In spring and summer, my favorite thing to do is try to find the next impact players on the high school football field that seemingly come out of no where. There were a handful of players who since the start of spring practice through passing league, are guys who stood out to me or are ones who I continuously heard about.
Kaleb Ashe, Mesquite: My first stop during spring ball was at Mesquite and new head coach Chad DeGrennier has a great option to lead the way in offensive protection. Ashe was a starter at tackle last season lining up next to Roy Lopez who is now at New Mexico State. He is up to 6-3, 310 pounds and will be a lot to handle in this Wildcat offense that will look to spread the ball around a lot. Ashe is the nephew of one of the better football players to come out of Arizona. The former Dobson standout who went on to be a safety at Nebraska and then in the NFL for the Rams and Redskins, Toby Wright.
Josiah Bailey, Kellis: When seasons come to an end, I like to spend a decent amount of time on Hudl because I can’t be everywhere on friday nights. Of the film I watched, the two that stood out to me the most was Kyle Soelle and Josiah Bailey. Soelle picked up 16 offers this offseason before committed to ASU. Bailey is somewhat flying under the radar after an incredible breakout sophomore campaign for Kellis. The very first highlight on his tape is of him running 65 yards to chase down a Peoria player on his way to score. When he got to him, he stripped him of the ball and instead of it being a Peroia touchdown, it was a turnover. He is fast, explosive and plays with a motor you cant teach.
Stanley Berryhill, Marana Mountain View: The talent in Tucson and in southern AZ looks to be as good and as deep as its been in quite some time and one of the playmakers down south that has caught my eye is Stan Berryhill. He was second team all-district last season with 461 receiving yards and four touchdowns in 2015. He received his first offer from South Dakota State this offseason and there should be many more to come as Berryhill is a deep ball threat and expects to makes some big plays this season.
Jake Christopherson, Saguaro: I was informed of Jake heading into last season and he has been on my radar every since. He transferred this past offseason from Boulder Creek to Saguaro and from the sounds of things, he could prove to be one of the top playmakers offensively for the Sabercats who lost their top two receivers from a year ago. My phone blew up after Saguaro competed in Passing League up at NAU that he had put on a show. He scored 11 touchdowns and I was told that had Saguaro beaten Mountain Pointe in the championship, he would have been named the MVP. Saguaro will also be introducing a new quarterback Max Massingale this fall who I was also very impressed with when I saw him this spring. Coach Jason Mohns calls him a clone of former stud quarterback Luke Rubenzer.
Solomon Enis, North Canyon: The Rattlers may have struggled to win games the last few seasons but they have not been short on talent. John Okwoli is off to Wyoming and now waiting to be the premiere athlete on the outside is Enis. In his sophomore season for the Rattlers he had 29 catches for 370 yards which saw him being used split out, in the slot and even at time put his hand on the ground at tight end and make plays running up the seam. At 6-3, 190, he is one of the more impressive looking athletes at the wide receiver position and will even line up at defensive back as well.
Jason Harris, Desert Ridge: Speaking of impressive looking athletes. I roamed the sidelines of Desert Ridge games three times last season and each time you could not help but notice this enormous kid not in uniform standing off to the side. I was told the second time I saw him that it was Jalen Harris’ brother. I figured ‘oh that’s nice of Jalen’s older brother to come to all the games.’ I wonder what college is at, who he plays for and what I am missing? What I was missing was the fact that Jason was in EIGHTH GRADE!!!! Jason and Jalen are the son of Sean Harris who was a standout football player for the U of A and Chicago Bears. Jason has already been offered by Oregon State before having played a down at the varsity level and expects to be one of the top basketball players in Arizona next year as well.
DeAndre Hughes, Tempe High: Much like Josiah Bailey, some of the best combination of speed and motor I saw on film this offseason was DeAndre Hughes for the Buffaloes. Hughes is a two-way player but his impact at the high school level and beyond will be at the defensive back position. He is lightning quick with very impressive footwork. With him along with My-King Johnson, the two combined could be one of the best playmaking duos defensively in the state this season with Johnson’s pressures and Hughes’ ball-hawking ability.
Ryan Johnson, Chandler: Just what the Wolves needed. Another playmaker. Johnson moves into Arizona from St. Mary Prep in Orchard Lake, Michigan. Watching his film playing the slotback position receiving handoffs, catching passes out of the backfield and lining up in the slot, he he made a ton of huge plays last season for a team that went 12-1 in 2015. He has already received some next level attention being offered by Eastern Michigan and Idaho. Next to T.J. Green, Johnny Johnson and Kolby Taylor, Ryan Johnson should play a big role in the Wolves offense.
Jayden Lee, Campo Verde: When watching the Coyotes last season, you couldn’t help but notice the size and strength off Lee on the offensive line. Then when you dig deeper you learned that least season he was just a sophomore playing for a coach in Max Ragsdale who is known to not start underclassman very often. At 6-3, 290, Lee is one of the more underrated offensive line prospects in the state at this point and after what I believe will be a solid junior campaign, I wouldn’t be surprised at this time next year if he was commanding the attention of schools at the next level. Also keep an eye on fellow lineman who started for Campo last season in Jozia Myers.
Andrew Ruelas, Centennial: I arrive at Centennial this spring and I see a massive human being wearing a “Punisher” shirt. That tells you all you need to know with what we can expect Andrew Ruelas to be this fall. Centennial graduates a group of offensive lineman that was as good as we’ve ever seen in this state with three who are now signed with division I programs in Marshal Nathe, Tanner Hawthorne and Steven Bailey. Rueles is the next in line for this great fraternity of offensive lineman for the Coyotes and at 6-7 and 320 pounds, he too should be all over college programs’ radars before the 2016 season comes to an end.