs have a huge showdown on Friday, Oct. 10, against defending section DIII champion Dinuba.


The four-year varsity player is averaging 11.6 tackles per game and has forced three fumbles. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Navarro holds two offers from Idaho and Sacramento State.




Francis doubles as a run stuffer and pass rusher for the Rams, who've produced linebacker studs in Nate Palomino (Cal Poly), Caleb Hale (Sacramento State), Steve Allen (Nebraska), Zach Diles (NFL linebacker) and Kyle Staples (South Dakota).

JUCO gold mines

Here's who stood out in week five of the California junior college football scene:


In a narrow 35-34 victory over San Joaquin Delta, Doe finished with seven tackles, four solo stops, two sacks and one pass break up.


Smith rose from the always-deep Fresno City backfield and finished with 168 yards on 26 carries and one touchdown, as FCC held off Reedley College 49-44 in the annual Battle of the Pump.


Jones led the Vaqueros eight tackles, four for a loss and two sacks in the 30-18 victory over Los Angeles Southwest.


The duo combined for 215 yards on 25 carries and scored two touchdowns as RCC defeated El Camino 31-7.


Hotchkins showed his nose for the football with nine tackles, two pass break ups, one sack and one interception during the 24-point win against ECC.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week five gold mines

This week's winners include a highly-coveted linebacker who tallied 20 tackles against a state powerhouse and a running back breaking loose for an 805 monster.

Here's the week six gold mines:


Despite losing 42-12 to the monster Edison-Fresno, Kelly had his best game - by far - this season as he finished with 20 tackles, nine solo stops, four tackles for a loss and one sack. Oh, the Class of 2016 prospect added his 16th offer from Penn State following that performance.


Perennial Central Coast powerhouse Lompoc prevailed with its 42-22 home win against Righetti-Orcutt; and Portis was one chief reason why the Braves wore down the Warriors. Portis finished with 213 yards on 21 carries and scored three times.


Cabrillo fell to San Luis Obispo 40-35, but French gave the Tigers plenty of match up nightmares. He finished with 236 receiving yards on seven catches and scored twice.


The brothers scored a combined four touchdowns in Newbury Park's 42-17 romp of Simi Valley.


McDaniel is a key component to the Bullpups' sudden rise this season. The junior rushed for 146 yards on 18 carries and scored twice during Hanford's 42-21 victory over El Diamante-Visalia, last season's Central Section Division II champion. McDaniel and the Bullpups are currently 6-0.


Facing a traditional Merced County powerhouse in Buhach Colony of Atwater, the 6-foot, 218-pound Hodge made 21 tackles (14 solo) in the Rams' 45-30 victory.


Bernardo got two sacks, recovered two fumbles and scored one rushing touchdown in the Mustangs' 40-0 shutout against Selma.


Collins - playing in an undefeated showcase against Elk Grove in the state capitol - ran for 168 yards and scored two rushing touchdowns as Grant stayed undefeated by winning 26-19.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

On the Golden State recruiting trail: Colorado State has its eyes on two quarterbacks

J.C. Robles of El Diamante-Visalia aims to throw it deep during a summer 2014 7-on7 football tournament at Clovis East High School. Robles added his second scholarship offer, this time from Colorado State (photo by Christy Sharp).
J.C. Robles of El Diamante-Visalia told Cali Gold Mine on Sunday, Oct. 5, that he's reopened his recruiting process - after Colorado State extended a scholarship offer to him.

The Rams are now the second offer for the Miners' quarterback, who committed to Sacramento State in August. CSU also is the first school from the Mountain West Conference to make a pledge for the 6-foot-5 signal caller.

El Diamante - the defending Central Section Division II champions who were promoted to DI this season - is currently 3-3 overall but 0-2 in the West Yosemite League. The Miners have a bye this Friday. Their next game is Friday, Oct. 17, against Hanford West at home.

Robles currently has 956 passing yards and 127 rushing yards as a dual-threat quarterback this season.


Camarillo quarterback Jake Constantine said he's now hearing from Colorado State. Constantine has thrown 16 touchdown passes this season (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).

Jake Constantine of Camarillo High said he's been hearing from Colorado State.

The Class of 2016 quarterback told CGM that he's "been talking to CSU a little bit" after leading the Scorpions to a 4-1 start. One key victory was the 17-7 upset over Ventura on Sept. 26, knocking the Cougars from the unbeaten ranks.

Constantine and Camarillo has a notable Ventura County showcase looming at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 10, inside Carl Thompson Field at CHS: the home game against traditional 805 kingpin St. Bonaventure (3-3).

"I'm going to be watching film all day and night on them," Constantine said. "I'm determined to have a great game."

The Seraphs have been the longtime dominant power in the Ventura region, with 10 Southern Section titles and five state championships in school history.  

