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July 4, 2006

A golden reputation

From the Bay Area, to the City of Angels and everywhere in between, California each and every year is home to some of the top football talent in the country.

While this year's class might not be as loaded at the top as Florida or Texas, there is more than enough talent in the Rivals.com California top 100 to keep the Golden State's reputation golden.

No other state in the country can boast having the nation's top prospect like California can and Jimmy Clausen is the leader of an Oaks Christian squad that produced three of the top six players in state and eight players overall.

Clausen is at No. 1 on the list ahead of running back Marc Tyler at No. 3, safety Marshall Jones at No. 6, cornerback Anthony Gildon at No. 35, linebacker Casey Matthews at No. 51, defensive end Duke Lemmens at No. 55, defensive end Michael Ebbitt at No. 57 and receiver Sean Wiser at No. 75.

Everybody thinks about the offense when they think Oaks Christian and for good reason, but Jones, Gildon, Matthews, Lemmens and Ebbit should help the squad have one of the top defenses in the region. All of them have multiple scholarship offers and will be playing big-time college football in the future.

"There is a lot of pressure here," Matthews said. "You just have to go out and try to work the hardest and do the best that you can. You come out and show what you have and it'll be all right in the end."

Looking at the rest of the top 100, it's clear that USC has no plans of giving up its stranglehold on the top talent in California. The Trojans have pledges from linebacker Chris Galippo at No. 2, Tyler at No. 3, Jones at No. 6, quarterback Aaron Corp at No. 10, offensive lineman Martin Coleman at No. 12, defensive end Michael Reardon at No. 30 and quarterback Samson Szakacsy at No. 53.

"It feels good to know that you're already part of a special recruiting class," Galippo, a five-star prospect, said. "Pete Carroll always wants to get the top players in California, and it's exciting to see that he's doing that again this year and also be part of it."

UCLA hasn't done too shabby either early on.

The Bruins are limited with scholarships they can offer this season, so the numbers of players in the top 100 that have committed to them is done somewhat. But the talent is far from down as UCLA has landed commitments from three players in the top 14.

Defensive tackle Brian Price is a one-man wrecking ball and he was the most dominating defensive lineman at the Palo Alto NIKE Training Camp. Also running back Raymond Carter is an explosive running back that turned down an early offer from USC to commit to the Bruins. Also quarterback Chris Forcier signed on early with the Bruins. He's worked hard on his passing game this summer and has continued to improve by leaps and bounds.

Tight end Nate Chandler at No. 26, linebacker Steve Sloan at No. 33 and cornerback Courtney Viney at No. 38 have also committed to the Bruins. UCLA has to love Chandler's playmaking ability and Sloan easily could be a multi-year starter at linebacker.

After struggling to a disappointing finish in last year's recruiting race, the Oregon Ducks are certainly flying high and have done a tremendous job in California so far. Oregon has landed pledges from five of the top 100 players in the state, including the uber-talented Gildon and running back Edward Pleasant and offensive tackle Charlie Carmichael are nice fits for what Oregon likes to do on offense.

Arizona has also done a solid job early on, landing four of the top 100 prospects. The big get for Mike Stoops is four-star linebacker Terrance Pritchett, the No. 23 player overall in the state.

As always in California there is plenty of skill to go around, but this year's group there was almost an alarming lack of talent along the offensive line. So if you're a college coach and looking for o-line talent, then California isn't the place. But if you want everything else, then it can be one-stop shopping.

The Rivals.com California Top 100


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