Got to have faith
Versatile playmaker Don Pearson highlights an up-and-coming Faith Lutheran program
LAS VEGAS -- Wide receiver/athlete Don Pearson of Faith Lutheran is one of the more versatile prospects in the West for the 2011 class. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder is an outstanding receiver, but could project as a safety or outside linebacker in college.
"I am pretty comfortable playing wherever I am needed," Pearson said. "There is not really a preference for me. I just want to play wherever I can make an impact."
His versatility was never more evident than during his junior year, which was an injury-plagued 1-8 campaign during his team's first year in the 4A class. Pearson had 41 receptions for 616 yards and five touchdowns last season, but also played a good bit of quarterback when starting quarterback Joe Portaro was injured. During Pearson's sophomore season -- his first as a starter -- he caught 74 passes for 1,032 yards and 12 touchdowns.
"In my 14 years of coaching, Don is by far one of the hardest working players in the weight room," Faith Lutheran coach Jacob Kothe said. "He sets a great example for all of the young players in the program, is a good student and plays hard on both sides of the ball."
Stanford already has offered Pearson and there are several other programs taking a look.
"It was exciting (to get the offer from Stanford)," Pearson said. "I didn't expect it and I was really caught off guard when I got it."
Pearson will camp at Stanford in June and also plans to camp at Oregon this summer. Colorado, UCLA, TCU, Colorado State and others are also showing interest.
"I am looking for the best situation for me and my family," Pearson said.
Portaro has potential
Portaro threw for 2,020 yards and 20 touchdowns with 13 interceptions as a sophomore and added 292 yards and four touchdowns rushing. Last season, he broke his thumb in his throwing hand during the fourth quarter of the second game of the year and could not play quarterback for a good portion of the season. He finished with 685 yards and seven touchdowns with six interceptions and still helped the team, despite being injured.
"He's by far our toughest player," Kothe said. "Even though he had a broken thumb, that didn't prevent him from getting on the field. He played some tight end for us and some defense for us and would fly around and hit kids."
Perhaps there wasn't a greater example of Portaro's toughness than this past basketball season.
"He took an elbow to the nose," Kothe said. "It smashed his nose, there was blood everywhere. They stuffed his nose and got it to stop and he was back in there playing."
Boise State, Utah, UCLA, Colorado and Northern Arizona are showing interest. He plans to camp at Colorado and Boise State this summer, along with a visit to UCLA.
A.J. Kaplan is a 6-5, 270-pound offensive lineman that could emerge as a Division I prospect, once more schools find out about him.
"He has great feet and is a good athlete," Kothe said. "He has an unbelievable pass set. We throw the ball quite a bit."
During the season, Kaplan suffered a minor knee injury, but played through the pain and elected to have surgery after the season, which showed his toughness. However, he has to continue to make strides in the weight room -- like all young offensive lineman must do.
UNLV, Northern Arizona, Penn and Brown are showing interest, but Kothe believes there will be many more programs once the word gets out about Kaplan.
Big goals for Lubbe
Tight end/defensive end Bret Lubbe is a 6-3, 230-pounder with good hands and grades (3.7 grade point average), who also caught the injury bug a bit last season. Now that he is healthy, he has high goals and is getting looks from college programs.
"I want to be a first-team, all-state tight end and I think that is an achievable goal," he said. "I really focus on my grades a lot. I plan on football getting me into a great school and then going from there."
Kothe had high praise for the rising senior, who also stars on the basketball court for Faith Lutheran.
"(Lubbe) leads by example," Kothe said. "He never misses a workout and loves to compete."
UNLV, Nevada, Oregon State, Duke, TCU, Boise State, Brown, Harvard and Penn, among others are showing interest.
JC Shurburtt covers recruiting for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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