With a whole junior season to evaluate plus several off-season camps and tournaments, several players jumped in to the Scout 300 out West who weren’t even rated at this time a year ago. That’s pretty much the norm when it comes to player evaluations.
Prospects typically make their biggest jump their junior season and will rise up over other players who may have played more games as sophomores but just don’t have the same kind of upside and potential.
Here’s our breakdown of some of the big storylines as well as the players who were the biggest risers in the new Scout 100. Later on, we’ll look at the players who were the biggest risers in the Scout 300 (101-300).
THE TOP FIVE:
The top player out West is Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman linebacker Palaie Gaoteote. The USC commit, checks in as the No. 4 overall player in the country and would have been the top linebacker in the region as a junior last year as well.
Gaoteote has tremendous upside and there really isn’t anything on the football field that Gaoteote doesn’t excel at. He has the size, toughness and instincts to play in the middle with the quickness, athleticism and playmaking skill to play on the outside. He can rush the passer, is tough against the run, can chase down plays run away from him and shows the cover skills to track a back or tight end 30 yards down the field and make a play on the ball.
He has gotten bigger this off-season and measured in at 6-2, 235 pounds at the recent Opening Regional Camp in L.A, up from 210 last season. Gaoteote didn’t have overwhelming testing numbers but that doesn’t worry us. For one, when you gain that much weight in the off-season, it’s going to take some time before your body is comfortable moving around but more importantly, on the field and in the drills where it matters, the athlete still showed plenty of burst and fast twitch to his game.
The No. 2 player on our board is Long Beach Poly (Calif.) quarterback Matt Corral. The USC commit checks in as the No. 2 QB in the country and the No. 10 overall prospect nationally. Corral played the last three years at Oaks Christian and it will be interesting to watch his development at a new school this coming season.
Physically, Corral is very gifted and has tremendous raw talent. He has a cannon for an arm and is effortless with it. He doesn’t need a big wind up to get the ball down the field but can change speeds and throws with very good touch as well. He’s a good athlete who can make plays with his legs and has very good pocket mobility.
He’s also a tough kid and will stand in and take a shot in order to make a throw down the field. He’s a risk taker and plays with a certain level of fearlessness mixed in with reckless abandon. He trusts his arm and will make any throw on the field, in or outside the pocket. We never saw Brett Favre in H.S but we imagine he probably looked a lot like Corral in terms of his playing style.
The No. 3 player out West is Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei wide out Amon-Ra St. Brown. St. Brown is rated the No. 1 WR in the country and the No. 10 overall prospect nationally. He’s the younger brother of Notre Dame WR Equanimeous St. Brown and Stanford signee Osiris St. Brown but we’ve been saying for two years now that we feel the youngest St, Brown brother is the most talented in the family.
St. Brown is pushing 6-0 and is a rock solid 195 pounds. He’s arguably the strongest receiver in the region and is very difficult to press or re-direct. He’s an advanced route runner who can explode getting in and out of his breaks and is tremendous after the catch.
He’s probably more quick than fast but shows enough top end speed to get behind a defense and is a very dangerous in the return game as well. St. Brown plays with plenty of toughness and has a nice edge to his game. USC has been getting a lot of buzz with St. Brown recently but other schools like Michigan, Notre Dame and Stanford are making a big push as well. UCLA is involved.
Los Angeles (Calif.) Hawkins wide out Jalen Hall checks in as the No. 4 player in the region and No. 15 nationally. Hall is a player we first heard about when he was just in the 8th grade and he has made a ton of plays in the last three years.
Hall is a big receiver who looks all of 6-4, 200 pounds and uses it well to create separation from smaller defensive backs. He has strong hands, catches the ball well through contact and has the ability to be a big red zone weapon. USC looks like the early leader here with LSU, Ohio State, Oregon, Oklahoma and UCLA trying as well.
Rounding out the top five is Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu. Tuliaupupu is the nation’s No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 25 prospect nationally. He has the size and athleticism to play inside or outside but we think he projects highest as an inside guy.
Tuliaupupu is a physical player who can run and hit. He’s a naturally aggressive kid who can fill a hole, make plays sideline to sideline and is a better athlete than given credit for. USC is the early leader with Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, UCLA and Washington all making a big push.
THE NEXT FIVE:
Olaijah Griffin, DB, Mission Viejo (Calif.): No. 27 player nationally
Elite combination of size, speed and playmaking skills. UCLA is trying.
Tanner McKee, QB, Corona (Calif.) Centennial: No. 29 player nationally
Strong armed pocket passer who can beat you with his arm or his legs. UCLA recently offered.
Isaac Taylor-Stuart, DB, San Diego (Calif.) St. Augustine: No. 38 player nationally
Has great size and speed, could play corner or safety down the road. UCLA is trying.
Talanoa Hufanga, Cresent, ATH, Valley (Ore.) Corvallis: No. 39 player nationally
Top player in the NW, could excel on either side of the ball. UCLA is trying.
Steve Stephens, Fresno (Calif.) Edison: No. 25 player nationally
One of the best pure cover safeties we’ve seen in some time. One of UCLA's top safety targets.
