Chandler High School made easy work of the competition in Tuesday action at Arizona State's 7 on 7 event, and Wolves wide receiver Gunner Romney impressed enough to earn a scholarship offer from the Sun Devils.
With multiple ASU coaches watching intently, Romney had long touchdown receptions on the first play of two drives in a 30-6 win over Valley Vista. On the second score, Romney raced past the defense on a skinny post from the slot and caught an on time throw from 2019 quarterback Jacob Conover in the end zone like it was routine.
It pretty much is.
Romney had 70 catches for 1,309 yards and nine touchdowns last season for the Wolves, all of which came from Conover as the 13-2 team won a 6A state championship.
A 6-foot-3, 200 pound wideout who had listed Arizona, BYU and Utah as his top three before the ASU offer, Romney's stock is soaring of late. He won position MVP honors at The Opening regional in Oakland late last month, and picked up an invite to the finals of The Opening after a strong showing at the most recent Elite-11 regionals.
Romney's every move was studied closely by first-year wide receivers coach Rob Likens, who often was located just a few feet behind where Romney lined up. At the same time, ASU offensive coordinator Billy Napier and outside linebackers coach/special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum were also taking a look at Chandler.
Here's a look at some of the top performing players in Tuesday action at ASU:
Gunner Romney -- The combination of length and route range possessed by Romney make him an intriguing big play threat. He's precise and aggressive with his footwork releasing from the line of scrimmage, has sneaky speed, and maintains good physical composure down the field. He also sets up defenders on vertical routes very effectively at the top of the stem, and has good ball awareness and pass catching ability down the field. Romney is a very upright receiver, perhaps a bit tight through the hips and torso. His challenges projecting to the college level will be with lowering his center of gravity as he enters and exits transitions of more sharply angled routes, like in and out cuts at 90 degrees, and on returns to the football, like curls and comebacks.
Jacob Conover (2019) -- Through he's grown and physically matured in the last year or so, Connover is a bit undersized for the quarterback position projecting to college, at about 6-foot-1 and still relatively slim. He has a over the top release of the ball, however, which counterbalances this to some degree. As a passer, Connover tends to be extremely precise and he throws a very catchable ball. He's one of the most accurate high school quarterbacks we've seen in recent years in the state, and his mechanics are very repeatable, which enables his consistency. Connover is also a very poised quarterback, which was very evident last year as he started for the best team in the state as a sophomore. His ball velocity on intermediate to longer throws is just okay relative to the top quarterbacks in a typical national class and concerns about how he projects will largely be centered around arm strength and size. Everything else is there to be a Pac-12 quarterback.
Joey Ramos -- Working at left tackle for Deer Valley in the big man portion of the event, Ramos looked like the best offensive line prospect in attendance on the evening. He's gained size in the last year, now 6-foot-4 1/2 and 295 pounds. With current ASU offensive linemen Steve Miller, Cohl Cabral and Sam Jones looking on, there was a good visual reference to compare Ramos too and he certainly looked very much the part of a major college offensive linemen. Ramos had a chip on his shoulder, calling his opponent out for a re-run of a rep that went off the rails, and playing with a lot of physicality. He's got heavy hands and some pop behind his punch, with the ability to jar defensive players who don't get an angle on him. Ramos played over his feet and had good overall balance. He was also poised with his set, not allowing players to counter him inside. I still think he's better suited to play guard than tackle inside due to overall foot quickness and range on the edge, but his continued physical and skill growth reflect well on his potential to play right tackle.
Chris Manoa -- This wasn't the best setting for defensive tackles because in the 1-on-1s players aren't really supposed to bull rush. That's what Manoa is, a physical pocket-collapsing type of player. He's stout, at 5-foot-11 or so and over 300 pounds, but carries it well. He has longish arms for his height and is not undersized to play the position. He's good at violently disengaging from linemen. But in this action he was out of his element because of the format, with a lot of false steps and an absence of clearly definable approach to his reps. That's totally okay, however. He has an issue with his back leg being bowed and his foot not giving him great leverage in his set up, which I'd want to try to get corrected and learn whether it's a just a habit vs a physical limitation.
Matthew Pola-Mao (2019) -- We didn't spent as much time watching Pola-Mao, but he's clearly going to be one of the better defensive tackle prospects in the West in the class. He's a powerful, plus-athlete for how big and thickly put together he is, at a listed 6-foot-2 and 290 pounds. He plays with impressive pad level and explosiveness for a young man his size, and showed a great motor.