Today, we take a look at the crop of recruits for the 2012 class.
In tracking guys for our annual Cream of the Crop feature, you tend to notice trends in classes. In years where there are a bunch of good linemen, the class tends to be up. The last couple years, the jury is still out on.
What’s become apparent this year is we’re sitting on a hotbed of quarterback talent. The most recent SuperPrep rankings just hit my desk, and there are eight East Bay players in the Far West Top 150.
The three quarterbacks to make the list are all obvious. San Ramon Valley’s Zach Kline, De La Salle’s Bart Houston and Monte Vista’s Jeff Lockie. Kline and Houston were camp warriors this summer, and each competed in the ESPN Elite 11 that is being shown this week on the ESPN family of networks. The scouts all summer have seemed to say the same things. Kline spins the ball perhaps harder than any QB out there and can really throw the deep ball. Houston has a cannon, is poised beyond his years and is a proven winner. Lockie has the escapability factor and can make plays on the move.
But, if you look past the top three guys, we’ve still got a ton of talent looking at colleges for 2012. Kennedy-Richmond receiver Kenneth Walker still has yet to make a decision, but has several big offers including Cal. Salesian tackle Freddie Tagaloa will punch his ticket, but most recruiting services think it’s down to Cal and Stanford. We’ve also got some linebacker talent, with DLS’ Michael Barton and Bishop O’Dowd’s Hardy Nickerson Jr. both pointed to Cal and both making most preseason watch lists. Heritage OL Kyree Oliver also made the SuperPrep list. He’s got an offer from Colorado, and immense potential.
For those guys listed, all the senior season means in terms of recruiting is holding steady. They need to continue to show the things they’ve shown. But, for some other local recruits, senior film is going to be important. A couple guys that fit that bill are Pittsburg QB Malik Watson and RB/LB Fe’ao Vunipola. Both are very impressive, smart young men and the colleges are already sniffing around. Watson has an offer from Northern Arizona. But, with a good senior year, those guys could explode on the trail. Also, it doesn’t hurt that Vunipola popped a 4.48 in the 40 earlier this week.
Another name to watch for in recruiting this year is Drew Gaylord. A linebacker at Acalanes, Gaylord is listed at 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, giving him a frame that has room for growth. That type of growth potential will likely have college coaches giving a good look.
One other guy on the recruiting radar is Deer Valley OL/DL Tavita Taito. He was a super recruit as a sophomore, battled injuries last year as a junior and is now ready for his senior season. I know several coaches that like him as a sleeper recruit, and he’s already got offers from a bunch of Pac-12 schools.
As an aside, one place I’m not seeing a ton of Division I talent this year is in the defensive secondary. We’ve got some good athletes that might end up as good prospects back there, but that top-tier talent isn’t there yet. Also, I’m not seeing a ton of depth in the backfield. We’ve got great running backs in the area, but not guys that are overly projectible when it comes to size. I looked at our junior list from last year and only one guy was listed at 6-foot or taller. Hopefully some of these guys hit a growth spurt, because the talent could be there.
By the way, while we’re talking recruiting, this year’s edition will be the 30th Cream of the Crop. This will be my third year in charge of it, but man, I was looking at the list the other day and the talent to come through in the last 30 years has been just incredible. As we get closer to the publish date (that normally hits in January), I’ll start rolling out some old names for you to ponder.