Corona (Calif.) Santiago running back Ryan McCants was far from a sleeper a few weeks ago as he was already holding scholarship offers from some major programs. That being said, it wasn't until his dominant performance over a very talented Servite, Anaheim team last weekend that he became one of the most talked about players in the state.
McCants, 6-2, 230 pounds has become almost a household name over night and there isn't a player in the state generating more of a buzz right now. The running back ran over, around and through one of the top defenses in the state to the tune of 206 yards and three touchdowns as Santiago beat Servite 23-9, a win some are calling the programs biggest in the last 10 years.
"It was definitely a great win for our program," Santiago coach Steve Mitchell said. "It wasn't just the win on the field, it was big because our area loses so many players every year to schools like Servite and others in the area. We have some great programs right here with Centennial, Norco, and Corona and I never understood why kids would choose to leave when there is great football being played right here."
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McCants earned all-CIF honors a year ago after rushing for 1,439 yards and 13 touchdowns and is arguably the top big back in the state. He has the ability to play fullback, tailback in a single back offense or linebacker on defense.
"I think Ryan's preference would be to play in a single back offense because that's what we do here," Mitchell said. "Honestly though, Ryan is such a good kid that he'll do whatever anyone asks him. He has an incredible work ethic and in the summer, was always the first one in the weight room and the last one to leave. He was voted team captain and it sure makes it easier as a coach when your best player is your hardest working player as well."
On the recruiting front, McCants holds offers from Mississippi, Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona State and Nevada.
"Those are all in writing, there are others who have verbally offered but we only count the ones in paper," Mitchell said. "Ryan is going to visit Colorado this weekend (Sept. 15) and has trips set with Nebraska and ASU as well but I don't remember the dates on those two off the top of my head.
"The schools that have offered are his favorites but he really likes the Pac 10 and the idea of staying close to home so I think if either USC or UCLA were to offer, they would jump way up on his list. USC was at the game against Servite and I'm be real curious to see if they pick up their interest. Right now, just about all those schools like Ryan as an athlete and I think it depends on what kind of offense the team runs in order to see where he'll fit in at the next level.
"Nebraska originally loved him on defense. Ryan has a great frame and will be easily be able to put on another 20 pounds or so. Plus he has great feet and hips but once they saw film of him running the ball, now they like him just as much on offense. Not a lot of schools run a one back set but Ryan is the kind of big back that can just wear a team down. He's a legit 4.6 (40) guy with great vision. Early in a game, 1st quarter, you may hold Ryan to three or four yards but by the fourth quarter, now he's getting seven and eight yards a pop with the ability to bust a big one any time.
"As for when he'll make his decision, I really can't see Ryan taking all five trips. He's a really shy kid who doesn't like a lot of attention so I'm not sure how he'll like all his visits where they really wine and dine you. Plus how many kids really take all five, after awhile, they just become exhausting and I would really like to see Ryan commit earlier than later so he can get back to focusing on the season and doing well in school."
Academically, McCants has scored a 940 on the SAT and is carrying a core GPA in the 2.5 range.