Super scout Dick Lascola says that except for two players this is an average year--which still means good--for prep football talent in the San Gabriel Valley.
The players are quarterback Dan McGwire of Claremont and running back J. J. Flannigan of Pomona. Both figure to be among the most recruited prospects in the nation.
With the presence of blue chips McGwire and Flannigan, in addition to many other NCAA Division I prospects, “it’s probably a little better than normal” for potential college talent, says Lascola, who directs the Fallbrook-based Scouting Evaluation Assn. “I think if you took McGwire and Flannigan out, the San Gabriel Valley would definitely be hurting this year. But I think it’s a good year.”
Lascola says the strong pool of talent this season does not end in the San Gabriel Valley.
‘More Talent Than Usual’
“I think it’s one of the best years (for talent) in a few years in Southern California,” he said. “I definitely think there’s a little more talent than usual out there.”
Other players attracting interest from college recruiters are linebacker Jim Jastrab and tight end Will Harris, both from Los Altos; wide receiver Travis Watkins of Claremont and massive linemen Joe Chadbourne of West Covina, Ryan McReynolds of Rowland and A. J. Chuha of Damien.
Many others are expected to develop into blue-chip prospects by the end of the season.
Bluest of the Chips
Dan McGwire (Claremont, quarterback)--It is not every year that you find a 6-8, 220-pound quarterback who has a great passing arm, leadership ability and a strong field sense. McGwire was named to the USA Today and Street & Smith preseason All-America teams. “We’re not talking about the San Gabriel Valley’s best, we’re talking about one of the nation’s best,” Lascola said. “He’s one of those players who come along once in a lifetime.” McGwire posted brilliant statistics as a junior, completing 132 of 230 passes for 2,246 yards and 24 touchdowns with only 9 interceptions. He also is an outstanding basketball player.
J.J. Flannigan (Pomona, running back)--Lascola calls the 6-1, 180-pound Flannigan, who runs the 100-yard dash in 9.6 seconds, one of the top six running backs in the nation. “He’s the kind of player who’s a threat every time he touches the ball,” Lascola said. “He’s what you would call a franchise player.” Flannigan, an honorable-mention Street & Smith All-American, rushed for an eye-popping 1,934 yards and 18 touchdowns in only 188 carries (10.2 yards a carry) last season.
Steve Bayer (Claremont, place-kicker)--Accurate from about 45 yards, this soccer-style kicker made 13 of 14 field-goal attempts and added 49 extra points last year. Also a soccer player, Bayer (6-1, 170) made five interceptions in his first varsity football season last year.
Rick Carter (Bishop Amat, quarterback)--A two-year starter for a strong squad, Carter (6-0, 175) has earned a reputation as a solid drop-back passer with a strong passing arm. He passed for 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior. He also is a punter and place-kicker for the Lancers.
Geoff Cook (Duarte, tight end)--Cook has most of the attributes college scouts love to see in a tight end--he has speed, runs excellent pass patterns and has demonstrated exceptional concentration. Cook also has size at 6-4 but may need to add weight to his 190-pound frame.
David Foster (Ganesha, linebacker)--Foster is not the biggest player in the valley at 6-1 and 205 but is one of the hardest hitters. He led Ganesha in quarterback sacks last year. Besides having great upper body strength, he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds.
Lamar Gray (Pomona, linebacker)--There never seems to be a shortage of talent at Pomona and this year is no exception. In addition to Flannigan, the Red Devils have this strong, hard-hitting linebacker (6-1, 216) who Lascola says has the ability to play major-college football.
John Hardy (Muir, defensive back)--In recent years, Muir has been noted for producing top-notch offensive prospects such as Mark Hatcher and Richard Bell, but the Mustangs have a strong defensive prospect in Hardy (6-1, 170), a hard hitter who has outstanding range. He made five interceptions as a junior.
Tim James (San Dimas, wide receiver)--James is playing quarterback this season but Lascola says his future probably is as a wide receiver. James (6-3, 190) certainly has major-college speed, having run the 110-meter high hurdles in 14.2 seconds last year, and has good hands.
Pat Patterson (Bishop Amat, tight end)--At 6-2 and 250, Patterson has the dimensions and the strength of a lineman but he also has pretty good hands. “He’s got potential,” Lascola said. “I would say he’s definitely worth a look.”
Troy Porter (Diamond Bar, defensive back)--As a junior, Porter led the CIF Southern Section in interceptions with 12. Porter’s size (5-9, 185) may be a drawback but he has speed and range, which should get him a look from college scouts.
Larry Vladic (Diamond Bar, wide receiver)--One of the best athletes on a strong Diamond Bar squad, Vladic (6-3, 185) has the size, hands and quickness to be a steady wide receiver. He also plays defensive back and is a top-notch baseball player.
Kraig Washington (Diamond Bar, running back)--Except for size, Washington (5-9, 185) has most of the tools college scouts are looking for, including great speed (4.5 seconds in the 40) and strength. He rushed for 1,754 yards and 20 touchdowns last year. He also comes from a good family line. His grandfather, Kenny Washington, was an All-American for UCLA in the late 30s.
Best of the Rest
Joe Chadbourne (West Covina, lineman)--If West Covina Coach Tim Brancheau is drooling these days, it may be because he has one of the biggest linemen in Southern California. “When I say big, I mean big,” Brancheau says. “He’s gigantic.” At 6-9 and 260, the offensive and defensive tackle is receiving a good look from college scouts. Chadbourne is a solid hitter with strength.
A.J. Chuha (Damien, lineman)--Damien seems to produce one major-college prospect every year. Chuha is this year’s prospect. At 6-4, 250, he has the size to be an offensive lineman and the speed and agility to play nose guard. “He has the size and if he stays healthy he’s a definite college prospect,” Lascola said.
Will Harris (Los Altos, tight end)--At 6-3 and 200, Harris may need weight to become a bona-fide blue-chip prospect, but Lascola says he has excellent potential as a tight end. “He’s a rawboned kid who just needs to fill out,” Lascola said. A good pass catcher with speed and a team leader, Harris may be strongest as a blocker. He also is an outstanding linebacker for the Conquerors.
Jim Jastrab (Los Altos, linebacker)--Tough and hard-nosed are two adjectives frequently attached to Jastrab’s name. At 6-0 and 215, Jastrab is his team’s most active defensive player. He is a hard hitter and calls the defensive signals. Lascola said Jastrab’s height may be a drawback for some scouts, but heart is not. A three-year starter at linebacker and running back, Jastrab comes from a prominent football family. Older brother Bob is a lineman for the University of Miami.
Ryan McReynolds (Rowland, lineman)--Like Chadbourne, McReynolds is a player who stands out in a crowd. That’s easy to do when you are 6-7 and 245. Besides having more than ample size, McReynolds has speed and mobility. He runs the 40-yard dash in about 5 seconds and is one of the top players on the basketball team. A tackle on offense, McReynolds is a linebacker on defense.
Travis Watkins (Claremont, wide receiver)--Watkins has not received as much publicity as McGwire but defensive backs and scouts are aware of his presence. That’s because Watkins (6-2, 175) has good hands, excellent concentration, runs outstanding patterns and is tough to tackle. He also has a 33-inch vertical leap. A three-year starter, Watkins also stars for the Wolfpack in basketball.