The 2001 CCSF Rams
Defending National Champions
George Rush, 25th Season
2000 Bowl Games:
Defeated Bakersfield in State Championship Game (31-13)
Heading into the 2001 season, it is difficult not to pick the Rams as the top team in the state of California, if not the nation. When you consider the number of quality players returning from the 2000 team, factor in CCSF's newcomers, and look at how well the Rams did in 2000, it is scary to think of what the Rams may be capable of in 2001. Looking at the team position by position, it is tough to find a weak spot. The Rams appear to be strong in every area of the game. Division I coaches are pounding on the Rams' door, eagerly anticipating the performance of the Rams' 2001 prospects
At quarterback, the Rams have four players competing for the position. The most athletic candidate is a name that will be familiar to JC footbal fans from the 2000 season. Orlando Evans (6-1, 195, Brookside Christian H.S, Stockton, CA), Solano College's starting quarterback in 2000, will be with the Rams in 2001. Evans took an interesting route to CCSF after signing with the University of Oregon out of high school. Evans was going to play at Chabot College in 2000, but transferred to Solano before the start of the season. After the 2000 season, Evans accepted a scholarship to San Jose State University, but decided to come to CCSF for his second year of JC eligibility rather than take the scholarship to SJSU. Because Solano suspended their program for the 2001 season, Evans did not have to establish his residency at CCSF prior to the start of the season. He spent most of the Spring with the Rams and although he is still learning the system, his athleticism should be able to carry him.
At Solano in 2000, Evans was a threat from multiple positions, lining up at both quarterback and receiver on a regular basis. He completed 110 of 184 passes for 1,460 yards and 9 touchdowns. He also rushed for 497 yards and scored 8 touchdowns on the ground. He was an exciting all around player for the Falcons throughout the season and was named co-first team All-Mid-Empire Conference quarterback.
Competing with Evans for the starting spot are three
candidates. Of the three, the one who appears to be the most polished is
Utah State bounce back Kjell Nesen (6-1, 190). Nesen, who may be familiar to
Southern California fans, was a prep standout at St. Francis High School in La
Canada as a quarterback and punter. He signed with Washington State out of high
school and redshirted for the Cougars in 1999. He was competing for the starting
spot in the Spring of 2000 but elected to transfer. He was Utah State's punter
in 2000. He spent the Spring with the Rams and has learned their offensive
system pretty well.
Two graduates of Jefferson High School in Daly City, just south of CCSF are in the mix as well. Doug Lealao (5-11, 200) played basketball at nearby Canada College for two years and decided to transfer to CCSF and play some football. Lealao was a outstanding defensive back as well in high school. Jonathan Emelo was also a standout at Jefferson following Leilao. Emelo was the Indians' starting QB in 1998 and 1999.
For the 2001 season, whoever wins the starting position at quarterback will inherit a team that is loaded at the wide receiver position.
In 2000, CCSF used four freshman receivers in their pass oriented offense. The corps gave sophomore quarterbacks Taylor Barton and Kevin Zouzounis plenty of targets to throw to. This was unquestionably the most talented group of freshman receivers in the country. The group burst on to the scene at the outset of the 2000 season. In a program known for producing division I players, the receiving corps identified themselves as a group of major prospects for the 2001 recruiting season.
At 6-4, 195-pounds, Zach Fletcher is the largest receiver in the group. With his combination of size, strength, and speed, Fletcher established himself as the leading freshman receiver on the team. During the regular season, Fletcher hauled in 38 receptions for 885 yards. He averaged 23.3 yards per catch over the course of the season and led the team with 13 receiving touchdowns. Although many may first take notice of Fletcher's size and strength, CCSF offensive coordinator Dan Hayes insists that Fletchers has "great speed" as well. Hayes also described Fletcher as a "physical" receiver. Fletcher is a graduate Lawrence High School in Alabama.
Kellen Taylor, a graduate of Oak Grove High School in San Jose, CA, may have received the most attention in 2000. The 6-1, 180-pound Taylor had 33 receptions during the regular season for 466 yards and 6 touchdowns. In the Rams' win over Fresno City College in the Northern California championship game, Fletcher exploded for 158 yards on 5 receptions and two touchdowns, averaging over 31 yards per catch. Hayes described Fletcher as "explosive" and "electrifying." He can make a big play on any given play.
Hayes described Jonathan Makonnen (6-0, 175) as "smooth" and said that it seems "effortless" for Makonnen to play the game. Makonnen, a graduate of Woodside High School in San Mateo County, CA, also had an outstanding rookie year for the Rams. He racked up 429 receiving yards on 25 receptions and 4 touchdowns in only nine games. Makonnen has very good speed to accompany his smooth, natural ability to run great routes.
