Joe Kane…The Marked Prospect Is More Than Able

When I first received a heads up on a division one caliber defensive end playing out in North Carolina, I shrugged my shoulders. He was probably one in many prospects in that area.  So what? Another one, but okay lets take a look at him. And then he proved himself to be  “The Minister of Sinister.” In the game of football nicknames are given out like mouthpieces during equipment hand out, but Joe Kane happened to be the young man given this tag. It would be putting things lightly to say he’s earned it.

Kane attends Heritage High School in Wake Forest, North Carolina.  Besides being a national sack leader and garnering defensive mvp honors as an underclassman, the amount of hoopla surrounding Kane has spilled from his town to the entire east coast.  His measurables are that of a prototype defensive end.  At 6’3.5 and 258 pounds, Joe Kane adds 4.85 speed to the mix. While this would be considered comme il faut by the smoother talking experts, it is better than average for a prospect with at least two summers of training left before his first college football game.


Besides his measurables what makes Joe Kane a marked defensive prospect for the class of 2018?  Try his alley-brawl style of intimidation or his high end energy that he brings for four quarters.  Bragging up ball players who have yet to play one down of college ball can be somewhat premature but Kane is a prospect that 95% of coaches and scouts would warrant success.  It would not surprise any of his high school coaches and peers to see Kane choose a regional division one school for his college football experience.  Four division one powerhouse programs are within a couple hours drive of Kane’s hometown.  Those programs include Wake Forest, North Carolina, Duke, and North Carolina State.  In Kane’s mindset decisions can wait until later. Right now he’s all about getting his team to the state championship while bringing home the national sack title.  Stay tuned.

Nation’s Top Units Series ’16…Offensive Backfields

Scary is the term often used by defensive coordinators when they face offenses that are deemed unstoppable.  “Look upon with caution” is a new phrase that defensive players should hold to when playing some of the best backfields in high school during the 2016 season.  Quarterbacks with cannon-fire arms and thoroughbred style backs make up the following top backfields that clearly rank the best for this year’s high school football season.

5) Cedar Hill Longhorns (Cedar Hill, TX)

cedar hillThe schedule is not easy for Cedar Hill but then again neither is the planning of a defensive strategy for their high powered offense.  Stopping Kaegun Williams and Avery Davis is more of a notion than an actual deed.  Slowing them down is more realistic and such is the case with the Cedar Hill entire offense.  The Longhorns are anything but shy or timid when it comes to lighting up the stat sheets.  It would be outright rude for any high school fan or media source to leave the elephant sitting in the room which is the matchup between Cedar Hill and Bishop Gorman in week one.  This could easily be a national championship caliber game but as for now it will be a hard example of what happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force.  While the Joker may have said this line a little better, it is a fact that there won’t be too many laughs when the Longhorns’ backfield starts familiarizing themselves with opponents’ endzones this fall.

4) St. Louis High Crusaders (Honolulu, HI)

stLouisHA.pngThe saying that great players make the guys around them better is a perfect fit for the St. Louis high backfield.  Not only is Tua Tagovailoa one  of the top duel threat quarterbacks to come out of high school football, he is also “highly unaverage” in his leadership abilities.  Those fellow backfield teammates that he leads are more system players than anything and will combine with Tua to devastate opponents. Jahred Silofau blazed back from injury and will share the back duties with Dylan-J Silva.  Both backs are keys to the Crusader’s midrange spread offense.  While most high school football fans think that 90% of St. Louis High’s offense will come from the arm and legs of Tagovailoa, they will not be so shell shocked when the entire backfield is to credit for the team’s offensive success.

3) IMG Academy Ascenders (Bradenton, FL)

imgLogoFullReminders of a single loss from the 2015 season is more devastating to the IMG team since that single loss kept them from a state title.  Saying that the offensive players will be playing with a chip on their shoulder would be putting it lightly.  With Kellen Mond at quarterback and Jordan Anthony handling the majority of running back duties, the IMG backfield will light up scoreboards during its coast to coast travels.  With so much talent at other areas of the team, the Ascenders offensive juggernaut may have an off the radar presentation but this will soon turn into a  “bullhorn” style announcement of respect.  Respect that will of course be given to this multi-talented bunch by the opponents they will soon face.

