Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Rising star watch: Marqel McCoy

Marqel McCoy of Berean Christian (Walnut Creek) has shown his size, athleticism and versatility during Friday night games and most recently, the Blue-Grey combine (photo contributed). 
In an area known for strong wide receiver play, Marqel McCoy has emerged as a wideout to watch in the East Bay of California for the Class of 2016.

McCoy - who attends Berean Christian High School in Walnut Creek - has put together the kind of resume that earned him a spot in the Blue-Grey Northern California regional combine in February.

And it was the aftermath of his performance at the combine that's gotten McCoy to be a prospect to watch. Here's a closer look:

WHAT TO LIKE: He has the height (6-foot-3) that a lot of colleges look for in a receiver. But it's really his athleticism and body control during a catch that makes him stand out. McCoy shows excellent eyes and concentration when hauling a reception. He does a consistent job of extending out his hands either above his head or in front of his chest for the grab. He adjusts well to passes that are away from his body. He's got a smooth plant and cut with his feet that fools defensive backs. Tough to bring down after the catch. He's physical at the line and sheds jams in one second. He's dominated one-on-one coverages. Defensively, he reads quarterbacks well and gets in a good position for the interception. Also a hustle player on special teams who'll either wrap and roll a ball carrier for the tackle or recover the onside kick.

WHAT TO BUILD ON: On offense, I'll be interested in seeing if he can make catches low to the ground on a consistent basis. As a safety, I need to see how he takes his angles especially during plays that are away from him. He'll need to add muscle to his 190-pound frame down the road.

OVERALL: McCoy might be the biggest sleeper in a usually talent-rich area of the Golden State. Notable East Bay products include Isaiah Langley (USC), J.J. Koski (Cal Poly) and Darrell Adams (Azusa Pacific). He's made the kind of catches that we see on Sunday's from Kelvin Benjamin of the Carolina Panthers or A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals. 

More on McCoy can be found here

GPA: 3.86 (cumulative 3.68)
40-YARD TIME: 4.6 seconds

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Rising star watch: Quincy Jountii

Quincy Jountii should see an increase in touches while in the Liberty (Bakersfield) backfield this fall. The Class of 2016 prospect could also join his older brother Corbin in the NCAA Division I ranks with a huge spring recruiting season and senior year (photo courtesy of Hudl). 
If anyone thinks Liberty of Bakersfield will see a dip in offensive production this fall because of the loss of Anthony Mariscal, know this: you lose one, you gain more playmakers.

Running back Quincy Jountii is one of the them on a team with four potential NCAA Division I recruits (quarterback Jordan Love, athlete Matthew Hubble and linebacker/tight end Krys Barnes - who currently holds 14 scholarship offers - are the other prospects).

The Patriots' running back got his feet wet last season with 785 all-purpose yards on 96 touches and 10 touchdowns. Now that Mariscal is preparing for his next chapter at the University of Arizona, Jountii gets his crack at running wild on defenses; something that his older brother Corbin (now at Northern Arizona) used to do when he was at Liberty.

Here's a closer look at the younger Jountii brother:

WHAT TO LIKE: Jountii is built like a college football running back at 5-foot-11, 210-pounds and he moves like a potential NCAA DI recruit. Jountii has elusiveness and a smooth plant and cut with the football in his hand. He's an excellent change-of-direction running back who can run toward the sidelines then turn up the field for a longer gain. He's got power and can carry a pile of defenders on his back while refusing to stop his legs. His receiving ability is especially potent. Jountii can stretch the field from the slot position and has shown to be an extra deep threat for the Pats' passing attack. He's come down with the difficult catches between two defenders or across the middle of the field. He can also take the short throw from the middle and rumble into the end zone. He doesn't go down right away after contact is made.

WHAT TO BUILD ON: Even though he's got solid speed for a player his size, he can always build on the skill. I'll need to see his ability to step up and block especially against blitzes. He has a tendency to run tall and can work on keeping himself low to the ground while he runs.

OVERALL: The Central Section is always running back heavy and Jountii adds to an already growing list of monster backs in that area. It's his receiving ability that got me glued to his film. He looks like a young Shane Vereen of the New England Patriots because of his versatility as a runner and receiver.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Rising star watch: Jamal Hicks

Jamal Hicks (Narbonne of Harbor City) doubles as a hard-hitting free safety on the football field and top scoring option for the Gauchos' basketball team (photo contributed). 
Narbonne (Harbor City) two-sport star Jamal Hicks has had a February to remember.

