Fleet O'Dea duo turning heads

THE FIGHTING IRISH of O'Dea High are consistently among the elite prep teams in the state of Washington. They owned the state's best record in the 90's at 103-10, won two state championships and put together an undefeated streak of 72 regular season games.

Two O'Dea seniors-to-be whom many Cougar fans would like to see trade in their maroon and gold for crimson and gray in 2006 are wide receiver Taylor Mays and cornerback Brandon Jones.

The early frontrunner for top overall recruit in the state, the 6-3, 220-pound Mays is being recruited heavily by both in-state schools. But both WSU and Washington already have stiff competition from the likes of Michigan and Notre Dame, a list that seems certain to grow as the calendar turns towards the spring and summer months.

"It's going to be national," said Kohler. "Everybody's starting to hop in there."

Most schools are looking at Mays as a receiver but Kohler said some are looking at him on the defensive side of the ball at safety -- he's turned in some impressive play in the back 40.

"He can do a lot of different things on both sides of the ball," said Kohler. "He's big, fast, strong and he's a football player.

As a junior, Mays had 25 catches for 514 yards and 7 TDs. On defense, he logged 89 tackles with 5 INTs and 5 pass breakups with 1 fumble recovery. He also averaged a whopping 32.6 yards a punt return, with 12 runbacks for 392 yards and 3 scores.

Mays is also the defending 100-meter and 200-meter state champion, taking both titles as a sophomore last year. Taylor is the son of former star UW defensive lineman Stafford Mays. Division 1 talent from Seattle's O'Dea has also not typically matriculated east of the mountains to WSU over the years.

"You know, I don't know what the reason for that is," said O'Dea coach Monte Kohler. "Maybe some of the kids are used to being in Seattle and if it's between the two in-state schools, and they've grown up in Seattle..."

NOT TO BE overlooked, Jones is a two year starter at cornerback for O'Dea. The interest in Mays might actually work in his favor.

Kohler said the 5-10, 160-pounder isn't receiving the national attention of Mays, but both Washington State and Washington are among those showing considerable interest and Jones is also coming to the attention of other schools earlier because of Mays than he might have otherwise.

"It's all kind of heating up for him as well," said Kohler of Jones' recruitment.

On the corner, he had 32 tackles, 2 INTS, 1 fumble recovery and 5 pass break ups.

The speed merchant should also get his chance to show what he can do on offense this year. Kohler said Jones' touches look to increase with the graduation of the '04 squad's leading rushers.

While it appears schools are looking at Jones as a corner, Kohler wouldn't discount the possibility some teams will be looking at him as a running back before it's all said and done.

With four other players getting more carries in '04, Jones averaged over 10 yards a pop with 35 carries for 358 yards and 7 TDs.

Both shifty-quick in traffic and flat-out-fast in the open field, Jones' speed was on display last spring when he placed 6th in the 100-meters as a sophomore. That speed was also evident on special teams.

While Mays dazzled on punt returns, Jones created some fireworks of his own on kickoffs. He returned 11 KOs for 439 yards -- a 39.9 yard average -- with 3 TDs.

Taylor Mays profile
Brandon Jones profile

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