Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Caleb Kelly (in the neon shirt) is the most wanted prospect in California with 29 offers in tow. Kelly has helped get college football coaches to make stops at his high school, Clovis West, during the recruiting period (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna). 
There was a time when many prep football coaches in the Central Valley grumbled about how the region was overlooked by NCAA football programs.

Now - with Michigan, Cal and Utah hosting satellite camps in the C.V., plus schools from the Power Five and mid-major conferences starting to hand out scholarship offers to the 559 and 661 talent – the Valley is on the rise.

From Kern County to Fresno, here’s 11 schools that feature some collegiate talent.

Note: these schools made this list based on having at least two players getting a visit from various college football coaches during the spring evaluation period or by becoming a recipient of at least one scholarship pledge.


Last year: 10-3, lost in the CIF Central Section Division-I title game.

Number of prospects: 4

Krys Barnes leads this year’s superstar group located on the 900 block of Jewatta Ave. in Bakersfield.

The outside linebacker stacked Oregon, Oklahoma, Nebraska and LSU offers before verbally accepting UCLA’s bid in March 2015. Offensively, returning quarterback Jordan Love decided on Utah State in June. Versatile running backs and wide receivers Quincy Jountii and Matthew Hubble have generated mid-major interest, including schools from the Big Sky and Conference USA.


Last year: 11-2, lost in the CIF Central Section D-IV title game.

Number of prospects: 3

While the Cavaliers haven’t had one player report his first NCAA offer yet, college coaches have visited the Visalia private school to check in on three returning Cavs.

One is 6-foot-7 skyscraper Blake Walker, who’s shed 15-20 pounds from his 320-pound frame to become quicker with his pass blocking. Walker has had visits from Ivy League, Big Sky and Fresno State coaches during the spring evaluation period. Wide receiver Steve Van Grouw has generated intrigue from Mountain West and Ivy League programs. Tall and aggressive 6-foot-3 safety Brad Taylor has had mid-majors asking about him as well.


Last year: 12-1, won the CIF Central Section D-III championship.

Number of prospects: 3

Juwuane Hughes leads the Hanford Bullpup players with nine reported offers including Colorado State and Fresno State. The versatile defensive back/wide receiver isn’t the only collegiate talent returning to the D-III champs.

Power back Joe McDaniel - who rushed for 1,714 yards and scored 22 touchdowns last season - has gotten Fresno State, CSU and Iowa State looking closely at him. Quarterback Ryan Johnson has the Bullpups’ 2017 class in good hands. He has early interest from the likes of Colorado State, UC Davis and Sacramento State.


Last year: 11-1, lost in the CIF Central Section D-II semifinals.

Number of prospects: 2

The high school alma mater of Lorenzo Neal and David Ausberry continues to manufacture four-year level college talent.

Allen Perryman, who led the section with nine interceptions in 2014-15, holds a Weber State offer. Versatile athlete Jerald Campbell also has a Weber State pledge plus NAIA and DIII interest.


Last year: 4-8, lost in the second round of the CIF Central Section D-I playoffs.

Number of prospects: 3

The Bears’ top prospects all reside on the defensive side of the ball.

Spearheading this group is outside linebacker/rush end Bryson Young, who’s a 6-foot-5, 220-pound menace against offensive lines. Young holds 10 offers including Michigan, Tennessee, UCLA and Cal. Defensive end Ben Parker wears down blockers with his pass rushing skills and currently holds a Nevada pledge. The Bears’ top shutdown cornerback Trevon Cummings has had Division II powerhouse Azusa Pacific looking at him closely.


Last year: 8-5, lost in the CIF Central Section D-I semifinals.

Number of prospects: 3

The house that Daryle Lamonica built has a stacked senior class hitting the field soon. Three members of the 2016 group has gotten college coaches to visit the Fowler Ave. campus or scrutinize them closely at various satellite camps.

On offense, wide receiver J.J. Wills has been a mismatch against man and zone coverages. Wills, whose father Shawn played running back at UCLA, currently holds an Idaho offer but has Mountain West, Big Sky and Ivy League teams monitoring his senior year. Fellow wideout Coltin Velasquez, who’s a 6-foot-2 target, has gotten on some mid-majors’ radar. Defensively, hard-nosed inside linebacker and leading tackler Tanner Rice has PAC-12, Mountain West and Ivy League coaches examining him.


Last year: 6-6, lost in the second round of the CIF Central Section D-I playoffs.

Number of prospects: 2

The Golden Eagles may not dominate the section like they once did during the early 21st century, but CW can still produce future NCAA playmakers. Two of the top athletes in the state wear a Golden Eagle uniform.

Caleb Kelly is the state’s most wanted recruit with 29 offers including a recent pledge from Texas. Wide receiver Darian Owens – who has 20 offers including TCU, Nebraska and USC – committed to UCLA in April 2015.


Last year: 5-6, lost in the first round of the CIF Central Section D-I playoffs.

Number of prospects: 3

The Grizzlies have been on a rampage in the recruiting world since 2011, as former Central stars have moved on to Oklahoma, Eastern Washington, San Jose State, UCLA, etc.

Elijah Parks just added to Central’s lineage, as the nose tackle made a soft verbal commitment to SJSU on July 28. Defensive back Jaylon Johnson currently holds a EWU pledge. Quarterback Nick Szpor, who’s recovering from an ACL tear, generated intrigue from the Ivy Leagues during his junior season.


Last year: 12-2, lost in the CIF State D-I regional bowl game.

Number of prospects: 3

They don’t rebuild at “E City,” they reload.

Defensive tackle Leevel Tatum is the hard-charging bull in the middle of the Tiger defense. He currently holds six offers including UTEP and Wyoming. Outside linebacker David Tate has Colorado, Utah State and Fresno State among the list of schools pursuing him. Class of 2016 running back DeAndre “Black Mamba” Lockhart was offered by EWU before his junior year.


Last year: 8-4, lost in the second round of the CIF Central Section D-II playoffs.

Number of prospects: 2

Versatility is the definition for the Panthers' two most coveted prospects.

Big 6-foot-3 recruit Chris Paz doubles as red zone threat and athletic outside linebacker. Paz currently holds a Cornell offer but has PAC-12 coaches wanting to know more about him as a linebacker. Wide receiver/linebacker Joey Ruiz is a burner on offense and playmaker on defense. Nevada and UTEP have extended an offer to the 2016 stud. 


Last year: 6-5, lost in the first round of the CIF Central Section D-I playoffs.

Number of prospects: 4

The Knights – known for their brute prowess in the trenches – have PAC-12 and Mountain West athletes wearing the navy and white.

Running back Charles Williams is the most craved Knight on the recruiting trail with six offers. Washington State and Wyoming have made a run at the 1,000-yard rusher. Tight end/defensive end Cvaughn Stewart was offered by Utah before his junior season and had USC and CSU sending him letters. Center Connor Vikupitz got offered by Air Force on July 18. Rounding out the Knights’ top recruits is safety Nick Cole, who has gotten the attention of Northern Arizona, Penn and Montana. 

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