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Prep Prospects Draw Recruiters to O.C.

Football: College scouts say they're pleased with this year's group of top players--so far.


Orange County's high school football fields have usually proved to be fertile ground for college recruiters, and this year is no exception.

Representatives from universities across the nation will spend countless hours in the county's stadiums this fall, looking for the players who best fit their programs. They won't have to search hard, however, when it comes to the county's top-notch athletes.

Allen Wallace and Rick Kimbrel, two expert college recruiting analysts, speak highly of the county's Class of 1998.

"It's a well-balanced class," said Kimbrel, managing editor of Prep Star magazine, which is published in Woodland Hills. "About the only thing missing is a top defensive lineman. But there also seems to be a shortage of defensive linemen nationally.

"Still, the list is impressive. Most of them are national recruits. They could have an impact as [college] freshmen.'

Wallace, who publishes SuperPrep magazine in Laguna Beach, says although this year's seniors are good, they still have some strides to make to catch up to last year's talent.

"Last year you had players like Malaefou MacKenzie, Rod Perry and Ife Ohalete [all at USC], [Austin] Moherman and David Priestly [both at Ohio State], Kurt Vollers [Notre Dame] and Billy Newman [Washington State]," Wallace said. "Oregon signed Jim Adams, Garrett Sabol and Danny Pulido. Colorado signed Ruben Vaughn. Greg Cicero went to Texas. . . .

"When I look back at those kids, I can't say this group is any better. They will have to have good senior seasons to match the quality of the signees of last year, which is one of the best groups I can remember."

With the help of Wallace, Kimbrel and several local football coaches, here are the county players (in alphabetical order) expected to attract the most recruiting attention:

* Joey Boese, defensive back, 5-11, 175, Mater Dei. Boese, who is also a wide receiver, became an overnight star in recruiters' eyes after Mater Dei's 34-14 victory over Long Beach Poly in the Division I semifinals in December. Boese was credited with holding touted wide receiver Ken-Yon Rambo (Ohio State) to one reception.

"Everybody thought we would put Rod [Perry Jr.] on Rambo," Mater Dei Coach Bruce Rollinson said. "But we knew Boese was ready for the challenge. Boese got the assignment and took him out of the contest. I told Joey after the game, 'You earned a Division I scholarship tonight.' "

Wallace and Kimbrel agreed.

"He's come out of nowhere to rank among the top 300 prep defensive backs in the country," Wallace said.

Rollinson said Boese has "six legitimate offers" from schools, including Arizona, Oregon State and Washington State.

* Anthony Daye, linebacker, 6-2, 230, Laguna Hills. Daye has caused a stir among recruiters from the Pacific 10 (USC has offered a scholarship) and the Big 12. They love his size, strength (he bench presses 350 pounds), explosive first step and vertical leap (33 inches).

"Anthony has the body of a guy who has worked hard in the weight room," Laguna Hills Coach Steve Bresnahan said. "But he is also very intelligent. He has run our defense for two years and can figure out on the field what the opposition is doing."

Wallace said recruiters rate Daye as "quicker than he is fast, but he is always around the ball."

* Derald Deason, defensive back, 6-3, 180, Orange. Like Boese, Deason is also a fine receiver. But Deason, who had six interceptions and was a Times all-county first-team selection last year, might be the county's best defensive back prospect. He has the size to defend against the run and the speed to keep up with most wide receivers.

El Modena Coach Steve Howard called him "a game-breaker."

Orange Coach Dick Hill said Deason, who has received letters from UCLA, Oregon State and Washington State among others, still has some maturing to do. "His abilities have not fully [realized]," Hill said. "He is so much better than we have been able to get him to perform. He still needs some maturing in his work habits, but his potential is enormous."

* DeShaun Foster, running back, 6-0, 205, Tustin. Along with Michael Jones and Mike McNair, Foster is considered among the best senior running backs. Last season, he rushed for 1,630 yards, had 34 touchdowns and led the county in scoring (216 points).

Tustin Coach Myron Miller said Foster has received scholarship offers from Wisconsin, USC and Arizona State, and should receive more.

"Just a powerful person," Miller said of Foster. "He is the best blocking back I've ever had. He is also the best runner and best receiver. I won't be near as good a coach when he graduates."

Wallace said Foster "is comparable to Mike McNair, although DeShaun appears a little more versatile." Wallace added that Nebraska is interested in Foster as a defensive back; Texas and Washington view him as an athlete who could play several positions.

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