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Historically San Diego County has developed some the best running backs to ever play the game of football, with a list that includes Heisman Trophy winners: Marcus Allen, Rashaan Salaam, Ricky Williams and Reggie Bush. NFL great, Terrell Davis, one of five 2,000 yard rushers at the professional level, could also trace his roots back to the area. Even with the area’s rich history at the position, San Diego’s running back class of 2010 is arguably the most talented group ever to be coming out of any single location, let alone San Diego County.

Currently on Rivals, Dillon Baxter (6’0 205lbs), is ranked as the top overall all-purpose back in the nation and the only one with a five star rating at his respective position. As a Mission Bay Bucaneer, he led his team to a perfect season by playing both running back and quarterback. On the season, Dillon rushed for nearly 3,000 yards, scored 50 TDs rushing, 25 TDs through the air and had an impressive average of 11.4 YPC. He went over 300 yards in three different occasions and his lowest rushing mark of the year was 100 yards. As expected, Dillon was recently announced as the National Player of the Year. Dillon will be playing close to home with a commitment to USC.

Close on Dillion’s heels on the Rivals all-purpose back rankings is Brennan Clay (6’0 200lbs), who is currently holding the number two spot. During his junior year at Scripps Ranch, Brennan was a dual threat running back, surpassing 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving. He is a home run threat every time he touches the ball and is an explosive return man. Brennan recently signed with the University of Oklahoma.

Now look at Ricky Seale (5’10 190lbs), a big play back coming out of Escondido High School whose production over the last few years surely speaks for itself. His breakaway speed paired with superior vision has enabled him to amass 2,400 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns in each of the past two season. Towards the end of his senior year he became the leading rusher in CIF-San Diego Section history and first ever in the section to go over 6,000 total rushing yards. He was highly recruited within the PAC-10, and ultimately signed with Stanford.

Then, there is Damien Williams (6’0 200lbs), a newcomer to the list of star running backs leaving San Diego County this year. Everyone always knew that he had talent, but grades and changing schools prevented him from demonstrating his talent early on. During his senior year at Mira Mesa he established himself as a top-tier back by rushing for nearly 2,300 yards, 24 TDs, 9.9 YPC and closing out the season strong with a string of eight consecutive 200 yard performances. Damien is now signed with the Arizona State Sundevils.

Don’t forget about Tony Jefferson (6’1 205lbs), from Eastlake High School, he has rushed for 5 yards shy of 2,000 with a 8.95 YPC and 25 TDs on the season. The scary thing is Tony was being recruited as a Safety and not a running back, so that speaks volumes about his potential to play on both sides of the ball. After being recruited and showing high interest in playing for Michigan, Oklahoma or USC, Tony decided on Oklahoma.

These young players have history on their side; San Diego County has produced more Heisman winners than any other place in the country. Is there something in the water? Maybe it’s a little too early to be speaking about the Heisman, but each one of these players has a chance to be something special, so make sure you keep an eye out for them in the next few seasons.

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National Signing Day for college football marks the deadline in which the nation’s top talents must make their final decisions in regards to which prestigious college programs they will grant their services to. Possibly facing the toughest decision of their lives, these young men have wisely chosen to take it down to the wire in order to explore all of their college football options. The miscalculation of playing for the wrong coaches or system could cost them a chance to play in the NFL. Due to the significance of these decisions, we at SportsForce are honored to be heavily involved with the college recruiting goals of some of the country’s top student-athletes. Our unique relationship with student-athletes and their families allows us to assist in securing the proper college recruiting exposure for them, while ultimately seeking what is most beneficial to the student-athlete during the college sports recruiting process. So far this year we’ve had the pleasure of covering some of the nation’s most elite football players such as Dillon Baxter [USC], Brennan Clay [Oklahoma], Ricky Seale [Undecided] , Damien Williams [Arizona State] and Kenny Stills [Oklahoma] just to name a few. In a year where college football has been shaken up by a multitude of coaching changes, a little recruiting guidance could go a long way.

With four of the top ten players in the nation undecided on where they will play ball, many of the top college recruiters will be working overtime this year. Plenty of big names are still up for grabs; most recognized is the massive offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson (2), who many believe is the best player in the nation and is expected to head to either Ohio State or Florida. Surely the return of Florida head coach Urban Meyer doesn’t hurt the Gators chances of landing Henderson. Keenan Allen (5), who has been compared to NFL star Ed Reed, is suspected to be a Clemson Tiger on signing day. Owamagbe Odighizuwa (8) is expected to leave Oregon in order to attend The University of Nebraska, while top ranked running back Marcus Lattimore (10) currently looks as if he’ll be staying home in South Carolina and playing for the Gamecocks. Other Notable predictions are Outside Linebacker Christian Jones (20) to stay in Florida to play for the Seminoles and Wide Receiver Markeith Ambles (24) to USC.