Constantine has heated up on the recruiting trail. Along with his recent conversations with the Rams, he's heard from Clemson of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Holy Cross of the Football Championship Subdivision and two-time MWC champion Fresno State this season.

The 6-foot-2 mobile quarterback has 16 touchdown passes and three interceptions through the first five games. 


Caleb Kelly tracks down a wide receiver during a 7-on-7 scrimmage at Atwater High School in February 2014. The Clovis West linebacker/tight end is now at 16 offers, with his latest from Penn State (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna)

Caleb Kelly of Clovis West - already the most highly-coveted Class of 2016 prospect with 15 scholarship offers - received his latest pledge from "Linebacker U": Penn State.

The Nittany Lions reached out to Kelly on Oct. 5. Penn State is the first Big 10 school to offer the 6-foot-4, 230-pound outside linebacker and tight end.

Some renown NFL linebackers who played at Penn State include NaVarro Bowman (49ers), Lavar Arrington (Redskins and Giants), Dan Connor (Panthers, Giants, Cowboys), Sean Lee (Cowboys) and Paul Posluszny (Bills and Jaguars).

Kelly's recent game saw 20 tackles, nine solo stops, four tackles behind the line of scrimmage and one sack in the Golden Eagles' 42-12 loss to Edison-Fresno on Oct. 3 at Lamonica Stadium.

Kelly and Clovis West are 2-3 entering Tri River Athletic Conference play, which begins for the Golden Eagles on Oct. 10 at Clovis North. The game will be played at 7:00 p.m. inside Veteran's Memorial Stadium at Buchanan High.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Week five highlights: Hanford continues magic

There's a giant attack dog that's been on the loose in Kings County, and that animal has been unleashed on the Hanford High football field.

The Bullpups - once a combined 5-16 in the last two seasons - improved to 6-0 overall and added another victory over a defending Central Section champion. This time, the Bullpups knocked off reigning Division II champion El Diamante-Visalia on Friday, Oct. 3, after their 42-21 victory.

Hanford previously won against 2013 DIII champion Dinuba 30-7 on Sept. 14. So in what ways are the Bullpups shocking the Central Valley?

Offensively, the Bullpups are no longer heavily relying on a spread offense approach. Joseph McDaniel has given Hanford a new dimension with a power running attack; something the Bullpups haven't seen since Avery Horn pounded the rock for HHS in 2005.

The 5-foot-11, 211-pound McDaniel powered his way to 146 yards on 18 carries and scored twice against a stout El Diamante defense. The rising junior now has 843 yards, 116 carries and 11 touchdowns. He's averaging 7.26 yards per carry.

The Bullpup defense also has rising juniors. Ellix Jimmeye is not your ideal looking defensive end at 5-foot-8, 166-pounds, but he's averaged seven tackles per game and has four sacks. Kaipo Barnes is another tackling machine at linebacker, averaging 10 stops per game. He's another defender lacking size (5-foot-10, 197-pounds) but making up for that flaw with his play.

It's Hanford's best start since the 2010 season, when the Bullpups surged to 5-0 before finishing 6-5 overall.


Michael Wright of Dinuba continues to step up against newer, bigger challenges.

This time, the Emperors' all-time leading rusher toppled Tulare Union with 194 yards on 25 carries and three touchdowns, as Dinuba took down the traditional section powerhouse 26-14 with Class of 2016 sensation Romello Harris on the other sideline.

Wright has gone over 100 yards against Mission Oak, El Diamante and now Tulare this season. All three opponents were added to Dinuba's schedule following its DIII title run.

As for Harris, he finished with 108 yards, 32 carries and a touchdown. But the Emperor defense held him to 3.37 yards per carry. 


Paso Robles wide receiver Bailey Gaither has frustrated so many opposing defensive coaches on the Central Coast. Now, Morro Bay has witnessed the electricity of the highly recruited senior.

Gaither finished with 232 yards as the Bearcats cruised to the 63-10 romp. Like Hanford, Paso improves to 6-0 in 2014, the best start for PHS since 1998.

Gaither currently holds seven scholarship offers from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Mountain West ranks.


The upcoming Central Section against Southern Section battle between Immanuel-Reedley and Bishop Diego-Santa Barbara on Saturday, Oct. 18, could be one of the most intriguing small school contests this season.

Why? Because both the Eagles and Cardinals haven't lost yet.

Immanuel improved to 5-0 by dismantling Orosi 44-0 behind its high-powered pro set offense and fast, energetic defense. Bishop Diego unleashed its aerial assault, as junior quarterback Spencer Stovesand tossed four touchdown passes in the Cardinals' 31-14 victory over Mission Prep-San Luis Obispo.

