Five to Watch
Issue #1: Running Backs
With the 2001 season looming in the not too distant future, we are going to begin to look at five prospects to watch at each position. This is not and end all, be all list. Rather, we are taking into consideration a player's performance in 2000 and their coach's assessment of the player as a prospect. Stop number 1 is the running backs:
1. Chris Bruhn, Butte College (6-3 1/2, 212) - Despite sharing playing time as a freshman with Butte's All-American tailback Marty Johnson, former Washington State signee Chris Bruhn made quite a name for himself in 2000. The big back with great speed burst on to the scene in 2000, racking up 876 yards on 133 carries (6.6 yards per carry) with nine touchdowns. He earned first team All-NorCal Conference honors for his performance. Now, with Johnson moving on to the University of Utah, Bruhn will have the show to himself at Butte. If he takes care of business in the classroom, there is no telling where Bruhn can go. However, he will have to get it done in the classroom in order to be eligible for the 2001 season.
2. Marcus Guzman, Riverside College (6-0, 185) - In a conference known for passing, Marcus Guzman established himself as the premier running back in the Mission Conference. Guzman ran for 1,446 yards on 303 carries (4.8 yards per carry) and 19 touchdowns. His average of 144.6 yards per game was fifth in the state in 2000. In addition to being named All-Mission Conference Northern Division, Guzman was first team All-State Region IV and joined Butte's Marty Johnson on the JC Athletic Bureau All-American team. Guzman should pick up where he left off in 2001.
3. Kenneth Thomas, Victor Valley College (6-0, 235) - For a running back from an 0-10 team to make first team All-State Region III, he would have to be pretty good, and Victor Valley's Kenneth Thomas fit the bill. Thomas rushed for 1000 yards on 216 carries during the regular season. He was named first team All-Foothill Conference in addition to his All-State award. As a big back with great speed, he will likely be a major recruit in 2001 if universities take notice of him. As the Victor Valley program tries to get things turned around, they certainly have an outstanding back to build around in Kenny Thomas.
4. Lionel Arnold, Contra Costa College (6-1, 200) - A graduate of Richmond High School in Contra Costa County, Lionel Arnold had a breakout year in 2000. Arnold finished second only to Marty Johnson in yards rushing in 2000, running for 1,528 yards on 252 carries, averaging 6.1 yards per carry and 152.8 yards per game out of an "I" backfield. His 14 touchdowns were among the state's leaders. He also had 109 yards receiving, giving him 1,637 all purpose yards. As might be expected, he was named All-Bay Valley Conference following the season. If his academics are in line, Arnold could be highly recruited in 2001.
5. Courtlandt Florence, Compton College (6-1, 195) - After a standout freshman season at L.A. Harbor College, Ocala, Florida native Courtlandt Florence has transferred to Compton College and is expect to have another huge season in 2001. Florence, who is among the fastest players in the state, ran the 100 meter dash in 10.14 seconds in high school. He is young, having only turned 18 during the past season. He has already attracted the attention of a number of major Division I universities. Florence is scheduled to be able to transfer mid-year in 2001. In 2000 at L.A. Harbor, Courtlandt carried the ball 197 times for 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry over the course of the season. He was named first team All-Western State Conference following the season.
Antowain Vaughns, Monterey Peninsula College (5-10, 175) - Before getting hurt in game seven in 2000, Monterey High School graduate Antowain Vaughns was having a huge season for the Lobos. Averaging 10.2 yards per carry, Vaughns racked up 522 yards on only 51 carries. Despite only playing in seven games, Vaughns was named first team All-Coast Conference following the season, an indication of how highly the other coaches in the conference regarded Vaughns. With the coaching change at MPC, things may be up in the air. Regardless, if Vaughns is able to bounce back from his injury, he should be a player to watch in 2001.