This is part three of our look at the best of the west at the running back position. This is far from a finished product as covering recruiting is always a work in progress. As the season goes on some new names will rise while some will fall. Probably the most impressive thing about the overall look at the running back class of 2004 is their excellent pass catching ability too go along with their running skills. Just a reminder the players are sorted in alphabetical order.
Ryen Carew (5-11, 180, 4.4) Sylmar, Calif., led the Los Angeles city section in rushing as a junior running for 2,100 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Carew is another running back out west that has a great set of hands. As a matter of fact, Carew started his high school career as a wide receiver.
Carew recently attended the Beyond 2000 Elite Camp and really stood out. He showed that he has the ability to be a dynamic running back or a lockdown cover corner. His versatility alone will help increase his stock.
Carew told Rivals that he has an offer from Colorado and that he is getting steady recruiting action from UCLA, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, Cal, Arizona, ASU and Harvard.
Ryan Kelley (5-10, 180, 4.4) from Gardena (Calif.) Serra follows the pattern of the double threat running backs that are o prevalent on the West Coast this season.
Kelley rushed for 1,780 yards and scored 17 touchdowns as a junior. He had 15 catches out of the backfield for 215 yards.
Kelley has that burst, explosion and vision that all the great backs have. He is also a physical runner who can get you the tough yard and has the sprinter’s speed that makes him a threat to bust the long run.
Kelly has offers from Cal, Oregon and Iowa State. He has pending offers from UCLA and Utah based on early season performance. Oregon, California, UCLA, Washington, Washington State, Nebraska, Colorado and Utah are his current top eight teams.
Le'Andre Matthews (5-8, 185, 4.45) from Bakersfield (Calif.) East is compact back who belies is smallish stature by being a powerful and explosive back.
Matthews was among the state’s leaders in rushing with 2,034 yards and 27 touchdowns as a junior. He was an all-state (underclassman), all-area and all-league for his junior season performance. He was also County Offensive Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player for the League.
Matthews has been compared to in running style to former Tennessee and now Buffalo Bill running back Tyron Henry.
In an earlier interview with Rivals.com East head coach Jim Maples said about this about his talented running back, “Le’Andre is so elusive and such great moves that he didn’t a full hit all season long. He is the complete back and possesses a great set of hands. We will use him much more as a receiver this season.”
Matthews has offers from Washington State and Oregon. Colorado State, Michigan, Nebraska, USC and Washington are a sampling of the teams looking at Matthews.
Tramell McGill (6-0, 190, 4.5) from Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton is one of the best players at any position from the Grand Canyon State for 2003.
McGill, like the rest of his running back brethren, is a double threat. He rushed for 1,504 yards and 21 touchdowns while he caught 17 passes for 209 yards and one touchdown as a junior. McGill was selected first-team all-state, all-area and all-region.
McGill is one of those types of players who do what it takes to win. McGill helped Hamilton to a 12-1 record as a junior and a 24-3 record since he has been a starter.
McGill is the complete back, meaning a player who will run, catch and block. He plays for a program that has done a great job sending their players to the next level.
McGill plays for the same high school that produces ASU great and NFL first round draft choice Terrell Suggs and Oregon State linebacker Chazz Scott.
In an earlier interview with Hamilton head coach John Wrenn said this about his standout running back, “Before the season is through, everyone will be recruiting Tramell and he will be another from Hamilton to name his school.”
Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State, Oregon, UCLA, Northwestern and Colorado are recruiting McGill.
T.R. Smith (5-11, 180, 4.45) from Portland (Ore.) Jefferson is one of the top prospects in the northwest this season.
This may begin to read like a broken record stuck on the same note, but Smith is another running back with multiple skills.
Smith will play quarterback his senior season but has the talent and versatility to play a variety of positions. That being said, most schools are recruiting him as a running back and yes he can catch.
Oregon State has tendered an offer.
Last but certainly not least is Enrico Tucker (6-0, 180, 4.45) San Diego (Calif.) University of San Diego. Tucker is also one of the Golden State’s best point guards on the hardwood and he may end up playing hoops on the next level.
Tucker rushed for 1,422 yards and scored 15 touchdowns in nine games. He’s also a superb special teams performer. Tucker had two punt returns for touchdowns and he also brought two kickoffs back to the house for two more touchdowns. As a sophomore, Tucker rushed for over 1,500 yards in only eight games.
Tucker was selected San Diego Section all-CIF, all-area and all-league as a junior.
Tucker has offers for his hoops skills (he has a Michael Jordan like 44-inch vertical) Minnesota, North Carolina State, Gonzaga Prep, San Diego (at one time he was committed) and San Francisco.
Arizona has tendered a written offer to Tucker for his football skills. Something tells Lute Olson hopes he goes football.
It looks on the face of things that Tucker is going to hoops.