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Incoming high school quarterbacks are masters of the unknown

There is no clear-cut No. 1 player in Southern California going into fall season, so passing competitions give glimpse of what's to come. Mixed signals from college recruiters add to the intrigue.

June 07, 2013|Eric Sondheimer
  • Chaminade quarterback Brad Kaaya looks to throw the ball.
Chaminade quarterback Brad Kaaya looks to throw the ball. (Angela Means / Los Angeles…)

If it's June, it means summer football passing competitions are about to go into high gear. And this summer the situation is going to be more intriguing than ever, because there's no consensus No. 1 high school quarterback in Southern California heading into the 2013 season.

Plus, the college recruiting process is getting stranger every season.

For example, UCLA has offers out to three quarterbacks from the class of 2015 — Kevin Dillman of La Mirada, Josh Rosen of Bellflower St. John Bosco and Ricky Town of Ventura St. Bonaventure. They aren't all going to end up in Westwood, and maybe none of them will.

But schools have apparently decided just making a single offer doesn't get it done. They need choices and backups, and it's a little confusing about whom they really want.

"The senior year doesn't even count anymore," La Mirada Coach Mike Moschetti said.

Yes, the big-time schools are lining up recruits earlier than ever. Don't forget that USC has a commitment from David Sills, a class of 2015 quarterback from Delaware who made the commitment in 2010 — when he was 13.

Recruiting is a game, and everyone needs to look into the eyes of the college recruiters and do their due diligence.

"It's definitely hard to tell who's lying to you and who's playing games," West Hills Chaminade senior quarterback Brad Kaaya said.

The 6-foot-4 Kaaya decided to end the recruiting process May 13, when he committed to Miami.

"They've always been there since the start when I wasn't ranked high," he said. "I didn't have the stars or the blue-chip label. They didn't play games. I think it fits me perfectly and was a school I imagined myself going to."

Quarterback is the most important position on a football team, and colleges want to lock up a prep quarterback as early as possible, so the pressure is going to build.

But quarterbacks need to make good judgments on their college choices, or they'll end up transferring when they become disappointed about playing time. There's also the trend of schools offering scholarships to multiple quarterbacks. And you wonder why parents and athletes get stressed out.

Kaaya and Gardena Serra quarterback Jalen Greene, who is headed to Boise State, are among the first from the senior class to make commitments. Others will surely follow. And there will be different opinions on who's best.

My job is to go watch players play for their high school teams and see how they perform. I don't have to decide whether they're going to play in the Super Bowl in five years. I just want to see their leadership skills, their talent as passers and runners, their ability to handle adversity, and see whether they are resilient and tough.

There are lots of candidates beyond the supposed big names. On Saturday, the Dana Hills seven-on-seven tournament begins at 8:30 a.m., and the quarterback talent should be outstanding.

Kaaya and Town will be there, along with Oaks Christian's Brandon Dawkins, Mater Dei's Chase Forrest, Santa Margarita sophomore K.J. Costello, Newhall Hart junior Brady White and Upland junior Tyler Hilinski.

There's no rushing the passer, so it's not exactly a certain way of telling how someone will perform under pressure. But there are lots of opportunities to see the intangible skills displayed by a good quarterback. That's why it's so fun to watch the passing competitions.

So get your sunscreen out, and head off to Dana Point this weekend. The footballs will be flying, there'll be no shoulder pads, and you can make believe you're a college recruiter for a day and decide who's the best quarterback.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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