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Inglewood’s Montana Lemonious-Craig hopes to mirror Patriots receiver N’Keal Harry

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Inglewood receiver Montana Lemonious-Craig looks on during warmups for the Passing Down Best of the West seven-on-seven tournament at Portola High in Irvine.
(Shotgun Spratling / For the Times)

Montana Lemonious-Craig has a path to follow.

It’s not a direct, guided path, but the 6-foot-2 wide receiver from Inglewood High wants to follow N’Keal Harry on a similar track. The big-bodied Harry was selected by the New England Patriots with the final pick of the first round in the NFL draft last week after a stellar three-year career at Arizona State.

Lemonious-Craig looks up to Harry because he sees a similar type of wideout.

Harry measured 6-2 and 228 pounds at the NFL scouting combine. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds and was tied for the most bench press repetitions (27) among receivers. Harry has a rare blend of size, strength, speed and pass-catching skills. Lemonious-Craig is trying to emulate that.

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“I’m big, strong and physical,” Lemonious-Craig said. “My body is going to fill out, so I take the weight room very, very serious. I need to develop weight. I need to develop muscle, so I believe I should be that size coming up.”

Lemonious-Craig is going to have to pack on the pounds to get to the level of Harry, who was 210 pounds coming out of Chandler High in Arizona. Lemonious-Craig was 175 pounds when he weighed in at the Opening Los Angeles regional in February. Lemonious-Craig’s weight isn’t as much of an issue, though, because of the physicality he brings to the receiver position.

Many receivers at the high school level shy away from press man-to-man coverage where cornerbacks are right in their face as soon as the ball is snapped. Lemonious-Craig, who also plays free safety for Inglewood, brings that defensive attitude to the offensive side.

“Not too many receivers are physical off the line,” he said. “I’m going to be physical. Press man doesn’t scare me. If you play off, that’s easier for me, and as I develop, I’m going to get better and better. I’m not going to settle to be regular. I can always get faster. I can always get better footwork and I can always run better routes and work on my hands.”

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As a junior last season, Lemonious-Craig caught 30 passes for 573 yards and eight touchdowns for the Sentinels, according to MaxPreps. He also had 62 tackles and two interceptions.

Getting noticed

Lemonious-Craig has seen his recruitment gain steam. He has 10 offers, including seven from Mountain West schools, after picking up scholarship opportunities from Fresno State, New Mexico and Wyoming this week. Auburn and Yale have shown interest and diversify his list in both location and reputation.

“Every offer that I get, any school that takes a chance with me I appreciate ’em. I don’t take nothing for granted when it comes to that,” he said. “Those are the schools that are giving me a chance to come out there and make a shot. I just want to go out there and play football and play at the next level and do what I can do to excel and potentially get to the league.”

Lemonious-Craig is cautiously optimistic that he will soon receive his first Pac-12 offer. The three-star prospect, per 247Sports rankings, has been in communication with USC and UCLA and will attend their summer camps.

“[I want to show] I can compete with the best that’s there,” he said. “Whoever is the top guy, I want them.”

Nation’s top QB ready to commit

Bellflower St. John Bosco’s DJ Uiagalelei has made his collegiate decision and will announce it on Sunday.

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A five-star prospect and the No. 1-rated quarterback in the 247Sports composite rankings, Uiagalelei released a top three, saying he will choose between Clemson, Oregon and Mt. San Antonio College where several family members attended.

The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Uiagalelei ranks as one of the top 20 quarterback prospects of the modern recruiting era, per his composite rating. He has prototypical size and elite arm strength as evidenced by a mid-90s fastball as a pitcher.


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