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OCVarsity rankings: O.C.'s top 10 linebackers
With the start of the high school season quickly approaching, OC Varsity has put together its lists of the top 10 players in the county at each position.
These lists are based on the observations of the Register’s reporters, the input of football coaches around the county and the amount of interest shown by college scouts.
Here is a look at the top linebackers going into the season:
1. Curtis Robinson, Mater Dei, Sr.
Robinson (6-3, 215) enters the season as one of the top linebackers in the country. Rivals has him ranked seventh at his position, 33rd nationally and sixth in the state. Last season, he had 40 tackles, four sacks and one interception. Robinson recently committed to Stanford. Take a look at any highlight tape and you will see why he had all of those offers. Robinson has quick feet to the ball and great awareness and vision. He had 252 receiving yards last season.
2. Jake Colacion, La Habra, Sr.
Colacion (6-2, 215) started as a safety as a sophomore and he has made the transition to linebacker as seamless as possible. He enters the season with at least 13 offers, but recently committed to Arizona. “He has the athleticism, toughness, he’s physical, he has the full package to be a Division 1 athlete,” La Habra coach Frank Mazzotta said. “He’s also intelligent.” Colacion earned first-team All-Freeway League and All-CIF honors last season. He was third-team All-County last season.
3. Alema Pilimai, Tustin, Sr.
Pilimai (6-5, 210) figures to be a nightmare for opposing offenses this season. The senior, who will also play quarterback for the Tillers, grew 3 inches during the offseason, according to Coach Winter Welz. “You can’t teach height,” Welz said. “He’s long-armed, and it is hard to throw over him. He’s athletic and he has great hips.” Pilimai had a great summer, which included him being rated as the top outside linebacker at a Utah camp. Pilimai earned first-team All-Empire League honors on offense last season. He has offers from Washington State, Oregon State, Utah, Utah State and BYU.
4. Sammy Duarte, Servite, Sr.
Duarte (6-2, 235) was hampered by injuries last season, missing the first five games due to a broken leg. Coach Scott Meyer is eager to see what 2015 brings from the linebacker. “We’re real high on him,” Meyer said. “He has the size, speed, athleticism and he’s a great leader. He’s a physical downhill linebacker and a very instinctive football player. He doesn’t have any offers, but he’s on a lot of radars.”
5. Will Armstrong, Los Alamitos, Sr.
Armstrong (6-1, 234) is making the move from defensive end to middle linebacker this season. Armstrong recorded 61 total sacks with seven sacks last season. He also had a defensive touchdown (78-yard fumble return). Armstrong earned first-team All-Sunset League honors as a junior. His style reminds the coaches of Arizona’s Scooby Wright. He has interest from several schools.
6. Tanner Matthews, Santa Margarita, Sr.
Matthews (6-4, 235) is one of the key defensive starters returning this season for the Eagles. He was honorable mention All-Trinity League last season. Matthews recorded 77 tackles with a sack and one interception. He has offers from Army, Hawaii, Lehigh, Navy and Nevada.
7. Colin Schooler, Mission Viejo, Jr.
Schooler (6-0, 210) was one of the standouts last season that helped Trabuco Hills in the CIF-SS Southwest Division final. He transferred to Mission Viejo earlier this month. Schooler shared the Sea View League Defensive MVP honors and earned All-CIF honors. He recorded 121 total tackles, 7½ sacks and intercepted one pass. He earned third-team All-County honors last season.
8. Ramon Chaves, Villa Park, Sr.
Chaves (6-0, 215) has become a familiar face for postseason recognition. As a junior, Chaves earned both first-team all-league (Crestview) and CIF (Southwest Division) honors. He recorded 84 tackles with three sacks last season. “He’s a three-year starter and he’s getting better every year,” Villa Park coach Dusan Ancich said. “He has an explosive first step and he’s a natural when it comes to getting to the ball.” Chaves is getting attention from some Division 1-AA schools.
9. Zach Arnold, Brea Olinda, Sr.
Arnold (6-0, 215) returns off of a remarkable junior season that saw him earn North Hills defensive player of the year and first-team All-CIF Southern Division honors. “He brings his lunch pail to work every day,” Brea Olinda coach Robb Perrance said. “He’s one of the biggest hitters I’ve seen. He has a great attitude and he’s done it all through hard work.” Arnold had 144 tackles last year. Arnold is generating interest from Hawaii, Sacramento State, Cal Poly and some Ivy League schools.
10. Andrew Mulipola, Buena Park, Sr.
Mulipola (6-1, 208) was a force last year at middle linebacker. The same is expected this season. “He's extremely athletic and he's a great tackler,” Coach Anthony White said. White described Mulipola as a coach on the field. Mulipola has taken an unofficial visit to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and is generating interest from schools, including UNLV, San Diego State and Sacramento State.
Others to watch: Austin Barrette, Santa Margiarta, Sr.; Jacob Briggs, Valencia, Sr.; Dakota Eckheart, Sonora, Sr.; Anthony Koclanakis, Esperanza, Sr.; Matthew Mark, Santa Margarita, Sr.; Tim Newman, San Juan Hills, Sr.; Daniel Orellana, Garden Grove, Sr.; Corey Selenski, JSerra, Sr.; Blake Suttle, Canyon, Sr.; Tanner Wright, San Clemente, Sr.
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