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:
KEVIN DAVIDSON, QUARTERBACK, MCLYMONDS (OAKLAND)
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.
ISAAC LEPPKE, QUARTERBACK, DINUBA
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).|
TROY MARTIG, QUARTERBACK, BELLARMINE PREP (SAN JOSE)
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.
DARIAN OWENS, WIDE RECEIVER, CLOVIS WEST
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.
J.J. WILLS, WIDE RECEIVER, CLOVIS
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.
TREVON CUMMINGS, CORNERBACK, BUCHANAN (CLOVIS)
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).|
LAWRENCE WHITE, CORNERBACK, RIDGEVIEW (BAKERSFIELD)
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.
IAN BOOK, QUARTERBACK, OAK RIDGE (EL DORADO HILLS)
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).|
MARQEL MCCOY, WIDE RECEIVER, BEREAN CHRISTIAN (WALNUT CREEK)
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.
NAJEE HARRIS, RUNNING BACK, ANTIOCH
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.
JUSTIN RICE, RUNNING BACK/LINEBACKER, CENTRAL CATHOLIC (MODESTO)
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.
HUNTER RODRIGUES, QUARTERBACK, WHITNEY (ROCKLIN)
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.
DEVIN ASIASI, TIGHT END, DE LA SALLE (CONCORD)
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).|
DESHAWN COLLINS, RUNNING BACK, GRANT (SACRAMENTO)
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.