On Feb. 4, he came home to his first football scholarship offer from Colorado State. Then on Feb. 11, he led the Gauchos to an undefeated league season on the basketball court (12-0 mark).

But it's his football skills that has Cali Gold Mine convinced the gridiron will be his calling.

After watching his film, he could be a future Kam Chancellor for someone's secondary. Here's a closer look:

WHAT TO LIKE: He not only has imposing size at 6-foot-3, 185-pounds, but Hicks provides an intimidating aggressive presence in the Gauchos' defensive backfield. He reacts quick to plays across the middle, then lowers his shoulder for the highlight-reel blow. He gets in good position to swat down passes or grab the interception when offenses attack his side. Also valuable against the run because he'll take his angles and collide against a ball carrier.

WHAT TO BUILD ON: I need to see his ability to blitz, especially how he handles one-on-one blocks and if he can effectively shed blockers. He tends to stop his feet when making a tackle. He'll need consistency with keeping his legs moving after contact is made when attempting and finishing a tackle.

OVERALL: So far, Hicks is a sleeper in Los Angeles County with just one offer. That could change, though, with a big off-season and senior campaign.

More on Hicks can be seen here.

Stats: 62 tackles, 15 pass break-ups and 5 interceptions.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Rising star watch: Eric Barriere

La Habra quarterback Eric Barriere (No. 3) has not only led the Highlanders to consecutive 5-0 seasons in the Freeway League, he's frustrated defenses with his arm and leg (photo contributed). 
In the Freeway League during the last two seasons, one undersized quarterback has shown that he's on the fast lane to stardom.

Eric Barriere of La Habra High School doesn't just escape the oncoming traffic of defenders who are trying to halt him. The 6-foot, 185-pound quarterback uses his speed and arm to swerve through defenses. He's led La Habra to back-to-back undefeated seasons in the Freeway League and is 10-0 against the league slate.

In the always talent-heavy Southern California region, how does Barriere stack up with some of the best Southern California quarterbacks in the Class of 2016? Time to weigh in:

WHAT TO LIKE: I love his ability to make plays when things break down. Either Barriere will tuck the ball and gain 20 yards, or he'll evade defenders during a heavy rush and find an open receiver deep down the field. He's a dual-threat who can run the pistol and read option schemes with precision because of his athleticism. I've been equally impressed with his composure. Even if five or seven defenders are chasing him, Barriere will run circles around the rush, stay behind the line of scrimmage, then rifle the ball to an open man for the long passing play. He shows solid vision while in the pocket.

WHAT TO BUILD ON: He'll need to polish his footwork when taking three to five step drops. Needs to establish consistency with staying in the pocket. I'll also need to see his ability to dart the football into tight windows regardless if he's facing single man or double coverage.

OVERALL: This quarterback class is heavy on talent, especially in So Cal with Santa Margarita Catholic's K.J. Costello (15 scholarship offers), Tesoro (Santa Margarita) High's Devin Modster (four offers including Arizona and Arizona State) and Camarillo's Jake Constantine (interest from Clemson, Fresno State and UCLA) in that region. Barriere, though, could emerge as the sleeper among the So Cal quarterbacks in the Class of 2016. He may be undersized, but teams could be passing on a potential Russell Wilson if they don't show interest in Barriere.

More on Barriere can be found here.

Stats from 2014: 3,021 total yards of offense (2,452 passing), 26 passing touchdowns, 8 rushing touchdowns, 5 interceptions.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Rising star watch: Matthew Hubble

Matthew Hubble of Liberty (Bakersfield) gave the Patriots a physical receiving presence during the 2014 season (photo contributed). 
Colleges have made frequent visits to Liberty High in Bakersfield to check in on who's rising for the Patriots.

Class of 2016 Linebacker Krys Barnes is already a hot commodity with 10 scholarship offers, including pledges from USC, Oregon and Washington of the PAC-12. But could Matthew Hubble also get the same amount of collegiate love?

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Hubble is worth a look in the Pats' 2016 class. Here's why:

WHAT TO LIKE: Hubble brings a physical identity to LHS's high-octane offense. After the catch, he'll either truck a defender with his shoulder or carry a pack of defenders on his back as he gains more yards. He won't go down on first contact. For a big target, he's got smooth feet and gets out of his breaks well. He's got soft hands and shows tremendous concentration with his catches, especially when facing double coverage. Also plays defense and has a solid nose for the football.

