The 2009 football season is in its infancy and already Southern California has received verbal commitments from some of the top players in the state of California.
Five of the 30 players on the MaxPreps California Preseason All-State Team have told Trojan coach Pete Carroll that they will play for USC next season and about a dozen more have the Trojans high on their list.
MAXPREPS CALIFORNIA PRESEASON ALL-STATE TEAM
WR – Robert Woods, Serra, Gardena, 6-1, 170, Sr.
One of the top receivers in the country and a recent commit to USC, Woods caught 81 passes for 1,378 yards and 26 touchdowns last year.
WR – Kenny Stills, La Costa Canyon, Encinitas, 6-2, 180, Sr.
Stills earned first team All-San Diego Section honors last season after catching 64 passes for 1,274 yards and 16 touchdowns. Reportedly runs a 4.5 40-yard dash.
WR – Dillon Baxter, Mission Bay, San Diego, 6-0, 205, Sr.
Baxter does a little bit of everything at Mission Bay, including rushing for 1,258 yards and passing for 1,293 yards. Colleges peg Baxter as a possible slot receiver so that’s where we’ll put him on this team.
TE – Christian Thomas, Highland, Palmdale, 6-3, 235, Sr.
Thomas ranks as one of the top TE prospects in the west with the likes of USC and UCLA both clamoring for his talents. He caught 32 passes for 690 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior.
OL – Erik Kohler, Oaks Christian, Westlake Village, 6-5, 285, Sr.
Kohler announced his intentions earlier this week that he will be a Washington Husky next year. Kohler was an All-CIF Southern Section choice and first team All-Ventura County as well.
OL – Chris Ward, Mater Dei, Santa Ana, 6-4, 300, Sr.
Although a second team all-league pick in the Trinity League last year, Ward has emerged as one of the top tackle prospects on the West Coast. California and UCLA appear to be the two teams in contention for his services.
OL – Giovanni Di Poalo, St. Bonaventure, Ventura, 6-4, 260, Sr.
Di Poalo has been a member of two state championship teams for the Seraphs and has already committed to play for USC.
OL – Ben Gottschalk, Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks, 6-5, 270, Sr.
An All-Pac 5 Division pick last year, Gottschalk has picked up offers from several colleges including San Diego State, Iowa State and UNLV.
OL – Hroniss Grasu, Crespi, Encino, 6-3, 245, Sr.
An All-Southern Section pick by the Los Angeles Daily News, Grasu has given a verbal commitment to play for the Oregon Ducks next year.
QB – Ryan Kasdorf, Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks, 6-1, 200, Sr.
The offers have been slow in coming for the reigning California Gatorade Player of the Year, but Kasdorf certainly has the numbers to warrant all-state selection. He completed 171 of 248 passes for 3,291 yards and 36 touchdowns while leading Notre Dame to an 11-1 record as a junior.
QB – Nick Montana, Oaks Christian, Westlake Village, 6-1, 180, Sr.
Montana will head to the University of Washington once his days at Oaks Christian are through. Montana stepped in last year for the Lions and threw for 2,404 yards and 33 touchdowns.
RB – Deontae Cooper, Citrus Hill, Perris, 5-11, 175, Sr.
One of the leading rushers in the country last year, Cooper could be the favorite to lead the state in rushing this year after gaining 2,953 yards and scoring 47 touchdowns as a junior. He has received interest from several Pac-10 schools including Stanford, Washington and the two Arizona schools.
RB – D.J. Morgan, Taft, Woodland Hills, 5-11, 175, Sr.
One of the top players in the Los Angeles City Section, Morgan has already committed to play at USC next year. He gained 1,841 yards and scored 26 touchdowns as a junior.
RB – Anthony Barr, Loyola, Los Angeles, 6-4, 225, Sr.
All of the top programs are after Barr, including USC, Notre Dame and Stanford. The bruising runner gained 1,890 yards and scored 20 touchdowns last year.
K – Jake Van Ginkel, Upland, 6-0, 175, Jr.