2) Bishop Gorman Gaels (Las Vegas, NV)

bishopGornman_logoThe universal thought amongst opposing defenses and defensive coordinators that face Bishop Gorman is that lack of offseason preparation sums up to insanity.  Why insanity?  Because the Gaels are known for throwing the kitchen sink at their opponents from the first snap.  With Tate Martel running and passing his way to offensive national player of the year, it’s hard to think that this talented squad will average under 21 points per game.  And Biaggio Walsh carrying the responsibilities  at running back heightens the burden on their opponents.  Bishop Gorman will stay aggressive by setting up the run with their quick strike pass attack. And their use of misdirection is coveted by at least half of the west coast.  Plenty of shoulder shrugs will be handed out between defensive coordinators that would otherwise try to figure out a way to stop the explosive offense that has spent a decade in the top 20 national rankings.

1) Archbishop Hoban Knights (Akron, OH)

hobanAnd now comes an offensive backfield that at best is frighteningly impressive and at worst regularly intimidating.  At quarterback Danny Clark is a heard man with imposing size.  Accuracy is what his craft is built on and Clark is arguably the best passer in his class with the ability to spread the ball around.  If Danny Clark is the composer of a finely orchestrated offense, Todd Sibley would hold first chair and hold the responsibility of carrying the ball.  A balanced attack is what opponents of the Knights can adjust to. What these same opponents will have a hard time with is the fact that once Clark and Sibley get hot defensive coordinators will be forced to pick their poison of stopping the run or pass.  Asking a defense to stop both would be a challenge that teams on Archbishop’s schedule are hesitant to accept.

Nation’s Top Units Series ’16…Defensive Secondary

The defensive backfield is considered the last line of defense.  A great secondary is built around speed, coverage skill, and sure tackling.  Some of the best high school secondaries in the past have had the perfect mix of all of these components and this year’s group did not fall short in any of these categories. The following teams clearly have some of the best units in high school football for the 2016 season.

5) IMG Academy Ascenders (Bradenton, FL)

imgLogoFullThe talent pool continues at IMG Academy with a defensive backfield that features two all state picks and one pre-season All-American.  Isaiah Pryor is a stud and gets coverage help from Marcus Williamson.  And recently Houston Griffith, who is one of the best cover guys in the class of 2018, transferred in from Chicago’s Mt. Caramel.  Griffith has been slated the most versatile player in his class.  This leads to the exact reason for IMG’s dominance which stands on the fact that each member of its secondary can play both corner and safety at an all-star level.  Hard to imagine IMG’s pass defense not ranking in the top five nationally at season’s end. After meshing their skill sets, the Ascenders’ secondary will have a unit of the most advanced skilled ball hawks in the country.



4) American Heritage Patriots (Plantation, FL)

americanHeritage_LogoCovering top ranked receivers is nothing new to American Heritage’s secondary.  In the past five years they have faced a total of 18 receivers who went on to play division one college football.  Little will change in 2016 in terms of schedule difficulty nor will American Heritage’s secondary dominance decline.  Add the fact that you have NFL All-Pro Patrick Surtain leading the mighty Patriots, and you have a crew of defenders with pro-style discipline and budding knowledge.  The players.  Will Allen III, Patrick Surtain Jr., and Marco Wilson lead the group.  When these players walk onto the field this fall it will be to the dismay of opposing offensive coordinators.

3) Bishop Gorman Gaels (Las Vegas, NV)

bishopGornman_logoExpectations for the Bishop Gorman Gaels’ defense are always high.  Their defensive backs have had the luxury of facing one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in practice.  This has been to the advantage of the secondary for the past two years.  Alex Perry has some of the best cover skills in high school football and is one of several defensive backs in his class who is already considered college game day ready.  The reality of the Gaels’ national schedule can’t be ignored.  It would be extremely difficult to end the season as the number one team in the country.  But if they are able to get through the first four games unscathed you can credit a lot of it to awesome secondary play.

2) Cass Tech Technicians (Detroit, MI)

cassTech_logoCass Tech has been consistently competitive on defense for the past decade.  For two years the Technicians have had dominance up front but this year their secondary will receive the respect that it has earned.  It features two All-American types in Jaylen Kelly-Powell and Donovan Johnson.  They both have the skill level to shut down the fastest of aerial attacks.  Very physical and aggressive in press coverage, Cass Tech won’t have problems pushing opposing receivers around.  By year end it won’t be a surprise to see this crew of talented defensive backs with the number one pass defense in high school football.

