Moving from QBs to linemen and then to RBs and LBs, you can’t see everyone at a Nike Football The Opening Regional. But when you do spot someone who makes a few plays, you put a check next to their name. Here’s a list of 15 players from last weekend in El Sobrante who were noticed but who do not yet seem to be getting much recruiting attention. Plus, go inside for more observations from the day that may impact the upcoming 2016 football season.
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Note: This is not a list of the best players of the day. This also is not a list of the top college prospects who attended last weekend’s Nike event held at De Anza High in El Sobrante. It is a list of players who were impressive enough to get us to look them up on the roster and upon later checking do not yet appear to be generating too much attention from colleges.
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Jamaar Hardy (Deer Valley, Antioch) 6-4, 260, DL
He didn’t have many stats from last season, but impressed last Sunday and is now showing an offer from Hawaii. More may come if he keeps improving.
Jordan Jackson (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland) 6-2, 233, DL
He displayed that super-quick first step everyone loves for a pass rusher. Look for him to be a force for the Dragons.
Everyone remembered him from the year before when a video of his shake-and-bake moves in the one-on-ones went viral. Montanez remains just as electric and may have a breakout season.
Sebastian Olver (Marin Catholic, Kentfield) 6-4, 250, TE-DE
He’s getting offers as a tight end, but had three and a half sacks in one game as a defensive end last season. He could be someone who’s recruiting takes off in a different direction. Olver moved to Northern California last season from Australia.
Zane Pope (Moorpark) 6-1, 180, WR
He also plays safety for the Musketeers, but we noticed him running routes and catching passes. Pope is going to start on the varsity at Moorpark for the third straight season.
Ronnie Rivers (Freedom, Oakley) 5-9, 175, RB
Named as the MVP of the running backs, Rivers displayed many of the skills and moves that a D1 back needs. The lack of size obviously hurts, but he could be an exception.
Paul Scott (McClymonds, Oakland) 6-1, 200, LB
It looked like the linebacker coaches took a liking to Scott. He’s been very productive for Mack. He’ll add more weight to his frame and could be a gem for next level.
Liki Seu (Brethren Christian, Huntington Beach) 6-2, 330, OL
With just a little improved quickness and speed, Seu could certainly see his stock rise. He showed strong hands and feet in one drill.
D’Angelo Skinner (El Cerrito) 6-1, 205, RB
It should be a big season for the Gauchos and Skinner has the size, speed and line in front of him anchored by all-state underclass Aaron Banks to really take off.
Dejon Stuckey (Cathedral, Los Angeles) 6-2, 290, OL
He’s another one who will be on a talented team this fall that could easily get overlooked but shouldn’t. He can play guard at the next level although listed as a tackle in some places.
Rico Tolefree (De Anza, El Sobrante) 6-1, 223, LB
As the only player on the day from the host school, we made a point to watch Rico after talking to him. He’s a legit talent. For his high school team, he does pretty much everything from running back and linebacker. He also has a nasty dunk video on YouTube.
Tyler Vander Waal (Christian Brothers, Sacramento) 6-3, 210, QB
We remember him starting for Elk Grove as a sophomore. He’s now at CBS and physically stood up well to every other QB on the day. He had some strong throws too.
Rajah Ward (Homestead, Cupertino) 5-8, 170, RB
He’s small for sure, but can be spectacularly quick in the open field. Ward rushed for 1,100 yards last season. The intrigue would be if he could catch passes out of the slot.
Anthony Vargas (Grand Terrace) 6-2, 285, OL
He’ll be a returning all-leaguer for the Titans and looked good in several of the one-on-ones that we saw.
Reed Vettel (St. Francis, Mountain View) 6-4, 185, QB (Jr.)
We thought we’d throw a junior-to-be onto this list. Vettel played in St. Francis’ loss to Citrus Hill in the CIF D2-A state bowl game and also portrayed Peyton Manning to help CBS’ camera crews get ready for last February’s Super Bowl. He was behind a senior last season, but he can zip it and he can play.
JUNIOR LINEMEN ANOTHER
STRENGTH FOR MATER DEI
With returnees such as sophomore quarterback J.T. Daniels (3,042 yds passing and 33 TDs as a freshman), senior receiver Osiris St. Brown and senior defensive backs Jalen Cole, Quentin Lake and Xavier Bell, there’s not much doubt that Mater Dei of Santa Ana should have one of the state’s top teams this season.
After watching three of the team’s incoming junior linemen last week at the NorCal Nike event, you can add that as another strength.
All-State sophomore team member Tommy Brown (6-7, 320) moved well for his size and along with teammates Kekaniokoa Gonzalez (6-1, 275) and Christaphany Murray (6-3, 245) all looked the part as top-level players and D1 college prospects. Brown, of course, already has offers.
Head coach Bruce Rollinson will need those three to step up since the offensive line is losing first team elite all-state pick Frank Martin to USC.
GARDENA SERRA PLAYERS AIM
TO GO ONE STEP FURTHER
Serra of Gardena, a recent powerhouse in Southern California, also was represented by a strong contingent of players at the NorCal Nike event.
The Cavaliers have some rebuilding to do next fall with the departure of talented players such as State Defensive Player of the Year Olowale Betiku and quarterback Khalil Tate (more than 4,000 yards of offense). But as usual there will be some determined players ready to step up into the pressure cooker.
“We’re going to have a young team, but we always have high expectations and we’re working hard,” said Serra linebacker Tysyn Parker, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound linebacker who averaged nearly eight tackles per game last season and appears to be close to getting his first offers. “We lost in the playoffs last year by one point to Mater Dei and the year before that in overtime to Corona Centennial. It’s going to be even tougher in the (CIF Southern Section top division) this year, but that’s okay. You have to beat the best of the best anyway.”
FORMER EL TORO PLAYER HAS SON IN
VALOR CHRISTIAN QB PIPELINE
If junior QB Blake Stenstrom needs any advice about waiting his turn to be a blue-chip starter for an elite high school program, all he has to do is talk to his dad.
Blake isn’t from California. He’s one of three QBs at Valor Christian of Highlands Ranch, Colo., who have college scouts salivating. Senior Dylan McCaffrey will be the senior starter at Valor Christian this season while his younger brother, sophomore Luke McCaffrey, is lined up behind Stenstrom.
The McCaffreys, younger brother of Stanford Heisman Trophy favorite Christian McCaffrey, and Stenstrom all did well last weekend in the Bay Area.
Stenstrom is the son of former Stanford QB Steve Stenstrom, who was an all-state player at California’s El Toro (Lake Forest), which at the time was known as a quarterback factory. As a senior for the Chargers, Stenstrom was so impressive that El Toro junior Rob Johnson (a future NFL player) played wide receiver before taking his turn to be the team’s QB as a senior.