Oaklands finest

OAKLAND, Calif.- Make no mistake, there is talent to be harvested at McClymonds High in the Class of 2006.
On any given afternoon, college recruiters can be seen on the West Oakland campus. On Wednesday, coaches from Wyoming and Utah State paid a visit. Earlier that day, head coach Alonzo Carter spoke with Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer by phone. On Friday, Southern Cal coach Pete Carroll, California coach Jeff Tedford and a host of others stopped by.
The college coaches are there for good reason. As many as seven players have emerged as college prospects.
Going by early offers, linebacker Josh Tatum leads the pack of Warriors prospects. The 6-foot, 220-pound Tatum has a top seven of Southern Cal, Miami (Fla.), Tennessee, California, Ole Miss, Oregon, LSU.
Though it's early, Southern Cal and Miami (Fla.) currently are on top with Tatum with the Vols making a strong push.
Perhaps as coveted as Tatum is 6-foot-5, 245-pound tight end prospect NaDerris Ward. At least one recruiting analysts says that Ward is the best tight end he's seen on film this season. Ward, who has family ties to the Southeast, has a top seven of Georgia, Oklahoma, Florida, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arizona and Kansas State.
"I am thankful that all of these schools have decided to recruit me," Ward said. "I am glad they decided to come out to California."
They have been coming out a long way. Located 2,700 miles from McClymonds, Georgia has been on Ward's mind from the start.
"We were sending the initial batch of tapes out and NaDerris wanted me to send one to Georgia," Carter said. "Soon after, they called."
Rodney Garner, a top 25 recruiter selection for the Class of 2005, is recruiting Ward for the Bulldogs.
Defensive lineman Derrick Hill likes California, Arizona, Kansas State, Oregon, Washington State, Washington and San Diego State.
Hill, at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, claims he is open, but spoke highly of a recent meeting with Tedford.
"I talked with (Tedford) and he was telling me about the program and the new things they are doing with their stadium," Hill said.
Also, don't be surprised to see some mutual interest if a couple of southern schools come calling.
"I went on a college tour and took some unofficial visits," Hill said. "I was really impressed with the facilities at Georgia Tech and LSU."
Athlete Rico Thomas has played multiple positions for the Warriors during his career, including running back, wide receiver and defensive back. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Thomas currently has offers from UNLV, San Diego State, New Mexico State and Utah and also is drawing interest from Nebraska, Washington State, Wisconsin and Oregon.
"I am open to as many colleges as I can be," Thomas said.
Defensive end prospect Antoine Howard, running back prospect Terrance McCoy and athlete Stephen Blackwell are potential emerging sleeper prospects.
The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Blackwell has been getting attention from UNLV, Arizona State, Colorado and UCLA, Howard, at 6-foot-2, 220-pound calls Georgia Tech and Cal his favorites and the 5-foot-10, 175-pound McCoy likes San Diego State, Kansas State, Utah and Washington.
All seven McClymonds prospects will be at the Palo Alto NIKE training camp Saturday on the campus of Stanford University.