Friday, July 31, 2015


Bryce Youngquist gave Oklahoma a major boost for its 2016 recruiting class, as the Los Osos (Rancho Cucamonga) linebacker announced that he committed to the Sooners on July 31 (photo credit 
It hasn’t been the most dominant recruiting period for Oklahoma Sooners football when it comes to filling the 2016 class. In fact, Bleacher Report labeled the Sooners a loser during the July recruiting period.

But Oklahoma struck big today to end the month, as OU received a verbal commitment from Los Osos (Rancho Cucamonga) standout Bryce Youngquist on July 31.

Youngquist, who’s a 4-star linebacker prospect, held 15 scholarship offers and had Oregon and Oklahoma as his last two schools of choice. By committing to the latter, he becomes the Sooners’ eighth verbal commitment in the Class of 2016 and provides an immediate impacting presence for the OU linebacker unit, which will graduate three seniors after the 2015-16 season.

In the stardom-filled Inland Empire region, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Youngquist is one of the fastest defenders in the 909. According to, Youngquist blazes his 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds. He comes to Los Osos High football games with that same speed and tenacity.

Once the ball is snapped, Youngquist looks like a coyote that found fresh meat. He’ll accelerate past the outside pocket protection, corner his prey and then feast on a quarterback. He could be another Eric Striker for the Sooner defense, who led OU with 17 tackles for a loss and nine sacks last season.

Youngquist is much more than just a rush linebacker. He takes solid angles and relies on a wrap-and-roll technique to make the run stopping tackle. 

Against the pass, his speed and backpedal gets him to look like a cover safety locking down his area. His willingness to play in coverage is an added bonus for a Sooner pass defense that ranked 117th out of 128 Football Bowl Subdivision teams last year.

While OU currently ranks at No. 55 in the recruiting composite rankings for the Class of 2016, the verbal pledge from Youngquist gives Oklahoma new life for this class. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Elijah Parks of Central East in Fresno made a verbal commitment to San Jose State on July 28, adding to SJSU's list of recruits from the Central Valley (photo credit 
San Jose State went to West Fresno to pluck away its latest prized signing from the Central Valley: Class of 2016 nose guard/defensive tackle Elijah Parks of Central East High School on July 28.

The 6-foot-3, 296-pound Parks is now the seventh Central Valley representative since 2014 to verbally commit to the Spartans, as he made the announcement on his Twitter page. He’s also the latest Central Grizzly to choose SJSU, as his former defensive back teammate Dehlon Preston accepted his pledge to join the Spartans’ 2015 recruiting class.

Parks said Preston and the Valley connection gave him enough leverage to choose the Silicon Valley Mountain West program.

“He (Preston) is like a big bro to me. So his influence helped make my decision,” Parks said.

He adds that SJSU has created a DB Guru pipeline; comprising of Central Section players who work out for veteran defensive back coach Tony Perry in Fresno. The Edison defensive back coach, who’s produced over 40 NCAA Division I prospects, has helped Preston, Andre Chachere (Clovis West) and Nautica Fleming (Bullard) sign with the Spartans.

“With the other DB Guru guys there, it’s just a better fit for me,” Parks said.

He’ll not only reconnect with his DB Guru peers, but Parks is continuing Central’s streak of producing an NCAA DI prospect. Since 2011, the Grizzlies have sent players to the Big 12, PAC-12, Big Sky and Mountain West Conference.

Last season, Parks was the menacing Grizzly who energized the Central front line. He bull rushed past centers and pounded running backs into the turf after firing off from his interior line spot. Parks, who lines up either head up or outside of a center’s shoulder, clawed through one-on-one blocks and became Central’s top run-stuffing defensive lineman in 2014-15.

He had a steamrolling showing at the Nike Opening Oakland Regional in April, as he took home the Defensive Lineman Most Valuable Player award. 

San Jose State was Parks’ lone offer. He included SJSU’s atmosphere outside of football factored into his decision.