Wednesday February 3rd is when all the college football recruiting speculation and uncertainty will end, but the day should not expire without a few surprises. Anything is possible since this is the last chance for many teams to improve their rosters in order to make a run at next year’s championship game. National Signing Day TV specials should be airing on local channels all across the country, so don’t forget to tune in as some of the most prestigious college football programs fight to the very end for the nation’s top remaining talent.

[ x] – Committed college

(#) – National ranking based from Rivals.com

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Each year the first week of February and the National Signing Day for college football becomes the pinnacle of years of hard work for many of the most prestigious football programs in the country. This year the world of college football has been shaken up by notable coaching changes and even health issues and the lure of the NFL. At SportsForce we are heavily involved in the recruiting goals of numerous top student-athletes. Because of this unique relationship we build with student-athletes and families are able to learn firsthand of many of the recruiting decisions and thoughts that families have when deciding what college is the right fit for them.

The USC Trojans (9-4) were recently voted the college football program of the decade and captured two national titles under Pete Carroll’s reign. With the departure of Carroll to the Seattle Seahawks, the University of Southern California should be prepared to lose some of their top- ranked or at least potential recruits. Recalling Lane Kiffin back to USC leaves much to be desired and could prove to be disastrous. His one-year stop at Tennessee (7-6) was quite disappointing, especially if you consider the reputable and expensive coaching staff. Following the uncertainty at the coaching position both Dillon Baxter and Kyle Prater were second guessing their decisions to play for USC, but Lane Kiffin deserves credit for persuading them to stay. Lache Seastrunk, a once potential high-profile recruit for the Trojans cancelled his visit altogether and for the moment looks as if he is headed to another PAC-10 powerhouse in Oregon.

Florida (13-1) faced a similar scenario as Head Coach Urban Meyer announced his resignation due to health reasons in late December, but a day later decided to take an indefinite leave of absence instead. The expected return of Meyer must have been a key factor for Ronald Powell, the top ranked recruit in the 2010 class, when he picked Florida over USC. It is believed that Sharif Floyd, another highly sought after recruit may have discussed college choices with Powell and chosen Florida so the two can play alongside each other. The pairing should provide the Gators with an extremely solid defensive line for the next couple of years.

Not only will these coaching changes play a role in determining the outcome of the recruiting class, but it also may be a factor in whether college players chose to stay for another year or enter the draft. When Notre Dame let Charlie Weis go, it probably made it easier on Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate to leave as underclassman. As signing day quickly approaches keep a close eye on how these coaching changes and uncertainties are affecting player decisions and team dynamics.

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The Arizona Burn Program brought the heat to the beaches of San Diego, where there wasn’t anything that could cool them off. Arizona began the tournament as the no.7 seed in a field of twenty-four total teams in the Elite Division. Despite a tough loss early on, the team was able to gather itself and finish strong against the LaxDawgs Brown Elite of San Diego. It was a one-sided affair as the Arizona Burn Elite Orange captured an 8-1 victory, a game in which six different Burn players scored at least one goal. Goalie Brett Lawless (Desert Vista) had a strong showing Sunday as he only allowed seven total goals on the day.

Starting from a young age, Coach Chris Malone, of both MCLA’s Arizona State and the Arizona Burn teams, has instilled his players with a high level of lacrosse IQ.

In the South Swell High School Division, consisting of 9th and 10th grade students, yet another Arizona Burn team took home a trophy.

The Warrior Elite Division was taken by the Norcal Pups in a 7-4 defeat of the LaxDawgs Royal team. However the LaxDawgs Program did not go home empty-handed, their ladies team won the Women’s Elite Division in an 11-6 contest against the Coastal Cougars.

Watch out for these Arizona Burn players: Brock Ghelfi [M/So./Brophy Prep], Charlie Hushek [D/So./Brophy Prep], Rockne Repp [A/Jr./Saguaro], Brandon Moranz [M/Jr./Chandler], Ramie Arbid [D/Jr./Mesa Heat]

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The West team received the opening kickoff, but the first possession for each team resulted in quick three and outs. During the West’s second drive, Connor Wood, a quarterback committed to The University of Texas, led the offense down the field and struck first by sailing a ball over the defenders to his emergency tight end, Ronald Powell, in the back of the end zone for a 23-yard score. Powell, known as a terrific defensive end and the fifth ranked player nationally, showed that he has the potential to be a two way player at the college level with his leaping grab.

On the ensuing drive, facing a third-and-9, Markeith Ambles came up with a spectacular forty-yard catch to keep the drive alive. Just when the East looked like they were going to get on the board, Michael Palardy had his 32-yard field goal attempt blocked by Cassius Marsh and Josh Shirley delivered and put the West up 14-0 at the half.

