Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Gilliam is starting to heat up in the 805

Max Gilliam of Thousand Oaks High School is beginning to gain NCAA Division I collegiate interest, something that hasn't happened for a Lancer quarterback since 2007 (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).
The last time Thousand Oaks High School had a highly coveted quarterback was in 2007, when Ryan Cloney was not only shattering Lancer football records, but getting recruited by Brigham Young and San Diego State. Max Gilliam was a 9-year-old during that year.

After an eight-year drought, Thousand Oaks High has a new quarterback luring the college coaches to the southern Ventura County school: the Class of 2016 prospect Gilliam.

The 6’2”, 191 pound Gilliam - who holds two scholarship offers from Marshall and Toledo - doubles as tall gunslinger in the pocket and galloping horse in the zone read option offense for TOHS.

Gilliam, though, wanted to enhance his game and promote his name on the recruiting trail by showing up to Passing Down’s So Cal regional on March 29 in Fontana.

Gilliam wasn’t just representing himself against some of the state‘s top recruits at Ralph Lewis Sports Park, but he was also representing his high school and community.

“It’s special especially for my high school because their aren’t too many of us out here. But our team (TOHS) is real good,” Gilliam said.

Gilliam rotated at quarterback for his club squad Elite Athletes and didn’t disappoint the spectators or his coaches. Gilliam rifled the ball deep on multiple occasions, completing passes of 35 or 40 yards as Team EA nearly clinched a spot at Passing Down’s Best of the West Tournament (April 26). Team EA wound up losing to Rize Up during the finals for their pod.

In shoulder pads, Gilliam threw for 2,920 yards, 29 touchdown passes and tossed eight interceptions during the 2014-15 season. But its his legs that proves Gilliam does more than just frustrate defenses with his right arm.

Gilliam added 625 rushing yards on 158 carries and scored 12 touchdowns in the Lancers’ Oregon Duck-like zone read option scheme, which goes without a huddle and runs at full speed.

It’s an offense that Gilliam is comfortable with.

“My athleticism has been my biggest strength ever since I was little,” Gilliam said.

Fittingly, his favorite player is a possible first round pick in April’s NFL draft: Heisman trophy winner and former Oregon star Marcus Mariota, who was known for damaging defenses as a dual-threat signal caller.

When Gilliam isn’t throwing the ball for Team EA or TOHS, he receives most of his coaching from a renown figure in quarterback development: Steve Clarkson, who’s mentored Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers), Nick Foles (St. Louis Rams) and future NFL draft picks Jameis Winston (Florida State) and Brett Hundley (UCLA).

“He’s taught me a lot. He’s probably taught me more than anyone else,” Gilliam said. “He’s been good to me. He brings things to you that you’ve never seen.”

Even though he’s put up astronomical numbers, Gilliam uses his time with Clarkson to improve himself and become better prepared for his next go round on the football field.

“Since working with Steve, I’ve seen my footwork and arm strength become a lot better. I’m still working on everything including throwing on the run,” Gilliam said.

While he’s still carving his name on the recruiting trail, Gilliam is aware that his high school hasn’t always been a production factory for college football talent.

“We just haven’t had any good players come out of here in the last couple of years, but we should have a good team,” Gilliam said.

He’ll be taking unofficial visits to Boise State, Washington, Washington State, Oregon State and Cal this upcoming spring with the hope of landing more scholarship pledges from those schools.

“I think I want to make a decision before my senior year starts. That way, I can just focus on the season,” Gilliam said.

He’s not only picking up the recruiting flag that Cloney left behind, but Gilliam is itching to have his name mentioned among the echelon of 2016 quarterbacks, which includes K.J. Costello (Stanford commit), Devin Modster (11 scholarship offers), Armani Rogers (Cal commit), Kevin Davidson (Ivy League and PAC-12 interest) and Ian Book (seven scholarship offers).

Is Gilliam a sleeper among those quarterbacks?

“Yeah I think so,” Gilliam said. “I can compete with all of them.”