“I like the environment. It seemed really chill and the weather was great. Also, it’s close to home,” Parks said.

His other deciding point was the relationships he cultivated with the Spartan coaching staff.

Said Parks: “The coaches were great. They have a lot of knowledge about football, but they’re not all about football. They also want to push you to get a degree, which I like.”

Saturday, July 25, 2015


Darnay Holmes of Calabasas High School has cut down his recruiting list to 10 schools. Holmes is considered the top cornerback prospect in the Class of 2017 according to and Rivals (photo credit 
Darnay Holmes – one of the top players in the Class of 2017 with 25 scholarship offers – went to social media to announce which schools made his short list on July 25.

Holmes told his Twitter followers that there’s 10 schools he’s considering: Alabama, Arizona, Miami, Norte Dame, Nebraska, Ohio State, Stanford, UCLA, USC and Washington.

Holmes, who no longer attends Newbury Park and has recently transferred to Calabasas High according to’s Greg Biggins, stated that the universities in his top 10 list “have the best environment for me.” But added “things can change when other scholarships are earned.”

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Holmes first exploded on the recruiting scene as a freshman, with Arizona becoming one of his early offers.

During the 7-on-7 club football season in 2014, he lined up alongside another young freshman who’s now one of the most wanted prospects in the nation: Keyshawn Johnson Jr. Both Holmes and Johnson Jr. played on Team 19, which is coached by former NFL and USC star wideout Keyshawn Johnson. Holmes has also played for Team Pro Way, which is based out of Newbury Park.

In his final year at NPHS, Holmes led the 11-3 Panthers with 89 catches, 1,350 yards and 15 touchdowns. Defensively, Holmes tallied 39 tackles including 32 solo stops and one interception, as he helped lead the Panthers to the CIF Southern Section Northern Division title game before losing to Paso Robles 13-10.

Among the other programs that have offered Holmes are Clemson, Louisville, Mississippi State, Syracuse and Utah.

He’s not only been listed as a 5-star prospect, but also the top 2017 cornerback prospect in California by both and Rivals. ESPN rates Holmes as the nation’s No. 4 overall prospect. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Versatile and aggressive Benjamin Delgado is looking to end the losing at Hawthorne High along with the rest of his team (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna). 
Benjamin Delgado was in Kindergarten during the last time Hawthorne High School produced a winning year in football, which was a 7-4-1 mark in 2004.

Now, as a three-year varsity letterman playing at a school that’s had a string of 10 straight non-winning seasons, the versatile running back and safety wants to help change the culture at the former Los Angeles area powerhouse before his prep career rides off into the Southern California sunset.

Delgado, who holds one scholarship offer from Idaho State of the Football Championship Subdivision, said he’s confident that this year’s team can turn the Cougars’ fortunes around.

“We’re just trying to get the program back up. We have more talented athletes now,” Delgado said.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Delgado said practices have intensified under head coach Donald Paysinger, who’s entering his third season at the helm.

“It gets pretty tough at practice. But we just fight through it. We work,” Delgado said.

During the 1990s, Hawthorne was a regular at CIF championship games, with the last section title coming in 1992 as a Division III competitor. Former NFL and USC star Curtis Conway was one of Hawthorne’s main catalysts during the Cougars’ dominant years.

But dark times hovered over Hawthorne during the start of the 21st century. Not only did losing take its toll on a once proud program, but Hawthorne is known for “The Streak”: which was a string of 45 consecutive losses that stretched four years long, ending on Oct. 3 against Firebaugh of Lynwood in a climatic 27-22 victory. Hawthorne’s skid ranks as the third worst streak in California high school football history.

Now, Hawthorne has endured back-to-back 3-7 seasons. The last non-losing year came in 2011, when the Cougars finished 5-5. 

Looks like Delgado and Hawthorne enter the football field accompanied by pressure as they try to restore a winning culture. But Delgado insists that’s not the case.

