Coast-to-Coast: California defense

9/11/2006 - College Football

California has routinely produced some of the top front seven prospects in the nation. Players like Willie McGinest (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Poly),

Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (Los Angeles, Calif./Crenshaw) and La'Roi Glover (San Diego, Calif./Point Loma) headline a long list of premier pass rushers and run stoppers who hail from the left coast.

Top recruit (defense)

Chris Galippo, Linebacker
Servite (Anaheim, Calif.)
Verbal: USC

The inside linebacker position takes a special breed of cat. In other words, you have to have a few screws loose in order to be the best. Every single play is a constant collision, and Chris Galippo loves to create collisions. In fact, he is so good as an up-the-field linebacker that comparing him to former Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk isn't a stretch at all.

Galippo's combination of size and power are what most become enamored with, but for my money, it's the intangibles you can't coach that make him special. Is he the fastest or most fluid player at linebacker? No. However, his instincts, ability to recognize and diagnose plays, get to the ball and tackle are what matters most. He is so big and physical and makes so many plays sideline-to-sideline and has a knack for being in on just about every play and he is so difficult to block. By his own accord, when we spoke with Galippo, he told us he "needs to become better in pass coverage and in space," and we happen to agree. If he has a deficiency, it is pass coverage at this stage.

There are players in this class who are faster and better athletes than Galippo is, but nowhere near the football player. This guy is the very definition of a football player.

Player under the radar (defense)

David Ross, Cornerback
Dominguez (Compton, Calif.)
Considering: Washington, USC, Oregon, Nebraska, Arizona

Dominguez High School's coach Keith Donerson says that David Ross' best traits are his versatility and physical style.

"He just loves to get up in the receivers face and outmuscle guys," said Donerson. "We are a press-coverage, man-to-man team, and that is what he does best."

Ross will not only line up at cornerback, but also at safety which should enhance his zone coverage instincts.

"He is so used to playing press man coverage that his biggest adjustment to the next level will be playing zone defense, and lining up at safety some will really help that growth process," said Donerson.

Ross is one of those cornerbacks that every coach would like to have in terms of size because he can match up with bigger receivers and take away a red-zone threat. He is lean right now, but his growth potential is awesome. This is why he is so valuable as a safety/cornerback hybrid because he has such a tough, linebacker-type mentality which you don't often find in cornerbacks.

On the trail

USC is a cut above right now with commitments from both Marshall Jones (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) and Chris Galippo (Anaheim, Calif./Servite) -- both are upper-echelon prospects and tops at their position in the state.

However, don't count out UCLA from making a defensive splash as well. The Bruins currently have four defensive commitments from the state's top 60 overall players, headlined by defensive end Akeem Ayers (Los Angeles/Verbum Dei) and undersized, but feisty cornerback Courtney Viney (Fresno, Calif./Edison).

Maxpreps.com California home page

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