Monday, March 30, 2015

Fontana frenzy: Passing Down brings out a more stacked regional

Team B2G 5-star celebrates winning the So Cal regional championship at Passing Down's Fontana regional on Sunday, March 29 (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).
We had our own version of March Madness at Passing Down's So Cal regional on Sunday, March 29, at Fontana's Ralph Lewis Sports Park.

We saw cinderella runs (Rize Up, Rhare Breed HD, Team Apex, Inland Empire Ducks) and we watched the powerhouses (B2G, Ground Zero, Body By Tra) go to work under the 85 degree Southern California sun.

This was the biggest and most talented regional yet for PD, with 56 teams registered for a shot at the So Cal regional championship. In the end, it was B2G's 5-star squad rising above the rest.

But with a stacked tournament comes a plethora of talent on the football field. So who stood out in Cali Gold Mine's eyes? Here's the gold mines from Sunday:

Patrick O'Brien, San Juan Hills

The 6'4" O'Brien had no college offering him a scholarship before he entered PD's So Cal event.

He sure played like he can have 5-10 offers though, as he dissected so many defenses which culminated in B2G 5-star's title victory.

O'Brien showed off a rocket arm and accuracy throughout the tournament. I was especially impressed with his ability to spread the ball around.

Tate Martell, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)

Martell was looking like a 5'11" version of Peyton Manning, but not in terms of production or arm strength.

It was his ability to command an offense.

The Class of 2017 fast riser is not even a junior in high school, but yet national power Bishop Gorman trusts him to call his own plays and adjustments. He did exactly that against Southern California's best on Sunday. He played the cerebral game with defenses and averaged 3-4 touchdown passes per game.

Martell currently holds five scholarship offers including USC.

Jordan Love, Liberty (Bakersfield)

Coming into Fontana, there were questions about Love's ability to make the short throws and how rapid his release was.

The 6'3" Love not only answered those questions, but he nearly looked like the complete package at quarterback for Team Ground Zero Panoramic.

Love impressed with the deep ball and the quick corner strikes.

Robbie Blosser, Venice

Like Martell, Blosser is emerging as a Class of 2017 prospect to watch.

The 6'2" Blosser attacked defenses with the deep ball throughout the morning and afternoon for his young squad Team Rize Up.

K.J. Costello, Santa Margarita Catholic

Costello, who recently committed to Stanford, looked patient in the pocket while delivering quick strikes to his wide receivers on Body By Tra.

His composure and spiral to the football were two other strengths he showed.

Max Gilliam, Thousand Oaks

The tall 6'4" dual-threat became Team Elite Athlete's mad bomber.

Gilliam, who holds two scholarship offers from Toledo and Marshall, didn't hesitate to sling it deep to his receivers for Team EA.

Armani Rogers, Hamilton (Los Angeles)

The big 6'6" Rogers looked amazingly comfortable in the pocket and showed a laser release for his team Body By Tra.

Rogers committed to Cal in February 2015.

Javon McKinley, Centennial (Corona) 

The 6'2" McKinley was a mismatch everywhere he went on the field, regardless if defenses played a zone coverage or tried to press him at the line of scrimmage.

The Class of 2016 wide receiver showed why he has 18 scholarship offers by becoming B2G 5-star's top possession target and best deep threat.

J.P. Shohfi, San Marino

Shohfi is a name that isn't mentioned much on the recruiting trail. But the 6'1" San Marino receiver provided some tough grabs and big plays along with McKinley and B2G 5-star.

Shohfi was crisp with his routes and showed excellent timing on adjusting to the ball. He made one of the biggest plays of the title game with a sideline grab against two defensive backs who tried to blanket him.

The way he played reminded me of another B2G standout: Stanford commit Trent Irwin.

Stephen Carr, Summit (Fontana)

The early Class of 2017 USC pledge had defensive backs beat on drag routes and streaks while performing for his team Ground Zero Sniper.

Carr isn't the tallest receiver on the field (5'11"), but his footwork, speed separation against a defensive back and his hands reminded me of former Trojan star and NFL receiver Robert Woods.

Damian Alloway, Summit

The 5'10" Alloway was Mr. Do Everything for his squad Ground Zero Panoramic.