WHAT TO BUILD ON: Defensively, he's come up too high on his tackles and wraps up at the chest area. He has to be consistent with getting lower body leverage on a ball carrier. Offensively, I'll need to see how he does against press man because he's done his damage against zone coverage.

OVERALL: I like Hubble's intangibles on offense because of his physical play. He may not have the height, but his frame and capability to break tackles makes him an intimidating presence to bring down. Liberty has been a good producer of college football talent over the years. Hubble should get plenty of love during this upcoming recruiting season.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

805 rising

Nico Lima of Camarillo signed his letter of intent with San Jose State on Wednesday, Feb. 4, making him among 22 Central Coast football players signing on to a four-year college's football program for the class of 2015 (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna). 
Two years ago, the Central Coast of California only had 13 players signing a national letter of intent to extend their football career at the college level.

On Wednesday, Feb. 4, the number rose to 22 prep stars.

From Paso Robles to Newbury Park, the 805 had a respectable National Signing Day with football prospects signing on with the likes of Oregon, USC, Arizona, Cal, Nebraska, San Jose State, Wake Forest, etc.

Here's who signed a LOI today (hope I'm not forgetting anyone):


Bailey Gaither, athlete, San Jose State
Josh Oliver, tight end/defensive end/outside linebacker, San Jose State
Jonathan Baldwin, TE, Northern Arizona


Ethan Hicks, running back/linebacker, UC Davis


David Chellsen, offensive lineman, Cal Poly


Ricky Town, quarterback, USC
John McGill, TE, Sacramento State
Lavan Alston, wide receiver, Nebraska
Nick Capella, OL, Air Force


Nico Lima, TE, San Jose State
Bryce Arnold, LB, Black Hills State
Jonathan Williams, LB, South Dakota School of Mines


Will Tuihalamaka, OL, San Diego State


Zach Okun, OL, Oregon
Darick Holmes, WR, Arizona


Quincy Bennett, LB, UC Davis
Patrick Mekari, defensive lineman, Cal
Fred Wise, OL, Southern Utah
Andre Baccellia, WR, Washington


Trevor Howard, DL, Cal
Andre Chevalier, LB, Holy Cross
Alex Bachman, WR, Wake Forest

Central Valley has banner National Signing Day

A.J. Greeley takes the quarterback keeper during a 2013 CIF Central Section playoff game against Central (Fresno). The Edison High star signed with Fresno State on National Signing Day and was among 46 different student-athletes from the Central Valley who signed their letter of intent to play football at the next level (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).
It's no longer a secret, the Central Valley from Fresno to Bakersfield is a hotbed for football talent, especially on the eve of National Signing Day.

In the last three years, the Valley has had more than 30 student-athletes sign a letter of intent to continue their football career. On Wednesday, Feb. 4, that number stood at 46. Colleges like UCLA, USC, Arizona, Iowa State, Colorado State, San Jose State and Division II Humboldt State have gone after players in the 559 and 661 in the last couple of years.

I hope I'm not forgetting anyone, but here's who signed their LOI today:


Tyler Horton, athlete, Boise State
A.J. Greeley, defensive back, Fresno State
Vance Sams, linebacker, Humboldt State
Khai Williams, running back, Humboldt State
Ju'Wan Murphy, defensive back, Humboldt State
J.J. Jeffries, tight end, Dartmouth
Kameron Lewis, wide receiver, St. Francis University


Savion Simms, ATH, Eastern Washington
Dehlon Preston, DB, San Jose State
Zeandae Johnson, defensive lineman, Cal
Devon Brewer, DB, Arizona


Ricky McCoy, TE/DL, Washington
Willie Fairman, ATH, Northern Colorado


Jamison Hale, OL, Yale


Bolu Olurunfunmi, RB, UCLA
Jacob Daniel, DL, USC
Bransin Johnson, ATH, UC Davis
Noruwa Obanor, DB, Navy
Eric Besalda, OL, Minot State
Hayden Haupt, OLB, Army