1) Rancho Cucamonga Cougars (Rancho Cucamonga, CA)

rancho_logoThe top cornerback tandem comes out of Rancho Cucamonga with Jaylen Redd and Thomas Graham.  It’s never a bad thing to have shut down corners that are both sub 4.5 40 yard guys.  And with the come-uppance of Darren Hall you have arguably the best secondary in the nation.  Hall works as a sort of big brother to the shadow-like corners and as a unit they have zero tolerance for the deep ball.  Reliance on speed is not necessarily a bad thing but is indeed a necessity when it comes to Rancho Cucamonga’s overall pass defense.  It’s neither careful nor courteous to claim that the Cougars secondary can shutdown any receiving corps in the nation.

Next Up…Offensive Backfields.  Stay tuned.

Nation’s Top Units Series ’16…Linebackers

Linebackers are the turning point of a defense. A great defensive line and secondary without a good pair of linebackers is like having an expensive watch that doesn't tick. Looks good but is rendered useless during crunch time. For the 2016 season, the best linebacking units are combined with old school toughness and modern day athleticism. Overall this group is collectively as strong as last year's and would rank up with any star studded group from the past decade.

5) Lanier High School (TN)

Known as “the territory,” Lanier High School sits at number five as one of the top linebacking units in high school football. Led by Juwuan Jones and Tyler Taylor, the Lanier defense will again confuse opponents with its dynamic 3-5 defensive set. Unlike most defenses that hold stats as its main key to success, Lanier has a “fire at will” mentality and accordingly will blitz from every gap. Opponents of the Longhorns have had to face the punishment of seven and eight man pass rushes that have kept offensive coordinators exhausted and have given Lanier one of its best defensive years in school history


4) Paramus Catholic (NJ)

Pure athletic talent precedes the Paramus Catholic Paladins’ defense this year. 2015 proved to be a breakout year for the versatile Drew Singleton. Currently he leads a group of linebackers that pursue to the ball better than any other group in high school football. Consider Tyler Wipper as the hitter while Jordan Watson comes flush out of the 4-3 as the hybrid backer/end position. “Redzone denial” is the main course that the black and gold Paladin contingent plan to serve up in 2016 and so far they show a linebacker unit that will deliver.




3) Katy High School (TX)

When opponents visit the “Hit Pit” it would be advised to be prepared to go hard in the paint. Yes this is a famous basketball cliche but definitely appropriate for the Katy Tiger defense. Ball carriers have come to the realization of being hit four and sometimes five times within a second of taking a handoff. Receivers dare not roam across the middle of the Tiger defense lest they learn exactly why opponents have deemed Katy Tiger football Stadium as the “Hit Pit.” Between Breydon Boyd, Ryder Anderson, and Raymond Randle it’s hard to imagine Katy getting snubbed for a top three national ranking at year’s end. Meanwhile somewhere Dick Butkus, Chris Spielman, and Mike Singletary are sitting and quietly saying to themselves, “Attaboy Katy Tigers, Attaboy indeed!”




2) St. Thomas Aquinas (FL)

There’s probably not a better set of defensive players that compliment each other like Tyler Dunning and Drew White do as they push St. Thomas Aquinas to the number two spot. The Raiders’ tandem find success in moving the versatile Dunning around while staking Drew White at the weak side spot. For lack of a better phrase the St. Thomas Aquinas backer unit are known to bracket ball carriers in before unleashing bone jarring hits. What may be missed by football experts is the fact that the Raiders’ backers are absolutely phenomenal in pass coverage. This is just extra icing on the cake for a defense that is already strong enough up front and in the secondary. Although they have a difficult schedule, St. Thomas Aquinas will have much success and a lot of it will be due to this high octane group of backers.

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Tyler Dunning (BeSQUAD LB co’17)

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Drew White (BeSQUAD LB co’17)

1) IMG Academy

Running backs who face the IMG linebacker unit this coming season should consider the following checklist. Wear a mouthpiece. Strap your helmet on tight. Say a pre-handoff prayer. Spot Dylan Moses and run the other way. But maybe the latter would only be settling for a more painful outcome seeing as Jordan Anthony, Christian Pluchino, Marchiol Santino are waiting to put an exclamation point on the statement of IMG having the number one linebacker core in the nation. And just in case there are running backs out there who would otherwise see the transfer of Will Ignont as a reason to doubt the legitamacy of the IMG linebacker corp, consider the whole of the situation. As a complete healthy unit, the Ascenders’ linebackers will definitely lay down smacks that will break non-believers’ backs.


dylan moses

Dylan Moses (BeSquad LB co’17)

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Jordan Anthony co’17


christian pluchino

Christian Pluchino co’17

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Santino Marchiol co’17 (middle)


Hawaii…A New Pipeline For The Bigs

With recent news of dual threat quarterback Tua Tagovailoa committing to the Alabama Crimson Tide, the college football world is now openly recognizing the island of Hawaii as a great source for top prospects.

