National signing day has come and gone, with the Inland Empire making another solid contribution to college programs across the country. It’s never too early to start looking ahead to next season’s class, just ask the college recruiters who are already extending offers to blue-chip athletes. With the amount of offers already on the table for several I.E. juniors, this is shaping up to be one of the strongest classes in years, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Here’s a preview of the region’s top 10 recruits for 2013.
Su’a Cravens, LB/RB, Vista Murrieta – Cravens has been offered by virtually anyone and everyone, beginning as early as the spring of his freshman year. He began his high school career as a freshman cornerback at Temecula Valley, switched to strong safety as a sophomore at Vista Murrieta and added running back to his resume last season, while playing more of a roving outside linebacker on defense. It’s anybody’s guess where Cravens will end up playing when all is said and done, and he’s providing few clues of his preferences, but it’s all but guaranteed the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder will play wherever and anywhere he wants.
Joe Mathis, DL, Upland – The Highlanders inked four players to Pac-12 Conference scholarships this week, and Mathis is lined up to be the leader of next year’s class. Mathis averaged 6.1 tackles a game, with six sacks, two caused fumbles and two recoveries. The 6-4, 250-pounder committed to Washington midway through his junior season but look for him to keep his options open heading into his senior year. UCLA, Oregon State, Colorado and Indiana have also reportedly offered.
Kylie Fitts, DL, Redlands East Valley – Fitts burst onto the scene with seven sacks in the first five games, including 2 ½ in a monumental upset against nationally ranked Mission Viejo in Week 5. His production slowed as more teams schemed to block him, but the 6-4, 245-pounder still averaged 6.6 tackles a game for one of the Southland’s most stout defenses. UCLA has made an early offer to Fitts, following in the footsteps of Boise State.
Marcus Baugh, TE, J.W. North – At 6-5, 225, Baugh was a handful on both sides of the ball. He caught 30 passes for 528 yards and seven touchdowns and registered seven sacks on defense. UCLA had already offered Baugh, while Michigan is showing serious interest as well. USC is also reportedly kicking the tires and Baugh has let it be known the Trojans are an early favorite.
Kenny Clark, OL/DL, Carter – UCLA, Washington and Fresno State are also hot on the trail of this 6-2, 285-pound two-way lineman, offering him last month. Clark, one of the top heavyweight wrestlers in the state, recorded 6 ½ sacks, three pass deflections and two fumble recoveries on defense and led an offensive line that paved the way for just under 3,000 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns.
Chris Hawkins, DB, Rancho Cucamonga – A lot of eyes will be on the Cougars secondary next season. Hawkins, a shutdown cornerback, had just two interceptions last season but turned enough heads to earn first-team All-Inland Division honors. Scouts have taken notice, as he has received offers this week alone from UCLA and Boise State. Northwestern and Washington have also come to the table with early offers.
Tahaan Goodman, DB, Rancho Cucamonga – Goodman, a 6-2, 190-pound safety, was also offered by the Bruins and Boise State this week, with San Diego Sate also joing his early list. Look for Goodman and Hawkins to possiblyend up as a package deal somewhere in the Pac-12.
Craig Lee, RB, Redlands – This 6-foot, 188-pound ball carrier bobbed and weaved his way to 1,534 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior, highlighted by a 178-yard, two-touchdown performance in a 49-35 loss to Corona Centennial in the first round of the Inland Division playoffs. Lee has already been offered by Washington, Colorado and San Diego State.
Joseph Ajeigbe, RB, Norco – The 5-9, 191-pound running back could be the next Division 1 recruit out of Norco, following on the heels of Kelsey Young and Toby Gerhart(Stanford). He has a low center of gravity and a burst of speed that allowed him to rush for 1,573 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, averaging 8.2 yards a carry. With several offensive linemen returning, as well as quarterback Coltin Gerhart, look for those number to increase next season.
Dorian Barnett, WR, Corona Santiago – The 6-3, 200-pound receiver was second in the Big VIII League with 46 receptions that went for 742 yards and six touchdowns. With quarterback Michael Darr also eligible to return for his senior season, look for Barnett to put up even bigger numbers next fall.