NSD Recap & Final 2018 Player Ranks

Corona Centennial quarterback Tanner McKee stands with head coach Matt Logan (on far left) and with other administrators from his school and the Corona-Norco Unified School District just after a signing ceremony. Photo: Twitter.com.

Since we just picked the 39th annual Cal-Hi Sports All-State Teams and almost all of the top players in the Class of 2018 have now signed their letters of intent, it’s a perfect time to update our Hot 100 player rankings for graduating seniors. These are different than all-state because a player’s recruitment (or lack of it) is factored into it. There are some we have higher in our state player rankings than some of the national networks and some lower because of our own experiences following the recruiting trail over 30 years. We have 13 new players listed since the preseason and a new player at the top position.

Note: Most of this post and all of the final Class of 2018 player rankings are for Gold Club members only. We’ll be updating the Class of 2019 soon and we still have an Inside the All-State Team post to get done that will list many of the state’s most promising freshmen who played varsity minutes during the 2017 season. Both of those posts will be for Gold Club only as well. To sign up to get all of our exclusive statewide content, CLICK HERE.

Although it wasn’t as hectic as in the past, Wednesday’s National Signing Day activities at high schools throughout the state still had a number of top football players picking their college destinations.

Roughly more than half of those players considered the state’s top 25 to 30 recruits by services such as 247Sports, Scout, Rivals and ESPN had already signed during the first early signing period back in November. There were still some significant targets of the major college programs who had yet to make it official until Wednesday.

Mater Dei head coach Bruce Rollinson and standout linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu hold the team’s two title trophies after Solomon signed with USC. Rollinson is a former Trojan player himself. Photo: Twitter.com.

Signing ceremonies at schools often bring together athletes from all sports, boys and girls, and each senior on a stage or sitting at a table is having a great day with family and friends. It can therefore be awkward showering so much attention on one of them who hasn’t made a decision yet, but that’s the nature of the beast.

USC is often a big winner for football on Signing Day and this year that was perhaps even more glaring. Going into the day, the Trojans knew they were getting the Santa Ana Mater Dei duo of quarterback JT Daniels and receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. Daniels, who was Mr. Football State Player of the Year and was considered the No. 1 junior in the state before he reclassified to being a senior, and St. Brown, who was placed at No. 1 in the state as a college prospect for the Class of 2018 before Daniels came over and had to be one spot lower in the final rankings, could be a devastating combo for the Trojans. They added Mater Dei teammate Solomon Tuliaupupu, another top 10 player in the class and winner of the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker, along with Mission Viejo defensive back Olaijah Griffin, one of the top cover corners in the nation who earlier had committed to UCLA.

In one really wanted to, placing Daniels, St. Brown, Tuliaupupu and Alabama-bound All-American offensive tackle Tommy Brown off of Mater Dei’s unbeaten state and national championship team in the No. 1 through No. 4 spots in a ranking of California’s top recruits of the year, might not be inaccurate. We went them at No. 1, No. 2, No. 7 and No. 13, but all four clearly are elite prospects and highly ranked by all the major services. Who’s to say really that they aren’t No. 1 through No. 4?

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