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March 21, 2010
Thomas headlines loaded L.A. event
MORE: Northern California event had many stars | Scouting the Nation 2010
WESTWOOD, Calif. - De'Anthony Thomas was late to Sunday's Rivals.com Five-Star Academy at UCLA but just like on the football field it did not take the Los Angeles Crenshaw star running back long to make an impact.
Thomas, one of the nation's top players, did video interviews. He traded cell phone numbers with other players. And then he dropped news about his recruitment and how he and Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei prospects Max Wittek and Victor Blackwell have talked extensively about playing in college together.
"That would be like Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman," Thomas said. "That would be a dangerous offense right there.
"Me, Victor and Max have a really good relationship like that so we talk. Every visit we go to we're all supposed to go together and be like a family."
Thomas, who said Florida has increased its interest and he might visit Texas when he's there for a track meet, went to Cal for its recent junior day with Wittek and Blackwell and the Crenshaw standout - nicknamed The Black Mamba - has also been to Southern Cal. Wittek has also been offered by the Trojans but Blackwell is still waiting for one from SC.
"I know I'm high on their recruiting list, I might be one of their next few to be offered," Blackwell said. "But I know they have a lot of receivers who just committed in this last class and they just got a big-time sophomore (Jordan Payton) who just committed so they've been lagging with the offer because they just got all these players."
Blackwell has Cal, UCLA and Notre Dame as his top three. He raved about coach Rick Neuheisel, likes Cal's mix of education and football and said the recent offer from the Irish is "huge."
Another top prospect among the more than 100 recruits in attendance was Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra defensive end/linebacker Jason Gibson, who said it's "very, very important" that he narrow his list by the start of his senior season.
Cal is considered a serious contender along with Oregon, UCLA and Florida. Southern Cal has not offered yet but the Trojans could also play a major role because they're believed to be the leader for Serra teammate George Farmer, a projected five-star wide receiver. Gibson said he'll cut his list in the next few months.
"I'm still making those decisions right now so closer to the school year it will be out there," Gibson said. "I'm taking my time with this right now. All these different schools that I'm really not interested in are starting to send mail and e-mails so I'm going to narrow it down."
Payton and fellow Southern Cal commit Antwaun Woods, a defensive tackle from Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft, stopped by in their Trojan wardrobes and many high-profile uncommitted prospects were also in attendance.
Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian tight end Dillon Van Der Wal listed offers from Baylor and Minnesota with a lot of interest from UCLA. BYU, Arizona State, Oregon and Arizona are also involved.
San Diego (Calif.) Patrick Henry offensive lineman Brian Farley was one of the better-looking prospects and his offer from Maryland could have some legs. His father is a Naval Academy graduate and his brother plays lacrosse there. Farley might want to play lacrosse in college as well and the Terrapins could give him that opportunity.
Defensive tackle Christian Heyward, from San Diego (Calif.) Point Loma, still seems wide open in his recruitment with new offers from Oregon and Utah. Southern Cal is the only school that he's hearing from that hasn't offered and the 6-foot-1 ¾, 269-pounder said he'd like to start hearing from Miami.
Offensive lineman Bryan Peters from La Mirada, Calif., said Nevada and Hawaii have offered and the 6-foot-4 ¼, 305-pounder thinks Colorado and Iowa State might be close. UCLA is also showing lots of interest and Peters said he'll camp with the Bruins this summer.
Reggie Coates has offers from Iowa State and Washington and the Encino (Calif.) Crespi linebacker said Arizona, LSU and Oregon are showing the most interest. Running back Jared Baker already has an offer from Arizona and Connecticut could be the next to offer.
Max Gama has been offered by Washington State and the La Mirada, Calif., athlete said Hawaii, Iowa State and Nebraska are showing the most interest. Fontana (Calif.) Kaiser athlete Desman Carter had UCLA on top with Washington, Southern Cal, Alabama, Miami and LSU as others involved.
Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola quarterback Jerry Neuheisel had UCLA as his leader - which is no surprise because his father is the coach - with Penn State, Illinois, Harvard and Princeton in the mix. Encino (Calif.) Crespi's Devin Lucien has Colorado, Illinois and Tulsa offers and said UCLA is showing lots more interest.
Anaheim (Calif.) Servite teammates Troy Niklas and Connor Loftus were in attendance and both had recruiting updates. Niklas said Nebraska, Oregon State, Stanford and Oklahoma are some of the newer programs involved but he's still waiting to hear more from Southern Cal. Loftus, with an NC State offer, said Florida, Nebraska, LSU and North Carolina have picked up interest recently.
Upland, Calif., kicker Jake Van Ginkel said he's hearing from about 40 schools but that he'd prefer to stay local - with Southern Cal, UCLA, Oregon, Arizona and Washington topping his list.
Other prospects who stood out included Glendora, Calif., quarterback Chad Jeffries, who will visit Boise State next month; Pomona (Calif.) Diamond Ranch athlete Aaron Almond, who has a San Jose State offer with interest from across the Pac-10; 2013 quarterback Hayden Rettig, whose brother Chase plays at Boston College; recent Stanford commit J.B. Salem; Los Angeles Dorsey linebacker Matthew Lyons; Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure's Jalen Jefferson; La Mirada, Calif., lineman Isaac Luatua; and Corona (Calif.) Centennial quarterback Michael Eubank, one of the best-looking prospects at the event.