The versatile Alloway - who holds nine scholarship offers including Duke, UCLA and Washington - doubled as shut down defender and big play receiver.

Jamal Hicks, Narbonne (Harbor City)

Hicks is a tall, athletic safety at 6'3" with a knack for the big play.

Sounds like Kam Chancellor of the Seattle Seahawks, who's the NFL player Hicks idolizes.

Hicks' eyes, sideline pursuits and wide receiver-like hands could've earned him Defensive Most Valuable Player at the Fontana regional, as he emerged as Team Gamechangers L.A's top ball hawk. But he was the defensive MVP in CGM's book after snatching six interceptions on the day.

Lawson Hall, Narbonne

Hall linked up with his fellow high school teammate Hicks to form an athletic and intimidating defense for Gamechangers L.A.

Hall, who stands at 6'1" and holds four scholarship offers, provided closing speed at linebacker for his 7-on-7 squad.

Alec Stevenson, Malibu

Stevenson was a nice surprise at middle linebacker for Gamechangers L.A.

The undersized 6'0" MLB closed fast on drag routes and anyone trying to cross the middle. Stevenson has been known as a run stuffer at Malibu High but showed his coverage ability in Fontana.

Stevenson, Class of 2016, has also started to see his recruiting pick up with interest from Fresno State.

Brandon Reaves, San Clemente

Reaves showed versatility and blinding speed for Team OC Elite.

Only 5'9", Reaves went full speed on his routes on offense and his backpedal on defense. According to his hudl account, Reaves runs the shuttle in 4.4 seconds.

Reaves currently holds one offer from Colorado State and took an unoffical visit to USC recently.

Elijah Gates, Buena Park

Gates was a defensive back machine for Team Rize Up, who were one of the top surprises of the tournament.

The 5'11" Gates (Class of 2017) showed a nose for the football and excellent change-of-direction speed with the football in his hands.

(Editor's note: all photos were taken by Lorenzo J. Reyna)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Collins is 'Game Fit'

Deshawn Collins helped carry the load for state powerhouse Grant (Sacramento) last season, culminating in a 2,000 yard season and Sac-Joaquin Section title. The Class of 2016 prospect, though, is starting to work on his hands to show versatility (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).  
When he puts the Grant High School Pacer uniform on, Deshawn Collins becomes a bolt of lightning who flashes through a hole then electrifies the crowds with his speed, power and array of moves in the open field.

But at Passing Down’s Nor Cal Regional in Livermore, Collins amazed the spectators with a different trait: his ability to play slot receiver.

The ultra-productive Class of 2016 running back, who led the Pacers with 2,266 rushing yards last season, became Team Game Fit’s reliable underneath target by showing his receiving side, as the Sacramento-based squad finished in the top eight of the Nor Cal regional held on March 15. The 5’8”, 185 pound Collins used his hands, juke moves and speed to infuse the Game Fit offense.

He entered the Livermore regional motivated by the talent he was getting ready to go against, with the hope that his appearance will elevate his game.

“It’s great. I love the chance to compete against everybody here,” Collins said. “I’m from Sacramento, so there isn’t always that much of a chance to venture out and play against other competition. But this (Passing Down) is a great environment.”

The junior has worked out with Game Fit since his freshman year. He said that his workouts mainly emphasizes leg work.

“I always love to have quick speed. I want to make sure I’m a step ahead of my competition,” Collins said. “I see myself as a one-cut runner. I like to put my foot on the ground, get up field and go anywhere I can.”  

On film, Collins shows his speed and vision for Grant. Anyone who watches a Grant Pacer game has probably witnessed No. 10 cutting up defenses with the football in his hands.

He also has to deal with the weight of keeping a rich football tradition alive in North Sacramento. The Pacers are a renown powerhouse in the California prep football scene and took home the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Division II title in 2014. Collins said the expectations at Grant are real high.

“We’ve had so many great players who’ve put on the pads like Shaq Thompson,” Collins said. “We’ve got to carry the load.”

Collins holds a 3.8 grade point average off the field. His recruiting period, however, has been quiet so far. No schools have extended a scholarship offer to him. He’s received letters of interest from San Jose State, San Diego State, Utah State and some Ivy League programs.

