When the common fan thinks about high school football in the West, their thoughts go undoubtedly to the Golden State of California. Arizona and Nevada are often overlooked.
You can compare the plight of Arizona and Vegas to how Louisiana is dwarfed by its giant football power Texas to the West and how Florida and Georgia overshadow Mississippi in the Southeast.
Like forgetting about Louisiana and Mississippi, it would be a mistake to neglect Arizona - one of the fastest growing state’s in the Union - and Las Vegas - the nation’s fastest growing city - when evaluating football talent.
Though Arizona and Las Vegas are not quite in the same neighborhood when it comes to football talent as Mississippi and Louisiana, the talent has been increasing and the D-I scouts are now recruiting the two southwest states hard.
Arizona is home to big time prospects offensive lineman Mikal Brewer, defensive lineman Kyle Caldwell, defensive lineman Brett Palmer, athlete Marcus Thomas, and linebacker Ammon Wolfley.
Las Vegas will attract visitors for other reasons than hanging out in the casinos. D-I scouts will be heading to the Desert Oasis to recruit running back Cornell Johnson and receiver Corey Williams.
Brewer from Peoria (Ariz.) Centennial was selected all state and all region for his play as an offensive guard, the position that he projects as on the next level. Possessing a nice frame, Brewer is 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.98 second. He benches 340 pounds, squats 495 pounds and cleans 290. Brewer has offers from Stanford, Vanderbilt, Arizona and ASU.
“I will take visits for sure to Stanford, Vanderbilt and Notre Dame,” Brewer said. “I’m very open regarding my last two visits. Vanderbilt was the first school to offer me and that meant something,” Brewer said.
Colorado, Washington, Nebraska, Northwestern, Arizona and ASU are all recruiting Brewer and are in the running for the last two visits.
Caldwell who plays for Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro is on everybody’s hit list.
Caldwell, who is 6-3 and 255 pounds with a 40-time of 4.65 seconds, has at least 10 offers from ASU, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, UCLA, Colorado, Texas A&M, Nebraska, Northwestern and Penn State.
“Kyle flies for a guy his size,” Centennial coach Stuart Goldstein said. “We also use him at fullback and some tailback.”
Caldwell will be as hotly coveted, as his teammate Loren Howard was last year. Howard, who signed with Northwestern, had over 50 offers as a senior. It has been noted that every school that offered Howard, will also offer Kyle.
Palmer from Tempe (Ariz.) Marcus de Niza took out the excitement of his recruiting early when he became the ASU Sun Devils’ first commitment of the season.
And Palmer, who is 6-4 and 265 pounds, is a good catch for ASU. ASU won him over Arizona, Washington, UCLA and Northwestern. Not only is Palmer an outstanding defensive lineman, the Sun Devils also get an outstanding long snapper with the committal of Palmer.
Does your team need a super playmaker? Then look no further than Thomas from Tolleson, Ariz.
Thomas, a super running back that is 6-1 and 190 pounds, rushed for 2,087 yards on 317 carries for an average of 6.6 yards as a junior. He was also the team’s best receiver, catching 25 passes for 580 yards while averaging 23.2 yards. Thomas had a total of 27 touchdowns his junior season. His performance allowed him to be the only junior selected to the all-state team.
Thomas is keeping his recruiting options open in the early going. He is hearing from Arizona, ASU, UCLA, Ohio State and Vanderbilt. Vandy has made Thomas its No. 1 recruiting target in Arizona.
Wolfley of Peoria, Ariz., will be one of the most highly recruited linebacker prospects in the West for the Class of 2003. The very athletic Wolfley is 6-2 and 210 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.7 seconds.
Wolfley makes plays all over the field. He registered 108 tackles and five sacks as a junior, helping him earn Northwest Region defensive player of the year honors.
"Ammon is such a great athlete he could play quarterback for us, believe it or not," Peoria coach Doug Clapp said. "Probably the best thing I could say about him is something that he says - when he steps on the field, you have to account for him at all times.”
Wolfley bench-presses 290 pounds, squats 430 and has a 30-inch vertical leap. He has received early recruiting from all of the schools in the Pac-10 and several other top programs across the country. Stanford, UCLA, Arizona State, Arizona, Washington and Oregon are the early favorites, and he plans to camp at Arizona State, Arizona, UCLA and possibly Stanford later this summer.
After visiting the Arizona desert, D-I scouts will head north to Las Vegas to check out Johnson and Williams.
Johnson, who is 6-1 and 210 pounds, is the star from Las Vegas Desert Pines.
Johnson has a running style reminiscent of a young Eddie George. Maybe its no coincidence that Johnson compares himself to George. The Tennessee Titan and former Ohio State Buckeye is Johnson’s favorite player.
Johnson will be a rare four-year starter for Desert Pines. He rushed for more than 700 yards as a freshman and has rushed for more than 1,700 yards for both his sophomore and junior years. The amazing thing about Cornell’s stats is the fact he only averaged about 17 touches a game
Some claim Johnson is among the top three running backs in the West, while others say he’s second to none in the region. No wonder there has been a bull run to Desert Pines by D-I schools this May.
UCLA, Nebraska and Oregon were the early leaders for this talented running back, but Notre Dame, USC, UNLV, Oregon State, ASU and Arizona are also rolling the recruiting dice for the services of Johnson.
Williams, the talented wide receiver at Las Vegas High, has been one of this desert city’s main attractions by D-I recruiters. Williams has drawn the attention from schools that have never recruited the Vegas area before.
Williams is 6- 3 and 186 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in a legitimate 4.59 seconds. He caught 39 passes as a junior. His career numbers are 85 receptions for 1,369 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Williams is a terrific athlete who competed in four events - the 110 high hurdles, triple jump, long jump and high jump - at the state track meet a week ago.
Michigan, Wisconsin, Miami, UNLV, Nebraska, UCLA, Oregon State Washington, WSU, Arizona, UTEP, and Utah State are a sampling of the schools that have been by the last couple of weeks. Oregon State loved what they saw and joined UNLV with an official offer for the services of the talented wide receiver.