An Early Look: Cali's Top 20 for 2012

We take an early look at the top twenty prospects in the Golden State in the class of 2012, led by five-stars Arik Armstead from Elk Grove Pleasant Grove and Shaquille Thompson from Sacramento Grant...

The 2012 class in California should be much stronger across the board, than the 2011 class, particularly on the offensive line and at receiver as well as the secondary.  Quarterbacks, linebackers and running backs will be about the same while the defensive line will be solid again.

Here is an early look at the top 20 prospects in the Golden State, in alphabetical order.

Later this week, we'll expand our regional lists on offense and defense for the 2012 class.

Arik Armstead
Offensive Tackle, Elk Grove Pleasant Grove
The top prospect in the Golden State is an early candidate for's #1-player nationally.  Could also be an elite defensive end, but offensive tackle is where we think his future is.  Committed to USC, where his brother, Armond, is a starting defensive line.

Aziz Shittu
Defensive Tackle, Atwater Buhach Colony
Another talented two-way lineman from the SacJoaquin Section, this defensive tackle is also a top student.

Bart Houston
Quarterback, Concord De La Salle
In two years as a starter for the Spartans, has won two CIF State Open Division titles, and 25 straight games against the toughest schedule in the West.  The 6-3, 215-pounder has a strong arm and very good mobility.  Oregon State has recruited DLS strong and they and UCLA are two of Houston's early leaders.

Brandon Beaver
Cornerback, Compton Dominguez
Could be the top cover corner in the Southland, Beaver had a wrist injury that is keeping him out of basketball but should have him ready for the spring camp circuit.  UCLA, Washington and Tennessee are some of his recent offers.

Bryce Treggs
Receiver, Bellflower St. John Bosco
Of all the receivers in the 2012 class, Treggs is probably the most fundamentally sound, running the most crisp and precise routes and with excellent hands.  Cal, where his father starred, is the early leader but Stanford and UCLA are also right there in the mix.

Byron Marshall
Running Back, San Jose Valley Christian
California's top running back in the 2012 class has offers from all over the country, but the two Bay Area schools are on him heavily as is Arizona State, where his brother, Cameron, is a running back.

Darius Powe
Receiver, Lakewood
One half of one of the best receiver tandems in the state (with Malik Gilmore), Powe has a number of offers and figures to be Lakewood's next bigtime recruit.

Darreus Rogers
Receiver, Carson
An early commit to USC, Rogers is the City Section's top offensive prospect in the 2012 class.

Derrick Woods
Receiver, Inglewood
Woods is one of the more electric players in the Southland- whether it's catching passes, returning kicks or punts.  Half of the Pac-10 has offered him.

Ellis McCarthy
Defensive Line, Monrovia
The top two-way lineman in Southern California, McCarthy has offers from USC and UCLA, and could play on either side of the ball in college.

Freddie Tagaloa
Offensive Line, Richmond Salesian
From the same school as Jahvid Best, Tagaloa first was discovered while playing AAU basketball but has blossomed into the Bay Area's top offensive lineman, and most of the Pac-10 has offered him.

Gabriel Marks
Receiver, Venice
Tore it up last spring and summer on the camp tour, including Los Angeles NFTC MVP honors and then earned all-state honors as a defensive back, showing his versatility.

Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick
Tight End, Rocklin Whitney
Moved from Palm Desert to the Sacramento area, but college coaches didn't lost touch of him and he has a handful of Pac-10 offers.  Could play tight end, defensive end or the offensive line in college.

Jordan Payton
Receiver, Westlake Village Oaks Christian
Committed to USC as a sophomore, Payton is the most physical of the receivers in this vaunted class of 2012. 

Jordan Simmons
Offensive Guard, Encino Crespi
Southern California's top offensive lineman, Simmons' offer sheet spreads the country and the Pac-10, especially the two Los Angeles schools, are paying him a lot of attention.  Already selected to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Kyle Murphy
Offensive Tackle, San Clemente
Big and athletic offensive tackle may be the best overall prospect in Orange County in the class of 2012, and also gets it done in the classroom.

Shane Dillon
Quarterback, El Cajon Christian
San Diego has had its fair share of top passers, and Dillon fits that mold.  Camp tour last summer landed him an early and coveted offer from Ohio State and then he shined at the UnderArmour Combine in Orlando.

Shaquille Thompson
Athlete, Sacramento (Calif.) Grant
The best skill player in the West in the 2012 class, Thompson is a five-star safety and could be one at running back too.  Cal, where his brother Syd'Quan played, is the heavy favorite for the elite prospect, who has a Who's Who of offers.

Taylor McNamara
Tight End, San Diego Westview
Big and physical tight end is the best pure all-around tight end in the West in the 2012 class and has numerous offers to boot.

Tee Shepard
Defensive Back, Fresno Central
From the famed "Tony Perry DB Guru" circle, Shepard is easily the best corner prospect in the West and one of the premier corners nationally.  The U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection has 20+ offers.

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