With the midway point of the 2014 season just passing, several 2016 prospects from the West have continued to rise on a national scale and with our midseason rankings update, the West has a new five-star prospect and four new four-stars in the 2016 class.
La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat receiver Tyler Vaughns moved up from the No. 27 prospect nationally to the No. 15 player in his class, and picked up his fifth star.
Vauhgns is now the No. 3 prospect in the West in the 2016 class and the highest ranked player on offense in the region.
National recruiting analyst Greg Biggins has been high on Vaughns since the spring, but said the jump he's made in his junior season has been hard to ignore.
"He's a smooth route runner that has no problem getting open, against any type of defense," said Biggins. "He's a natural pass catcher with soft hands, runs very well after the catch and has the speed to be a deep threat as well. He's also a very talented defensive back with the size and range of a safety but the athleticism of a corner."
Vaughns is the highest rated player to come from Bishop Amat's storied program in Scout's history and was thrilled with the new ranking.
"It means a lot," said Vaughns. "People don't see the hard work I put in everyday and I mean everyday, it's been like this for the last year. So hard work does payoff and for me to be recognized as a five-star player, I appreciate it. I never thought I would even get a star and to be a five-star player now, it's amazing. But I know now I have to work even harder and stay the same person I always have been. If you would see how my brothers work me you really would know why. I tell them they made me five stars."
Also making a big leap was Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian receiver Michael Pittman, who played sparingly as a sophomore at Oaks after transferring from Valencia (Calif.). Enter legendary head coach Bill Redell, who realized the talent he had in Pittman, the son of longtime NFL running back Michael Pittman Sr., and the younger one has emerged as one of the best in the West.
Pittman wasn't even in the Scout 300 before the season and is now in the Scout 50, at No. 45 overall and No. 8 in the receiver rankings. He's also a talented safety, a big hitter with great closing speed. But it's receiver where he'll play in college, for UCLA, where he committed earlier this month.
The 6-3, 200-pound Pittman is a big, rangy prospect, with good speed, very good hands, the ability to get separation and is disciplined in his route running. He's also a tremendous blocker with a chippiness to him.
Across town comes another big riser in the Scout 300, Westlake (Calif.) receiver Theo Howard, who was at Oaks last year, but moved to Westlake this season where he's teamed up with five-star quarterback Malik Henry to form as good a QB-WR combo as any in the West.
Howard moved up from the No. 279 player and a three-star to the No. 77 player overall and a four-star, and jumped to the No. 15 receiver in his class.
Long Beach (Calif.) Poly receiver Jack Jones also added a fourth star and has moved up from just barely cracking the Scout 300 (No. 298) to No. 222 overall.
Jones is a part of one of the most high-scoring offenses in the region at Poly and has offers from all over the country now.
The final new four-star is San Juan Capistrano (Calif.) JSerra offensive lineman Luke Wattenberg, who's quickly becoming one of the best offensive linemen, regardless of class, in the West.
He plays tackle like a guard and is just manhandles opposing players at the line of scrimmage. He's very strong at the point of attack and once he can get his hands on you, there's a good chance you'll either be driven backward or into the ground. He shows surprising agility for a big tackle and is very affective pulling and can get in to the second level and make a block on a safety. Wattenberg also plays with the perfect amount of nastiness and his motor is always going through the whistle. He keeps his head on a swivel and is always looking for someone to hit down the field.
Also making big jumps on offense include Corona (Calif.) Centennial receiver Javon McKinley, who was already a four-star but moved from No. 236 to No. 119 overall, and Folsom (Calif.) offensive tackle Jonah Williams, who cracked the Scout 300 at No. 299, protecting one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Jake Browning.
Defensively, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro cornerback Byron Murphy moved up and is the No. 2 overall player in Arizona in the 2016 class.
Several new players became three-stars from the West too, including Murray (Utah) defensive end Maxs Tupai, Layton (Utah) Northridge defensive tackle Noah Kramer, Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame running back Leo Lambert and Pittsburg (Calif.) cornerback Jordan Parker.
Check out the updated 2016 Scout 300.