Jackrabbits to Watch

Every year recruiting nuts wonder who the top Long Beach Poly prospects will be. Well, three of them competed in the Army All-American national Combine in San Antonio last weekend. Cornerback Donovan Warren was one of the top performers at the combine, and linebacker/defensive end Kenny Rowe, and wide receiver Joseph Redding also showed why Poly is annually one of the top programs in the country.

Tradition-rich Long Beach Poly was represented at the Army All-American National Combine in San Antonio by cornerback Donovan Warren (6-0, 175, 4.4), defensive end/linebacker Kenny Rowe (6-4, 225) and wide receiver Joseph Redding (6-3, 190).

Warren had an outstanding two days at the combine and was thrilled with his performance. He has true lock-down cover abilities and there wasn't anyone at the combine more impressive at defensive back. Warren is as fundamentally sound as a cornerback can be. His quick feet and his ability to go from first to fifth gear allows him to hang on a receivers every move. Not one pass was thrown Warren's way at the combine.

"I think I performed real good against some of the best players in the country – there was some good competition out there," Warren said. "I didn't have any passes caught on me this whole camp, so I'm thrilled. I was looking for a real, real good wide receiver out there, but I didn't find him. There wasn‘t anyone I couldn‘t cover"

There were two talented athletes who stood out to Warren during the two days at the combine.

"The best receiver was probably a real short and shifty dude, Daymond Patterson (Mesquite, TX),'' Warren said. "Also, the "super-athlete," running back Caleb King (5-11, 184, 4.46) from Lilburn, GA, was real good, too."

Although just a junior, Warren is being pursued by the crème de la crème of college football programs.

"SC, Cal, Notre Dame, Miami, Oregon, Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio State and Washington are all recruiting me, but I don't have a favorite right now," said Warren.

Kenny Rowe (6-4, 230) looked good in the three-on-three drills and showed off his quick first step, and surprising strength, as he was a bit undersized compared to many of the offensive lineman he was competing against.

Rowe, who had 66 tackles, 11 sacks and one interception last season, will be one of the top defensive players on the West Coast for the 2007 class, but it's not clear what position he'll play in college

"I'll either be a defensive end, or an outside linebacker," Rowe said. "I have good speed, and physically I can easily get bigger and become a speed rusher, but right now I think linebacker might be the best position for me."

Rowe also is extremely athletic and understands the game. The Poly coaches said they like to call him the "Quiet Storm" because he doesn't say much on the field, but packs a wallop that gets opponents' attention.

The third member of the Poly contingent was wide receiver Joseph Redding (6-4, 195). Not much is known about Redding because he's been a basketball player and didn't join the football team until last year.

"He's done everything we've asked him to," a Poly coach said. "Joseph has been sitting behind guys like DeSean (Jackson), Travon (Patterson) and Terrance Austin, so he's had a great opportunity to watch and learn. We have high expectations for him and he has the size, the hands and now he just has to go out play, take advantage of his opportunity and keep the tradition of those great Poly receivers going."

Another Poly wide receiver to look for who wasn't at the combine is Bryshon Nellum (6-0, 170).

Nellum's story is a lot like former Poly star, Kareem Kelly. Like Kelly , Nellum is one of the top 200-meter runners in the country. Last summer, he had the fastest 200-meter time (21.30) by any male in winning the intermediate boys division in the USA Youth Outdoor Track and Field Championships in July, held at Tennessee's Tom Black Track. Nellum finished third in the 400m and was a member of the winning sprint-relay team at the World Youth Championships in Morocco.

Attending the combine provided the Poly players the opportunity to see how they compared to leading junior talent in the country, but after watching DeSean Jackson play in last year's game and Terrance Austin this year, participating in the 2007 Army All-American Bowl is their ultimate goal.

"Of course, that's why I came to the combine, because I want to be playing in the game next year,'' Warren said. "I hope to be considered one of the best prospects in the country next season."

"Being in the stands at the game really motivated me to work hard and improve, so the guys following me can watch me play in the game next year, and motivate them the same way," Rowe said.

But lacking motivation doesn't seem to be an issue at Poly. The great tradition of athletes who have walked the hallways at Poly and the school's winning tradition provide the necessary motivation to keep the machine rolling.

"There's a belief system that I think is a big part of this thing (Poly football program)," said former coach Jerry Jaso. "The number one thing is we had great athletes – you can't be in the NFL without being a great athlete. But I think greatest thing we have going here is that (alumni) come back and actually work with the kids. They have a chance to see what an NFL player is like."

One thing about Poly, there are plenty of alums who have played or are currently playing in the NFL. 40 former Poly grads have collected NFL paychecks and seven are currently on NFL rosters: Marques Anderson, OAK; Larry Croom, ARZ; Willie McGinnest, NE; Samie Parker, KC; Omar Stoutmire, NYG; Brandon Whiting, SF and Manny Wright, MIA.

Darnell Bing and Winston Justice of USC and Marcedes Lewis from UCLA will be the latest group of Poly players who will make their mark in the NFL. Lewis will likely be a first-round pick in the 2006 draft, and Bing and Justice, should they choose to leave school early, are also projected to be first-round picks.

To think there could be 10 players from one high school in the NFL at the same time is mind boggling.

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