Only a junior, Van Ginkel kicked nine field goals last year and has kicked field goals over 60 yards in practice. Earned All-Riverside County honors as a sophomore.
DL – Ronald Powell, Rancho Verde, Moreno Valley, 6-4, 250, Sr.
Powell has emerged as one of the top prospects in the country after earning second team All-Riverside County honors as a junior. He had 60 tackles and 13 sacks last year. Both USC and Florida have shown interested in Powell.
DL – Cassius Marsh, Oaks Christian Westlake Village, 6-4, 290, Sr.
An all-CIF selection for the Lions, Marsh has offers from many of the BCS programs including USC, Oklahoma, Cal, LSU and Tennessee.
DL – George Uko, Don Lugo, Chino, 6-4, 285, Sr.
Uko had 88 tackles last year and was second team all-area. He has drawn interested from Cal, Nebraska, Oklahoma, UCLA and USC.
DL – Viliami Moala, Grant, Sacramento, 6-3, 305, Jr.
One of two juniors on the preseason team, Moala showed his skills in last year’s state final against Long Beach Poly. He will be a coveted recruit in the class of 2011.
LB – Josh Shirley, Kaiser, Fontana, 6-2, 225, Sr.
Shirley was a first team All-Inland Valley pick as a junior after registering 88 tackles and 17 sacks. Most of the Pac 10 schools along with Notre Dame have shown interest.
LB – Hayes Pullard, Crenshaw, Los Angeles, 6-2, 220, Sr.
Pullard is one of the top defensive players in the LA City Section (along with Sean Parker) and is getting looks from USC, UCLA and Notre Dame, among others. He had 145 tackles and five sacks last year.
LB – Zac Stout, Oaks Christian, Westlake Village, 6-2, 220, Sr.
Another standout for the Lions, Stout had 112 tackles last year on defense to finish among the team leaders. He has given a verbal commitment to BYU.
LB – Garrett Gilliland, Lutheran, Orange, 6-0, 205, Sr.
Although a bit undersized, Gilliland was a playmaker for the Lancers last year, earning All-Orange County honors with 76 tackles and 11 sacks. Colorado and Washington appear to have the edge in acquiring his talents.
DB – Sean Parker, Narbonne, Harbor City, 6-0, 190, Sr.
Parker grabbed five interceptions last year while earning All-LA City Section honors. He has received interest from Noter Dame, Florida, USC and UCLA.
DB – Dietrich Riley, St. Francis, La Canada, 6-1, 195, Sr.
A talented offensive performer with over 1,300 yards rushing last year, Riley also shined on defense with 50 tackles and three sacks. He could be headed east next year as Michigan, Notre Dame and Tennessee have all shown interest.
DB – Tony Jefferson, Eastlake, Chula Vista, 6-0, 197, Sr.
Jefferson, who was the defensive player in his league last year, has already given at verbal commitment to UCLA. He had 88 tackles and four sacks last year and also rushed for 1,328 yards and 28 touchdowns.
DB – Erick Dargan, Pittsburg, 6-1, 200, Sr.
The top defensive back in Northern California, Dargan had 72 tackles and three interceptions last year. He has received interested from UCLA, California, and Oregon.
P – Matt Darr, Frontier, Bakersfield, 6-2, 210, Sr.
Besides averaging 46 yards a punt, Darr is also a standout linebacker at Frontier. He was the state champion in the discus and shot put as a junior and has already given a verbal commitment to USC.
AP – Malcolm Jones, Oaks Christian, Westlake Village, 6-0, 215, Sr.
Entering his fourth year on the Oaks Christian varsity, Jones is regarded as one of the top four running backs in the country after rushing for just under 1,600 yards in a junior season slowed by injury. Stanford and UCLA have shown the most interest in the Lion senior.
AP – Jesse Scroggins, Lakewood, 6-2, 195, Sr. 2,462, 23 TDs
Scroggins ranks as one of the top returning quarterbacks in the country this year after throwing for 2,462 yards and 23 touchdowns as a junior. Scroggins has already given a verbal commitment to USC.