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August 31, 2012

Around the West: Brown beats expectations

MORE: New Rivals250 | Around the Mid-Atlantic

Each Friday throughout the fall, Rivals.com is breaking down the West Region recruiting scene with news, notes and analysis. Here is the latest from Rivals.com West analyst Rob Cassidy.

Underclassmen watch

Here are some top underclassmen to keep an eye on from around the region:

ATH Jalen Brown, Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe (2014)

Brown isn't some under-the-radar secret. He already carries 14 scholarship offers and is considered one of the top players in Arizona. You'd think it would be hard for him to surpass expectations. You'd be wrong.

In the first game of his junior season, Brown showed off his sure hands and top-level elusiveness playing wide receiver and displayed impressive instincts on defense. He made a critical interception and recovered a late-game fumble from the safety spot. All of that added up to Mountain Pointe's upset of traditional power Hamilton.

QB Ricky Town, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure (2015)

Town completed the first 10 passes of his sophomore season and threw three touchdowns in St. Bonaventure's 48-0 route of Garfield High last Friday. The performance helped prove that the buzz building around the sophomore is warranted.

Still awaiting his first offer, Town is receiving early interest from Miami, LSU and Boston College. Of course it doesn't hurt that the 6-foot-4, 190-pound signal-caller has the prototypical build for a pro-style quarterback. Combine that with his arm strength and skill set as a whole, and you might just have "the next big thing" in the Southern California quarterback ranks.

RB Nathan Starks, Las Vegas Bishop Gorman (2014)

Starks has already made his case to be the top player in Nevada when the time comes to rank his 2014 class. He plays at nationally ranked Bishop Gorman, so his talent has long since been recognized.

His early offer list features heavy hitters Texas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. UCLA, Arizona and Utah have also offered. The scary part is that it's just the beginning. There's five-star potential at work in Starks, a downhill runner with great size and an impressive frame to grow into, is one to watch this fall.

News and Notes

Class of 2014 offensive line prospect Natrell Curtis has been considered an Arkansas lean for a while, but he said it in as many words for the first time last week. He'll take an unofficial visit to Fayetteville at some point this season, and his commitment seems to be the Hogs' to lose.

Utah offered Tucson (Ariz.) Sabino High School teammates Andrew Mike (OL) and Matt Bushman (TE) on Tuesday afternoon. The Utes are the first school to offer Bushman and the fifth to offer Mike. The possibility of a package deal is strong here, though, as Mike and Bushman, both members of the 2014 class, are close friends.

Any remaining mystery surrounding four-star offensive linemen Reeve Koehler's college decision was zapped this week when his Honolulu St. Louis High School teammate Kamalei Correa told the world that Koehler was "going to Tennessee." The 280-pound guard will make his announcement at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January. Unless something changes between now and then, he's expected to pick to make things official with the Vols at that time.

Washington commit Darrell Daniels has been off the board since mid June. But now, the 6-foot-4 wide receiver's eye might be starting to wander. No dates have been set, but Daniels is planning to visit UCLA and possibly Miami.

Daniels has always been open to the idea of other visits, and those wheels are starting their motion. Both the Hurricanes and the Bruins are pushing to hard to get the California-based wideout on campus as soon as possible.

It's a problem every team would like to have. USC, already at its scholarship limit, is stuck trying to make room for four-star safety Tahaan Goodman. Word is, the Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) senior heavily favors the Trojans, but LSU and others will still be considered if he isn't able to squeeze his way into Lane Kiffin's top-ranked class.

What I'm thinking

Nebraska commit Johnny Stanton looked better than his three-star ranking in Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) High School's win over Brophy Prep, the top-ranked team in Arizona. Playing on national television, Stanton accounted for 307 total yards and four touchdowns (two running and two passing). His mechanics and decision-making could still stand to improve and he lacks elite-level speed, but his combination of arm strength, awareness and pocket mobility are capable of compensating for that.

One game is a small sample size, but if Stanton continues to show improvement, he'll be a candidate to earn a fourth star.

He won't say it out loud, but offensive tackle Kenny Lacy favors UCLA and could commit to the Bruins when when he visits Los Angeles on Sept. 8. That is, unless a Florida offer comes down. Lacy says the Gators are close to making things official on that front. If that happens, everything could change. The four-star tackle is beyond interested in Muschamp's program and will cancel one of his scheduled official visits to fit in Florida if push comes to shove.

It's academics, not talent, holding Shahid Hoover back as a college prospect. The Denver East tailback currently holds offers from Arizona State, Colorado State and Connecticut. Other schools are being held at bay because Hoover is a massive qualifying risk. He's scheduled take the ACT again in December, and the late-year scramble that will ensue should he receive a decent score will be interesting to watch.


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