When it comes to drawing serious interest from the top programs, one breakoutseason is sometimes all it takes
BEFORE THE NewburyPark (Calif.) season opener junior running back Chris Brown bet the teamtrainer a 7-Eleven Slurpee that he wouldn't get more than 20 rushes in thegame. After all, Brown had played on the sophomore team last year and watchedhis three older brothers star as receivers for the Panthers, who led theMarmonte League in receiving in two of the last three seasons. But that firstweek Brown carried 21 times for 103 yards and two touchdowns in a 20--14 winover Camarillo (Calif.). "I was happy to pay up," says Brown of hissmall-stakes wager. Three months later the 6'1", 189-pound back finishedthe season with 1,904 yards and 22 touchdowns on 318 carries for the newlybalanced attack of 11--2 Newbury Park. "We weren't real sure he could dothis, or we'd have done more to get him playing varsity last year," coachGeorge Hurley says. "He's certainly raising eyebrows." Last monthcollege recruiters and scouting services started calling Hurley about Brown,who'd like to attend a Pac-10 school.
For many playersit takes only one great season to become a hot prospect, especially in the caseof a junior, such as Brown, who emerged from nowhere to lead the league inrushing by more than 600 yards. Circumstances, however, may demand that aplayer prove himself with a convincing follow-up season.
That was the casefor Cierre Wood, a junior running back at Santa Clara (Oxnard, Calif.), whichhasn't produced a scholarship football player since 1989. Wood ran for 1,407yards and 17 TDs in 2006, but at 6 feet, 185 pounds he was more of a speedyscatback, on the radar of only one Division I school, San Diego State."Coach told me to put some meat on my bones," Wood says. He liftedweights, bulked up to 198, and this season he has 146 rushes for 2,404 yards(16.5 per carry) and 33 TDs, including a 327-yard, six-touchdown performance inthe Saints' 42--20 CIF Mid-Valley Division semifinal victory over ValleyChristian (Cerritos, Calif.) last Friday night.
Wood has receivedoffers this fall from eight schools, including Florida, Notre Dame and USC.What's more, Rivals.com released its first rankings for the class of 2009 lastweek, and Wood was the top-rated running back.
When TerrenceRobinson transferred within Texas District 16-5A—from Spring High to KleinOak—as a sophomore in 2005, the state's University Interscholastic Leaguebarred him from playing varsity as a junior. He spent last year in jayveeexile, where, coach David Smith says, "he was O.K., but he played to thatlevel." This year the 5'9", 170-pound back ran 223 times for 2,127yards and 26 TDs in helping the Panthers to the best record (10--2) in theschool's history. Rivals.com awarded him a fourth star (out of five) lastmonth, and he's picked up offers from Boston College, Oregon and Wake Forest."Some of these offers are coming in late," says Smith of Robinson, whohad been considering mid-level schools such as Rice and SMU, "[but] late'sno problem."
Defensive end NickPerry finished with 12 sacks as a junior at Mackenzie (Detroit) last year, andan impressive showing at a scouting combine last January led to offers fromMichigan, Michigan State and West Virginia. This fall Perry transferred tocrosstown Martin Luther King High, where the Crusaders' coaches rotated himthrough nine defensive positions. He set a Michigan record with 37 sacks andled King to a 14--0 season and the Division 2 championship on Nov. 23, thefirst by a Detroit public school. Perry recently added scholarship offers fromMiami and USC. Says CSTV recruiting expert Tom Lemming, "He's super-fast,he's got a great build, and he's going to be a great player incollege."
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Friday Night Lights
DE LA SALLE (Concord, Calif.) vs. CALIFORNIA (SanRamon), Dec. 8
The old guard meets the nouveau riche in the North Coast Section 4A final. MikeMacGillivray (left), who has thrown for 18 TDs, leads 11--0 De La Salle,winners of 15 straight NCS titles. California (11--1) won its first footballplayoff game in school history last month and will rely on QB Nick Spalliero(right), who has 1,570 total yards.
SLOWING A RUNAWAY TRAIN
Karns City (Pa.) was the first team this season to hold Jeannette (Pa.) tofewer than 40 points—but it still lost by the mercy rule. Led by five-star QBrecruit Terrelle Pryor (three TDs), 14--0 Jeannette beat the 12--1 Gremlins35--6 in the Class AA quarterfinal last Saturday and set the state's seasonscoring record with 770 points.
BOLEN 'EM OVER
Grandview (Aurora, Colo.) senior RB Bo Bolen ran for 115 yards and three TDs tolead the Wolves to a 20--14 OT victory over Douglas County (Castle Rock) in theClass 5A title game last Saturday. Bolen finished the year with 32 TDs and wasthe 5A leader in rushing with 2,377 yards.
HUSKIES DRAW A PAIR
Washington coach Tyrone Willingham received oral commitments last Friday fromLakes High (Lakewood, Wash.) TE Kavario Middleton (45 catches, 522 yards, eightTDs), Rivals.com's No. 1 in-state player and WR Jermaine Kearse (55 catches,903 yards, eight TDs), the No. 5 recruit.
SI's Top 10 Power Rankings
1 NORTHWESTERN (Miami) 13--0
Faces Deerfield Beach, the last to beat Bulls in '05, in 6A semis
2 ST. XAVIER (Cincinnati) 15--0
Won second Div. I state title in three years, defeating Mentor 27--0
3 SOUTH PANOLA (Batesville, Miss.) 14--0
Next: finale vs. George County (Lucedale) for 5A title
4 KATY (Texas) 13--0
Tough test ahead in 5A regional final with 13--0 Clements (Sugar Land)
5 MARYVILLE (Tenn.) 14--0
Going for fourth straight 4A title vs. 12--2 Maplewood (Nashville)
6 BOOKER T. WASHINGTON (Miami) 12--0
Clashes with nemesis Armwood (Seffner) in 4A semis
7 NORTHSIDE (Warner Robins, Ga.) 13--0
Enters 5A semis vs. Tucker after three-straight shutouts
8 PRATTVILLE (Ala.) 14--0
Spain Park (Hoover) awaits defending champion Lions in 6A final
9 DON BOSCO PREP (Ramsey, N.J.) 12--0
With RB Tony Jones's 123 rushing yards, beat St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City)42--14 for Group 4 title
10 PAHOKEE (Fla.) 13--0
Led by RB-CB Janoris Jenkins (14 TDs), faces 13--0 Newberry in 2B final
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For the Top 25, go to SI.com/highschool.
TODD BIGELOW (WOOD)
STOCK'S UP Wood averages 16.5 yards a carry, and Perry (below) had 37 sacks this fall.
ROBIN BUCKSON/THE DETROIT NEWS (PERRY)
[See caption above]
RICK ROWELL/CAL SPORT MEDIA (MACGILLIVRAY)
FRANK ROSATO (SPALLIERO)