“We don’t really have that much to resurrect. Our coaches tell us to create our own legacy because we are a new era, so what we create is better,” Delgado said.

On the field, Delgado describes himself as a “Down the hill hitter.” His highlight film shows his ability to run down the middle and neutralize the run. Delgado shows good eyes and angles with stuffing the run. He’ll also shoot out his hands against an oncoming blocker, shed past his defender and then wrap up the running back.

He comes equipped with a lineman’s mean streak on offense. At fullback, Delgado shoves his defender to the turf like he’s a 300-pound right tackle or guard. He’ll take draw plays and eat up a chunk of yards when he gets called upon to carry the football.

His versatility has made him Hawthorne’s other national recruit along with defensive back Jaylen Morgan, who holds three offers from BYU, San Diego State and Northern Colorado. Along with his pledge from Idaho State, Delgado said he’s hearing from California-Berkeley and Northern Arizona through letters.

He’s had a village get behind him on the recruiting trail; ranging from his parents, Hawthorne coaches and his club coaches on Gamechangers L.A.

“I’m so thankful for everyone who’s helped me out in the recruiting process. It’s definitely not easy and a lot of hard work,” Delgado said.

But, the main goal this fall for Delgado and Hawthorne is destroy the losing. Delgado shared five words to help reach that goal:

“We’ve got to keep working.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Merced College safety Earl "Bam Bam" Chambers holds one offer from an Atlantic Coast Conference school, but one university near him made a strong impression on him (photo courtesy of 
Merced College safety Earl Chambers cradles just one scholarship offer in his possession: a pledge from Louisville.

But could a nearby Mountain West Conference university come through as offer No. 2?

Chambers and some of his Blue Devil teammates, including mega-talented defensive back Devron Davis who holds more than 30 scholarship offers, took the drive down Highway 99 on July 17 to visit Fresno State. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Chambers said the Bulldog coaches left a positive imprint on his mind following the unofficial visit.

“The coaches were very cool and they made me feel wanted there,” Chambers said.

The Fresno State visit started at 10:30 a.m and wrapped up at 3 p.m, Chambers said. He and the rest of his Blue Devil comrades got a chance to wear the black Fresno State uniforms while touring the campus.

Chambers poses for a picture while wearing the Fresno State black uniform (photo contributed). 

He added that Bulldog head coach Tim DeRuyter was approachable and up-front to him and his teammates.

“He was great toward us. He was actually answering all of our questions and concerns,” Chambers said.

Last season at Merced, Chambers crashed down at the line of scrimmage and collected 43 total tackles, including three stops that saw him halt a ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage. He earned his nickname “Bam Bam” because he shows no fear with sprinting down the middle and bulldoze his shoulder pads into a running back or wide receiver.

Chambers is part of a stacked contingent of future NCAA Division I athletes at the junior college. Along with Davis, center Ty Allen, defensive tackle Kamilo Tongamoa, offensive tackles Xzavier McAllister and Joseph Orinstein and lastly, running back Josh Stevens have all been courted by different colleges. Even though most of Merced College’s most wanted college prospects line up in the trenches, Chambers said he believes one other area is the strength of the Blue Devils.

“Our team is stacked with talent and the whole defense is a strength. But if I had to pick, our true strength is the secondary,” Chambers said.

Chambers and Davis spearhead the Blue Devil no fly zone. While Davis puts the lockers on wide receivers from his cornerback spot on passing plays, Chambers patrols the middle like a spy drone in the sky. Davis – who’s been offered by Fresno State, Oregon, Oklahoma, Baylor and Alabama – described Chambers as an aggressive tone setter for the Blue Devil secondary.

“He’s very long and a big hitter. He’s one of the hardest hitters on our team,” Davis said. “He’s definitely a sleeper and I think he’s a good player overall.”

