|Keyshawn Johnson Jr. is returning to lead a stacked group of wide receivers at Calabasas High this upcoming season (photo by Lorenzo Reyna).|
The term “no fly zone” – a motivational moniker that is commonly used by defensive backs - likely won’t work against these teams in California on Friday nights this fall.
Ten high schools between the Sacramento region and the Inland Empire have a loaded group of wideouts that goes three to five deep, making life easy for whoever throws them the football and whoever calls the passing plays.
It’s time to sort out the state's most prized wide receiving units this fall.
Los Angeles-Augustus Hawkins
Where else can you find the top wide receiver out west for the Class of 2017 in Joseph Lewis and the potential No. 1 receiver in 2018 in Jalen Hall? There’s also 2017 Arizona athlete commit Greg Johnson, who has seen the ball come his way out of the backfield.
Lewis and Hall are red zone dominators and man coverage destroyers at wideout. Both are nearly 6-foot-3, close to 200-pounds, listed as 5-star prospects and hold over 30 scholarship offers.
Good luck to any defense that tries to slow down an aerial assault that not only tallied 3,460 yards through the air last season, but returns five players who accounted for 163 catches, 2,684 yards and 30 touchdowns for a team that went 10-3.
Lead wideout Jeremiah Hawkins is back, who piled 20 scholarship offers before deciding on Cal. Hawkins led the Coyotes in catches (45), yards (775) and emerged as one of the top deep threat options for BP. Big 6-foot-3, 200-pound target Taariq Johnson - 34 catches, 477 yards and six scores last year - also committed to the Golden Bears. Versatile two-way stud Elijah Gates (team-high 10 touchdowns, 20 reported offers including Michigan, Norte Dame and TCU), rising 2018 prospect Devon Cooley (eight touchdowns last season, offered by UCLA and Colorado), and 6-foot-2 Alijah Allen (Colorado offer) adds to the returning BP wide receiving unit. Incoming 6-foot-1 Class of 2018 target Victor Bates (BYU and Colorado State offers) provides even more depth to an already stockpiled unit.
Santa Ana-Mater Dei
It’s a relatively young group at Mater Dei, but highly-touted Class of 2019 quarterback J.T. Daniels has a bevy of weapons at his disposal for this season, next season and the year after.
Leading the upperclassmen unit is 2017 prospect Osiris St. Brown, who led the Monarchs in all three receiving categories with 43 catches, 884 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. He has the likes of Michigan, Michigan State, Stanford and USC trying to pilfer him. Younger brother Amon-Ra St. Brown already has 12 offers and, like Osiris, has Michigan State, Stanford and USC making an attempt to court the 2018 prospect. Incoming junior Nikko Remigio (six offers including a recent Tennessee offer) surfaced as a reliable inside target who showed zero fear with going across the middle last year. Class of 2019 prospect Bru McCoy and 2018 target C.J. Parks round out the rest of the Monarch core.
You can be assured that the normally run-heavy Huskies will air it out more this fall. And why not?
Bishop Gorman (NV.) transfer Tyjon Lindsey – arguably the top slot receiver in the nation – is wearing the Centennial red and black this season. Lindsey is a six-point threat whenever he touches the ball. Mountain West prospect Xavier Marshall (Nevada and Utah State offers) gives Centennial a tall possession, red zone option at 6-foot-2. Class of 2018 prospect Manuel Allen provides another tall and athletic option for the Huskies at 6-foot-2. Incoming senior Troy Spencer and junior Justin Fisher round out the deep unit.
The good news for defensive backs and defensive coordinators? The Coyotes won’t have leading receiver Brian Hightower this fall, as the 2018 prospect with over 25 offers has since moved on to Florida powerhouse IMG Academy.
But the bad news? Nebraska commit Keyshawn Johnson Jr. returns. So does 5-star Darnay Holmes, who doubles as big-play receiver and shut down cornerback. The Coyotes also added Jamal Tims this past spring, who comes to Calabasas from John Muir in Pasadena.
Forget the fact that Jamire Calvin and Arex Flemings aren’t even 5-foot-10.
Calvin is a fearless route runner who attacks coverages with his fundamentals, speed, blocking and competitive nature, proven by his 33 current offers including one from defending national champion Alabama. The Oregon State commit Flemings electrifies the Phantom offense on jet sweeps, special team returns and on deep routes. Class of 2018 prospect Colin Payne, who saw action at cornerback on varsity last season, adds additional speed and routes to the high-octane Phantom offense.
A team that went 5-5 last season is looking like a serious CIF Southern Section title threat with the playmakers returning to the perimeter.
It starts with three-way sensation and Oregon commit Deommodore Lenoir, who torches man coverage and can haul in some highlight reel catches. Nick Pickett is a tall playmaker with a reported 4.51 40-yard dash time and has Utah and Washington State in hot pursuit of the 6-foot-3 receiver. Uriel Blackshear, who has drawn mid-major and Football Championship Subdivision interest, adds a receiving element out of the backfield. Lastly, A.J. Johnsom is looking like he’ll have an expanded role in the slot.
Westlake Village-Oaks Christian
How do you replace Michael Pittman II? With another Pittman in incoming 2019 prospect Mycah.
But that’s not all. Athletic tight end option and Stanford commit Colby Parkinson returns, all 6-foot-7, 225-pounds of him. There’s also returning senior Michael Owusu, who is a part of the Owusu family tree that sent Francis (Stanford) and Brian (Harvard) to the college ranks. USC 2018 quarterback commit Matt Corral still has plenty of options to throw to this fall on La Tienda Dr.
The Bulldogs continue to have a revolving door of star receivers and this year’s group should make life easy for whoever ends up replacing Jake Jeffrey at quarterback this fall.
Eric Davis, the team’s second-leading receiver in receptions with 48, is back, as the 5-foot-9 senior also tied for the team lead with nine touchdowns in 2015-16. Another returner is Drake Stallworth, an athletic and fast 6-foot-2 target with 11 offers including Fresno State and Hawaii. Emerging junior Brandon Rupchock rounds out this deep group after averaging 12.7 yards per catch on varsity.
The Rams are known to be balanced on offense, but the strength has to be the air attack, with all three of St. Mary’s top receivers back again this fall.
Dewey Cotton returns after leading St. Mary’s with 56 catches, 962 yards and 12 scores. Cotton currently has one offer from Sacramento State. Rejoining Cotton is Keaton Hampton (34 catches, 901 yards and 10 touchdowns) and 2018 prospect Marcus Aponte (27 catches, 448 yards and one touchdown).