During the half Dillon Baxter, an explosive all purpose back from Mission Bay High School in San Diego, California, was awarded the U.S. Army player of the year award for his outstanding performance and leadership this past season. Baxter led the Buccaneers on a perfect 13-0 season that resulted in a San Diego CIF Division IV title.  His stats are astonishing as he has accounted for 76 total touchdowns on the season and carried his team with 7 touchdowns in the championship game. With the departure of Pete Carroll to the Seattle Seahawks, Baxter is seriously reconsidering his commitment to USC.

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The 20th Annual MaxPreps Holiday Classic is taking place in Torrey Pines this year from December 26-30th. As all years prior, the tournament promises top teams and coaches from around the country. Every year, nearly 20,000 fans turn out for the tournament as well as many college coaches and recruiters to see the best young basketball talent. Brackets for teams have been broken into National Division, American Division, Governors Division, Mayors Division and Senators Division.

Among the players to watch out for at the tournament are power forward Jvonte Brooks, shooting guard Troy Leaf and point guard Kalob Hatcher. Together they have gotten Foothill Christians to a hot 6-0 start on the season. Each member of this trio is averaging twenty points or more and Jvonte is hauling in over 15 rebounds a contest, while Kalob is impressively dishing out over 8 assist per game. Troy has recently committed to the University of California, Santa Barbara after drawing interest from schools such as SDSU, Washington State, Nevada, Portland, SMU and UNLV ever since his freshman year. Also be on the lookout for Chen Cai, a 6’8 junior forward from Maranatha Christian, who is averaging 25.7 points, 16.7 rebounds and 4 blocks per game. Coming straight from the Torrey Pine Falcons (5-0) is Nick Kerr, a 6’3 junior guard, averaging over 25 points per game and shooting an astounding 43% from beyond the arc.

Making a trip all the way from New Jersey are the St. Patrick Celtics, ranked No.1 in the nation by MaxPreps and No.2 by rivals. The Celtics will be lead by two top 100 prospects in combo guard Kyrie Irving and small forward Julian Washburn. Kyrie recently completed his letter of intent during the early signing period to become a Duke Blue Devil. Competition from out of state will continue to heat up as the Mesa Jackrabbits, ranked No.1 in Arizona and No. 75 nationally by MaxPreps, come to town to try and stake their claim at the title. They’ll have to contend with the Taft Toreadors of Los Angeles who are lead by De Andre Daniels and Bryce Jones. The Toreadors are nationally ranked No.18 by MaxPreps and No.31 by Rivals. Center Greg Leslie bring his Chaparral Pumas in with a perfect 9-0 record on the year and are looking to take down the top contenders.

Seventy five teams are going to be on hand and each one is out to prove that they’re better than the rest. With the exceptional level of talent in this year’s tournament, fans are guaranteed exciting match-ups and plenty of surprises. For a full list of match-ups and locations please visit http://www.torreypinesbasketball.com/ .

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The Championship game of the Raven Tipoff Classic in San Diego, CA featured the University City Centurions versus the Newport Harbor Sailors in an exciting rematch from earlier in the tournament. During the previous meeting the Centurions won in overtime on a fade away buzzer beater by Jordan Johnson that brought the crowd to their feet.

Early championship game action showed that both teams are still in early season form and looking to work out some kinks before the start of league play. There were many turnovers and passes that sailed out of bounds in the first two quarters of play. Though much of the scoring went back and forth, the Centurions led 24-21 over the Sailors at halftime.

Newport Harbor head coach, Larry Hirst, must have said something inspirational to his team during halftime because the Sailors came out firing on all cylinders, going on a 7-2 run to start the half and forcing the Centurions to take a quick timeout. A few minutes into the quarter Jordan Johnson drove down the middle for a layup, but went down hard on his back and was called for a charge. The star from the previous meeting was taken out of the game to be looked at by a medical trainer for the majority of the third quarter.

At the end of the third quarter, when the game clock was practically dead even with the shot clock, the Sailors made a costly turnover. With seven ticks left on the clock, the Centurions managed to get the ball to Alex Catton who nailed a 3 point shot that put them within four.

Newport Harbor played the fourth quarter with a ridiculous amount of energy on both sides of the ball. Taking the lead after halftime gave the Sailors momentum and they never looked back, resulting in a 68-55 victory over the Centurions. Chad Seeber had a number of steals and good defensive stops to give the Sailors extra possessions. Chris Anderson was a force offensively, scoring in double digits for the final quarter and lead all scorers with 19 points.

Notable Performances:

University  City: Cerone Ramcharan 17pts, Joe Gordon 10pts

Newport Harbor: Chris Anderson 19pts, Ethan Ayers 15pts, Chad Seeber 13pts

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