Diablo Valley Preview

Diablo Valley head coach Mike Darr is excited about the speed and talent he has on both sides of the ball this year and he took the time recently to talk with JCFootball.com about some of that talent and some players to keep an eye on this fall. (Alex Harbison, Photo)

WR Ryan Gardner "We were trying to keep him a bit of a surprise, but people will realize soon how good of a player he is. He came here as a basketball player and he's just an amazing athlete. He's got all the physical tools you could want in a receiver and with his size (6-2, 185), his speed – he's a sub 4.4 guy – and his leaping ability (a 42-inch vertical) he should be really good for us.

"Now, we need to see how he does once the season starts because he hasn't played football in a couple of years because he was concentrating on basketball, but he had an outstanding spring and he's really concentrated on his route-running.

"Last year, basically all we did was throw fade or go-routes to him, but this year he's really been working on the medium range routes like the 15-yard in and out routes, the digs and stuff like that. I mean, he's really focused and intense and he's set himself up for a big year.

"California and Utah have been asking about him and got film on him and a bunch of other schools are very interested in him, but they want to see a little more of him. He'll finish up in May and he'll have two to play two."

WR John Hendershott "He has incredible hands, probably the best on our team, and he's a winner. He was a two-way starter for De La Salle's state runner-up squad.

"He's a great athlete and he's really tough and just a competitor. He was a full-qualifier out of high school so teams will like taking a look at him this fall with the chance of getting him in December.

"He's 6-1, 190 and he runs a 4.5, but he's got great football speed and always gets separation from the defender."

WR Cory Ramos "He's an outstanding possession guy, but he's probably a better fit at D-1AA. He's super-quick and he has great hands. We love his ability to read zones and defenses and he had a great spring."

QB Jon Loeliger "He blew out his ACL in 2005, but he's a great leader and a heck of a quarterback. He's also a winner. Over the past four years he's won three championships. He won his final two years in high school and then, as a freshman last year, he guided us to a championship so he's really a solid leader and quarterback.

RB Derrick Blanche "He's got all the skills you need in a running back, but he was out for a year and so we just need to see how he can do with the pads on and when things get going.

"As a senior in high school, he found out he had diabetes so he's had to work really hard to get that under control and now that he's done that we hope to get the best out of him. He had a great spring and we are looking forward to seeing what he can do for us."

RB Joe Peters "He's a change-of-pace, scatback guy who can return punts and kicks and he's got really good speed. He reminds me a lot of Robert Hubbard, who we had here back in 2002 and 2003 and he's now playing for the St. Louis Rams."

RB Erik Johnson "He transferred from Solano this spring. In 2005 and blew out his knee so he's just now starting to get back to where we think he can be. He's got good size, he's 5-9, 205, and he's gotten his speed back. He's shifty and he has really good vision."

OL Pete Vasaeu "He's our only returning veteran and we're counting on him to be our leader up front. He was the best offensive lineman in the conference last year and he's just nasty and aggressive and he's a really good athlete. He's going to be a guard for us and he'll probably do that at the next level too, but he could play center as well."

DE Luke Landri "His brother played for Notre Dame and he's now with the Jacksonville Jaguars so he comes from a good football bloodline. Last year he was coming off an ACL tear and he struggled with his quickness during the season, but we saw in the spring how great he could be because he has his quickness back and he's just really, really tough to stop when he gets a step on you."

DT Fetuao Mua "He's going to be a bit of a ‘tweener. It depends on the school and what they are looking for because of his height, but he's a straight-up football player. He's got D-1 talent, but more realistically he's probably a D-1AA guy who could just explode at that level. He needs some work on his academics, but he's had a good summer in that regard.

"He uses leverage really well and he's a great athlete – he played volleyball so you know he's a great athlete when a guy can do that at his size (6-0, 310). He's super-strong and can play a two-gap scheme or even get after the quarterback because of his speed (4.8 forty)."

LB Clayton Goree "He was offered a preferred walk-on to Oregon and he might be headed that way again if he can get himself a scholarship from them. He was an all-state guy in high school and he'll be one of our leaders this fall.

"He's got great eyes. I don't think he missed a read all spring. I mean, he just feels it and goes and that's just huge for a guy who we need a ton of plays from. We think he's got a chance to be a really special player."

LB Jordan Atkinson "He's a player that came to us from Utah State because he had some academic difficulties so he's here now and we're really excited to have a player like him on our team.

"We recruited him out of high school and his film is just amazing because he absolutely dominated games and we're hoping we can get that out of him again."

CB Alex Harbison (photo) "He's a lock-down guy for us. Last year, Schneider Julian from Foothill was a really good wideout and Alex just shut him down. I think he only had one or two catches.

"We usually stick Alex on the best wide receiver of the other team and just tell him to lock him down and he does. He's got great speed and great strength so he can man up on guys that are bigger than he is.

"He's 6-0, 180 and he runs a 4.3 forty. Guys with those attributes are big-time guys and teams are always looking for guys like that and he's going to go big-time this year. He's got a ton of schools looking at him already."

CB Andre Harbison "He's Alex's older brother and he was running track down at Contra Costa College back in 2000 and decided to come back because he wanted to play with his brother.

"He's 5-9, 185 but he's just solid and he's a weight room freak. H e just lives in there and there isn't an ounce of fat on him. He looks like he's chiseled out of granite.

"He'll have to go D-2 because of his clock, but he's definitely got D-1 talent."

Other Diablo Valley players to keep an eye on this fall: OT Donovan Edwards, OT Michael Bull and CB Justin Mayo.

JC Football Top Stories