Tagovailoa is leading the pack for a host of top tier talent that many sports media outlets are saying will continue for the upcoming years.  Some other names that have made it to the top of recruiting lists are class of 2018’s Samson Reed of Kahuku High and Jacob Isaia.  Reed’s claim to high school football fame is that he is one of 10 defensive linemen in his class with the ability to play every position on the defensive line.  Jacob Isaia has transferred to powerhouse Bishop Gorman but it is fair to say that he started his climb into the top prospect list during his tenure at Iolani.  He takes a similar headline to the state of Nevada as being a versatile lineman, who is equally effective on both sides of the ball.  And now comes Stephen Barber Jr. whose being held as another insanely accurate quarterback coming out of the class of 2018. (photo courtesy of




In terms of accuracy, Barber Jr. has been compared to Tim Couch, the former University of Kentucky star.  Scouts will definitely keep the young prospect under a microscope with such a high caliber comparison.  In terms of star power, Barber may come out of Hawaii as the best offensive threat in the past decade.  Not to take away from what his athletic peers, mainly Tagovailoa, have accomplished, but the development of a young Barber will make for exciting prospect news for the months to come.  If the poised quarterback is anything near the talent of Tim Couch, he will undoubtedly be considered not only one of the top prospects to come out of Hawaii, but one of the top overall passers all states combined.  As more and more of the big time programs begin to make the trek for scouting (and some vacation time) in the beautiful island location, plan on more top prospects to continue to surface.  Stay tuned.

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Malik Davis…Rushing Rite Of Passage

A perfect phrase to usher in discussion on the all everything running back out of Tampa Bay’s Jesuit high school is to whom much is given, much is expected.  If you haven’t heard yet, Malik Davis is now considered one of the top running backs in high school football.  As a class of 2017 top prospect, Davis is considered by powerhouse conferences such as the SEC and ACC as a “legit college starter.”  Easy enough for football fans to see this, as Malik Davis earned his over 2000 all purpose yards through a mix of shifty, hard-nosed efforts.  Davis’s one cut and go style has lit up the eyes of college coaches and is steadily attracting more recruiting attention by the day.  Reminiscent of the great Ricky Watters, former Notre Dame and 49’er stud, Davis has yet to pick up any of his yards by discount.  In essence, this young talent has mastered the skill on the high school level of finding a lane in the defense and getting to and through it with split second decision making.

malik davis 2


At 5’11, 190 pounds, Davis has excellent size and can be expected to bulk up to that ideal running back weight of 210 to 220 pounds.  Lest we give him his total due, it would be incomplete if the great hands of Davis are not mentioned.  Only 3 recorded drops during his junior year campaign is as impressive as any rushing statistic that he posted.  Mainly because he was constantly in traffic when asked to run routes and had a constant target on his jersey number.  It will be interesting to watch this top five running back choose his final destination for his college experience.  Expect the B1G and PAC 12 conferences to join the others previously mentioned and make a strong effort at recruiting Malik Davis.  And in regards to a record breaking senior season campaign…stay tuned.

Bo Melton…Bigger Goals In Mind

Bo Melton doesn’t just want to play division one college football.  He wants to leave his name in the books as one of the best athletes to take the field.  A hefty goal considering the vast array of talented individuals including Heisman Trophy winners that have pulled off stunning performances on college football Saturdays.  With that said it will take those outside of Melton’s camp and team to doubt his dreams, because he stands as one of the best athletes in the nation.  A very confident Bo Melton comes out of Cedar Creek high school located in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey.

bo melton

At 6’1 180 pounds and running a 4.47 40 yard, Melton shows on film why he has become a highly valued prospect at receiver for the class of 2017.  While his quickness and open field running ability are some of the best in high school football, college coaches may be more intrigued with the fact that Melton has lined up in over 7 offensive positions mainly at the slot, wideout, and running back spots.  After racking in 27 touchdowns during his junior year, scoring at least twice from every position he lined up in, the Cedar Creek athlete is looking to provide even more highlights in the return game.  Melton’s overall ability has been described as “uncanny” and while we don’t want to make the mistake of over hyping an athlete too fast, let’s not place an unnecessary flaw on this young man’s game.  Vying to be one of the top college renown athletes is something all athletes with great potential  look to become.  Achieving it is something we can be sure to see Bo Melton accomplish.  Stay tuned.

