High school QBs blitzed by college recruiters

High school QBs blitzed by college recruiters
Corona Santiago quarterback Blake Barnett. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

There's an all-out rush, if not a stampede, of college football recruiters coming to Southern California trying to obtain early commitments from top high school quarterbacks this spring.

The big questions: how long will some players be able to hold out, and will everyone who commits stick with their commitments?


So far, off the recruiting trail from the class of 2015 are Notre Dame-bound Blake Barnett of Corona Santiago, UCLA-bound Josh Rosen of Bellflower St. John Bosco, USC-bound Ricky Town of Ventura St. Bonaventure, Arizona State-bound Brady White of Newhall Hart and Washington State-bound Tyler Hilinski of Upland.

Facing increasing pressure to make a decision are Travis Waller of Anaheim Servite, Sheriron Jones of Moreno Valley Rancho Verde and Sam Darnold of San Clemente. All are part of one of the deepest, most talented classes of Southern California quarterbacks in years.

"It's been crazy," said Waller, who's up to 13 scholarship offers. "I see about three or four coaches every day at school. I fill out forms. I have to stay humble and don't rush."

Months ago, Jalen Greene of Gardena Serra and Brad Kaaya of West Hills Chaminade were the first quarterbacks to commit from the class of 2014 — with Boise State and Miami, respectively. When Boise State lost its coach, Greene ended up at USC. Kaaya signed with Miami but that was after he took a last-minute recruiting trip to Boise State. He was also being wooed by UCLA.

It's an example that nothing is final until a letter of intent is signed in February or the player enrolls early at the school. Town had committed to Alabama and switched to USC in January.

USC, UCLA, Ohio State and Wisconsin have already offered a scholarship to Malik Henry of Westlake Village Westlake, who is part of the class of 2016.

It's a never-ending cycle with twists and turns that can cause players and schools to change their minds — with little consequence for either side.

Because quarterback is the most important position on a football team, colleges want an early commitment to build excitement and plan for the future.

"Committing early shows your leadership and being the center in the recruiting class," Kaaya said.

Once one top quarterback commits, others are affected, because rarely do schools bring in more than one quarterback at a time. That's where the pressure builds, when players see that a school has multiple offers out. It gets tricky and a little nerve-racking.

Waller intends to take unofficial recruiting trips to schools that have offered him this summer, and he insists he won't be rushed into a decision until he knows he has decided on the right school and the right coach.

Kaaya leaves for Miami on Sunday to begin summer classes and make a bid to start as a freshman. Everything seems to have worked out for him.

"It's open competition," he said.

That's all any of the quarterbacks want.


Linebacker returns

Matt Locher, 6 feet 4, 250 pounds, can't wait to return to the football field. The Los Alamitos linebacker sustained a torn ligament in his foot and ended up playing just one game last season as a junior. He's close to being cleared for full workouts this spring.

"It was a real bummer, and I can't wait to dominate my senior year," he said.

Locher can expect to play some tailback for Los Alamitos.

"He's a beast who can run," defensive coordinator Barry Sher said.

He was the defensive player of the year in the Sunset League as a sophomore and gets straight A's on his report card. Los Alamitos should have one of the best linebacking trios around with Locher; all-leaguer Blake Johnson, a top punter; and Denzal Brantley.