Los Angeles Preps: Darnell Murray

Lawler signs with Cal, ending big day for I.E.

February, 1, 2012
2/01/12
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Upland wide receiver Kenny Lawler, the last major unsigned recruit from the Inland Empire, made it official Wednesday afternoon, announcing he will sign with California.

Lawler took a last-minute recruiting trip over the weekend to California after visiting Oregon State and Washington State the two prior weekends. Heading into Wednesday’s national signing day, he was reportedly down to California and Oregon State.

The Bears return leading receiver Keenan Allen, but second-leading receiver Marvin Jones has exhausted his eligibility. A spot opened up for Lawler in Cal's recruiting class after Oaks Christian wide receiver Jordan Payton, who had committed to the Golden Bears in early January, switched to Washington last week before ultimately signing with UCLA.

Lawler said on Fox Sports Prime Ticket that a major factor in his decision was California hiring one of his longtime coaches, Charlie Collins, as a staff member.

“I know he’s going to have my back up there,” Lawler said.

The 6-3, 185-pound senior committed to Arizona State shortly after last year’s national signing day, the first school to offer him a scholarship. He stuck by the commitment until late November, shortly after the Wildcats fired coach Dennis Erickson.

Lawler caught 53 passes for 1,267 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, including nine scores in the final four games. His size and reach allows him to out-jump most defensive backs.

Lawler is one of four Upland players to sign a letter of intent Wednesday. Running back Donte Abron, Jr., defensive back Marques Mosley and fullback Christian Powell signed with Colorado earlier in the day.

Here's a full list of signings from Wednesday:

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Powell switches from UCLA to Colorado

January, 31, 2012
1/31/12
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Less than 24 hours before national signing day and high school football recruits from the Inland Empire continue to sway on their decisions, or learn that a previous offer is no longer on the table.

UCLA and Colorado are two schools in the middle of some down-to-the-wire movement involving I.E. recruits.

Christian Powell, the third-ranked fullback recruit in the nation, committed to UCLA earlier this month but switched to Colorado on Monday night, reports several outlets, including Greg Biggins of ESPN Recruiting Nation.

He would be the third player from Upland to be part of the Buffaloes' recruiting class, joining running back Donte Abron, Jr., and wide receiver/defensive back Marques Mosley. Powell, at 6 feet, 250 pounds, also played defensive line for the Highlanders, recording 15 sacks last season, but is expected to play fullback in coach Eric Bienemy's offense.

Corona Santiago offensive lineman Isaiah Folasa, also once a UCLA commit under former coach Rick Neuheisel, will reportedly sign with New Mexico State on Wednesday, according to Santiago coach Jeff Steinberg.

Folasa took a recruiting trip to Colorado the weekend of Jan. 21, but the Buffaloes were unable to accept his commitment because they had ran out of available scholarships for this class, Biggins reported. In addition to the Upland trio, Arlington defensive lineman Samson Kafovalu and Citrus Hill running back Davien Payne have also pledged to Colorado.

Here’s the latest list of recruits from the I.E.

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I.E.: Top football recruits for class of '12

December, 22, 2011
12/22/11
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Now that the high football season has ended, the recruiting period is in full swing. The Inland Empire, which has stockpiled a number of collegiate conferences over the years, has its share of blue-chip recruits again this season. Here’s a list of seniors who have made non-binding verbal commitments to schools in advance of the national signing day in early February, followed by a list of those who are still undecided.

COMMITTED RECRUITS

QB -- Matt Morin, Chaparral (San Diego State); Austin Decoud, Redlands East Valley (Idaho).

RB -- Donta Abron, Jr., Upland (Colorado); Davien Payne, Citrus Hill (Colorado).

ATHLETE -- Damontae Kazee, Cajon (San Diego State); Bryan Harper, Colony (Washington); Jamaal Williams, Summit (BYU).

OL -- Lio Lafaele, Corona Centennial (Utah); Dylan LaFrenz, Los Osos (Arizona State); Isaiah Folasa, Corona Santiago (UCLA); Kyle Hart, Ridgecrest Burroughs (San Jose State).

DL -- Jeremy Castro, Vista Murrieta (Oregon); Teddy Queen, Chaparral (San Diego State); Samson Kafovalu, Arlington (Colorado).

LB -- Scott Starr, Norco (USC); C.J. Dozier, Chaparral (Arizona State); Darnell Murray, Citrus Hill (UTEP).

DB -- Donte Deayon, Summit (Boise State); Corbin McCarthy, Norco (Duke); Marques Mosley, Upland (Colorado).

UNDECIDED

ATHLETE -- Reshawn Hooker, A.B. Miller (Boise State, UCLA).

WR -- Kenny Lawler, Upland (UCLA, Oregon State, California, Michigan State).

DL -- Milo Jordan, Corona Centennial (USC, UCLA, Arizona State, Nebraska, Washington); Christian Powell, Upland (Washington, Nebraska, Texas A&M).

LB -- Joe Robinson, Chaparral (Nebraska, Arizona); Robert Wagner, Colony (Arizona, San Diego State); Nolan Peralta, Elsinore (Fresno State, San Jose State).

I.E.: 5 questions to ponder after Week 7

October, 24, 2011
10/24/11
6:37
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1. Which team in the Inland Empire has the best chance of beating Corona Centennial? After watching Upland defeat another quality opponent by double digits Friday night, it’s clear the Highlanders are the only Inland Division team with a legitimate chance of dethroning the Huskies. They have an experienced offensive line, a talented running back, an efficient quarterback and the one thing Centennial doesn’t have on offense: a big-play wide receiver in Arizona State-bound Kenny Lawler. Defensively, they’re balanced enough to force the Huskies to punt three or four times a game, just enough to win a shootout.

2. Which team is destined for an early-round upset? Redlands East Valley is playing as if its victory against Mission Viejo three weeks ago was its championship game. Since then, the Wildcats have scraped by against much lesser foes, A.B. Miller and Redlands. That raises another question: Was the victory against Mission Viejo less to do with REV's strengths and more about Mission Viejo's weaknesses that night? If you remember, the Diablos played REV without their top two running backs. Also, the Wildcats entered the playoffs last season as the No. 1 team out of the Citrus Belt League, only to lose in the first round to Etiwanda, the No. 3 team from the Baseline.

3. Outside of the Inland Division, which is the most anticipated playoff match up? Two years ago, Citrus Hill was riding an I.E. record 38-game winning streak when it entered the Eastern Division playoffs as the top-seeded team. But the Hawks ran into another upstart program in Summit, and the SkyHawks dumped Citrus Hill in the first round, 48-36. These teams look to be on another collision course this season, and both sides feature talented Division 1-caliber athletes. Citrus Hill running back Davien Payne has committed to Colorado and teammate Darnell Murray, a middle linebacker, has offers from New Mexico State, Utah and UTEP. Summit, meanwhile, is led by Boise State-bound wide receiver/defensive back Donte Deayon.

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