Chambers, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and played high school football at Jefferson Davis High in Montgomery, Ala., adds that he’s gotten interest from Illinois, Idaho, Utah State and Colorado State via letters.

But now he can add the 2014 Mountain West runner up to the list of schools taking a closer look at him. Chambers wasn’t just drawn to the Bulldog coaches, he said he was impressed with the entire campus and program.

“The facilities at Fresno State were great and makes it feel like you’re at home,” Chambers said. “Plus, their program is so great and it’s on the come up.”

Sunday, July 19, 2015


Running back J.J. Taylor of state power Centennial High School of Corona announced his verbal commitment to Arizona on July 18 (photo contributed). 
J.J. Taylor of Centennial High School in Corona, who’s one of six national recruits suiting up for the Huskies this fall, verbally committed to the University of Arizona on July 18.

The 5-foot-6, 160-pound running back led Centennial with 1,657 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns according to Max Preps. Taylor received his pledge from the Wildcats on June 6, but said his weekend trip to the Tuscon campus solidified his decision.

“The trip was just the cherry on top,” Taylor said. “The way they do things out there had me really excited because I feel I will develop into a great young man.”

With his stature, Taylor looks nothing like a prototypical NFL running back and is built like Boise State wide receiver/return man Shane Williams-Rhodes.

But, when the Centennial speedster sets foot on the field, size becomes an afterthought.

Taylor launches into an open hole, breaks free from arm tackles, then turns on the afterburners to score touchdowns for the state powerhouse. He’s also an internet sensation, with Under The Radar Sports Media highlighting one leg breaking move he executed on a defender during the Passing Down So Cal regional in March 2015 at Fontana. The video has received over 8,000 views on You Tube.

He’ll be going to a running back-catered offense at Arizona. The Wildcats racked up an average of 181.9 yards per game on the ground, placing them at fifth in the PAC-12 last year. Nick Wilson was last season’s top cat in the running attack, as the true freshman ran for 1,375 yards and scored 16 touchdowns.

“I’m very excited to be playing in this offense,” Taylor said. “I’m hoping it’s a smooth transition from high school to college.”

Taylor adds that his conversations with Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez contributed to his college choice.

“He was great. He’s a coach I will love playing for,” Taylor said.

Taylor held five other scholarships from Ohio University, Nevada, Montana State, Weber State and Washington State. His other highly recruited teammates are wide receiver Javon McKinley, safety Chacho Ulloa, offensive tackle Daniel Juarez, cornerback Kentrell Love and cornerback/safety Cam Bynum. All of them currently hold 72 scholarship offers between them and Juarez and Bynum have verbally pledged to California-Berkeley.

Taylor said he has no desire to turn away from Arizona.

“I’m locked in so now I can focus on my senior year,” Taylor said.

He adds that he wants last year’s CIF Southern Section PAC-5 Division champion to hoist a different title this December: the state championship trophy. The Huskies fell 63-42 to De La Salle of Concord for the 2014-15 Open Division state title.

"We want to make it to state again and this time take it all," Taylor said.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Caleb Kelly (in the neon shirt) isn't just one of the top recruits in the country at 27 NCAA Division I offers, but he was labeled Cali Gold Mine's top overall pick if he were eligible for the NFL Draft (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna). 
What if the top first round picks in the 2016 NFL Draft consisted of the top prep prospects in California?

I’m not saying that the 32 players I sorted through are guaranteed a future NFL contract. However, these guys actually have a skill set that most pro teams would covet; such as athleticism, mean streak, height, field vision, etc.

I not only compiled a list of some of the most athletic freakish athletes in the Golden State, I also included some under-the-radar prospects who could sneak in as a first round surprise. They get recognition based on what I’ve seen from them.