Corte Tapia…Recruiting Made Simple

It’s pretty simple. Corte Tapia does what a division one linebacker should do. He tackles, hustles, and interrupts offensive game plans. Tapia gladly accepts the role of defensive leader for the Windsor High School football team.  Looking at Tapia’s game film it’s hard not to notice his “stick-tuitiveness.” His overall skill set has helped him break the state of Colorado’s sack record, and what is building up in the mountain west region is the earned hype of one of the nation’s most effective inside linebackers.  The most careful scouts could say that Tapia will have to develop his lateral movement.  But what this class of 2017 prospect lacks in lateral movement, he by far makes up for in hitting ability.

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At 6’2, 227 pounds Corte Tapia has the size that college coaches adore and with a 4.7 40 yd it would seem the main focus of his off season workouts will be to develop his sideward quickness.  The bottom line on Tapia is that the 150 plus tackles he garnered during his junior campaign should add an additional plus in his prospect rating category. The best part about this young talent is that the game of hype is not his thing at all, he plays the game of football.  Anyone who feels that Tapia lacks anything at the middle linebacker would be met with a short question.  Would you like to put a football in your hands and try to get past him?  A lighthearted but simple articulation on a football position where actions truly speak louder than any playbook, statistic, or scouting report ever can.  Expect the recruiting traffic to become very active in the town of Windsor as the major college programs begin to recognize that Tapia can assist in the daunting task of filling the position of middle linebacker.  Stay tuned.


One of the nation’s top receivers is faced with a tough decision on his college decision.  Jeff Thomas is a five star prospect out of East St. Louis High school located in East St. Louis, Illinois.  Thomas has been slated as one of several receivers in his class that can fit any system regardless of school, coach, or conference.  As the SEC bears down on Thomas’s skills, the question remains on whether he will choose warmer southern climates and compete with the speedy competition of the southern conferences.  As his highlights and game film will profess, this young prospect is as set for high caliber competition as any bluechip player.  Stay tuned. (Hudl highlights)



Austin Russell…Appreciating the Grind

Recruiting becomes fun when good ol’ hard work becomes the headline.  This is the case with class of 2017 student-athlete, Austin Russell.  The Covington High School football player has used the  theme of consistent hard work as his main tool in becoming a necessary cog in a program that has always earned its identity as a consistent winner.    Although Austin Russell played the position of cornerback for the 2015 fall season, he knows that he has a future at safety.IMG_20151206_195929  The obvious attributes of a defensive back are speed, lateral quickness, jumping ability, and great hip swivel.  Russell is using this offseason to build on these components but is also working on something not too often mentioned with high school defensive backs.  The young athlete is making it his business to use the offseason and work on his ability to create turnovers.  At first it seemed like a statement to just shrug one’s shoulders to.  But after realizing that very few high school football defensive players mention this as a primary importance, one has to think that college scouts and coaches will certainly pay attention to the offseason development of this confident young talent.  Creating turnovers is more than a notion so it is encouraging to learn that Russell chooses some of the greatest ball-hawking safeties in the history of the game to study.  You can often catch Russell watching tapes of Brian Dawkins and John Lynch who he figures are excellent role models on the road to playing division one college football. Because of the broad number of prospects nationwide, Austin Russell figures that it is of utmost important to show coaches and scouts that he can handle big time ball at the next level, and also make an impact expected of any high caliber recruit.  At 6’1, 186 pounds, an offseason in the weight room will undoubtedly put Russell at the prototype safety size that division one programs like which is usually at around 195 pounds and up.  His 3.6 gpa will also help college coaches recognize the hard work he puts in at the classroom desk in addition to the football field.  Recruiting will definitely spike up for this versatile defensive back.  Meanwhile you’ll likely catch Russell in offseason conditioning encouragingly yelling at his teammates with a famous line from Brian Dawkins.  “Whatever you got today, i gotta have it!”  Stay tuned.