February 5, 2007

Rivals5: Top five stories in California

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California boasted the nation's top prospect in 2007 in Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian quarterback Jimmy Clausen. While Clausen decided against staying close to home to play for USC, the Trojans still managed to dominate recruiting in the Golden State.

Another one that got away was Long Beach (Calif.) Poly five-star cornerback Donovan Warren who surprised everyone when he committed to Michigan on Feb. 1. These are a few of the top stories from this recruiting season in the state of California. We break down the top five.

Rivals5: Top five stories in California

1) USC continues to dominate the Golden State

Last season USC landed eight of the top 10 players in California. This season, the Trojans didn't let go of their stronghold of the Golden State. Even though golden-armed quarterback Jimmy Clausen bolted for Notre Dame, the Trojans were able to land six of the top 10 players and nine of the top 20 players in California this season. The Trojans are still the biggest dog on the block in the state. The addition of five-star standouts Chris Galippo and Marc Tyler - and other top players like Aaron Corp and Da'John Harris - make this a special class.

2) Jimmy "LeBron" Clausen

Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian quarterback Jimmy Clausen was called "LeBron" by his friends, teammates and even avid recruiting fans. The reference to NBA prodigy LeBron James seems to be fitting. Clausen is being counted on to lead Notre Dame back to national championship glory. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound quarterback is the top player in the country, and he attracted national headlines wherever he went. Before the season started, Clausen made waves when he committed to Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., at the College Football Hall of Fame. The move was viewed by some as cocky, but Irish fans loved every single second of it. With his commitment behind him, Clausen moved on to his senior season, and he capped it with a state championship. In the title game, Clausen had to guide his team back from a deficit late with a last second-drive to tie it in regulation. Eventually Oaks Christian won in overtime and Clausen went out on top. He enrolled early, and is a student at Notre Dame.

3) Donovan Warren's shocking move

Everybody, except for Donovan Warren, figured the Long Beach (Calif.) Poly five-star cornerback would commit to USC. The 6-foot, 175-pound star for the Jackrabbits shocked the nation when he committed to Michigan on Feb. 1. "It came down to this last week. I just went with my gut feeling and where I feel comfortable," Warren commented. "Everybody thought SC, and I really liked SC, I just felt that Michigan was a better fit for me and I could benefit the most by picking Michigan."

4) Simply the Best

Richmond (Calif.) Salesian four-star running back Jahvid Best was one of the most difficult recruits to catch up with this recruiting season. Even getting good film on him was difficult. As his senior season wore on, it became clear that Best was indeed one of the nation's top rushers. The 5-foot-10, 183-pounder rushed for a Bay Area record 3,325 yards on 282 carries - a staggering 11.4 yards per carry average - plus 48 touchdowns as a senior. Best - a member of the Rivals100 - is heading to Cal, where he's likely to carry on the great tradition of super running backs for the Bears.

5) Orange Lutheran's run to the top

Coming into the season, Orange Lutheran was expected to be one of the top teams in the state. It didn't disappoint - both on the field and on the recruiting front. The Lancers made it through the very difficult Trinity League, and eventually went on to win a state championship over a tough Palo Alto team. It was the school's first state title and second CIF title in three years. The squad - as expected - was led by USC-bound quarterback Aaron Corp. However, Corp certainly had a lot of help. Defensive end Michael Reardon - another USC commit - had a great senior season despite missing the state title game with an injury. Receiver Austin Pettis became one of the hottest recruits in the West and eventually committed to Boise State after an amazing senior season. Junior tight end Blake Ayles' season put him on the map as one of the top players in California - and the country.


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