So if April’s draft was full of Golden State prep stars, here’s what Cali Gold Mine’s list would be from one to 32:

1) Caleb Kelly, outside linebacker, Clovis West: With his athleticism, imposing size and game changing ability, Kelly is already on a lot of college’s recruiting boards. He’s had 27 NCAA Division I programs – including Ohio State, Oregon, Alabama and Florida State – clamoring for his services by offering him a scholarship. The 6-foot-3, 214-pound Kelly would be a Clay Matthews-type for an NFL 3-4 defense or be an athletic weakside ‘backer in the mold of Khalil Mack.

2) Oluwole Betiku, defensive end, Serra (Gardena): Betiku would give a pass rush a jolt of electricity with his explosion off the ball and his relentless pursuit against quarterbacks. His Hudl account states that he runs a 40-yard dash time of 4.6. Only Vic Beasley of Clemson ran a faster 40 time during February’s NFL Combine according to SB Nation. In this era of pass-happy offenses, pass rushing specialists would likely be a top option for teams holding the first or fifth overall selection. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Betiku would be the first rush end taken off the board.

3) Jonah Williams, offensive tackle, Folsom: The future Alabama lineman has the quick feet of a left tackle and the mean streak of a lion protecting its cub. Williams already has the size desired by NFL teams at 6-foot-5, 295-pounds and will likely grow. His feet and hands can make him a trench cornerstone for a future NFL team. One other thing, he runs a 4.9 40-yard dash.

4) K.J. Costello, quarterback, Santa Margarita Catholic: The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Costello has been labeled the most college ready quarterback for the California Class of 2016. Futhermore, Costello is the nation's No. 2 pro-style quarterback according to He’s heading to a place (Stanford) that turned John Elway and Andrew Luck into NFL first round picks. Costello’s arm strength, field vision and zip are huge pluses.

5) Javon McKinley, wide receiver, Centennial (Corona): Regardless if he’s lining up in the red zone or from his own 20-yard line, McKinley will either be a goal line scoring option or a deep threat. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder has tormented defensive backs and different coverages throughout his prep career.

6) Jack Jones, WR, Long Beach Poly: Could Jones become the next DeSean Jackson at Long Beach Poly? With his speed, second gear and capability to stretch the swing pass into a 50-yard gain, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Jones would be a hot commodity for a wide receiver needy team.

7) Boss Tagaloa, defensive tackle, De La Salle (Concord): He’s the biggest “Boss” in the Bay Area because of his brute strength, explosion after the snap and the way he swallows gaps against the running game. The 6-foot-3, 295-pound Tagaloa looks like a young Star Lotulelei (Carolina Panthers). He can double as a nose tackle in a 3-4 or a three technique defender in the 4-3. 

8) Leevel Tatum, DT, Edison (Fresno): If anyone paid close attention to the Central Section’s Division I champions last year, you probably saw No. 55 set the tone for the Tigers’ front line. The 6-foot-2, 270-pound Tatum doubles as pass rushing extraordinaire and running back destroyer. 

9) Krys Barnes, OLB, Liberty (Bakersfield): Like Kelly, Barnes is an athletic, energetic, game changing outside ‘backer. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound UCLA commit can cover inside wide receivers and force turnovers against the pass or run.

10) Kentrell Love, cornerback, Centennial (Corona): With tall cornerbacks like Richard Sherman, Patrick Peterson and Aqib Talib revolutionizing the position, the 6-foot-2 Love would be in high demand because of his size, press ability and hands. He’s also thrown his weight around to level running backs.

11) Mique Juarez, OLB, North Torrance: The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Juarez has ridiculous closing speed, which makes him look like he’s a slot receiver. He’s a ball hawk and rugged hitter on defense. He’s also lined up at quarterback, defensive end and cornerback. Yes, cornerback. The USC pledge is built like Shaq Thompson from a size and athleticism standpoint.

12) Lokeni Toailoa, inside linebacker, Carter (Rialto): Forget the fact that the UCLA commit may not have the size (6-foot-1, 215-pounds). Toailoa’s angle pursuits, strength and intensity makes him look like a young Ray Lewis.

