SAN MATEO, Calif. – High school football in May? Absolutely, and on top of it the action in the two one-hour skill sessions on a warm Thursday evening on The Peninsula at the First Annual College Showcase was entertaining.
Well over three dozen college coaches were on hand, from local JC’s all the way to coaches from as far away from North Carolina-Charlotte attended the event that will shift from Serra to Concord at De La Salle next year.
In fact, some of the top players from host and defending CIF Northern Regional Open Division champion Serra, and defending CIF Northern Regional Division 1-AA champion De La Salle, showed some real prowess and looked to be in pretty good shape so far in advance of the upcoming season.
“I thought it was a wonderful day and a real success,” said Serra head coach Patrick Walsh, who arranged for a Polynesian Luau feast at the conclusion of the event. “The excitement was worth the effort. Just having football in May; it felt like game day but it’s really not.”
“This is about the kids,” Walsh continued. “A few of the De La Salle kids picked up offers and I know Kyon Loud picked up an offer from UC Davis today.”
“Kyon looked fantastic today,” Walsh remarked about his budding incoming senior wide receiver that got his very first offer.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Loud caught 14 passes for 159 yards and two TDs last season, but with most of the production at wide receiver graduating, Loud will be the top returner along with incoming senior Jaden Green on what will be a new and somewhat young receiving corps. Green has interest from Nevada, Sacramento State and San Diego State.
Serra took the field first in a one-hour session, and right out of the box Joseph Bey looked to be in mid-season form. Between Serra and De La Salle combined there were nine players we felt that stood out, including Loud, but Bey shined the brightest.
Last season playing strictly on defense at safety, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound incoming senior had 46 tackles. This season he will be going both ways, and will play some running back, but the analysts, including Brandon Huffman of 247Sports, and the college coaches assembled, pretty much agreed that at his size and the way he can hit, defensive back will be his spot at the next level.
In an effort to gain speed to go with hitting the weight room since the football season ended, Bey ran track this past season
“It was my first year running track and I feel very fast right now, very strong, athletic, flexible and confident in my body and how I look,” Bey said. “I put in the work this off season on the track and in the weight room. I’m feeling great right now.”
“I’ve been at Washington and a couple of other schools but I’m planning on taking an East Coast trip and check out a bunch of Ivy League schools,” Bey responded when asked if he had taken any visits. “I’ll also be at the Sacramento State camp and thye Stanford camp.”
Serra incoming senior quarterback Maealiuki Smith told reporters he wants to make a decision about college before the season starts. What about Bey?
“I’ve talked to my parents about this and we want to make a decision before the season starts,” Bey said. “It really depends on how this spring goes. I feel like I’ve showcased a lot on my film but I have a lot more to show.”
When asked about current offers Bey responded in this order.
“I have Columbia, UNLV, San Jose State, Pittsburg, ASU and Portland State right now. My top I’d probably say are San Jose State and Columbia. I’m getting a lot of interest from Ivy League schools, and Stanford is really high up on me right now. Washington State as well. I’m comfortable anywhere but a lot of these coaches want to see me play in the slot, the box, cover, so I’m going to showcase that ability come camp time.”
Bey didn’t get an offer at the College Showcase but obviously he has a few, and the way he looked on Thursday, plus with carrying a 4.0 GPA things should start to warm up for him.
“Joseph did look good today and the kid’s working really hard,” Walsh remarked.
At 6-foot-4, 195-pounds Smith has the prototypical size for a quarterback at the next level. Like Bey, he looked to be in great shape and his arm strength and accuracy looked very good for May. Smith didn’t get an offer at the College Showcase but he already has almost two dozen starting with Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, Cal, Cincinnatti, Colorado, Florida State, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami, Michigan State, Missouri, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State, San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV, Utah, Utah State and Washington.
“As a quarterback IQ is a big part of the game,” said Smith when asked about potential areas for personal improvement. “I can always excel and learn so I’ve been spending some time with my coaches expanding my knowledge of the game and working on my chemistry with some new guys at receiver.
“A good off season for a good season,” continued Smith when asked about the outlook this season.
