Year in and year out, Los Angeles produces the most talented high school football players in the country. And this year is no exception. The area is loaded and USC is dominating the recruiting sweepstakes.
Coach Pete Carroll already has 10 commitments and is well on his way to signing the No. 1 class in the nation. It is headed by quarterback Matt Barkley of Santa Ana, the nation's top-rated player, and a host of gifted wide receivers.
On Sunday, I interviewed 40 of the top seniors and eight of the top juniors in the Los Angeles area at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It was the first time I have been to the Rose Bowl after conducting these interviews at the Los Angeles Coliseum for the last six years.
Barkley, a 6-3, 220-pounder, is as good as Notre Dame freshman Jimmy Clausen was coming out of high school last year, when he was rated as the No. 1 player in the country. Barkley never talks about himself and is quiet and unassuming. I think he will be an outstanding NFL quarterback.
Other USC commitments are 6-2, 227-pound linebacker Marquis Simmons of Compton, 6-4, 215-pound tight end Morrell Presley of Carson, 6-6, 300-pound offensive lineman Kevin Graf of Agoura Hills, 5-11, 175-pound wide receiver DeVon Flournoy of Lake Balboa, 5-11, 175-pound wide receiver Randall Carroll of Los Angeles, 6-1, 186-pound running back/strong safety Pat Hall of Los Angeles and 6-2, 195-pound safety Chris Metcalf of Compton.
Simmons is one of the leading linebackers in the nation. Presley looks and runs like a wide receiver. Graf is one of the best offensive linemen in the country. His father was an offensive lineman at USC and blocked for Anthony Davis and Sam Cunningham.
Flournoy averaged 21 yards per reception last season. Carroll is the fastest sprinter among the football players I have seen. Hall has been told that he must play strong safety in college. Metcalf is very physical, a hard hitter.
A big sleeper is 6-2, 205-pound wide receiver Jemari Roberts of Long Beach. He has been offered by every Pac-10 school except USC.
Marlon Bennett of Santiago, a 6-3, 220-pound tight end, has been offered by Minnesota. Notre Dame, Michigan and most West Coast powers have offered 6-1, 200-pound wide receiver Shaquelle Evans of Inglewood, who averaged 20 yards per catch last year and is one of the top three wide receivers in the nation.
Quarterback Allan Bridgeford, a 6-4, 215-pounder from Mission Viejo, is committed to California. He is coached by Bob Johnson, the most famous quarterback coach in the nation. Colorado and several Pac-10 schools have offered 6-6, 228-pound quarterback Clark Evans of Los Alamitos.
Marlon Pollard, a 6-1, 165-pound wide receiver/defensive back from San Bernardino and one of the state's best athletes, committed to UCLA over Notre Dame, Washington and Nebraska.
The top running back in California, 6-0, 208-pound Cierre Wood of Oxnard, recently committed to Notre Dame. A year ago, Wood was rated ahead of Colorado-bound Darrell Scott of Ventura, who was rated as the leading ball-carrier among all seniors in the nation.