McKee made the biggest jump inside the Scout 100, moving from the No. 178 player in the country to No. 29. He’s the No. 4 QB nationally and No. 2 in the region. He flashes tremendous next level upside and is only scratching the surface of how good he’ll be in a few years.
Mckee put up huge numbers as a junior and surprised many onlookers with his athleticism and ability to scramble for plus yards as a 6-6 signal caller. From a pure throwing standpoint, McKee has a quick, tight release, very live arm and can really spin the football.
He’s vey accurate to all three levels of the field, can change speeds and throws with great touch on the deeper balls. Alabama, Auburn, BYU, Florida State, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and UCLA will all get visits this Spring.
Medford (Ore.) South Medford wide out Chase Cota moved from the No. 198 player in the country to the No. 46 overall prospect. He also moves from the No. 8 WR in the West to the No. 3 WR in what is a loaded group. Cota has a very nice combination of size, speed and hands and lit up the Nike Opening Regional Camp in L.A and the Under Armour AA Camp at Mission Viejo.
He’s a big, 6-4, 195 pound athlete who can really run and is still developing physically. He has the hands of a possession receiver with the speed to run past a secondary. Cota’s father Chad was an All-American DB at Oregon but schools like Cal, Oregon State, UCLA and USC are heavily involved here as well.
Lancaster (Calif.) Antelope Valley athlete Devon Williams made a huge jump, going from an un-ranked prospect prior to his junior season to the No. 20 player in the West and No. 81 overall in the country. He has great film and has been even more impressive in person.
We love the versatility Williams brings to the table and feel he could play 3-4 positions in college. He has made the biggest impact this off-season at receiver and has looked tremendous at every event we’ve seen him. He also projects as a high level safety or could grow in to a pass rushing outside linebacker.
At 6-5, 195 pounds, he has a long, lean athletic frame, runs well and plays with plenty of toughness. His recruitment really exploded in the winter as well with offers coming in from all over the country including programs like Alabama, Florida State, Nebraska and Notre Dame plus local schools UCLA and USC.
Gardena (Calif.) Serra athlete Bryan Addison is another player who went from outside the 300 to inside the Scout 100. Addison checks in as the No. 96 player in the country and is rising fast.
Addison was the DB MVP at the Nike Opening Regional Camp in L.A and it looks like safety will be his best college position. He’s also a very talented receiver and his combination of length, body control and athleticism is as good as anyone out West. He just keeps getting better every time we see him and you can expect he’ll continue to rise up this list as the season progresses. UCLA and USC could be tough to beat but Arizona State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah are involved as well.
More News and Notes:
*Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman has a pair of teammates in the Scout 100. Tight end Brevin Jordan checks in at No. 44 nationally and the No. 1 TE in the country and quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson comes in at No. 54 nationally and the No. 7 QB.
Jordan has put on about 25 pounds in the off-season and weighed in recently at 6-3, 257 pounds but can still run and catches everything thrown near him. We debated waiting until the season to move Thompson Robinson in to the Scout 100 since he hasn’t had a ton of game action at quarterback. The more we saw him in the off-season and knowing what kind of makeup he has as a leader, it was a no-brainer and his upside is off the charts.
UCLA is thought to be the leader for both Thompson-Robinson and Jordan.
*Bothell (Wash.) quarterback Jacob Sirmon leads five Washington commits in the Scout 300 and checks in at No. 51 nationally. The other Husky commit in the Scout 100 is Murrieta Valley (Calif.) wide out Marquis Spiker, who comes in at No. 77. Sirmon is a big, strong quarterback with a cannon for an arm. Spiker has size, hands and tremendous body control.
*Concord (Calif.) De La Salle’s Tuli Letuligasenoa is the top defensive tackle out West and checks in at No. 73 nationally. Letuligasenoa has size, strength and quickness and will be a three-year starter for the Spartans next season. He could be UCLA's top DT target.
*The top offensive lineman in the region is St. George (Utah) Desert Hills tackle Penei Sewell. Sewell is rated the No. 86 prospect nationally and shows the versatility to stay at tackle or ever move inside and play guard at the next level.
*In addition to Jalen Hall, L.A (Calif.) Hawkins has two other players in the Scout 100. Wide out Eric Fuller comes in at No. 71 and safety Aashari Crosswell is the No. 90 player nationally. Fuller, a Nebraska commit, is one of the most explosive slot receivers in the country. Crosswell is a rangy safety with a prototype frame and very good athleticism, and UCLA has a decent chance with him.
*Other committed players in the Scout 100 include Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne linebacker Raymond Scott (No. 59) to USC, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco safety Jaiden Woodbey (No. 66) to Ohio State and Tigard (Ore.) athlete Braden Lenzy (No. 97) to Notre Dame.
Scott has been tremendous this off-season and could be the most instinctual 'backer in the region. Woodbey has worked hard on his cover skills to complement the rest of his all around game and Lenzy is a two-way standout who will play receiver for the Irish but has corner skills as well.