He adds that the talent level in the 916 is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“It’s real deep,” Collins said. “I feel people tend to underestimate the talent we have here. I’ll admit that we don’t have the size, but we’ve got speed and hands.”

Monday, March 23, 2015

On the golden state recruiting trail: it's hail to the hills of Westwood for Toailoa

Lokeni Toailoa (Carter of Rialto) ended his recruiting process by announcing that he's verbally committed to UCLA (photo courtesy of usc.scout.com). 
Lokeni Toailoa walked into the room proudly wearing a Ground Zero shirt and thanked his club 7-on-7 head coach Armond Hawkins for helping him on his recruiting journey.

But the next article of clothing that Toailoa proudly put on was a hat that signified where he'll spend his college football career at: UCLA.

The highly-recruited Carter of Rialto linebacker - who held 21 scholarship offers - ended his recruiting process by choosing the Bruins on Monday, March 23, during a special ceremony hosted by Toailoa's club 7-on-7 coaches.

The 6'0", 212 pound Class of 2016 prospect narrowed his choices to Norte Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, USC, Utah, Washington and UCLA earlier in March. The inside linebacker, though, will head to Westwood and join another big-time linebacker recruit who committed to the Bruins on March 14: Krys Barnes of Liberty (Bakersfield).

Toailoa has played on Carter's varsity football team since his freshman year. Last season, Toailoa finished with 48 tackles, six sacks, six pass deflections and one interception for the 9-3 Lions. 


Dru Mathis of Buena (Ventura) has now emerged as one of the most sought-after linebackers in Ventura County, after landing two Mountain West scholarship offers on March 23.

At approximately 10 a.m., Mathis announced on social media that Colorado State had extended an offer to him. Then around 4 p.m., the 6'3", 200 pound outside linebacker added a scholarship pledge from Fresno State.

Mathis now holds five offers. New Mexico, Nevada and San Diego State are the other Mountain West schools that are making a run at the athletic and rangy linebacker.

Ridgeview's most dynamic playmaker hopes to focus on defense

Lawrence White of Ridgeview (Bakersfield) shows his speed as an option quarterback and part-time wide receiver for the Wolf Pack, but says he's fine tuning his skills at the position he could likely play once he's in college: cornerback (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna)
It’s hard to get Lawrence White of Ridgeview (Bakersfield) off the field.

On Friday nights in Kern County, the 6’2”, 170 pound White puts on the No. 7 jersey and slips past defenders while playing quarterback. He’s also zoomed past man coverage while lining up at wide receiver and blankets the opposition at cornerback.

Recently at Passing Down’s Nor Cal Regional in Livermore on March 15, the versatile White was doing more of the same for his squad DB Nation: going deep, throwing it deep and covering receivers on defense at the Robertson Sports Park Field.

White, though, said that his calling at the college level could be in the defensive backfield.

“I’m mainly trying to focus on my cornerback skills,” White said. “I also want to play receiver and wherever my team needs me. But I’m mainly focusing on cornerback.”

White rotated at quarterback for the Central Section Division II champions and state playoff qualifier last season. He threw for 1,228 yards, had 14 touchdowns through the air and was intercepted just twice.

White, though, did his most damage on option keeper plays. He rushed for 1,077 yards on 136 carries and scored 11 touchdowns for the 12-2 Wolf Pack. Defensively, White intercepted three passes and became Ridgeview’s top shut down corner because of his speed, change of direction and hands.

He’s at the same school that once produced Shannon Edwards (defensive back, Fresno State), Tyler Ferguson (quarterback, Louisville) and Kamari Moya-Cotton (safety, Iowa State). Like the trio, White has gotten on the radar for different college football programs.

White landed a Colorado State scholarship offer on Feb. 8, 2015. He said the Rams are recruiting him to play cornerback. He adds that Nevada, Wyoming, Utah State and Iowa State have shown interest in him through letters.

White said that he’s zeroing in on winning the one-on-one battles at the line of scrimmage.

“I’m just trying to stay in front and not allow people to get off the line,” White said.

