Oakland Opening Regional Preview: The Defense

May 21 -- The Opening Regional tour heads to Oakland this weekend in what should be a loaded crop of athletes at just about every position. Here’s our look at some of the headliners expected on the defensive side of the ball...


We’ve said multiple times this was one of the deepest class for defensive tackles out West in some time and three players ranked in the Scout 300 will be in attendance. 


Las Vegas (Nev.) Arbor View’s Greg Rogers, rated No. 38 in the Scout 100, is a player we’re very excited to see. He’s a massive tackle prospect with the ability to play early at the next level.

Rogers is big, tough and can move and should have a great chance to make The Opening Finals if he performs as expected. ArizonaMichigan, Notre Dame, UCLA and USC are just a few of the schools on the short list for Rogers.


South Jordan (Utah) Bingham tackle Jay Tufele is among the most athletic interior lineman in the country. He’s currently rated the No. 54 prospect in the country and like Rogers, Tufele has his choice of just about any school he desires.

Tufele has already visited UCLA and USC and both are on his short list along with Oregon and Utah out of the Pac-12 plus BYU,  Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Mississippi to name a few. 


Independence (Ore.) Central’s Marlon Tuipulotu is the third Scout 300 tackle expected in Oakland and the Washington commit is a special talent in his own right.  Tuipulotu might have the quickest first step of all the tackles out west, is very good laterally and knows how to get up the field. 


Hunter Echols headline the defensive end group. The UCLA commit out of Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral and ranked the No. 148 player in the country had a solid workout at the L.A Opening Regional and is back in hopes of making the Opening Finals. He’s a tremendous edge rusher who shows a nice burst coming around the corner and the speed to run down plays from behind.

A few other defensive linemen to keep an eye on include Oakland (Calif) Bishop O’Dowd’s Jordan Jackson, Sacramento (Calif.) Inderkum’s Victor Jones, Vista Murrieta’s (Calif.) Anthony Mermea, Concord’s (Calif.) DeAndre Morgan, Stockton (Calif.) St. Mary’s Cole Norgaard and Kahuku’s (Hawaii) Aliki Vimahi.



Hayward (Calif.) Stellar Prep’s Addison Gumbs is the top rated linebacker in attendance, currently rated the No. 107 player in the nation. Gumbs is best known as an outside pass rusher and had over 20 sacks as a junior but he showed this spring on the 7v7 circuit he can play in space and is comfortable dropping back in coverage. 

Gumbs will make a June commitment and has Oklahoma, UCLA, USC and Washington on his short list. 


Although just a sophomore, there may not be a better linebacker prospect out West right now than Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gormans’ Palaie Gaoteote. Gaoteote has the ability to play inside or outside in college and has the ideal combination of size, quickness, range and instincts. 

He already boasts national offers from programs like Auburn, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska and Ohio State, as well as West Coast schools UCLA, USC and Washington. 


Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis athlete Isaac Slade-Matautia is one of the more versatile ‘backers out West and shows up really well on film. He’s a high motor kid who runs well and loves to hit. He’s active, looks good playing in space and is among the most athletic linebackers in the region. 

Slade Matautia has offers from almost half the Pac-12 including Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Washington and Washington State along with Hawaii and Nebraska. 

Another player we’re looking forward to seeing is Millville (Utah) Ridgeline’s Levani Damuni. The former Utah State commit has seen his stock really soar in the last few months and now boasts offers from schools like Boise State, BYU, Colorado, Fresno State, Utah, Virginia and Washington State to name a few. 

A few other linebackers to watch including Long Beach Poly’s (Calif.) Joshua BrownAntioch's (Calif.) Omari HarrisDanville (Calif.) Monte Vista’s Nate Landman, Gardena (Calif.) Serra’s Tysyn Parker and Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany’s Lamin Touray.


The secondary could be the most loaded group on the camp, which makes sense since we’ve said multiple times the DB position is the deepest and strongest in the region this year.


At the corner position, Buena Park’s (Calif.) Elijah Gates is a very talented player who can get it done on both sides of the ball. Gates is a tough, physical player with great natural cover instincts. He’s a tough kid who can play physical but needs to clutch and grab like so many other corners we see these days.

Gates has already visited Oregon and UCLA and will check out Notre Dame next month. Nebraska is another school we expect to get a visit at some point and ASU and Cal are on the short list as well.


No corner has had a more impressive spring than Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman’s Alex Perry. Perry just has a knack for staying in a receivers back pocket, never seems to get turned around and can make a play on the ball, no matter how big the receiver is. 

Perry was an early ASU commit before opening things up last fall. Colorado and Oklahoma are both making a big push but the corner seems genuinely wide open right now.


Fresno (Calif.) Central's Jaylon Johnson might be the most physically imposing corner in the region. He's all of 6-foot-2, 185 pounds with long arms and uses his size to bully opposing receivers at the line of scrimmage. He's a good all around athlete as well, can and jump and no one plays with more of a mean streak and edge.

Oklahoma and USC are recruiting Johnson hardest right now and ASU and Oregon are heavily involved as well. 


Pasadena (Calif.) Muir's Elijah Blades saw his stock soar following the Opening Regional in L.A back in February where he clocked a 4.42-40 on a long, athletic 6-2 frame, looked good in the drills and impressed in the one on ones. Offers flooded in for Blades following the camp and if he can repeat his performance from Redondo, you have to think he'll have a great chance to Get Open.

Arizona and Florida have been leading for Blades for some time and Nebraska and Utah will get official visits as well.


One of the region's best two-way athletes is Kirkland (Wash.) Juanita's Salvon Ahmed. Ahmed could play corner, safety or running back in college but will work out with the corners and should be a very tough matchup for every receiver he lines up against. 

USC and Washington have gotten a lot of buzz from Ahmed and he has visited Oregon as well. Cal and Stanford are involved as well. 


Provo (Utah) Timpview's Chaz Ah You is among a strong group of safeties working out. Safeties can struggle at events like this that require a lot of man to man coverage but Ah You is one of the more athletic DBs in the west and has always looked very comfortable playing in space.

Ah You's father coaches at BYU but Michigan, Notre Dame, Oregon, Stanford and UCLA are the schools getting the most buzz right now.


Orange Lutheran's (Calif.) Brandon McKinney is another safety that is very athletic and has no problem handling his coverage responsibilities. He's a very instinctual player as well and one of those guys that just always seems to be around the football. 

UCLA looked like the early leader but Washington is right there as well and USC, after a recent offer, is among his leaders and Utah could get a visit down the road too. 


Only a sophomore, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco safety Jaiden Woodbey has already landed offers from schools all over the country including Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Tennessee, plus Pac-12 offers from Arizona, Cal, UCLA and USC.


Sacramento (Calif.) Inderkum athlete Trajon Cotton is a swing DB, meaning he could easily play corner or safety in college. He has the frame to project at either spot, is a good athlete, runs well and covers a lot of ground. Wherever the bigger need is, is likely where Cotton will start out.

Oregon made a big impression on Cotton following a recent visit, joining Colorado and UCLA at the top of his board. 

A few other defensive backs we expect to perform well include Antioch's (Calif.) Isaiah Dunn, Newbury Park's (Calif.) Marques Evans, Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd's Je'Quari Godfrey, Bellflower's (Calif.) Jeffrey Manning, Orange Lutheran's (Calif.) Malone Mataele and Concord (Calif.) De La Salle's Tre White.

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