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June 22, 2005
Golden State gems
Every year in California, the talent and the blue-chip football never ceases to amaze observers. Even during down years when the word is that the talent isn't as good as in other states, around 300 players sign Division I scholarships from the Golden State.
This year is supposed to be a down year in California, but don't tell that to the 13 Rivals100 members from the group and the players that have made the Rivals.com preseason California Top 100 list.
Five-star linebacker Allen Bradford of Colton, Calif., leads the list, followed by defensive back/running back Stafon Johnson at No. 2 and receiver David Ausberry at No. 3. The trio forms a solid nucleus in the state and gives it enough firepower to compete with anybody in the nation.
"When people first saw Bradford, some were concerned with how tall he is," Rivals.com recruiting analyst Greg Biggins said. "It doesn't matter if he's 5-foot-11 or 10-feet tall, the kid is a big-time player and the best in California. Stafon Johnson is also a two-way threat that some love at defensive back and some love at running back. He's good enough to play at both in college."
Rivals.com recruiting analyst Rick Kimbrel likes Ausberry's upside.
"He's a big, strong, physical receiver," Kimbrel said. "He's the type of receiver that college coaches are looking for in today's game. He's going to create match-up problems because of his height and he can take a pounding with his frame over the middle on the intermediate routes."
The top 10 doesn't feature any players that have made commitments at this point. But UCLA does have two pledges from players ranked in top 25 - offensive linemen Andy Keane and Jake Dean, who are ranked 18th and 19th respectively. Overall UCLA has nine commitments in the top 100.
With USC recruiting on such a national front, expect the core of its class to come later, but the Trojans do have a top 25 commitment from offensive lineman Zack Heberer of San Pedro. He is ranked as the No. 21 player in the state.
The California Bears are also well represented with their quick start out of the gate on the list.
Offensive lineman Mike Costanzo of Danville (Calif.) Monte Vista is heading to Cal and is ranked at No. 26 on the list. He's just ahead of Bears defensive end commitment Levirt Griffin of Modesto at No. 34. The Bears do have four impressive commitments in the top 50 and five on the list overall.