However, he prides himself on playing at multiple spots on the field.

“I’ll play pretty much wherever my coach wants me to play. I just try to get it done for my team,” White said.

White's film can be viewed here.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tall Central Section target lands first offer

Chris Paz of San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno) received his first scholarship offer from Cornell University of the Ivy League on Saturday, March 21 (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna). 
The days of Chris Paz waiting for his first scholarship offer have come to an end, as the San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno) wide receiver told Cali Gold Mine on Saturday, March 21, that Cornell University has extended an offer to him.

Paz, who stands at 6'3" and weighs 200 pounds, said that he's amazed he's finally received his first offer after spending the summer of 2014 plus early part of 2015 getting letters and junior day invites from PAC-12, Big Sky and Mountain West schools.

"It feels like all of my hard work is paying off," Paz said. "The conversations with Cornell have been really good."

The wide receiver and safety told CGM that Cornell's coaching staff has called him the Big Red's top prospect for the 2016 class. He added that the Ivy League program is recruiting him to play either running back or strong safety.

Paz, who's a three-year varsity letterman at SJM, was recently at Fresno State's junior day and plans to attend UC Davis and the University of Wyoming's junior day this spring.

Paz said that he's still keeping his recruiting options open, plus adds that if he finds the right offer, he'll commit before the start of his senior season.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Owens taking his time with choosing a college

Darian Owens of Clovis West isn't rushing his college choice, but said he'll announce his top 10 schools in about a month (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna). 
Darian Owens of Clovis West recently added more defensive back victims to his resume, as the muscular 6'2", 190-pound wide receiver emerged as Team Bod-E-Shop's top target at Passing Down's Nor Cal regional on March 15.

After burning man and double coverages at the Livermore regional, the 2016 prospect caught up with your's truly at the PD tournament (I also serve as PD's coverage writer and part-time talent recruiter) to talk about his 18 scholarship offers and when he'll make a decision.

Owens said he's not rushing his decision, but added he'll announce which schools will be in his top 10 sometime in April.

More on the article can be found here.

Highlight film from the U.S Army All-American Bowl National Combine:

Owens' highlight film from hudl: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2901586/darian-owens

Thursday, March 19, 2015

McCoy motivated by past Bay Area stars

Marqel McCoy (Berean Christian of Walnut Creek) is looking to make some noise on the recruiting trail by teaming up with TMP Elite and head coach Terrance Leonard (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna). 
Marqel McCoy has spent the offseason itching to get his first scholarship offer and have his name in front of college football coaches; and he’s using past Bay Area stars plus the club team they played for as his motivation.

He’s inspired by Oklahoma Sooner Joe Mixon (Freedom High of Oakley), Arizona State Sun Devil D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito) and Fresno State Bulldog Michael Lazarus (Berkeley); all of whom competed for the club squad McCoy is with now: TMP Elite.

“They motivate me a lot,” McCoy said. “Coach T (Terrance Leonard) is very connected. Hopefully I can make a name out of myself as well.”

McCoy, who lines up at wide receiver and safety for Berean Christian in Walnut Creek, has spent his February and March running routes for TMP. His recent appearance with TMP was at Passing Down’s Nor Cal Regional on March 15 in Livermore, which saw McCoy blow past man coverage and haul down the jump ball.

McCoy emerged as one of TMP’s big targets at 6’3”, 190-pounds. But after a solid showing against some of the best athletes in Northern California at Livermore, the Class of 2016 prospect said he wants to improve against elite competition.

“I need to see how I measure up against the best corners around here,” McCoy said. “I also need to continue to work on getting around my guy and getting strong, plus getting out of my breaks.”

McCoy, who holds a 3.6 grade point average, adds that “my jumping ability and catching the ball in the air” are two of his strengths at wide receiver.

He’s currently having conversations with Army, Yale, Northern Arizona and Harvard about a possible scholarship pledge.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Leppke the latest Emperor quarterback getting college interest

Dinuba High quarterback Isaac Leppke has witnessed his recruiting period pick up, with Ivy League and Mountain West schools asking more about him. Leppke also has Fresno State's Junior Day coming up on Saturday, March 21 (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna). 
The recruiting period has now ignited for Dinuba High 2016 quarterback Isaac Leppke, who’s come home to letters from different college football programs and has had his phone buzzing with coaches on the other line.

