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OCVarsity Rankings: O.C.'s top offensive linemen
With the start of the high school season quickly approaching, the Register 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 offensive linemen going into the season:
1. Brett Neilon, Santa Margarita, Sr.
Neilon (6-2, 286), aggressive and strong, committed to USC as a center, his new position with the Eagles. He also trains privately with the lineman academy run by former San Francisco 49ers Pro Bowl center Jesse Sapolu. “He’s a freak,” Santa Margarita coach Rich Fisher said of Neilon, who was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
2. Tommy Brown, Mater Dei, Jr.
The 6-foot-7, 323-pound tackle emerged last season as a powerful run blocker. He enters his junior season having improved his pass protection, according to Sapolu, who has coached Brown at the “Men in the Trenches” linemen academy. Brown has been offered by three SEC schools, including Florida, and three Pac-12 schools, including UCLA.
3. Ryan Nelson, Buena Park, Sr.
The long-armed left tackle is a well-rounded blocker. Nelson (6-5, 243) uses his reach and technique to be effective as a pass blocker and his athleticism and strength on run plays. “Every great team and program has a left tackle they depend on,” Buena Park coach Anthony White said. “Ryan is (our) cornerstone.” He holds offers from numerous schools, including Utah and Virginia, and has received interest from schools in the Ivy League.
4. Michael Saffell, Edison, Sr.
Saffell (6-3, 290) has developed excellent technique as a veteran participant in Sapolu’s academy. But he relies on more than just technique. “A fighter and technician,” Sapolu said. Saffell, a third-team All-County pick last season, has been offered by Cal, UNLV and Yale among others.
5. Peslao Gauta, Garden Grove, Jr.
Gauta (6-5, 320) is a rising tackle who also trains with Sapolu’s linemen academy. He earned first-team all-Garden Grove League honors as a sophomore and is drawing interest from major colleges. “He’s one of the top linemen in the county,” Garden Grove coach Ricardo Cepeda said. “He has a chance to be a highly recruited left tackle.”
6. Zelan Tupuola, JSerra, Sr.
Tupuola (6-3, 290) stood out at guard last season. He created plenty of holes for the Lions’ ground attack and showed excellent feet. He received an offer from Fresno State in late June.
7. Arwin Rahmatpanah, Corona del Mar, Sr.
Corona del Mar coach Dan O’Shea calls Rahmatpanah (5-11, 260) and his “twin,” Bryan Samudro, two of the top linemen in the county. Rahmatpanah, the center for quarterback Chase Garbers, is a three-year starter and earned third-team All-County honors last season. He also trains with Sapolu.
8. Bryan Samudro, Corona del Mar, Sr.
The 5-11, 265-pound guard is another three-year starter and Sapolu academy participant. He won strongest man honors in the squat and bench at the 12-team St. John Bosco linemen competition. Samudro also plays nose guard.
9. Jarrett Patterson, Mission Viejo, Jr.
The 6-5, 275-pound tackle is the top returner from an offensive line that helped the Diablos capture CIF-SS West Valley and CIF State Division 1-AA titles last season. “He started every game as a sophomore,” Mission Viejo coach Bob Johnson said of Patterson. Patterson’s brother, David, is a junior offensive lineman at Fresno State and a former Woodbridge standout.
10. Jake Parks, JSerra, Jr.
Add Parks (6-4, 280) to the county’s list of potential collegiate centers. He was a second-team all-Trinity League selection last season. Parks is especially effective pulling on running plays.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Colston Chacon (Corona del Mar, Jr.); Zach Cochrun (San Clemente, Sr.); Conrad Frick (El Toro, Sr.); Kekani Gonzalez (Mater Dei, Jr.); Mike Jarboe (Newport Harbor, Sr.); Christian Labow (Servite, Sr.); Luke LaCilento (Servite, Jr.); Mike LaCilento (Servite, Sr); Andre Leomiti (Los Alamitos, Sr.); James Magee (Fullerton, Sr.); Sam Marrazzo (Aliso Niguel, Sr.); Thomas Parker (Santa Margarita, Sr.); Liki Seu (Orange Lutheran, Sr.); Darice Tavita (Garden Grove, Sr.).
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OCVARSITY PRESEASON RANKINGS