Los Angeles Preps: Joe Mathis

Inland Empire flavor to first ESPN 150

April, 17, 2012
Seven players from Inland Empire schools made the initial ESPN 150 football recruiting rankings, led by the Southland's most coveted prospect Su'a Cravens of Vista Murrieta.

Cravens, a safety, is ranked 15th overall nationally, but first in the state and first at his position. Rancho Cucamonga defensive backs Chris Hawkins (69th overall) and Tahaan Goodman (128th), Moreno Valley Rancho Verde receiver Demorea Stringfellow (74), Redlands East Valley defensive end Kylie Fitts (90), Upland defensive end Joe Mathis (120) and J.W. North tight end Marcus Baugh (127) are the other Inland Empire representatives.

Mission Viejo safety Max Redfield, ranked 31st overall, is the only Orange County player listed.

Alemany receiver Steven Mitchell (136) and Westlake defensive back Dashon Hunt (140) are considered to be the top recruits in the L.A. North region, while Santa Monica receiver Sebastian Larue checks in at 149th overall and is the only rep from the L.A. South.

Hawkins and Fitts have already committed to USC, Hunt is committed to UCLA and Baugh recently pledged for Ohio State.

Click here for the complete ESPN 150 rankings:

J.W. North TE Baugh commits to Ohio St.

April, 10, 2012
The class of 2013 continues to develop into the best in Inland Empire history, as J.W. North tight end Marcus Baugh committed to Ohio State on Tuesday.

Baugh, at 6 feet 4, 215 pounds, caught 30 passes for 528 yards and seven touchdowns while helping the Huskies to a 10-2 record last fall. He also recorded seven sacks as a defensive end.

The Buckeyes aren’t known for recruiting out West, but that could change with Urban Meyer now at the helm. While at Utah in 2003-04, Meyer stacked his team with West Coast talent.

Ohio State had one player from the West Coast on its 2011 roster, walk-on wide receiver Donald Senegal, who played quarterback at Monroe High School in L.A., and then spent a season at Moorpark College in 2008.

In its most recent recruiting class, former Woodland Hills Taft wide receiver Michael Thomas, who spent a season at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia before signing with Ohio State, was the only recruit with West Coast ties.

Last month, Rancho Cucamonga cornerback Chris Hawkins committed to USC.

The most prized recruit from the I.E. remains Vista Murrieta strong safety/running back Su’a Cravens, who has offers from approximately 40 schools, including USC, Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame and Alabama, but Upland defensive lineman Joe Mathis is drawing offers from many of the same schools.

I.E.: Five notes from last week

April, 3, 2012
1. Chris Hawkins of Rancho Cucamonga became the first I.E. football recruit from the class of 2013 to commit to a major college program. Hawkins, a lock-down cornerback, pledged to USC during the L.A. Nike Camp on Sunday at Cerritos College. Hawkins, who earned MVP among the defensive backs during the camp, chose the Trojans over Stanford, but his recruiting doesn’t figure to slow down, especially with schools such as LSU and Penn State extending offers in recent weeks. The most dominant lineman at the camp also hails from the I.E., Upland defensive end Joe Mathis, who is being recruited by many of the same schools as Hawkins. His latest offer came via a phone call last week from Nick Saban, coach of the defending BCS champion Alabama.

2. The J.W. North baseball team came into last week ranked No. 1 in the state by ESPN HS, but the Huskies will surely drop after losing their first two games Saturday at the Anaheim Lions tournament. The Huskies were shut down by Aliso Niguel freshman pitcher Kyle Molnar in the opener. Molnar allowed two unearned runs in 6 2/3 innings of the 3-2 victory. J.W. North still had a chance to win after taking a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh. Aliso Niguel stormed back, winning on a two-run base hit by sophomore Anthony Sommer, who also recorded the final out of the seventh to earn the victory. J.W. North came back Saturday afternoon and lost to JSerra, 7-6.

3. If there was any doubt which Inland Empire baseball team has the deepest pitching, Alta Loma put that to rest in the last 10 days. The Braves received three straight masterful pitching performances, beginning with a three-hitter by senior right-hander Nolan Sheridan in a 5-1 victory March 24 against Palm Desert, the top-ranked team in Division 4. Four days later, senior right-hander Cortland Cox fired a five-hitter in a 3-0 win at Etiwanda in a Baseline League game. Finally, senior left-hander Bryan Conant tossed another complete game in a 6-1 victory Thursday at Upland, moving the Braves to 9-2 overall and 4-0 in the league play. They face another tough road test Tuesday at Los Osos.

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I.E.: Class of '13 looks like best ever

March, 30, 2012
Five months away from the start of the high school football season and the incoming seniors are stacking up as the deepest and most high-profile recruiting class in Inland Empire history.

Schools that usually don't pursue recruits this far West, such as Alabama, LSU, Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan, have made scholarship offers to several elite I.E. players, and local programs such as USC and UCLA are desperately trying to position themselves as well.

According to reports, Rancho Cucamonga defensive back Chris Hawkins already plans to announce Sunday at the L.A. Nike Camp at Cerritos College the school he plans to sign with next February. Stanford and USC are reportedly leading the way among the two dozen or so schools that have offered. Hawkins has twice this month made unoffical visits to USC, according to reports.

Here’s an up-to-date look at the top players and the programs that have, so far, extended offers, courtesy of scout.com.

Su’a Cravens, LB/RB, Vista Murrieta – Alabama, California, Clemson, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington.

Joe Mathis, DL, Upland – Arizona, Arizona State, Auburn, Boise State, Colorado, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State.

Chris Hawkins, CB, Rancho Cucamonga – Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Houston, LSU, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Penn State, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Washington, Washington State.

Kylie Fitts, DL, Redlands East Valley – Arkansas, Boise State, California, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon State, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State.

Tahaan Goodman, S, Rancho Cucamonga – Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon State, San Diego State, South Florida, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Washington, Washington State.

Marcus Baugh, TE, J.W. North – Arizona State, California, Florida, Hawaii, Miami (Fla..), Nebraska, Oregon State, UCLA, Washington.

Kenny Clark, OL/DL, Carter – Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada, Oregon State, UCLA, Washington, Washington State.

Demorea Stringfellow, WR, Rancho Verde – Arizona, Arizona State, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, UCLA, Washington, Washington State.

Craig Lee, RB, Redlands – Arizona, Colorado, Oregon State, San Diego State, UCLA, Washington, Washington State.

Samajie Grant, WR/DB, Colony – Arizona, UCLA, Utah, Washington State.

Viliami Latu, LB, Rancho Cucamonga – Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii.

Alani Latu, LB, Rancho Cucamonga – Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon State, San Diego State.

I.E.: Top 10 football recruits for 2013

February, 3, 2012
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 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 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.

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