It sounds like what his predecessor experienced.

The 6'4" Leppke was backing up Marcus McMaryion when the current Oregon State Beaver quarterback was throwing the football at various camps/tournaments and worked out after school in front of visiting college coaches.

Leppke is starting to go down a similar path. Ivy League schools and UNLV are reaching out to the 4.0 student, as they try to learn more about the Emperors’ rising prospect. He has Fresno State’s Junior Day (Saturday, March 21) and workout sessions during the NCAA Spring Evaluation period in April also lined up.

Leppke finished his first season at the varsity level with an appearance in the 2014 Central Section Division II title game, which ended in a 16-14 defeat against Ridgeview of Bakersfield.

Despite completing the season with a loss in the championship game, Leppke said he never had any jitters when it came down to replacing a PAC-12 quarterback at DHS.

“I felt like I handled the job well. I didn’t have as much panic,” Leppke said. “I did have a lot of weight on my shoulders. But we finished the season good. I feel that I’m now more mature this year than last year.”

Leppke ended the 2014-15 season with 1,464 passing yards, a 59.2 completion percentage, 14 touchdown passes and five interceptions for the 11-2 Emps. Since then, he’s juggled between the track and elevating his name in front of college coaches.

Leppke, who runs the hurdles for DHS track and field, still adds time for the football field. He’s linked up with another place responsible for helping mold McMaryion: the Bod-E-Shop gym in Clovis.

“Art Correa (the gym owner) reached out to me. He asked me what my top five dream schools were and he was going to get me to one of them. That meant a lot to me. I’m working for him,” Leppke said.

The Bod-E-Shop’s club 7-on-7 team handed their quarterback spot to Leppke. The Bod-E-Shop made an appearance at Passing Down’s Nor Cal regional on March 15, with Leppke impressing the spectators with his array of bombs to the end zone against some of the top talent in Northern California.

Before Passing Down, Leppke and The Shop played in the Las Vegas Pylon tournament in February. The Vegas trip included a visit to the UNLV campus, where Leppke was introduced to the Rebel coaching staff.

Now, one UNLV coach has been in contact with him.

“Coach O’Dell (the quarterback coach of UNLV) has been talking to me a lot. He’s been messaging me every other day,” Leppke said.

But Ron O’Dell isn’t the only one hitting up Leppke.

“Coach Jon Poppe (Columbia University recruiting coordinator) reaches out to me every other day. He calls me to ask how my grades are how I’m doing in track,” Leppke said.

Fresno State sent a letter to Leppke inviting him to its junior day. Leppke said Bulldogs’ defensive line coach Pete Germano has been emailing him and adds “It would be nice to play closer to home.”

While Leppke is still seeking his first scholarship offer, he said he’s still trying to improve his quarterback skills.

“Just understanding defenses more. Plus reading different coverages and then making my reads,” Leppke said.

But he also believes that schools and people outside of Dinuba are overlooking him.

“Oh yeah, definitely. It’s because I’m a small town Dinuba boy. I’m much more than that,” Leppke said.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Livermore turns it up, sets the tone for the 2015 Passing Down season

Team Big Blue out of the Silicon Valley took home the Passing Down 2015 Nor Cal regional title at Livermore on Sunday, March 15. Big Blue has been led by mainly under-the-radar talent, including quarterback Troy Martig of San Jose powerhouse Bellarmine Prep (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna). 
My day started at 7:30 a.m on Sunday, March 15, by helping prepare for the Passing Down Nor Cal regional in Livermore. The day ended for me in exhausting fashion at 12:30 a.m on Monday.

But that journey and every minute of PD's first regional was all worth it - plus it told me that Passing Down is going to be bigger than ever this tournament season,which means more exposure for the aspiring college football student-athlete.

