MORE: Team rankings
With the high school season about to begin, Rivals.com's
Rob Cassidy takes a look at the six players to keep an eye on in the West as the fall season kicks off.
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1. QB Cooper Bateman, Salt Lake City Cottonwood, 6-foot-3, 190
pounds: The top prospect in the state of Utah, Bateman's biggest unanswered
question concerns his decision-making. He put good zip on the ball at the Elite
11 this summer and showcased the outstanding measurables that landed him on
Alabama's commitment list, but there were mental lapses. The scouting report on
the senior says he struggles throwing the ball to the outside downfield and
sporadically makes poor reads. The best way to see if he's corrected such issues
is to watch him at game speed, and a Sept. 7 game against a loaded Skyline
(Wash.) squad could say a lot about how much Bateman has progressed.
CB Cole Luke, Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton, 6-foot, 165 pounds:
Luke captivates in an M.Night Shyamalan sort of way. There's some mystery
surrounding him and he leaves you waiting for a twist. The four-star cornerback
doesn't do many interviews and steered clear of some of the summer's
high-profile camps. But after playing strictly corner and returning punts last
season, he shined at wide receiver in summer passing league, leading people to
speculate that he might see some snaps on offense this season. Luke isn't the
most physically imposing player, but his coverage skills are elite. The
sought-after defensive back's versatility, skill level and low profile make his
senior season wildly intriguing.
3. TE Mitchell Parsons, Parker (Colo.) Chaparral, 6-foot-5, 230
pounds: Colorado secured a commitment from Parsons early in the process and
wrapped up the tight end's recruitment in March, before it really got rolling.
There's a certain risk-reward factor that goes into such an early decision, and
the four-star tight end will spend his senior year showing where he fits on that
sliding scale. He has the frame to add weight, but maintaining his speed will be
key as he does so. Parsons competes at the highest level of Colorado high school
football, giving him ample chance to show what he's become. His hands have never
been called into question. He's the No. 11 tight end in the country for a
reason, after all. Instead, it's his blocking technique that will be under the
4. CB Priest Willis, Tempe (Ariz.) Marcos De Niza, 6-foot-2, 185
pounds: There's no doubt that Willis, a four-star prospect, has a future as
a college cornerback. It's just that he could be one of the country's top
safeties if he wanted. Catch is, he doesn't. Willis is adamant about staying at
corner on the next level, and that's fine. But some people will always wonder
"what if?" He took some reps at safety at The Opening and showed tremendous
closing speed but was also effective playing up close on slot receivers. His
talent level is obvious, so his senior season will serve as a way for Willis to
prove he is, indeed, playing the right position.
5. LB Chans Cox, Lakeside (Ariz.) Blue Ridge, 6-foot-3, 230 pounds:
Cox piques our interest because of his limited exposure. He looks spectacular on
film and had a great junior season but is already committed to Arizona State and
wasn't particularly active on the camp circuit this summer because of it. He has
a reputation as an aggressive hard hitter with a mean streak, making showcasing
his best traits in camp settings difficult. It will be interesting to watch him
on Friday nights this fall, when he'll look to prove his No. 1 state ranking
isn't the product of a small sample size or watered-down competition.
6. OL Chris Fox, Parker (Colo.) Ponderosa, 6-foot-6, 297 pounds:
Getting a solid read on Fox has been tricky. He looks spectacular for stretches, but has a tendency to seem disinterested at times as well. Sometime he looks like two different players during the same event, shining one moment and appearing lost the next. He was consistent at Top Gun and was named one of the camp's top performers, but had some undeniable lapses against top competition at the Rivals Five-Star Challenge. Fox has the ability to put together a truly dominant senior campaign, and if he does so, it will be a joy to watch. The consistency concerns will be addressed early in the season, as Ponderosa is set to take on a strong Highlands Ranch (Colo.) squad in week two.
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