The player who may end up us the most highly recruited Ram receiver based on his performance in 2000 is Princell Brockenbrough. Brockenbrough was a "big play" receiver all season for the Rams. His big frame (6-3, 205) and great speed made him a big part of the offense. With 21 receptions for 360 yards and 6 touchdowns, Brockenbrough made things happen. He averaged over 17 yards per reception in 2000. A native of Virginia and graduate of Henrico High School, Brockenbrough should continue to excel in 2001.
Frighteningly, the "Fab Four" are not the only receivers the Rams have in their arsenal in 2001. Former University of Miami signee Willie Dixon (6-0, 180, Stockton, CA) is slated to play for the Rams this fall. In addition, Vallejo High School standout Phil Goodman will likely play for the Rams in 2001 as well.
The Rams offensive line is in great shape with the return of
starting offensive guards Tim Fa'aita (6-2, 305, Jefferson H.S., Daly City, CA)
and Jesse Keaulana-Kamakea (6-3, 280, Hawaii). Both were anchors on the
line in 2000 and this season should be no different. At center, Travis
McGee (6-3, 280) returns after sitting out 2000 with an injury. McGee was
inured at the end of the 1999 season after starting on the Rams line for the
majority of the season. He is back to health
and should be ready to go. The Rams will start a pair of new faces at the tackles, and they have three big boys competing for the positions including Dan Christian (Terra Nova H.S., Pacifica, CA), Eugene Nivens (6-4, 310, McClymonds H.S., Oakland, CA), and Adrian Limbrick (6-4, 280).
Johnnie Mack (5-8, 180) returns at tailback for the Rams after a strong season in 2000. Mack rushed for 677 yards on 141 carries during thr regular season for the Rams out of their single back offense. Theo Warren (6-0, 215) may see some time at the one back position as well after some spot time in 2000.
Although the Rams do not return as many starters on defense, some key athletes return to lead the Rams in 2001.
Linebackers Pasha Jackson (6-3, 235, Tennyson H.S., Hayward, CA) and Lance Mitchell (6-3, 245, Los Banos H.S., CA) may be the best tandem of linebackers in the state. Both were outstanding, very physical players in 2000 and they are in line to be among the top linebacker recruits in 2001. When asked, Coach Rush could not put one player ahead of the other in terms of talent and ability. They are that close. Rush explained that nearly every university that came through the door during the spring was interested in both players. They are the real deal.
On the defensive line, the Rams will certainly miss Charles Roberson, who will redshirt in 2001 for non-academic reasons after starting for the Rams in 2000. He will be with the Rams, however, and should be a name to remember for 2002. Of the players who will play this fall, defensive end Raoul Lindsay (6-2, 240, Oakland Tech) should be a top player, after playing a back-up role at linebacker in 2000. Coach Rush described Lindsay as "Extremely quick." Brian AhSoon (6-0, 280, Phoenix, AZ) moves over to the defensive line after playing offensive guard in 2000. The defensive line is his natural position and after working out there in the Spring, Coach Rush expects him to do well.
The secondary is highlighted by the return of starting strong safety Gibril "G.B." Wilson (6-1, 180, Oak Grove H.S., San Jose, CA) and spot playing cornerback Ronnie Nunn (6-0, 185, St. Francis H.S., Mountain View, CA). Wilson was outstanding at safety in 2000. Both he and Nunn recorded 2 interceptions apiece last season and are poised to be among the top DBs in the state this season. Joining Wilson and Nunn are fellow sophomores Lawrence Turner (6-0, 195, Las Vegas, NV) at free safety and Rodney Burton (5-8, 175, Richmond, CA) at cornerback. Although Turner and Burton were back-ups in 2000, don't be misled. They are outstanding and played behind a pair in D-I players in 2000.
The Rams special teams may be as good as they've been in the recent past. Placekicker Richard Heintz (6-2, 185, Serra H.S.) returns after leading the state in kick scoring in 2000. He was named All-State Region II after connecting on 52 of 61 PATs and 10 of 14 field goals for a total of 82 points. The aforementioned Kjell Nesen was recruited by many division I universities for his punting out of high school and regardless of whether or not he starts at quarterback, Nesen will be a major prospect as a punter. "He averages 45 yards a punt... Averages!" exclaimed Coach Rush. Nesen will be among the state's best in 2001.
The Rams certainly have the talent to pick up where they've left off following each of the past two season. Of course, anything can happen in this great game of ours, so lets see how the season goes in 2001.