The 'can’t-miss’ star is missing from this year’s group of East Valley football prospects. While dozens of local football standouts will sign their national letters of intent today to the college of their choice, various recruiting services have pegged this a down year for recruiting in Arizona.
There isn’t a Devon Kennard — a top recruit nationally and USC commit last season — among them.
Instead, there seems to be a core group of players expected to be solid Pac-10 contributors, but then a drop-off after that.
“The state is an interesting state, because it’s not extremely strong year in and year out,” said ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill. “And what I mean by that is depth. It doesn’t mean that at the top end, there’s not quality players across the board, because there is. But what you generally have in the state of Arizona is you have a significant drop-off from the top, maybe six to seven guys, to the next group and to the group below that.”
That seems to be holding true this year.
The elite group includes Hamilton safety Devon Carrington, Saguaro lineman Kody Innes and St. Mary’s tight end Josh Fulton.
Carrington committed to Stanford in June and proved why he was a highly sought-after prospect by finishing the year with 93 tackles and nine interceptions.
“Devon Carrington ... really has an opportunity to be a great player,” Luginbill said. “I’m not convinced he’s going to stay at the safety position. He may be a guy that ends up developing into an outside linebacker.”
Innes has committed to UCLA and Fulton to Arizona State.
In addition to Fulton, the Sun Devils have solid commitments from local players Ramon Abreu (Marcos de Niza) and Taylor Walstad (Chandler). Abreu was the Tribune’s Player of the Year after leading the Padres to the 5A-II state title game, but experts think he lacks the size to be a difference-maker at the college level.
Saguaro’s Jordan McDonald has also committed to Arizona State, but he may end up switching his commitment to Fresno State.
“I’m going to talk about that (Tuesday night) with my parents and then make a decision,” he said.
Chaparral offensive lineman Andrew Gustafson and Desert Mountain defensive lineman Tyeler Davison have both committed to Fresno State, and McDonald is friends with both players. His family is also from the area.
Corona del Sol linebacker Kyle Benson and Chaparral long snapper Chase Gorham will sign with Arizona.
Hamilton running back Zach Bauman, Corona del Sol quarterback Chase Cartwright, Desert Vista defensive back Anders Battle, Red Mountain defensive end Jake Phipps, Red Mountain linebacker Craig Frum and Marcos de Niza defensive end Roy Garcia have committed to Northern Arizona.
Approximately 14 Arizona high school players are expected to sign with Pac-10 colleges, something that coincides with Luginbill’s view on the state’s recruiting picture.
“It’s one of those states where the top end’s going to always look pretty good, but then you’re going to start seeing a pretty significant drop-off,” Luginbuill said. “It’s just from pure numbers.”
Name Position Ht. Wt. High school College
Kody Innes OL 6-5 280 Saguaro UCLA
Josh Fulton TE 6-4 235 St. Mary’s Arizona State
Taylor Walstad RB 5-11 206 Chandler Arizona State
Devon Carrington DB 6-0 184 Hamilton Stanford
Ramon Abreu DB 5-10 170 Marcos de Niza Arizona State
Kevin Spain QB 6-3 190 Paradise Valley Hawaii
Alex Lewis OL 6-6 255 Mountain Pointe Colorado
Dwayne Garrett RB 6-0 180 Chaparral San Diego State
Kyle Benson LB 6-2 212 Corona del Sol Arizona
Jordan McDonald DE 6-4 225 Saguaro Arizona St./Fresno St.
Blair Tushaus OL 6-3 273 Notre Dame Prep Brigham Young
Zach Bauman RB 5-9 200 Hamilton Northern Arizona
Tyeler Davison DT 6-2 275 Desert Mountain Fresno State
Jacob Ehm OL 6-6 250 Chaparral Air Force
Andrew Gustafson OL 6-6 270 Chaparral Fresno State
Chase Cartwright QB 6-3 205 Corona del Sol Northern Arizona
R.J. McGill ATH 5-8 160 St. Mary’s North Dakota
Michael Allen RB 5-10 170 Hamilton North Dakota State
Alex Garoutte K 6-1 190 Brophy Prep ASU
Brendan Murphy DB 5-9 160 Chaparral Air Force
Anders Battle DB 5-11 165 Desert Vista Northern Arizona
Ben DeMarr TE 6-4 210 Mountain Pointe Air Force
Chase Gorham OL 6-2 225 Chaparral Arizona
Tevin Hood DT 6-1 280 Hamilton Duke
Keegan Merrigan LB 6-4 220 Hamilton Army
Chris Fox LB 6-3 215 Chaparral Utah State
Brandon Bialkowski QB 6-0 165 Gilbert Lehigh
Hayden Tippett LB 5-10 215 McClintock Army
Ben Peters LB 5-11 210 Hamilton North Dakota
Connor McClain LB 5-11 195 Arcadia Elon
Jake Phipps DE 6-2 225 Red Mountain Northern Arizona
Craig Frum LB 6-1 210 Red Mountain Northern Arizona
Roy Garcia DE 6-2 230 Marcos de Niza Northern Arizona
William Poehls OL 6-8 290 Chandler Montana
Logan Spears WR 5-11 190 Chandler Peru State
Branden Zavala LB 6-1 215 Chandler Northern State Univ.
C.J. Dickerson OL 6-3 240 Chandler Colo. School of Mines
Jon McDonald LB 6-0 235 SCC/Seton Catholic Colo. School of Mines
Ian McFadden DB 5-11 175 Red Mountain H.S. Colo. School of Mines
De'andre Currie RB 5-9 155 Mountain Pointe Adams State
Joey Leal OL/LB 6-1 220 Mountain Pointe Adams State
Drew Emanuel TE/LB 6-4 225 Highland Northern Arizona
Name School College
Melissa Pestalozzi Corona del Sol Nicholls State
Julie VandeBerg Corona del Sol Wyoming
Jessica Johnson Corona del Sol Western Carolina
Danielle DeLaVina Mequite New Mexico State
Megan Striedel Red Mountain Fort Lewis College
Name School College
Ryan Duran Basha Metro State (Denver)
Track and Field
Name School College
Bryanna Smythe Chandler Northern Arizona
Steffanie Jordan Chandler Boise State
McKenzie Flannigan Chandler Boise State