13) Devin Asiasi, tight end, De La Salle (Concord): Asiasi might not have elite speed for a tight end right now, but the 6-foot-5, 255-pound mountain has size and toughness for the position. He shows excellent concentration against double coverage and can fix a team’s red zone woes in a heartbeat.

14) Bryson Young, OLB/DE, Buchanan (Clovis): He looks like a young Aldon Smith at 6-foot-5, 250-pounds and has an identical skill set. Young wreaks havoc against the pass. He’s one of the best all-around athletes in Fresno County.

15) Luke Wattenberg, OT, Serra Catholic (San Juan Capistrano): He’s a powerful down blocker and road clearer in the running game. In fact, I counted 20 plays that saw Wattenberg pancake his opponent when watching his Hudl film. The 6-foot-5, 275-pound Washington commit is also dominant on pulling plays.

16) David Long, WR, Loyola (Los Angeles): Long could move to cornerback, but the 5-foot-10, 175-pounder might have a brighter future at wide receiver because of 4.4 40-yard dash time and shows a running back-like balance with staying on his feet and then fight for extra yards.

17) Lamar Jackson, cornerback/safety, Franklin (Elk Grove): Jackson is similar to Juarez because he lines up and does damage in a variety of ways. He darts past defenses as a read option quarterback, sprints to the end zone on fly sweep plays as a running back, locks up the top wide receiver at cornerback and disrupts passing plays at safety. It’s the secondary, though, where Jackson projects to play at the next level.

18) Darian Owens, WR, Clovis West: The receiver position is deep in the Class of 2016 and Owens – who committed to UCLA in April – adds to the depth. Owens is more of a physical scrapper who fights for the football and muscles cornerbacks like a young Anquan Boldin.

19) Romello Harris, running back, Tulare Union: While the running back position may no longer be a hot commodity in the first round, it’s hard to pass on the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Harris. After all, he bounces inside and outside while gaining lots of yards in the running game, plus adds a receiving element when he lines up in the slot.

20) Collin Johnson, WR, Valley Christian (San Jose): In an era of Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Mike Evans and Kelvin Benjamin, big wideouts have grown in popularity. Johnson blends in with the aforementioned tall targets because of his 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame and the big play talent he possesses.

21) Michael Pittman II, WR/TE, Oaks Christian (Westlake Village): Pittman II can haul down some crazy catches and isn’t afraid to sacrifice his body to get into the end zone. Lately, the son of the former Super Bowl winning running back has been projected as a tight end or outside linebacker. He may not have his dad’s muscles or speed, but the younger Pittman has size and versatility.

22) C.J. Pollard, safety, Serra (Gardena): The future USC Trojan doubles as hard hitter and aerial snatcher in the Serra secondary. At 6-foot-1 and 185-pounds, Pollard already has impressive size for a safety. He also has bloodlines, as his father Marvin was a USC star cornerback from 1988 to 1991.

23) Frank Martin, OT, Mater Dei (Santa Ana): Martin will need to improve his pad level at the college level, but the USC commit brings size (6-foot-6, 300-pounds) versatility (can play tackle and guard) and nastiness.

24) Chacho Ulloa, safety, Centennial (Corona): Ulloa has the mindset of a wide receiver when he leads the Centennial defense: he wants the ball. The bellicose Ulloa will either strip the ball and force the fumble or grab the ball from the sky for the interception. The 6-foot, 190-pound safety currently holds 18 offers including Michigan State, Stanford, Utah, Norte Dame and Wisconsin. 

25) Damian Alloway, WR/return man, Summit (Fontana): The 5-foot-11 Alloway can annihilate schemes as a slot receiver and return ace. He can be a Randall Cobb for an NFL offense.

26) Max Gilliam, QB, Thousand Oaks: While Costello is considered the most college ready signal-caller, the 6-foot-4, 190-pound Gilliam is considered one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the state. The Cal commit could be a Colin Kaepernick or Marcus Mariota for a pro franchise.

