Posted by Bryan Fischer
Had a chance to go out to see San Francisco Bay Area powerhouse De La Salle play California High last Friday. The Spartans have been one of the most successful programs in the country this decade and have sent plenty of players to Division I schools and eventually the NFL.
This year's squad has three seniors already committed to FBS schools and two juniors drawing plenty of attention as well. The headliner is four-star quarterback and Wisconsin commitment Bart Houston, who is every bit of his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame. Houston had a very good summer on the camp circuit and parlayed that into a solid season with the Spartans, leading them to a 9-1 record heading into the playoffs. If there's one thing you'll hear about him, it's that he's the perfect fit for the Badgers offensive system with a quick release, some mobility, good decision-making and the arm to get the ball downfield on post and fade routes.
Houston ended up 13-of-20 for 220 yards against California in a 24-3 win that didn't have the De La Salle ground game looking as sharp as it normally is. The signal-caller showed flashes of what makes him a top 100 player according to Maxpreps however, displaying nice touch on intermediate routes and spinning the ball well on short routes. There was only one or two decisions Houston would have liked back but was efficient the entire night and even added a short touchdown run. In short, you can understand why the Badgers went out of their normal recruiting areas to heavily recruit Houston because he certainly fits the mold of their previous quarterbacks to a T.
"Bart really impressed me with his accuracy, poise, leadership skills, pocket presence, and arm strength," analyst Tom Lemming says of Houston. "His accuracy is uncanny and he seems to put the ball on the money just about every time even when under pressure."
The best player on the field however was junior linebacker Michael Hutchings, who is also the top defensive player in the Bay Area and top underclass linebacker on the West Coast. At 6-foot-2, 210-pounds or so, Hutchings moves well in space and covers a whole lot of ground in the passing game. He likely will end up as an outside linebacker but it's not hard to see him bulking up and being able to play inside in a 3-4 scheme. Physically he has a big upper body and reminds some of former USC linebacker Keith Rivers. He got lost on a few plays but for the most part read his keys very well and you can tell he'll head to college with a plenty of experience.
"Last year we had a tough game against Cal High when I was on the field as a sophomore," Hutchings said. "It was definitely a grind, something we wanted to come back and get. I still say it was a sub par performance this game but they're a heck of a team."
The De La Salle linebacking corps is one of the best units in the country and also features California commit Michael Barton. The pair is close on and off the field and continue to develop into better players with the senior mentoring the younger linebacker.
"Barton is such a hard worker," Hutchings said. "Him and (Boise State commit Blake) Renaud guided me last year and now Barton has taken over this year. I just want to follow in their footsteps and keep the tradition going."
Hutchings is approaching the 15 offer mark and figures to see plenty more college coaches contact him in the coming months as the recruiting cycle shifts over to the class of 2013 on a full-time basis. Most of the Pac-12 has been in touch or extended an offer but even with plenty of time until Signing Day, Hutchings is already starting to develop a short list of schools.
"I have a group of favorites, USC, Cal, UCLA, Washington," he said. "And Oklahoma also.
"I was at Cal last week for the Washington State game. I looked at AT&T Park a little bit and got to be around the team. I probably won't take any other visits in the next couple of weeks but after the season in December I will."
Don't be surprised if this comes down to a USC/Cal battle with Hutchings committing some time over the summer following visits to both schools. Academics seem to be a big part of each school's pitch and the Bears have De La Salle alum and ace recruiter Tosh Lupoi assigned to the impressive linebacker. Though he's already successfully recruited Barton, it might be a little tougher for Lupoi to land Hutchings as USC is just one of several schools who are also making the future top 100 player a priority.
For now though, recruiting is being pushed aside as the Spartans turn their attention to the playoffs. With a title in hand thanks to a perfect 7-0 mark in the East Bay Athletic League and likely number one seed headed into the North Coast Section playoffs, another state championship is out there for the taking.
"We don't want to have any regrets," Hutchings said. "We want to go into every game, hit hard, don't make mistakes and have no regrets. We want to go into the playoffs and finish the season off right. As a junior, I just want to lead the junior and help the seniors win their state championship just like they did last year."
Georgia adds versatile quarterback
There weren't a ton of commitments this weekend but the most notable was Palm Beach (Fla.) quarterback Faton Bauta. A transfer from New York, he came in and won the quarterback spot at one of the big local programs - Palm Beach Dwyer - and has been dead set at playing the position in college, which Georgia appeared to recruit him at.
"My goal is set on being a quarterback at the next level and beyond. I am going to do whatever it takes and work hard every day like I do to get that goal I have set," he told UGASports.com. "My goal is still growing, to be an elite quarterback. I am going to keep working hard on my skills to do everything to make myself a better quarterback."
The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder is a versatile athlete and could play multiple positions in college such as linebacker or an H-back type. Bauta does have a strong-arm and is a hard-nosed runner who has passed for 1,006 yards on the season with 13 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Though he still has to learn some of the subtleties of being a quarterback, that's the position he'll start off at in college.
"What Aaron Murray does, I know he's a dual threat as well; he runs the ball well, and throws the ball well. For me, I'm going to strive to be the best quarterback I can be. And in my eyes, I know I can be Aaron Murray and more," Bauta said.
Georgia now has 14 commitments for the class of 2012 and though it is not as stacked as last year's 'Dream Team' was, adds the talented Bauta to a group that includes five-star offensive tackle John Theus and impressive defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor. The Bulldogs did take a quarterback with last year's class and have also received a pledge from 2013 signal-caller Brice Ramsey.
Video of the week
This week was a big one for Belle Glade (Fla.) running back Kelvin Taylor, who broke Emmitt Smith's (yes, that Emmitt Smith) all-time rushing record in the state of Florida on a 388 yard, six touchdown night Friday. The 5-foot-11, 210-pounder now has 8,975 yards and 141 touchdowns for his career and amazingly he's just a junior. He is the son of former NFL and Florida Gators running back Fred Taylor. It appears to be a Florida-Alabama battle for his commitment at this point with the Gators having a bit of an edge obviously.
Below is video of Taylor's run to break the record, a 34 yard scamper for a touchdown followed by him giving his mother the ball. He briefly discussed the record-setting performance here.
Pitt commit Rushel Shell also set a record over the weekend, rushing for more than 100 yards in his 39th consecutive game.
Auburn commit Zeke Pike will enroll early.
A few notes and some analysis of Oregon recruiting.
Texas commit Johnathan Gray is getting close to some very impressive records himself.
Adolphus Washington's visit to Cincinnati went very well.
Georgia is gaining ground with defensive end Jordan Jenkins after he visited for the Auburn game. The program also recently offered DeVondre Seymour, son of former All-Pro defensive tackle Richard Seymour.
National Notes: Houston, Hutchings & De La Salle
Posted on: November 14, 2011 8:19 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 8:28 pm
Tags: Aaron Murray, Adolphus Washington, Alabama, AT&T Park, Auburn, Bart Houston, Blake Renaud, Boise State, Brice Ramsey, Bryan Fischer, California, Cincinnati, De La Salle, DeVondre Seymour, Emmitt Smith, Faton Bauta, Florida, Fred Taylor, Georgia, John Theus, Jonathan Gray, Jonathan Taylor, Jordan Jenkins, Keith Rivers, Kelvin Taylor, Michael Barton, Michael Hutchings, National Notes, NFL, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pac-12, Pitt, Richard Seymour, Rushel Shell, Texas, Tom Lemming, Tosh Lupoi, UCLA, USC, Washington, Washington State, Wisconsin, Zeke Pike