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February 23, 2007ANAHEIM, Calif. - Last year Rivals.com held its first Junior Day in California and the event produced more than 150 players that signed scholarships with Division I schools. This Saturday, Rivals.com returns to the Southland for another Junior Day at Anaheim Servite and the event looks ready to better the inaugural event with even more star power.
The list of players scheduled to attend reads like a who's who of high school superstars in Los Angeles and in other parts of California, Arizona and Nevada.
The headliner has to be Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure future five-star running back Darrell Scott. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder was one of the top candidates for the Rivals.com Junior of the Year award and he's going to be at Servite on Saturday before making a trip over to USC for an unofficial visit. He's going to be there with his teammate, offensive lineman Vaughn Dotsy (6-3, 325).
"I'm excited for the Junior Day," Scott said. "It'll be great to hang out with the other top recruits and get to see some of my good friends again."
Friends like Rahim Moore, the star defensive back from Los Angeles Dorsey, and Milton Knox, the stud running back from Lake Balboa (Calif.) Birmingham. All three players have gotten to know each other pretty well over the past few years and all three are expected at Saturday's event.
Knox isn't the only high quality player coming from Birmingham. His three teammates - linebacker Donovan Carter, defensive end Malik Jackson and Marquis Jackson - are all getting major recruiting attention early on. Marquis Jackson said he's going to the Junior Day to see how he measures up against the other blue-chip recruits, but he also wants to learn more about the recruiting process.
"I talked to a few of my teammates that were at the event last year at Servite, and they all said they learned a lot about the recruiting process," Jackson, who is 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds, said. "I think it's going to be important for me to learn more and hopefully make the process easier for me and my brother (Malik) to handle."
Orange (Calif.) Lutheran tight end Blake Ayles earned Rivals.com Junior All-American honors and he's slated to be at the event on Saturday. Ayles, who is 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, already has scholarship offers from teams like Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Oregon State, Wisconsin, USC and UCLA.
"I have a lot of West Coast schools in there because I like the West Coast vibe," said Ayles. "But I'm looking at Wisconsin. They have great tradition, from football to basketball. It just seems that they have good sports programs all-around. Barry Alvarez is the AD over there too, and my dad really likes him. My dad grew up in Wisconsin and followed them when he was the coach."
Culver City, Calif., looks loaded for next season and the school will be heavily represented at the Junior Day. Their headliners include quarterback Darius Banks, a member of the Rivals250 juniors to watch list. Banks, who is 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, threw for more yards than anybody else in California last season and is on the verge of committing to Oregon. His go-to receiver Antwon Moutra (6-2, 180) will also be there Saturday.
Several of the Inland Empire's top prospects are slated to be at Servite.
Corona (Calif.) Centennial running back Ryan Bass (5-11, 195) and quarterback Matt Scott (6-2, 190) form one of the most deadly one-two punches in Southern California and both are going to be at the Junior Day. Scott is one of the top recruits in California that nobody is talking about - yet. And Bass has been a household name after rushing for 2,351 yards and 36 touchdowns as a junior.
Two other blue-chip quarterbacks are also expected to be there. Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison quarterback Nick Crissman led his team to the section championship game as a junior and is expected to be one of the best in the nation next season. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder is a gutsy quarterback that has plenty of tool. He'll be joined at the event by Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist. The 6-foot-5, 221-pound Christ missed part of his junior season with an injury, but many still call him the top junior signal-caller in California. He's going be there Saturday with teammate, linebacker Anthony McDonald, before they head to USC for an unofficial visit.
There is expected to be a full group from Encino (Calif.) Crespi, but headliners E.J. Woods, a 6-foot-2, 197-pound defensive back, and tight end Joseph Fauria, who is 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds, will be there for sure. Fauria is the nephew of former Colorado Buffalo star Christian Fauria, and he's already being heavily recruited. Woods came on late as a junior and is going to be one of the most heavily recruited two-way players in the Valley.
Servite teammates and USC pledges D.J. Shoemate and Matt Kalil will be there Saturday before heading up to USC for an unofficial visit. Both players committed early to the Trojans. Shoemate missed his junior season, but with a strong senior season, he might make a strong case for the top player in the Golden State.
To show the drawing power of the Rivals.com Junior two of the top players from NorCal will be there Saturday. Fresno Edison blue-chip teammates Robert Golden and Brandon Leslie are making the trip to Orange County with their assistant coach and family members. Golden and Leslie are two of the top defensive backs in the state and some college coaches are whispering that both might be the top corner and the top safety in the Golden State.
Other high profile California players set to be there on Saturday: Compton Dominguez linebacker Maurice Simmons, Los Angeles Crenshaw receiver Kemonte Bateman, Colton, Calif., defensive end Damien Holmes, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei offensive lineman Khaled Holmes, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei defensive end Cameron Meredith, Covina (Calif.) South Hills athlete Kebin Umodu and many more.
A few out of state players have said they're coming to the event. This includes high profile athlete Gerell Robinson of Chandler Hamilton. Robinson might be a serious candidate for five-star status. Las Vegas, Nevada, linebacker Colin Shumate is also slated to be there.
Rivals.com will have complete coverage of Saturday's Junior Day throughout the weekend, including a look at the top players that passed the eyeball test, several features on the top prospects and AMP interviews.