27) Curtis Robinson, OLB, Mater Dei (Santa Ana): He’s built more like a strong safety right now at 6-foot-3, 208-pounds, but Robinson has a defensive lineman’s mean streak and his closing pursuits makes him look like a marquee weakside 'backer down the road. The Stanford commit is a reliable blitzer and turnover machine in Orange County.

28) Theo Howard, WR, Westlake: He has the shiftiness of Barry Sanders, the route running of Marvin Harrison and the hurdle ability of Oregon WR and track star Devon Allen. The 6-foot, 185-pound Howard would be a No. 1 option on Hail Mary plays because of his scorching speed.

29) Chris Taylor-Yamanoha, WR, Rohnert Park (Rancho Cotate): If pro teams are still looking for the size/speed aspect in a wideout, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Taylor-Yamanoha would be a valuable pick up. The Louisville commit is a jump ball artist like Larry Fitzgerald. He can also turn swing passes into touchdowns.

30) Jamal Hicks, safety, Narbonne (Harbor City): Hicks has only been offered scholarships by mid-major programs like Colorado State and Hawaii. But at 6-foot-3 and 190-pounds, plus his wide receiver like hands and powerful hitting, teams could be passing on a future Kam Chancellor.

31) Dru Mathis, OLB, Buena (Ventura): Mathis is considered another undersized OLB at 6-foot-3, 200-pounds. However, Mathis moves like he’s a 100-meter track sprinter and he collapses the pocket as a pass rusher. He holds 13 offers including Oregon State and Vanderbilt.

32) J.J. Taylor, RB, Centennial (Corona): So Taylor is undersized at 5-foot-6 and approximately 165-pounds. But remember that Maurice Jones-Drew was a diminutive running back who turned out really well. Taylor - who committed to Arizona on July 18 - adds surprising inside running power along with his leg-breaking elusiveness.


Thursday, July 16, 2015


Curtis Jackson of Irvine High is known in Orange County for his pulverizing hits, but he wants to be more of an interception king this fall (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna). 
Curtis Jackson wants to be a ball hogger once he returns to the field for a Friday night football game in Orange County.

Now, before people make a rush to judgement and categorize Jackson as the selfish basketball shooting guard who wants the ball all to himself, or the wide receiver who wants the catches and glory, know that the incoming senior at Irvine High School doesn’t mean that he wants to be a ball hog in an egocentric way. He’s just trying to help the Irvine defense.

“I’m trying to get more interceptions for us,” the Class of 2016 safety said. “My junior season, I was more of the guy who, if you were to come down the middle, I’m going to hit you. I wasn’t going for the ball much. Now, I want to be an interception hog.”

Jackson - who gets called "Young 50" by his coaches because he shares the same first and last name with renown musician/actor 50 Cent - is itching to improve his interception totals from a year ago. He stuck out his hands and grabbed just one interception last season according to Max Preps. He added six pass deflections, placing him third on the team.  

Last year’s interception leader was Noah Miller, who collected five picks. Miller has since graduated, which now opens a door for a new aerial mugger to emerge at IHS.

Jackson was more of the punishing enforcer for the Vaqueros’ defense last season. He played like an outside linebacker who crashed his shoulder pads into any ball carrier on the field.

Once his junior year ended, Jackson immediately put his cleats back on to develop quicker feet. He was one of the star cover defenders for Team O.C Elite during the spring 7-on-7 season, as Jackson became one of O.C Elite’s top ball hawks. His angle pursuits and large palms allowed him to emerge as an interception machine for the Orange County club squad.

Jackson also described himself as a gym rat. He’ll swing by the nearest 24 Hour Fitness with his teammates to prepare for the upcoming season.

“We’re not trying to out-do ourselves, but we’re trying to get that work in,” Jackson said. “I’m always hitting the weight room after practice. I also hit the agility work. I’m always getting extra work on my feet.”

