*The biggest news out West is Fontana (Calif.) Summit running back Stephen Carr has earned a 5th star and it's definitely well deserved. Carr is a big back with speed, power, toughness and the ability to run between the tackles or bounce it outside. His game was made for the pads but even on the 7v7 circuit, Carr still flashed with his hands out of the backfield and ability to make a defender miss in the open field. He remains a USC soft commitment but said Miami, Michigan and Notre Dame all could get visits.
*Although his overall ranking (No. 13) stayed the same, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman quarterback Tate Martell is now the No. 1 overall signal caller in the nation. Martell is the ultimate gamer, he just wins, no matter what the competition is. He put on a clinic over the weekend at the Pylon 7v7 tournament in Las Vegas and shows poises and maturity beyond his years. He's often knocked for his size being a hair under 5-11 but he has enough other elite attributes that translate well for us to feel confident about the success he'll have in college. Offers continue to roll in but he looks very solid in his commitment to Texas A&M.
*Staying with the quarterback theme, we loved what we saw from Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis signal caller Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa jumped from No. 73 nationally to No. 39 and climbing. He boasts arguably the strongest arm in the country this year and was ripping the ball through windy conditions all weekend in Vegas. He's a lot more than just a strong arm however, he can throw with touch and accuracy, has ice water in his veins and tremendous leadership skills. He has a strong body and can make plays with his legs when needed but is a much better pocket passer than given credit for. USC is in a good spot right now and UCLA, Washington and a few others are still pushing hard.
*Making a huge jump from outside the Scout 100 was Redlands East Valley (Calif.) defensive end Jaelan Phillips. Phillips moved from No. 163 all the way up to No. 64 and even that still looks low when you look at his huge upside. The film shows him primarily at linebacker and you can see his size and athleticism on a frame that will have no problems adding weight and strength. Then you see him in person like we did at the recent The Opening Regional in Los Angeles and he's even more impressive. He has a burst off the edge, uses his hands well and can beat you in so many ways. Stanford and UCLA could be the early leaders but Alabama, Notre Dame and USC and a few others are heavily involved as well.
*Buena Park (Calif.) defensive back Elijah Gates moved from outside the Scout 300 all the way up to the No. 73 player in the country. Gates is a player we liked a lot last summer and he went out and a had strong year in pads as well. This past winter, he has taken his game to another level. Now you can knock 7v7 and say it's not 'real football' but one position that does translate pretty well is corner and Gates has probably been the most impressive corner we've seen this winter. He's playing with a ton of confidence, looks bigger physically, more explosive and has great natural cover instincts. Oregon and UCLA look good early but he will visit Cincinnati, Notre Dame and Ohio State over the spring.
*Another huge jump was made by Hayward (Calif.) Stellar Prep linebacker Addison Gumbs. Gumbs moved from No. 291 all the way up to No. 87. He’s a player who really jumps off the screen when you watch him on tape and really, after just 2-3 plays, you can tell he’s a high level talent. He’s in that hybrid mold of a outside linebacker/defensive end and is one of the elite pass rushers in the country. However, he’s a lot more than a pass rusher, we’ve seen Gumbs in person and his ability to move around in space, drop in coverage and chase down plays from behind is very good. Gumbs still has a huge list of schools but does plan to make a summer decision.
*Another player who moved in to the 100, although not with the dramatic leap of Gates and Gumbs, is Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei wide out Osiris St. Brown. St. Brown, who moved from No. 108 nationally to No. 69, has made a noticeable jump in both his size and explosiveness. He always had great hands and could be the best pure pass catcher in the region but has put on at least 10 pounds of muscle and shows a much improved burst in his route running and getting in and out of his breaks. His older brother Equanimeous St. Brown is at Notre Dame and they'll be a big factor but Michigan, Stanford, UCLA and USC are involved as well.
*Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O’Dowd offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker is the final new player to jump in to the Scout 100 and sneaks in at No. 99. Not only did Vera-Tucker move from outside the Scout 300 to do so but also added a 4-star rating in the process. Vera-Tucker is simply a tremendous tackle prospect with unlimited potential. He has everything you could want in a future tackle including an athletic frame, very good feet, a ton of physicality and the toughness you have to have to compete in the trenches. He’s naturally strong and that will only increase once he hits a college weight room and isn’t content to just block an opponent but physically manhandle him and put him on his back. Oregon and Washington are recruiting him the hardest right now but the entire Pac-12 plus schools like Michigan and Nebraska are involved as well.