July 15, 2008

Five-star talent highlights Calif. ranking

NEW RELEASES: Calif. | S.C. | N.Y. | W.Va. | Tenn. STATE BREAKDOWNS: Texas | Ala. | Okla. | Ga.

Preseason State Rankings:

In the recruiting world, there's the "Big Three": California, Florida and Texas. And while Texas edged out the other two in producing players for the Class of 2008, the Class of 2009 might be a different story. More than 170 players in California already have earned scholarship offers, which makes ranking the top 100 players in the state a difficult task.

Not only is the state home to the nation's top player in quarterback Matt Barkley of Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, it also is home to six five-star players. That's a distinction no other state can claim and that top talent is reflected in Rivals.com's Preseason California Top 100 ranking.

Right behind Barkley are five-star studs such as running back Cierre Wood of Oxnard Santa Clara, linebacker Vontaze Burfict of Corona Centennial, athlete Patrick Hall of Ventura St. Bonaventure, receivers Randall Carroll of Los Angeles Cathedral and Shaquelle Evans of Inglewood High.

But this year's group of players is much more than just the talent at the top. The players ranked between seventh and 34th are four-star prospects expected to make immediate impacts in college. When future stars such as Harbor City Narbonne athlete Byron Moore, Mission Viejo High quarterback Allan Bridgford and Carson High tight end Morrell Presley are ranked outside the top 10, it shows you how loaded California is this season.

"There always is some amazing talent in California, but the depth at the top of the list is something I've not seen in a while," veteran Rivals.com West Coast recruiting analyst Rick Kimbrel said. "You see guys like Brandon Sermons and Dasarte Yarnway in the 30s, and it speaks volumes as to how loaded the state is. You put those guys in any other state in the nation even Florida or Texas and they'd be ranked right up near the top."

As always, there are some tremendous quarterbacks. Outside of Barkley, there's Richard Brehaut at 15, Tate Forcier at 17, Bridgford at 19, Josh Nunes at 21, Jordan Wynn at 52, Joe Southwick at 61, Derek Carr at 70, Austyn Carta-Samuels at 77 and Clark Evans at 84. There also are five to seven other quarterbacks who have gotten plenty of attention from colleges including ones with solid Pac-10-level offers who didn't make the list.

"When you think of quarterbacks, you always have to look at California first," Kimbrel said. "Everybody knows how good Matt Barkley is, and he's a special passer. But I think Brehaut, Forcier, Bridgford, Nunes and all the other guys are going to be great players in college. I think even guys a little bit down the list some are real keepers, too. Joe Southwick was an amazing get for Boise State."

Defensive back also is absolutely loaded in California. Hall is ranked as an athlete because of his ability to play offense, too, but he likely will be a star safety or a cover corner in the future. Throw in Carroll's 10.4-second speed, and he could, too, project as a cornerback. Other true defensive backs such as T.J. McDonald (11th), Cliff Harris (12th), Marlon Pollard (16th), Chris Metcalf (18th), Sheldon Price (20th), Bernard Bolden (27th) and Sermons (30th) are highly regarded.

Many people in the Inland Empire believe safety Lester White of Riverside J.W. North might be one of the most overlooked prospects in the entire region. And talented corners Osahon Irabor of Upland High and Vachel Samuels of Lynwood High have the ability to be impact players in the Pac-10.

Unlike other regions, where offers are thrown out by a number of schools, several highly regarded players in California are sitting on just two, one or even no offers at this point. Schools just seem to take their time on the West Coast, but that doesn't take away from the overall talent of the players on the list.

Keep your eye on potential breakout stars such as Los Angeles Jordan receiver Delvon Purvis at No. 96, Los Angeles Crenshaw receiver Noel Grigsby at No. 97 and Oakland Bishop O'Dowd lineman William Hodgman at No. 99. Purvis and Grigsby are talented City Section players who have the skill to blow up and have double-digit offers by the end of the season. Hodgman is a rugby player from New Zealand who is developing into one of the top linemen on the West Coast.

NEW RELEASES: Calif. | S.C. | N.Y. | W.Va. | Tenn. STATE BREAKDOWNS: Texas | Ala. | Okla. | Ga.



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