Along with trying to be Irvine’s interception leader this season, Jackson continues to market his name in front of college football coaches. He’s gone camping this summer – by going to different satellite camps during June 2015.

“I’ve been to a couple of camps: San Diego State and San Jose State,” Jackson said. “Every camp is high-tempo and fast paced. At the camps, I’ve been working hard and I work my way to be the best I can be. It’s a good environment to get a feel of what DI ball is like.”

He adds that since those camps, he’s been in contact with the two Mountain West schools.

“They’ve been talking to me and they email me; saying they would come see me (at school) and invited me to a couple of unofficial visits at their school,” Jackson said.

Northern Arizona of the Big Sky Conference also has talked to him, Jackson said.

Still, he hasn’t received his first scholarship pledge yet. He said he thinks that he’s overlooked, despite being one of the hardest hitters in his region plus showing that he’s improved his work ethic against pass plays.

“Curtis Jackson is the biggest sleeper in the O.C. right now,” he said. “When they play us, they'll know who Curtis Jackson is. They may not know my name but they know my number, which is No. 3. They’re sleeping on me and a couple of guys on my team. When they play us, it’s going to be a wake-up call for them.”

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Joe McDaniel of Hanford High is expected to see more touches in the Bullpup offense. He's also aiming to land his first NCAA Division I scholarship while seeking back-to-back Central Section titles for Hanford (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna). 
Don’t say the word “surprise” to big Hanford High running back Joe McDaniel to describe the Bullpups' title run, even though they went from a 5-16 mark in 2012 and ’13 to a shocking Central Section Division III title victory last season.

If you told the 5-foot-11, 211-pound incoming senior that his team was a big shock to the 559 world, he won’t agree with that sentiment.

“Not at all. We knew how much harder we worked and how bad we wanted it,” McDaniel said.

Now, the returning 1,000 yard rusher is looking to bring another section title back to 120 E. Grangeville Blvd., as he and the rest of the Bullpups are aiming to be faster and better than last year.

He said the Bullpups “get after it” during summer practices.

“Mondays and Wednesdays, we run for two hours. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we do our workouts every morning, then we touch the football at the end of practice and get after it,” McDaniel said.

Part of McDaniel’s regimen includes doing feet agility drills in the long jump sand pit with fellow teammate Juwuane Hughes, who holds nine NCAA Division I scholarship offers and was the Bullpups’ top ball hawk on defense during the D-III title run.

Hughes, though, isn’t the only Bullpup receiving collegiate interest from DI football coaches. So has McDaniel. He said Cal Poly, Colorado State, Iowa State, Fresno State and Nevada have visited him during the NCAA Spring Evaluation period that took place in April 2015 and concluded in May.

Unlike Hughes, McDaniel hasn’t been offered a scholarship yet. But he said he’s had good conversations with most of the college coaches who visited him on the Hanford High campus.

“They just tell me to have another good year and they’ll come back (for me) harder,” McDaniel said.

Once he laces up his cleats and straps on the football armor, McDaniel brings a physical dimension to the Bullpup offense. He’s the semi-truck who manhandles traffic as he pummels defenses with his shoulders and powerful legs. 

Last season, McDaniel rushed for 1,714 yards and scored 22 touchdowns for the 12-1 Bullpups. He’s entering this season with 2,243 career rushing yards at the varsity level along with 27 touchdowns.

He said his motivation on the field is hunger – because he’s hungry to strive for football excellence, plus land at a prominent college football home after he surrenders his Bullpup uniform to the equipment manager by Dec. 2015.

“I get at it,” McDaniel said. “Plus I’m trying to leave from Hanford.”

Before his prep career turns its final chapter, McDaniel said last season’s D-III rampage has ignited his team’s confidence for another title.

“We feel even better this season. There’s more excitement,” McDaniel said. “There’s a lot more people who’s getting involved and we’re just loving the team.”