Several other Padres looked solid but two others that performed very well in more than one of the skill sessions were 6-foot, 210-pound incoming senior running back and linebacker Jabari Mann, and 6-foot, 2005-pound incoming senior linebacker and running back Marley Alapati. Mann has already committed to San Jose State and Alapati has offers from Army and UNLV.
Not surprisingly, Walsh doesn’t see any new wrinkles being added to the Serra offense or defense.
De La Salle was missing several top players that are track stars and competed at the CIF North Coast Section Meet of Champions in the 100, including 6-foot-1, 200-pound incoming junior dual-threat quarterback Toa Fa’avae, 5-foot-9, 160-pound incoming sophomore wide receiver and defensive back Jaden Jefferson, and 5-foot-9, 175-pound incoming senior wide receiver Johnathon Guerrero.
According to Spartans head coach Justin Alumbaugh, Fa’avae has run a 10.9 hundred, his arm strength is good and he has a potentially tremendous upside.
As for Jefferson, Alumbaugh said he ran a 10.7 hundred last week and will be returning after being regarded as the top underclass defensive back in the area last year when he started as a freshman.
Guerrero was the No. 3 wide receiver on the Spartans last year and top returner after catching 12 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns. However, it was as a defensive back where he really made his mark with eight interceptions, a sack and 29 tackles. The eight interceptions not only led the team but was No. 2 in the NCS and tied for No. 8 in the state
Fa’avae currently has an over from UNLV and Jefferson already has offers from San Jose State and UNLV.
Those three aren’t here, but it’s a good thing to qualify for the Meet of Champions,” reflected Alumbaugh.
Of the Spartans that were at the College Showcase, we felt four really stood out.
Dominic Kelley, a 5-foot-11, 200-pound incoming junior running back was in great shape, is a strong physical runner that showed good speed. Last season he had a game where he rushed for over 200 yards. Kelley already had an offer from Nevada and picked one up on Thursday from San Jose State.
Robert Santiago, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound defensive back showed why he has offers from Cal, Miami, Oregon and Washington. He has great length and is a safety that can also cover man. Santiago picked up two more offers on Thursday from San Jose State and Washington State.
The most impressive lineman at the College Showcase was the Spartans 6-foot-5, 250-pound incoming junior defensive lineman Matthew Johnson. He’s tall, athletic, long, explosive and has great size. According to Alumbaugh he can easily add 25 pounds.
Another Spartans player that looked solid was incoming junior running back Derrick Blanche. Like a lot of previous De La Salle running backs he’s short in stature at 5-foot-7, but he’s added some muscle and is up to 185-pounds. Blanche rushed for 583 yards and seven TDs last season. He also caught 10 passes as a slot back.
Speaking of former De La Salle running backs that were short and stout, the list starts with probably the best Spartans runner ever, and current De La Salle assistant coach and NFL Network analyst Maurice Jones-Drew. He checked in at 5-foot-7, 210-pouns at the height of his NFL career
Guess what. He has a son named Deuce Jones-Drew. According to Alumbaugh the incoming freshman will be playing varsity.
Recently, De La Salle has had a shakeup on its coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Nate Kenion, who took the job when legendary Bob Laudoceur right-hand man Terry Eidson stepped back three years ago, has stepped aside to pursue possible college options. Guess who’s back? Its Eidson who has had his teaching duties cut back to be able to come back as the defensive coordinator.
Meanwhile, Alumbaugh, who has called the offense since taking over for Lad 10-years ago will return to defense and in another big move Kevin Fordon has been named as the offensive coordinator after coaching receivers the last few years while teaching on campus.
Fordon had some success at Riordan-San Francisco where he led the Crusaders to a CIF Central Coast Section finals appearance in 2015.
As the coaches were walking in from the parking lot and we spotted them and congratulated Fordon, Alumbaugh jokingly shouted out with a laugh. “Kevin’s only been here two weeks and he’s demolished the veer.”
The vaunted veer has been the staple of the Spartans offense from the very beginning, but the veer is not Fordon’s fortay despite playing with the it as the primary offense before his 2000 graduation.
“Of course we’re going to run the veer,” Alumbaugh said. “But we’re going t throw the ball too”