In recent years, San Gabriel Valley high schools have produced more than their share of blue-chip college prospects, and last season was no exception.
So perhaps it was only a matter of time before the valley suffered from a case of talent lag.
According to Dick Lascola, who operates the Fallbrook-based Scouting Evaluation Assn., this year's pool is "a little thinner than in recent years."
Not that there are no major-college prospects among valley prep players. Lascola said that the valley is strongest in the interior line and that there is also potential at running back.
Perhaps the best prospects at this point are offensive linemen Terry McDaniels of Pasadena and Len Gorecki of Damien and defensive back Loren Cannon of Bishop Amat.
"The San Gabriel Valley always provides a good base of college prospects," Lascola said. "Right now it looks a little down, but that's not to say some people won't develop during the season."
Here's a look at the prospects:
THE BLUEST OF THE CHIPS
McDaniels--In a good year for linemen in the valley, it is understandable why Lascola says McDaniels (6-5, 245) stands well above the rest. "He's got a great work ethic," Pasadena Coach Gary Griffiths says. "I think he has everything you could want from a football player." Scouts are especially impressed by his 4.9-second speed in the 40 and quick feet. An offensive and defensive tackle, he has excellent strength, having pressed 360 pounds.
Gorecki--Damien has produced big, talented offensive linemen in recent years and, at 6-4 and 265, Gorecki is typical. Gorecki has pressed 325 pounds and blocks well on running and passing plays. Scouts say he is fundamentally sound but may need to improve his 5.2 in the 40. "He's certainly one of the best in the valley," Lascola says.
Cannon--Even in an off year for college prospects in the valley, Bishop Amat always seems to produce at least one blue-chipper, and Cannon fits the description. Cannon played in the shadow of defensive back Stephon Pace, who is a freshman at USC, last season but still made a big impression on recruiters. He has excellent speed, covers ground well and is an outstanding athlete. At 5-11 and 175, he also plays guard for Bishop Amat's basketball team.
Daryl Green (Nogales, running back)--College recruiters have had an eye on Green since he started playing for the Nobles as a sophomore, and he has amassed impressive statistics. In his first two seasons he rushed for 2,022 yards, including 1,042 and seven touchdowns last year. A solid all-around athlete, he has improved his receiving and excels at cornerback. At 5-10 and 175, Green combines 4.55 speed with excellent moves.
Chris Hunter (Covina, running back)--As running backs go, Hunter is not as much of an established commodity as Green, but scouts are convinced that he has major-college ability. At 5-11 and 185 and with 4.4 speed, Hunter has the size and speed to peak their interest. He did not carry the football a lot as a junior but still impressed with 682 yards in 73 carries. He can play defensive back and is a solid student.
Dominic Farrar (Charter Oak, tight end)--You might say that football is in Farrar's veins because his father, Lou, is coach of the Chargers. More than that, Farrar has the size at 6-3 and 215 and quickness to make an impact at tight end. He runs the 40 in about 4.7. An All-CIF Eastern Conference selection last season, he is a good pass catcher and blocker.
J. J. McGwire (Claremont, defensive lineman)--If the last name sounds familiar, yes, J. J. is the younger brother of first baseman Mark McGwire of the Oakland A's and quarterback Dan McGwire, who is redshirting at San Diego State. At 6-3 and 235, McGwire is not quite as tall as his older brothers but has quickness off the snap to go with strength and aggressiveness. He could emerge at nose guard in college.
Dwayne Sparks (Claremont, defensive lineman)--On the subject of brothers of former Claremont standouts, Dwayne certainly must be included. His brother, Denail, starred for the Wolfpack on the defensive line and is a freshman at USC. At 6-3 and 240, Dwayne has the size and quickness to follow in his brother's path.
Jeff Chadbourne (West Covina, offensive lineman)--At 6-7 and 270 pounds, Chadbourne will attract a lot of attention from recruiters on size alone. "He's a big kid, and when you have that kind of size it's going to make people look at you," Lascola says. With a 5.2 in the 40, Chadbourne has good speed for his enormous size.
Curt Himebauch (South Hills, defensive back)--Lascola describes Himebauch as a "pretty good athlete who can fit in a lot of places," and he has been a versatile performer for the Huskies. An all-leaguer as a safety last year, the 6-0 and 170-pounder also can play wide receiver and running back and is the backup quarterback.
Jerome Rowser (Nogales, running back)--Scouts figure to focus on the Nogales backfield this season. While Green figures to attract most of their attention, Rowser certainly has the size--6-2 and 225--to play fullback at the NCAA Division I level. He is quick and averaged about six yards a carry as a junior.
Eric Dives (Los Altos, offensive lineman)--Coach Dwayne DeSpain doesn't usually boast about his linemen but is quick to call Dives "one of the finest linemen to play at Los Altos in a long time." At 6-4 and 235, Dives is a standout at tackle and defensive end for the Conquerors and moves well off the snap.