Both teams return home before their possible unbeaten match up at Sal Gonzalez Field at Reedley High. Immanuel hosts Harbor of Santa Cruz on Oct. 11. Bishop Diego (5-0) gets View Park-Los Angeles in Santa Barbara on Oct. 10.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

On the Golden State recruiting trail: local love for a dynamic Fresno athlete

Tyler Horton performs a shuttle drill during the December 2013 DB Guru Combine in Fresno. The Edison-Fresno athlete is now at seven scholarship offers, with his latest from the two-time defending Mountain West Conference champions (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).
Tyler Horton of Edison-Fresno came home to this gift from a school near him - a scholarship offer from Fresno State on Thursday, Oct. 2, making it his seventh offer and his fourth from the Mountain West.

Horton - who triples as a return man, wide receiver and shutdown cornerback for the 4-0 Tigers - has landed two significant pledges in the last month. Cal-Berkeley extended an offer to him in September along with Thursday's Fresno State offer. Colorado State, San Jose State and Nevada of the Mountain West has also reached out to him by extending a scholarship opportunity.

Horton has three touchdowns in four games for Edison, who'll battle 2-2 Clovis West at Lamonica Stadium on Friday, Oct. 3.


Michael Pittman Jr. of Oaks Christian-Westlake Village has seen his recruiting period intensify, with UCLA emerging as the third offer for the 6-foot-4, 200-pound wide receiver.

In a span of one month, Pittman has landed three pledges from the Bruins, the University of Washington and Cal-Berkeley.

Oaks Christian travels to Sherman Oaks on Friday to take on traditional Los Angeles prep power Norte Dame.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Koski continues to keep up with East Bay elite

J.J. Koski holds up the Most Valuable Player trophy during the Passing Down Nor Cal Regional in March 2014. Since his MVP performance, Koski has heated up on the recruiting trail at wide receiver (photo contributed).
J.J. Koski of San Ramon-Danville is among a growing list of big play wide receivers who do their damage in the East Bay region of Northern California.

The corridor between Hayward and Pleasanton is known for game changers like Isaiah Langley (Foothill-Pleasanton, USC commit), Darrell Adams (Stellar Prep-Hayward, three scholarship offers including Arizona State), Dominic Williams (Hayward High, leads North Coast Section with 737 receiving yards and 13 touchdown receptions) and Carter Nichols (San Ramon Valley-Danville, leads his team with 16.9 average yards per catch).

Koski - despite missing several summer camps due to a foot injury he had in June 2014 - is doing his part under the East Bay lights with piling up the yards and touchdowns, plus having his phone ring with college coaches on the other line.

Koski told Cali Gold Mine that "over 20 programs in the last week" have picked up interest in the 6-foot-1, 185-pound target. Koski said he's seen his skills enhance on the field.

"My game has improved dramatically since last year," Koski said. "I ran track in the spring, which improved my speed, and I can read defensive coverages better which allows me to play faster. Plus this is my third year on varsity."

Through three games, Koski has a team-high 20 receptions, 204 yards (second on the Wolves) and four touchdowns. On the field, Koski torments defensive backs in man coverage. 

He's shown a smooth cut with his routes and gains separation on his defender; then finishes the play by hauling in the catch and turning on the afterburners for the touchdown. Despite not having an ideal towering frame for a red zone target, Koski has won the red zone battles too. He's gotten in front of his defender, turned his body to the ball, and snatched possession of the touchdown.

He's learned to win the mental edge against a defender.

"When I line up across from a cornerback, it usually takes me only a play or two to determine their quality of play and tendencies.," Koski said. "I Just want the ball. On every play, I know my speed and ability to make a play when it counts. It trumps anyone I line up against."

The senior is considered an underrated prospect in Northern California. While more schools are asking about him, Cal Poly and the University of Montana are Koski's only scholarship offers. Both hail from the Football Championship Subdivision.

Koski, who said he admires Jordy Nelson of the Green Bay Packers "due to his work ethic and focus," plans on committing to a school before National Signing Day.

"As of now, I'm just focusing on playing under those Friday Night Lights, because it doesn’t get much better than that," Koski said.


What to like: Koski is a natural route runner. He won't just run his plays at full speed, he'll finish his route. One of the most important traits for an elite wide receiver is to consistently win one-on-one battles, regardless of how athletic or tall a cornerback is. Koski does just that. He shows excellent concentration and body adjustment to his receptions, especially with passes that are away from his body. He's a fearless competitor who won't hesitate to run inside on a screen pass or take a punt return, which is something he also does.

What to build on: Koski doesn't have the best speed and even though he's beaten secondaries deep, he can get caught from behind. During screen plays or when he gets redirected inside on a passing play, I noticed Koski tends to swing the ball away from his body while he runs, which could lead to numerous fumbles at the next level. He runs upright and can work on staying low to the ground after the catch. 

Overall: Koski is reminding me of a young Jordy Nelson because of his work ethic and big play capability. He plays like a future Mountain West, Big Sky or PAC-12 wideout. Whoever lands him come February 2015 will get a potential steal.

More on Koski: