Each week ESPNHS will shine the light on a few non-seniors who are emerging as prospects to watch on the recruiting radar. Here is this week's Launching Pad.
WR Dylan Cantrell, Whitehouse (Whitehouse, Texas)
Cantrell, a 6-2, 190 pound junior, showed tremendous athletic potential this spring on the Nike Combine tour and has backed it up on the field this fall so far at Whitehouse. One of the top performers at the Dallas Nike Combine this April, Cantrell posted one of the nation’s top SPARQ Ratings at 126.15, on the strength of a 4.55 40 yard dash and a 38.2-inch vertical jump.
This fall the lanky pass-catcher has been equally as impressive in between the lines as he was on the camp/combine circuit. Cantrell caught 10 passes for 161 yards and two scores this past week against Sulphur Springs (Sulphur Springs, Texas) and through three games he has accumulated 28 receptions for 423 yards and six touchdowns.
“I don't have a preference on schools yet, it is too early,” Cantrell told ESPNHS on Monday. “I have received a lot of letters but so have other kids. I don't know who is really interested or not.
“I am going to SMU this weekend. They invited me to a home game. So has Oregon, Notre Dame, CaI, Tulsa, Baylor, and Penn State.” - Brian Stumpf
OL John Lopez, Orange Lutheran (Orange, Calif.)
The big fella’ out of SoCal powerhouse Orange Lutheran was a man amongst boys… while essentially being a boy amongst men at the 2011 USC Nike Football Training Camp. One of the few underclass OL in attendance, Lopez showcased tremendous potential and punished opposing defensive linemen during the one-on-one drills.
Orange Lutheran is off to a 2-0 start on the 2011 season. The Lancers rushed for over 281 yards in a big win against Los Osos (Rancho Cucamonga, Ca) last week thanks to the stellar play of Lopez and the rest of the Orange Lutheran offensive line.
“I worked really hard on my conditioning during the off-season and improving my awareness and ability to know my assignments since last season has really allowed me to be a bully down in the trenches," Lopez told ESPNHS on Tuesday. "I haven’t checked the stats yet, but I know I have a ton of pancake blocks.”
Lopez has seen his improved gameplay directly correlate with increased recruiting attention. “Recruiting has been exciting. Coming home everyday to a mailbox full of letters, I sometimes feel overwhelmed. I'm excited to start planning all my trips. I plan to visit the schools that prove they are truly interested in me”.
Lopez holds an early offer from UCLA and you can expect to his list of offers pile high as the season progresses. - Nick Ekbatani
WR Alex Montgomery, Cypress Bay (Weston, Fla.)
Montgomery is a 6-2, 194-pound junior that plays in a predominately run oriented offense. However, that doesn’t stop him from making plays in the passing game when his team decides to throw the ball. He is the go-to receiver for the Lightning, who finished as the 2010 Class 6A state semi-finalists last fall, when Montgomery earned third team All-Broward County by The Miami Herald, catching 23 passes for 596 yards and nine touchdowns.
Montgomery told ESPNHS this week, “I’m looking to finish with over 800 yards receiving and double my TD’s from a year ago this year. When my number is called I want to have an impact.”
Last spring, the sure-handed wideout attended the Miami Nike SPARQ Combine and posted an 80.07 SPARQ Rating on the heels of a 4.29 shuttle time. In addition, he participated at the Miami Nike Football Training Camp and caught the eye of a few recruiting experts that cover the South Florida area.
He is hoping his hard work will pay off with his first offer before the season is over. Schools like Florida and Florida State are sending him mail. Currently, he is receiving the most interest from the University of Miami and plans to attend their game against Ohio State this weekend. – Kynon Codrington
RB Aregeros Turner, Copley (Copley, Ohio)
Don't for one second overlook this 5-9, 170 pound, because despite his size, Turner is a hard-nosed junior running back. Last spring at the Ohio Nike Combine, Turner posted a 78.72 SPARQ Rating on the strength of a 4.19 shuttle time and 4.66 40-yard dash. As a sophomore he played on both sides of the ball but.
A year after rushing for just under 1,200 yards, Turner looks to be on the verge of becoming one of the best running backs in the Midwest as a junior. He’s already on pace to surpass those numbers by rushing for 504 yards and four touchdowns on 54 carries through his first three games, helping the Indians to a 2-1 record.
College coaches have already taken notice with Tennessee and Illinois extending early offers with another handful of national programs showing a great deal of interest. Oregon is one the schools in the mix and has stood out to Turner for quite sometime.
"I really like the program with how my school runs the same offense, with my speed I feel I would be a great fit there", Turner told ESPNHS on Wednesday about his interest in the Ducks.
"I am going to be very busy in October checking out the following games – Tennessee vs. Alabama, LSU vs. Tennessee and one at Illinois. I definitely would love to get to a game in Oregon as well."
Other schools recruiting Turner include Alabama, Syracuse, West Virginia, Michigan and Michigan State. - Michael White
Know of an underclassman prospect who should be featured in the Launching Pad? E-mail Kynon Codrington (Southeast), Nick Ekbatani (Linemen), Brian Stumpf (national) or Michael White (Midwest/Northeast) with your nominee.