As is always the case, The Opening Regional in Los Angeles will be stacked with some of the West's top prospects in the 2017 class as well as 2018 and 2019.
Here is a look at some of the bigger names on defense.
Headliner: Haskell Garrett, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
Garrett committed to Ohio State this month, choosing the Buckeyes over a number of schools, including most of the Pac-12 powers. The West's No. 1 defensive lineman and the No. 2 tackle nationally, Garrett has been an anchor on the defensive line for the Gaels, who were Scout's No. 1 team in 2015 and he has been the best defensive player on their loaded roster the past two years and is one of the elite players nationally in this class.
Underclassman to Watch: Sal Spina, (’18), Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
Other Defensive Linemen to Watch:
Martin Andrus from Los Angeles (Calif.) is the top defensive lineman in the Golden State this year, with offers from all over and the local schools posturing to keep him in the Southland. Redlands (Calif.) East Valley defensive end Jaelan Phillips has a who's who list of offers too and most of the Pac-12 is battling for the four-star. UCLA commit Hunter Echols from Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral is one of the best pass rushers in the West in this class. Syracuse has offered Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne teammates Dominic Peterson and Anthony Pandy. Bakersfield (Calif.) Centennial defensive lineman Gabe Cherry committed to Cal earlier this month and another Central California prospect, Kurtis Brown, from Liberty in Bakersfield, has a handful of offers. One of San Diego's top defensive linemen this year is Jojo Falo from Madison. Manhattan Beach (Calif.) Mira Costa lineman Jonah Tavai and Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Point lineman Matthew Pola-Mao are other 2018 prospects to watch and Reese Silofau from Oaks Christian in Westlake Village will be one of the top lineman nationally in the 2019 class.
Headliner: Isaac Slade-Matautia, Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis
Slada-Matautia is the West's top inside linebacker in the 2017 class and was a standout last spring at the Eugene Opening Regional and has offers from schools like Arizona, Arizona State, Nebraska, Washington and Washington State. He's one of Hawaii's top prospects in the 2017 class and wants to keep their streak of players in The Opening Finals going.
Underclassman to Watch: Merlin Robertson, (’18), Gardena (Calif.) Serra
Robertson is the latest in a long line of stars from Serra, having been a force on their defense this past season and he's already got some early offers from schools like BYU, Miami, USC and Utah among others. He's 6-3, 220, physical and athletic and Serra linebackers have had some great moments at recent L.A. regionals.
Other Linebackers to Watch:
Folsom (Calif.) linebacker Ariel Ngata has shown that the Bulldogs are known for more than just their high-powered offense, the 6-4, 205-pounder holding offers from several Pac-12 schools and BYU. Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei linebacker Faavae Faavae has recently seen his recruitment take off, with Arizona State, Boston College and Louisville among his more recent offers. Few players in the Southland are more sure tacklers than Joshua Brown from Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, who is waiting for his first offer but would love one from UCLA, where his older brother Jayon is a starting linebacker. La Mesa (Calif.) Helix inside backer Ezekiel Noa is one of San Diego's best. The underclassmen have a loaded group representing too in Salua Masina from Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton, who's older brother Osa was an Opening Finalist in 2014 as well as Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman standout Palaie Gaoteote and Victor Terry from Los Angeles (Calif.) Hawkins.
Headliner: Darnay Holmes, Calabasas (Calif.)
Holmes leads a stacked group of defensive backs in the West and he's the nation's No. 1 cornerback in the 2017 class. The five-star recently named a top seven of Alabama, Arizona (where his older brother plays), Nebraska, Ohio State, Stanford, UCLA and Washington. He starred at the Nike Camp as a freshman two years ago, launching himself as one of the best DBs in the country already and should cement that this weekend.
Underclassman to Watch: Jaiden Woodbey, (’18), Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
Woodbey is a big hitting safety at St. John Bosco who has offers from both the hometown schools as well as Cal and Louisville and will have his pick of the litter by the time he signs in 2018. The 2018 DB crop in the West will be strong too and he's one of the early headliners in his class.
Other Defensive Backs to Watch:
Greg Johnson from Los Angeles (Calif.) Hawkins is the top athlete prospect in the West, a star at both running back and in the secondary but he'll focus on defense on Sunday. Oregon is the latest to offer the Scout 100 prospect. Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) four-star Thomas Graham is the No. 2 corner in the West and No. 4 nationally and excelled a year ago in Los Angeles. A soft verbal to USC, Graham has offers from all over but the Trojans are still in a very good spot with the top 35 player nationallly. Another USC commit, albeit a solid verbal, is Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman four-star safety Bubba Bolden, who committed to the Trojans over double-digit offers. Graham's teammate at Rancho, Jaylon Redd is a four-star who has double-digit offers, including both the L.A. schools. Another one of Los Angeles' top defensive backs is Deommodore Lenoir, who has seen his already hot recruitment explode with offers from schools like Michigan, Oklahoma and LSU to go with offers from UCLA, Arizona State and Washington. Orange (Calif.) Lutheran safety Brandon McKinney has a number of Pac-12 offers. Washington got an early verbal from Anaheim (Calif.) Servite four-star cornerback Keith Taylor and Washington State got one from Tayari Venable from Rancho Cucamonga and the Pac-12 verbals will both be in L.A. Elijah Hicks from La Mirada has been racking them up of late and guys like, Helix's Scott Young, Jalen Cole of Mater Dei and Elijah Blades of Cathedral are finally seeing a much-deserved uptick in their recruitments and Quentin Lake from Mater Dei should be the next to see the same in his. Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe four-star safety Isaiah Pola-Mao is one of the out-of-staters to watch. From the underclassmen, Isaac Taylor from St. Augustine in San Diego, Olaijah Griffin from Mission Viejo and Aashari Crosswell from Hawkins are some of the early 2018 four-stars expected in Los Angeles and they'll be flanked by rising sophomores Brendan Radley-Hiles from Calabasas, Marcus Johnson from Hawkins, Malone Mataele from Orange Lutheran and Braden Lenzy from Tigard (Ore.).