The distinguished 7-on-7 tournament brought out 26 teams, the largest ever for the Nor Cal regional. The club teams and the potential college football stars who entered the Robertson Sports Park sprint turf represented the Bay Area, Silicon Valley, the Sacramento region, the delta (Stockton), the San Joaquin Valley from Merced to Bakersfield and lastly, Orange County.

One thing I love about Passing Down is the tournament's ability to draw the top talent in the state of California. Sunday's regional brought out the superstars in the 2016 and '17 classes.

Time to sort through who was there and who stood out to CGM:


Davidson is now a veteran of PD with four appearances in two years. There were two changes I noticed from Davidson, though: his slimmer frame and his quicker feet at quarterback. Outside of that, he showed an excellent zip to his throws and helped spread the ball around for his club squad Kenion Training DI, which had former NFL running back Maurice Jones-Drew calling the plays.


Leppke showed off his cannon by going deep to Darian Owens for Team Bod-e-Shop of Clovis. The 6-foot-4 signal caller has received most of his interest from UNLV, Harvard and Yale. He'll also sling the ball at Fresno State's junior day on March 21.

Troy Martig of Team Big Blue holds up the Nor Cal championship trophy (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).


Martig had to have been the smallest quarterback at the tournament (6-foot, 170-pounds), but he had the most consistency with his vision, zip and accuracy, as it led to his Most Valuable Player performance for the Nor Cal champions Team Big Blue.


Owens, who holds 18 scholarship offers, didn't disappoint in his third go-round at Passing Down (appeared in both the 2013 and '14 Cen Cal regionals). Owens looked unguardable as Bod-e-Shop's best deep threat and sometimes beat out double coverage for touchdowns.


Wills, who stars for Team Field Up (Clovis) continues to be a smooth route runner and rarely got shadowed by a defensive back in man coverage. He consistently had his man beat during the three games Field Up played.


Cummings is only 5-foot-8, but he's emerged as Field Up's most physical shutdown cornerback. His upper body strength is a plus.

Lawrence White of Kern County powerhouse Ridgeview (Bakersfield) showed versatility, speed and big play capability at the Nor Cal regional (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).


White, who was recently offered by Colorado State, was one of the most versatile athletes on the Livermore field as he lined up at corner, wide receiver and threw the football. It's his skills at cornerback, though, that had me glued while watching him compete for his squad DB Nation (Hanford/Lemoore). White has a nice backpedal and long arms; two paramount traits for a cover corner. He also was a reliable deep threat on offense.


Book actually looked more comfortable at this year's tournament compared to his last two appearances at Passing Down. Book, who holds four offers including Washington State, improved his field vision and decision making for his squad TMP Elite (Sacramento/Bay Area).

Marqel McCoy (Berean Christian of Walnut Creek) entered Passing Down's Nor Cal regional as an underrated wide receiving prospect for TMP Elite (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).


McCoy has a thin frame at wide receiver (180-pounds), but he showed excellent routes and body control for his catches. He's a tall option at 6-foot-3 and proved he can be a mismatch against man coverage.


Harris is one of the most wanted players in the 2017 class with 15 offers already on his table, which includes a pledge from Alabama. While he's considered a big-time running back prospect, I was more in awe of his versatility when he lined up for TMP Elite. He showed he can be a red zone target at wide receiver and close fast on the football at safety.


Rice could have been given the nickname "Mr. Hustle" for his tireless effort with going both ways for Team Valley's Got Talent. The 6-foot-2 athlete was an effective inside receiving option on offense and a reliable coverage linebacker on defense. He holds two offers from San Jose State and Fresno State.


Rodrigues has appeared at PD tournaments since his freshman year. Each season, he's shown solid patience and a laser release. On Sunday, Rodrigues finally led his team to an appearance in the regional title game after spending the last two seasons finishing in the top four. Team Kobe's signal caller improved his vision and deep ball during Sunday's Livermore tourney.


Asiasi is a huge and imposing target at tight end with his 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame. Defensive backs and linebackers had difficulty covering him because of the size/strength aspect of his game. He not only helped lead Kenion Training DI to a top four finish, he also made history at PD: he became the first Passing Down participant to announce his commitment to the prestigious U.S. Army-All American game after being presented with the All-American jersey.

