2011 Team Preview: Palomar

Palomar is always one of the top JUCO programs in the state of California and this year they have plenty of top prospects returning from a team that went 5-5 in 2010. Here is a look at some of the top prospects on the Comets' roster and what to expect from them in 2011...

Head coach Joe Early and his staff return 10 starters (4 on offense; 6 on defense) from last year's team and they hope to return to the top of the standings with a talented group of newcomers joining the more experienced players.

Handling the signal-calling duties this year will be David Fisher, a Nevada bounceback, who has a live arm and a nice frame.

Pushing Fisher will be D.J. Zapata who came to Palomar after two years at the University of Montana and is more of your classic drop-back passer.

When either one of the quarterbacks drops back to pass, they will have some nice weapons at their disposal.

Nigel Westbrooks returns at one of the receiver spots after hauling in 39 receptions for 459 yards and one touchdown and joining him will be Mike Hodges at the other receiver spot.

Out of the slot will be Dallas Butler, an All-Conference player in 2010, and then you throw in TE Cory Soto who is a 6'8", 260-pounder with soft hands and enough athleticism to be one of the top tight ends in the country at the JUCO level.

Along the offensive line, Nate Devan, a redshirt freshman bounceback from Sacramento State, is the leader of a talented group.

C Jose Zuniga is the leader in the pivot, making all of the calls, while G A.J. Kaplan, a freshman qualifier, T Kolby Drew and G David Villanueva round out the group.

The running backs will be a group of youngsters led by Michael Taele who is an excellent receiver out of the backfield.

Backing Taele up will be Chad Dobbins and Austin Dennis, who is an outstanding return man.

On defense, the Comets are led by Eugene Lott and Carson Paopao at the defensive end spots along with Erik Aunese and J.J. Sio make their names inside.

Expect freshmen Brandon Durham and Junior Cortez to be solid rotation players this fall with both possessing plenty of upside for the future.

LB David Moodie can play defensive end and he has an outstanding motor. As a backup last fall, Moodie posted 24 tackles and two sacks and the expectation is he will put up much bigger numbers this fall.

Joining Moodie will be Adam Witzmann (38 tackles, 1 sack) inside and Jeremiah Kose at the SAM (strongside) position.

Adding depth to the linebacker unit will be Ezra Latu and Shanta Chaloux.

In the secondary, the Comets have two talented prospects led by S Devin Taverna who led the team in tackles with 75 and interceptions with 3.

Eric Paopao returns at strong safety after redshirting in 2010 and the coaches are excited about his 4.4 speed and toughness.

Rocco Hemphill returns as the punter after averaging 36.3 yards on 12 punts last fall.

The coaches love his strong leg and the hangtime he gets on his punts.

Last week the Comets started the season with a 45-13 win over Southwestern and this week they will travel to face Cerritos.

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