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December 31, 2004After five practices, the California squad is starting to take shape and will feature a wide open passing game with a fast, aggressive defense. Several players we expected to step up have done just that along with a few surprises. Here's our look at the top five players on each side of the ball from this past week.
It's important to remember, this is not a list ranking who we feel are the best college prospects on the team. This is a list based soley on who impressed us the most after five practices over the past three days.
1. Mark Sanchez, 6-4, 200 QB Mission Viejo- Has been the most consistent offensive performer all week. Looks like a college QB right now in terms of his ability to manage a game. Has good arm strength but relies more on throwing the ball on time, seeing the field and making the right read almost every time he throws.
2. Desean Jackson, 5-10, 170 WR Long Beach Poly, Long Beach- Easily the most explosive player on the Cali offense. Is so smooth and is faster than he looks because of how smooth he is. Has great hands, runs very well after the catch and will be very exciting to watch returning kicks and punts as well.
3. Aleksey Lanis, 6-6, 305 OL Crenshaw, Los Angeles- Missed a practice on Thursday due to a mild concussion but that hasn't taken away from the week he has had. Has been a rock at left tackle showing better pass protection skills than we thought he has. Is huge in size and is an even better run blocker.
4. Lydell Sargeant, 5-10, 175 RB Cabrillo, Lompoc- A very pleasant surprise this week. We knew Sargeant could play but he has impressed every day with a great burst through the hole, is very shifty and runs especially hard for his size. There was talk that when the athlete committed to Penn State, he would come in as a receiver but he has shown us he has the tools to more than hold his own running the ball as well.
5. Jeremy Childs, 6-0, 180 Los Alamitos- Similar to Jackson in terms of how smooth he is and how strong his hands are, just doesn't have the same burst or moves with the ball. Childs has a great feel for the game and knows how to get open and where the open spots in the defense are. He has very good leaping ability and should make an excellent possession receiver in college.
1. Will Harris, 6-1, 190 DB Charter Oak, Covina- We knew Harris was good, but he has been the most impressive player in practice all week. In fact, Harris might be the most complete safety to come out of Cali in the last five years and that includes former standouts Darnell Bing and Randy Estes. Harris covers much better than Estes and is a bigger hitter than Bing. Simply stated, he doesn't have a weakness on the field and has been making eye opening plays every day in practice.
2. Erik Lorig, 6-5, 250 DT Peninsula, Rolling Hills- Was moved from tight end to defensive tackle, a position he hasn't played in two years, and has been un-blockable all week. Lorig has great quickness and we love his frame and potential to get bigger and stronger in college. The athlete could still end up at tight end in college, but after seeing him this week, we feel he's a future pro on the defensive line.
3. Luthur Brown, 6-2, 225 LB Lakewood- There is very little separating Brown and Maualuga as both have college size, speed and toughness right now. Brown is playing inside and as a result, has been around the ball a little more thus has been able to make more plays. The 'backer has arguably the most upside on the team and has also been the emotional leader on the defense firing everyone up and no one plays harder. Like Harris, it's tough to imagine Brown not making some future All-American teams.
4. Rey Maualuga, 6-3, 245 LB Eureka- A natural inside linebacker but has played on the outside all week. Still looks great and has been especially impressive dropping back in to coverage and has made several nice interceptions this week. Is very agile despite his size and might be the biggest hitter on the team. Has all the ability in the world and should play immediately in college.
5. Chase Moline, 6-1, 245 DT Mission Viejo- The theme with former Minnesota Viking receiver was all he does is catch touchdowns. All Moline does is make tackles despite being the smallest lineman, by far, on either side of the ball. Even though we saw the tackle dominate all season, it still shocks us to watch him going against guys that outweigh him by 50 pounds, and just make them look like pop warner players. Will someone please offer this kid a scholarship, we promise you won't regret it.