Deshawn Collins of Grant (Sacramento) went from hard nosed 2,000 yard rusher to versatile receiving option for Team Gamefit (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna). 


On film, Collins is a workhorse power back for state powerhouse Grant High. At the Nor Cal regional, though, Collins proved he can be versatile. He had some key catches on wheel and inside routes for his squad Gamefit, which reached the top eight of the Livermore regional.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rising star watch: Blake Walker

Central Valley Christian (Visalia) is known for its size, but at 6'7" and 312 pounds, Blake Walker (2016 prospect) is the Cavaliers' top towering presence on the offensive line (photo contributed).  
I've often asked myself this question whenever I've observed Central Valley Christian football in Visalia: is there something in that water? Those guys are huge!

Especially the behemoth I'm profiling now - Blake Walker of the Cavaliers. 

At 6'7" and 312 pounds, Walker might get mistaken as an NFL lineman if he walks down a street because of the size he carries. And after breaking him down in my film room, he definitely has what it takes to line up for a college football program's offensive line in the future.

Here's a closer look at the Cavs' 2016 tower of power:

WHAT TO LIKE: His size already makes him look like a left or right tackle, but he lines up at guard. He has the versatility and smarts to adjust at another position in the trenches. His chief strength is run blocking. He'll lock his arms into a defensive lineman right away and doesn't allow him to slip by. On occasion he'll show a mean streak and can drive his defender to the ground. He also displays a powerful pop with his palms - so powerful that it's knocked defenders to the grass in one second. Most of CVC's plays were ran toward his side last season, which shows that his team can trust his blocking. 

WHAT TO BUILD ON: Though he's shedding weight to become more agile and prepare for a pass-oriented attack next season, I need to see more of his ability to pass block, particularly against speed rushers. He lacks explosion off the snap of the ball. He tends to lunge while blocking and can work on refining his technique by sinking his hips more and staying squared up on his blocker. Also need to see more of his aggression.

OVERALL: Walker is starting to gain recognition after receiving invites to the Rivals! camp and Nike combine during the spring. A year of improvement - particularly with his pass blocking and aggressiveness - can turn Walker into a highly-coveted lineman. 

More on Walker can be seen here.  

Sunday, March 1, 2015

On the golden state recruiting trail: JUCO athlete gets bombarded with offers

Lorenzo Terry of Los Angeles Harbor College has gone from un-recruited high school athlete to an emerging prospect in the junior college scene, after coming home to four scholarship offers in one day (photo courtesy of ESPN.com).
February 20, 2015 was a landmark day for Lorenzo Terry of Los Angeles Harbor College.

Terry, who lines up at defensive back and returns kicks for L.A. Harbor, came home to four scholarship offers - all in one day.

The former West Valley (Hemet) star said he was offered by Old Dominion, Idaho, Middle Tennessee State and Rhode Island.

Terry, who wasn't offered a scholarship while in high school, said that the recent scholarship pledges are "a huge relief."

Said Terry: "I've worked so hard in high school and I didn't get the exposure everyone else had because of where I played. But I didn't give up and I prayed. And now it's finally happening."

Terry adds that Old Dominion is his front runner, but said he's not rushing a decision and will continue to let the recruiting process play out.


Las Vegas didn't just get athletes competing in the 2015 Pylon 7-on-7 tournament from Feb. 28-March 1, but the town's NCAA Division I university had plenty of visitors too.

High school athletes from the Class of 2016-19 got a chance to tour the University of Nevada-Las Vegas campus. Club teams like DB Guru (Fresno), the Bod-E-Shop (Fresno/Clovis) and the Frat Boyz (Southern California) received an opportunity to try on UNLV football jerseys, meet the Rebel coaching staff and roam around the Mountain West Conference campus.


Keyon Riley of traditional Orange County powerhouse Servite (Anaheim) ended his February with scholarship offers filling his mailbox.

Riley, Class of 2016, received pledges from San Diego State, Oregon State and Washington during the week of Feb. 24-27.

The 6'2" Riley - who doubles as a cornerback and strong safety - also holds an offer from Colorado State.