J.C. Robles, quarterback, Colorado State
Darius Liles, LB, Idaho


Nick Bianco, OL, Sacramento State


Matt Cole, OL/DL, Minot State


Matt Smith, RB, Air Force
R.J. Oliver, TE/DE, Yale


Nigel Brooks, DL, Northern Colorado


Anthony Mariscal, ATH, Arizona
Ruben Guerra, OL, Texas-El Paso (UTEP)
Braylin Scott, WR, Colorado State
Alex Galland, punter/kicker, Yale


Sheldon Croney, RB, Iowa State
Jacob Lopez, RB/OLB, Minot State
Jestyn James, OL/DL, Minot State


Tyrell Eddington, DL, Sacramento State


Malcolm Williams, RB, Eastern Washington
Alfredo Vasquez, WR, Minot State


Blake Pierce, OL/DL, Minot State


Isaiah Trevino, OL, Fresno State
Ben Olsen, DL, Sacramento State


Maui Abraha, WR, Tabor College
Trent Branch, OL, Occidental College


Vinny Prudhomme, OL/DL, St. Mary's College


C.J. Cambra, OL/DL, Sacramento State



Jeremy Smith, RB, Louisville


Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Potential impact freshmen

Isaiah Langley of Foothill (Pleasanton) is among a handful of prized football recruits for USC. The versatile class of 2015 star is expected to sign his letter of intent on Wednesday, Feb. 4, to officially join the Trojans (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna). 
Starting tomorrow, several high school football prospects will sign their letter of intent to the university of their choice, and give a football program hope for either a conference championship or national title.

National Signing Day is the biggest event for the highly-touted high school football star. It's the day they choose their future and give a program's coaching staff and fan base optimism for the next four to five years.

Some players are still deciding where they want to go. But for now, here's who Cali Gold Mine believes can make an impact right away as true freshmen since these California players have already committed:


Jake Browning, Folsom, Washington commit: Browning's monster stats makes him look like he could be a Fantasy Football player's ultimate dream. But I'm looking more at the physical tools. Browning impresses me with his accuracy, quick release and his pocket composure when the pass rush comes. He's already enrolled at UW, so he's already gunning for the starting quarterback spot this spring.

Kyle Kearns, Foothill (Pleasanton), Wake Forest commit: I'm perplexed that Kearns didn't come home with more than five offers because he had the on the field intangibles to be a big-time recruit. However, Wake Forest is getting a steal from the East Bay region of California. Kearns is a cerebral quarterback who plays mind games with defenses and can exploit their weaknesses. He's got a smooth deep ball and shows excellent vision with his throws. He's a former Southern Methodist commit.

Josh Rosen, St. John Bosco (Bellflower), UCLA commit: With Bruin star Brett Hundley vacating the quarterback position after declaring for the NFL Draft in December, Rosen could come in and snatch the open signal caller spot right away. He's got what pro style offenses like UCLA crave: size, arm strength, a high football IQ and the ability to make any throw, long and short. What I like the most about Rosen is his ability to recognize a potential blitz or coverage change, then shout an adjustment at the line of scrimmage to counter it. Few high school quarterbacks have that trait. And how legit is Rosen? His first scholarship offer came before he played varsity football. Fresno State made an early run at him while he was a freshman at Bosco.


Bolu Olurunfunmi, Clovis North, UCLA commit: I've watched Bolu run the rock since his sophomore year. I've never seen a running back more prepared for the next level. Olurunfunmi is a three-way threat with his size, destructive power and speed. He simply wore down defenses under the Friday night lights of the Central Valley. Like Rosen, Olurunfunmi could see the field right away because he's one of the most complete running backs in the class of 2015.


Trent Irwin, Hart (Newhall), Stanford commit: Irwin was one of the hardest receivers to cover down in the Los Angeles region. He combines his 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame with speed and strength. He fights for the football in man coverage and comes down with the pigskin. His body control after a catch is another plus. But he's not just a possession guy. Irwin has a second gear with his speed which makes him a deep threat. He'll be contending with taller and more physical cornerbacks in the PAC-12 and he'll need to add muscle, but Irwin is a excellent pick up for the Cardinal.


Tyler Petite, Campolindo (Moraga), USC commit: The tight end position is looking crowded for the Trojans with Bryce Dixon and Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick already on the roster, plus Caleb Wilson (Serra of Gardena) coming in as a walk-on. But Petite has the possibilities to oust all three men this fall with what he brings on the football field. Petite destroys coverages with his lateral agility, hands and 6-foot-5 frame. He's not the most physical tight end, though, and will need to build on his muscle and blocking ability, especially in USC's balanced Up-Tempo offense. Nevertheless, Petite's size and athleticism can come in handy for the Trojans.


