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OCVarsity rankings: O.C.'s top 10 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. Frank Martin, Mater Dei, Sr.
Orange County has produced another deep crop of talented offensive linemen, and Martin (6-6, 295) stands out as the best. The USC commit was the lone county lineman at The Opening Finals, the top recruiting showcase of the summer. He also stood out during the spring at a Nike camp in Redondo Beach. Martin has been a standout at right tackle the past two seasons but now moves to left tackle. “My top goals are to not give up any sacks and rush for over 150 (yards as a team) every game,” he said.
2. Luke Wattenberg, JSerra, Sr.
The left tackle has grown into a coveted recruit. Wattenberg (6-5, 270) committed to Washington and received offers from USC, UCLA, Stanford and Oregon among others. “Practicing every day against D.J. Bailey made me a ton better,” he said of his former All-County teammate. The three-year starter compares well to Martin when it comes to versatility. He can be a devastating pull blocker and uses his long arms well in pass protection.
3. Brett Neilon, Santa Margarita, Jr.
The left tackle might be the best junior offensive lineman in Orange County. Neilon (6-2, 275) has already been offered by UCLA, Arizona State and Hawaii and was one of three class of 2017 recruits at the Nike camp in Redondo Beach in the spring. As a sophomore guard/tackle, he played with an aggression beyond his years. His highlight film opens with an impressive push against former Orange Lutheran standout Keisean Lucier-South, now at UCLA.
4. Logan Bathke, Orange Lutheran, Sr.
The Oregon commit is another rugged tackle from the Trinity League. Bathke (6-5, 270) protected quarterback Lj Northington’s blind side last season and pushed forward with power and aggression. “I expect him to continue to grow as a player and person,” Lancers coach Chuck Petersen said. “I want him to continue to build his leadership skills.”
5. Tucker Scott, San Clemente, Sr.
Scott (6-4, 275) is a big reason the Tritons feature one of the top offensive lines in the county. The long-armed left tackle can clear space for teammates and uses some of the best footwork and technique in the county. The running back duo of Vlad Dzhabiyev and Brandon Reaves might get the most attention, but don’t forget about Scott. “We expect Tucker to be a physical player,” Tritons coach Jaime Ortiz said of the All-CIF pick. “He needs to set the tone for our brand of football.”
6. Zack Aylor, Mission Viejo, Sr.
The 6-foot-4, 300-pound left tackle is the Diablos’ only returning starting offensive lineman. He has the resume and demeanor to set the tone on offense. “He’s a mean guy,” Mission Viejo coach Bob Johnson said. “He’s a very good player.” Aylor, an All-CIF selection last season, received an early offer from Michigan and also has attracted interest from USC.
7. Nick Harris, JSerra, Sr.
Harris emerged during the offseason as one of the fastest rising recruits in Orange County. The 6-foot-2, 275-pounder moved from right tackle to center and committed to Washington. The Lions’ impressive offensive line also includes Washington commit Luke Wattenberg at left tackle.
8. David Garfunkel, Yorba Linda, Sr.
It’s a deep list when a 6-foot-5, 280-pound tackle with Division I-A offers lands at No. 8. Garfunkel is a strong drive blocker who helped power the Mustangs’ ground attack last season. He moves from right tackle to left tackle this fall. Garfunkel holds offers from Arkansas State, UNLV, Toledo and San Jose State among others. “My biggest goal is being able to finish blocks,” he said. “I want to do whatever I can to help my team play at a high level.”
9. Ryan Nelson, Buena Park, Jr.
Nelson (6-6, 274) is another fast-rising junior tackle. He built a strong highlight film last season as the guard next to tackle Keven Dixon, who signed with Utah. The Utes, UNLV and BYU have already offered Nelson. This season, he moves from guard to tackle. “With his frame, athleticism, intelligence, he is just coming into his own as a junior,” Buena Park coach Anthony White said.
10. Adam Heigis, Orange Lutheran, Sr.
Heigis (6-6, 295) developed into a punishing blocker at guard last season and built more momentum in the offseason. San Jose State and San Diego have offered and he attended a Nike camp in the sprirng. “He anchors us inside,” Lancers coach Chuck Petersen said. “He has the length to be a good pass protector and the strength and toughness to be dominant in the running game.”
Others to watch: Zach Aguirre, Mater Dei, Sr.; Richard Arias, La Habra, Sr.; Mitch Dean, Corona del Mar, Sr; Donte Harrington, San Clemente, Sr.; Jacob Keller, Los Alamitos, Sr.; Tanner Prenovost, Santa Margarita, Sr.; Sydney Solomon, Servite, Sr.; Adam Tourville, La Habra, Sr.; Sean Tulette, Los Alamitos, Sr.; Alex Wyant, Foothill, Sr.
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