Commentary

California continues to produce top-flight quarterbacks

Originally Published: September 29, 2008
By Tom Luginbill | Scouts Inc.

Deep, talent-rich California traditionally has been one of the stronger states when it comes to producing top-notch quarterbacks. From John Elway to Tom Brady to Heisman trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, the QBs from California have flourished mightily, and there does not seem to be any end in sight.

If you look at just the last five years alone, guys like Mark Sanchez and Jimmy Clausen may have garnered all the attention and are now starting for their respective teams, but Dayne Crist (2008), Nick Crissman (2008) and Ryan Lindley (2007) were also heavily sought after.

In 2009, there are four quarterbacks ranked within the top 20 prospects in the state this year. With the exception of Tate Forcier (San Diego/Scripps Ranch), who is committed to Michigan, they all appear to be staying in-state with Josh Nunes (Upland, Calif.) recently switching his verbal to Stanford from Tennessee and Richard Brehaut (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Los Osos) staying close with UCLA.

Three other QBs rank 21-40 in the state, including Joe Southwick (Danville, Calif./San Ramon Valley), Allan Bridgford (Mission Viejo, Calif.) and Sean Schroeder (Dana Point, Calif./Dana Hills).

Twelve of the top 20 Californians we have evaluated are on the offensive side of the football, and if you count athletes Cierre Wood (Oxnard, Calif./Santa Clara), Byron Moore, Jr. (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne) and Patrick Hall (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) as offensive prospects, which they all could be, that number jumps to 15.

Top recruit

Matt Barkley, quarterback
[+] EnlargeMatt Barkley
Kirby Lee/US PresswireMatt Barkley is one of three California quarterbacks playing in the Under Armour All-America Game.
Mater Dei HS (Santa Ana, Calif.)
Verbal commitment: USC

What can we say about Barkley that hasn't already been said? He's talented and fits the mold of what USC wants out of their quarterbacks. He is more advanced than most QBs coming out of high school in terms of knowledge of the game and understanding coverage and protections. He is even allowed to change the play, set the pass protection and make calls at the line ala Peyton Manning. This is rare at this stage, but Barkley seems to welcome the responsibility.

When Mater Dei breaks the huddle, Barkley will go to the line with two or three plays in his pocket and is given the freedom to make the call. Very few high school coaches like Bruce Rollinson at Mater Dei would be comfortable with this, but it's easy to see Rollinson has faith that his quarterback will get them into the right play. Like his coach says, we want guys who want to race the car, not just drive it.

While we know Barkley is talented on the gridiron, did you know he has a twin sibling and also likes to play the guitar? To give you an idea of how old I must be getting, Barkley said he likes "classic rock," including U2. Since when is U2 "classic rock"? I was thinking he might say Night Ranger or REO Speedwagon.

Under-the-radar recruit

Ricky Marvray, wide receiver
[+] EnlargeRicky Marvray
Tom HauckUCLA was one of the first BCS schools to show interest in Ricky Marvray.
Centennial HS (Corona, Calif.)
Verbal commitment: UCLA

Marvray has been overshadowed by teammate ILB Vontaze Burfict in terms of national spotlight, but he has a bright future ahead of him in the Norm Chow offense at UCLA. While he does not have lightning-quick speed, he has great hands, a wide catch radius and is extremely reliable and savvy.

Simply put, he just makes plays. Marvray comes up big when he is thrown to and shows good route discipline.

With the Pac-10's recent struggles on the field and with most of Marvray's recruitment coming from the mid-majors in the WAC and Mountain West, maybe the big boys should be taking a deeper look at guys like Marvray, especially with the success the Mountain West and WAC have shown against the Pac-10 this year. BYU, Utah and Fresno State are doing something right.

On the Trail (focus on offensive prospects)

USC, 16 commits, seven offensive, four athletes (Sept. 29)
Barkley is the headliner, but soft verbal WR Shaq Evans (Inglewood, Calif.) is a playmaker, WR Randall Carroll (Los Angeles/Cathedral) is a jet and OT Kevin Graf (Agoura, Calif.) is a top-five player at his position. WR Alshon Jeffrey (Saint Matthews, SC/Calhoun County) and TE/WR Morrell Pressley (Carson, Calif.) are two mammoth prospects in the passing game, and we think Pressley could remain at WR too. Jeffrey is reminiscent of former USC WR Mike Williams.

UCLA, 7 commits, three offensive, one athlete (Sept. 29)
Whatever happens the rest of the way for the Bruins, UCLA has addressed its most important need with QB Richard Brehaut. We feel it got a real steal here with someone it can build the offense around. Guard Greg Capella (Visalia, Calif./El Diamonte) is a large man in the offensive front.

Stanford, 16 commits, 13 offensive (Sept. 29)
Luring Nunes to Palo Alto was a big coup for Jim Harbaugh and the Cardinal's QB depth. Also, without question they have cornered the market on tight ends. We can't quite figure it out other than to say a few guys may be switching positions, but five committed tight ends is an awful lot. Tight ends Zach Ertz (Danville, Calif./Monte Vista) and Brock Sanders (Duluth, Ga./Northview) headline the group, and WR Jamal Patterson (McDonough, Ga./Henry County) was a huge pick-up for Stanford in the summer -- now they just have to hang onto him as he is heavily recruited throughout the SEC and ACC.

Cal, four commits, two offensive (Sept. 29)
Things have started off slow for Cal, but QB Allan Bridgford is a good start as he is the perfect fit for Jeff Tedford's scheme.

San Jose State, two commits, two offensive (Sept. 29)
As expected with most mid-majors, not too many commitments at this stage for the Spartans. However, under-the-radar QB Austyn Carta-Samuels (San Jose, Calif./Bellarmine Prep) is a nice pick-up for Dick Tomey.

Fresno State, two commits, one offensive (Sept. 29)
Same goes for the Bulldogs, but it just further proves that early commitments don't mean everything. Come February, Pat Hill will have another solid class in tow and the results on the field speak for themselves. Quarterback Derek Carr (Bakersfield, Calif./Christian) is following in his brother David's footsteps to Fresno.

San Diego State, seven commits, five offensive (Sept. 29)
The Aztecs have more readily available prospects surrounding them than Fresno State or San Jose State, which is why they have more commitments to this point. Wide receiver Ronnie Hillman (La Habra, Calif.) is versatile and could also be a change-of-pace back for this team.

ESPNRISE.com California Game of the Week

Mater Dei-Santa Ana (3-1) at Edison-Huntington Beach (3-1), Friday, 10 p.m. ET:
The OC, that's Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, will be rocking Friday as two of Orange County's top clubs collide at Lebard Stadium.

ESPN's top-ranked player, Matt Barkley, is the featured player. The USC-bound quarterback favors receivers Derek Campbell, Ario Winston and Victor Blackwell. However the Monarchs took to the ground in a 49-32 win over Jordan-Los Angeles as running backs Jaron Hytche (four TDs) and Jordan Allen (two) combined for six TDs. Last year, Barkley carved up the Chargers' defense for 253 yards and three TDs on 14 completions in a lopsided victory.

Edison won its first three games but needs to bounce back after a 29-17 loss to Servite-Anaheim last weekend. By the way, league rivals Mater Dei and Servite play Oct. 17.
-- Christopher Lawlor

Tom Luginbill is the national director of recruiting for Scouts Inc. Luginbill is a college football and recruiting studio analyst for ESPNU.