Clayton Johnston, Servite (Anaheim), USC commit: Here's why I threw Johnston's name as a possible starter/impact player for the Trojans: USC started two true freshmen last year on the line and made an immediate influence in the trenches. Johnston looks like an ideal left tackle with his height (6-foot-6) and athletic feet.

Isaiah Trevino, Kingsburg, Fresno State commit: The Bulldogs are expected to lose four offensive linemen to graduation, so the powerful 6-foot-6, 320-pound Trevino could see the field right away. Trevino has solid athleticism for a big lineman and held his own as a left tackle for the Vikings during his senior year. An added bonus for Fresno State fans is that Trevino mainly blocked in the spread offense for Kingsburg, so he's used to pass blocking and should make a smooth transition to the Bulldogs' spread attack.


Ricky McCoy, Roosevelt (Fresno), Washington commit: Even at nearly 290-pounds, McCoy has unreal athleticism that grabbed the attention of the PAC-12, especially the school he's committed to. He runs like a tight end and has a powerful upper body. His size could convince the Huskies to move him inside, but his speed can place him on the edge.

Jacob Daniel, Clovis North, USC commit: Daniel went through an injury-riddled senior year after committing to the Trojans early. When healthy, though, he's a 300-pound wrecking ball against offensive linemen. Daniel shows a good burst after the ball is snapped and clogs the middle with ease. He obliterates the running game and can also chase down quarterbacks.


Keisean Lucier-South, Orange Lutheran, UCLA commit: Lucier-South could transition to defensive end down the road, but for now the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder is listed by several people as an outside linebacker. He's a high-energy player and excels in the backside pursuit. His best trait is his instincts. He doesn't stop until he gets his hands on the quarterback or whoever has the ball.

Cameron Smith, Granite Bay, USC commit: Smith is a bruiser at 6-foot-3, 225-pounds. He plows into the legs or torso of running backs. He improved his coverage ability during the 7-on-7 circuit and under the lights, showed good awareness in zones. His run stuffing ability makes him an ideal inside linebacker.


Mike Bell, Citrus Hill (Perris), Fresno State commit: Bell has the size to be a strong safety at 6-foot-3, 190-pounds, but he's turned heads with his ability as a cornerback. Bell is physical at the line of scrimmage and his long arms makes it difficult for receivers to get receptions on him. He shows excellent hips in coverage and doesn't give up too many big plays. He could convince the Bulldog coaching staff to place him at corner.

A.J. Greeley, Edison (Fresno), Fresno State commit: It's been a long time - probably since the days of Marcus McCauley - that the Bulldogs have had a true tall, physical, press cornerback. The 6-foot-1 Greeley, though, is capable of changing that. Anyone who watched an Edison Tiger game probably saw Greeley jamming and locking up receivers in man coverage. Greeley also has lined up at safety, wide receiver and quarterback.

Stanley Norman, Serra (Gardena), Arizona State commit: Norman doesn't back down from challenges. He steps up and gets physical at the line against receivers, despite his small 5-foot-10 frame. He has excellent core strength and balance, but it's his speed and versatility that made him a wanted man on the recruiting trail with nearly 30 schools offering him a scholarship. Norman played receiver for Serra and showed a quick first step off the line. He could be a slot receiver if things don't work out in ASU's secondary, but he's projected to help the fast rising Sun Devil defense.

Isaiah Langley, Foothill (Pleasanton), USC commit: Much like Norman, Langley was another versatile playmaker under the lights who was highly recruited. Langley is a deep threat at wide receiver, but most people (myself included) have been enamored by his ability to play cornerback. Despite a thin-looking frame at 6-feet, 165-pounds, Langley doesn't hesitate to get physical at the line in press coverage. He's also unafraid to track down the ball, get behind a receiver, then extend his arms out and swat the potential reception. What I'm most impressed with is his athleticism. Langley jumps like a 6-foot-4 receiver and comes down with the rock on defense. His speed makes him look like he could be a CIF state qualifier in the 100 meter dash. Adoree Jackson got playing time on both sides of the football for the Trojans last year as a true freshman. Could Langley be next?