California's top offensive prospects
The state of California produces talent every year and is continually amongst the best places to find prospects due to the sheer number of players it produces. The state has produced five offensive prospects in the ESPNU 150, including two top-10 receivers -- George Farmer (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra) and Victor Blackwell (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) -- and a top-10 quarterback in Max Wittek (Corona Del Mar, Calif./Mater Dei).
Overall, the quarterbacks are well represented with four signal-callers ranking among the top 30 in the nation at that position. Somewhat surprisingly, it is not a very strong year in California at running back or offensive tackle.
The top offensive prospect in California could easily be ranked among the state's top defensive prospects as well. Farmer, who is the lone five-star prospect from the Golden State, is a good athlete who could excel at safety or wide receiver. As a receiver, he has nice size and great speed. The No. 2 ranked player at the position can stretch the field vertically with the ability to reach top speed rapidly. He attacks the football, possesses big and strong hands, and can be tough in jump-ball situations because of his strength and leaping ability. We also like that, for a bigger receiver, Farmer is dangerous with the ball in his hands and can turn short passes into big gains.
Junipero Serra High School produced the No. 1 overall wide receiver in 2010 (USC signee Robert Woods) and has now followed with another impressive prospect at the position. Farmer is currently uncommitted. Many schools would love his services, but the in-state Trojans may be tough to beat.
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RB Brendon Bigelow (Fresno, Calif./ Central East)
Already among the top 15 prospects in the state of California, Bigelow is someone to keep an eye on because a healthy senior season could see him rise even higher. The Washington commit suffered an ACL injury during his junior season, but if he can bounce back and stay healthy he has the tools to be a home run threat any time he touches the ball. He could break into the top 10 among this class of running backs. A healthy Bigelow could be considered one of the quickest and fastest backs in the 2011 class. He can burst through the hole with great footwork or he get thin and can slide through small creases, presenting a difficult target for defenders to get a clean shot on. Plus, when he is able to get to second level or turn the corner he has breakaway speed. A dangerous player in space, he also has great hands and can contribute as a receiving target. He does not have great size and may not -- at least initially -- be able to carry the load, but he can create big plays.
Taking up residence
Here are the colleges that are doing the best with offensive prospects from California.
The Trojans have been the most active and successful in-state program on the recruiting trail thus far. Six of the Trojans' seven commits on offense hail from the Golden State. Despite the NCAA sanctions that were placed on the program, the Trojans still have a strong appeal to prospects, especially those in Southern California. USC has landed a pair of quarterbacks from within their borders, led by Wittek and his receiving target Blackwell. Another pair of high school teammates on board is big guard Marcus Martin and electrifying athlete DeAnthony Thomas (Los Angeles, Calif. / Crenshaw). Thomas could be an exciting situational back for USC or a promising cornerback. The Trojans also remain in the running for a few more top in-state offensive prospects.
The Huskies have recruited California well under Steve Sarkisian. This year they have gone into Cali and plucked one ESPNU 150 prospect and another who is worthy if he comes back full strength from injury. Aubrey Coleman (Walnut, Calif./Walnut) is the third highest rated athlete in the fertile recruiting state and has great upside with his good size, athleticism and ability to play on either side of the ball. Brendon Bigelow (Fresno, Calif./Central East) is one of the most talented running backs in the country when healthy and has a great shot of jumping into the ESPNU 150, if he bounces back from a serious knee injury. Elijhaa Penny (Norwalk, Calif./Norwalk) could fit into a number of roles for UW throughout the offense backfield and is a nice land as we feel he's underrated as a jumbo-athlete.
The Cardinal will go nationwide for offensive talent and have a class representative of that with prospects from all over the map. That being said, the Cardinal are also active within their own state with five of the team's 12 offensive prospects hailing from California. Athlete Jordan Richards (Folsom, Calif./Folsom) could play receiver or corner in college and Amir Carlisle (Sunnyvale, Calif. / King's Academy) is a running back with great feet, vision and feel for the position.
Five of the Bruins' nine commits are offensive prospects from California, led by wide receiver Brandin Cooks (Stockton, Calif. / Lincoln). He is a productive playmaker that could also contribute in the return game.
The Golden Bears have only two offensive prospects from in-state committed, but they are solid three-star prospects. Jordan Rigsbee (Chico, Calif. / Pleasant Valley) is a top-15 guard prospect and quarterback Kyle Boehm (Cupertino, Calif./Archbishop Mitty) is a very good prospect with the ability to do some things with the ball that you cannot coach.
San Diego State
Eight of the Aztecs' nine offensive commits are from California, including three-star prospects WR Paul Pitts (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Los Osos) and RB De'Saan Hardwick (San Diego, Calif./Madison).
Craig Haubert is the recruiting coordinator for ESPN Recruiting and has more than a decade of coaching experience.
States Of Recruiting
• Alabama: Center of attention
• Arkansas: Razorbacks' in-state pipeline
• Arizona/New Mexico: Loaded on the line
• Calif. offense: WR Farmer leads the way
• Calif. defense: It all starts up front
• Colorado: Buffaloes keep cherry picking
• Florida offense: Loaded at QB, skill positions
• Florida defense: Highlighted by elite safeties
• Georgia: Among the best recruiting areas
• Hawaii/Alaska: More than just vacation spot
• Iowa: Hawkeyes making best of down year
• Illinois: Continuing tradition of big-time WRs
• Indiana: Hoosier State producing linemen
• Kansas: Starling continues quarterback trend
• Kentucky: Wildcats, Cardinals capitalizing
• Louisiana: Better than ever
• Maryland: Flying under the radar
• Michigan: Prospects making big splash early
• Minnesota: Not as deep as usual
• Mississippi: Best class in years
• Missouri: State is top-heavy once again
• Nebraska: Still producing offensive linemen
• Nevada: Las Vegas is a must-stop
• New England: Recruiters flock to this region
(Conn., Del., DC, Mass., Maine, Vt., N.H., R.I.)
• New York/New Jersey: Rutgers capitalizing
• North Carolina: Another good year in Carolina
• Ohio: Buckeyes keeping top players
• Oklahoma: Sleeper spot for top prospects
• Pacific Northwest: Quality D-linemen available
(Ore., Idaho, Mont., N.D., S.D., Wyo.)
• Pennsylvania: Down year in Quaker State
• South Carolina: Laying claim to No. 1 prospect
• Texas offense: Year of the running back
• Texas defense: CBs highlight down year
• Tennessee: Filled with linemen
• Utah: Must-see for D-linemen
• Virginia/West Virginia: Hidden gems
• Wisconsin: Solid prospects in state
• Washington: Talent base improving