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OCVarsity Rankings: O.C.'s top receivers and tight ends
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 wide receivers and tight ends going into the season:
1. Osiris St. Brown, Mater Dei, Sr.
The recent Stanford commit made the extraordinary look routine a season ago, showcasing a pair of the surest hands in Orange County. St. Brown (6-1, 178) led Mater Dei in receptions (43), yards (884) and touchdown grabs (12) en route to a first-team All-County selection in 2015. He took his game to another level by year’s end, building quite a rapport with quarterback JT Daniels, capping the season with a pair of 120-yard performances in the Pac-5 quarterfinals and semifinals against Serra of Gardena and Centennial of Corona. With his brother, Amon-Ra, talented junior CJ Parks and fast-rising sophomore Bru McCoy set to spread opposing defenses out, Osiris should have no trouble solidifying his place as one of the best pass catchers in the country.
2. Austin Osborne, Mission Viejo, Jr.
The Diablos speedster was the only sophomore named first-team All-County last season, bursting onto the scene with a county-best 22 touchdown catches while finishing second in the area with 1,305 receiving yards. Osborne regularly blew the top off of defenses with his blistering speed, averaging 25 yards per grab. The collegiate offers are beginning to pile up for the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder, with Michigan, Oregon, Cal, Tennessee and Miami already lining up for his services. It shouldn’t take long before the team’s new starting quarterback, Matthew McDonald, and Osborne hook up for what’s sure to be the first of many home run-type plays.
3. Amon-Ra St. Brown, Mater Dei, Jr.
It can be argued that no receiver in the county had a better offseason than the youngest of the St. Brown boys. Amon-Ra (6-foot, 170) pulled in scholarship offers from Alabama, USC, UCLA, Stanford and Michigan State following his sophomore campaign, and he carried that momentum into the summer months. For some observers, the junior was the best receiver at the Battle at the Beach passing tournament several weeks back, showcasing a complete skill set while helping Mater Dei capture the coveted 7-on-7 crown. This fall, he’ll be a key cog in what could wind up being the most prolific passing attack around.
4. Grant Calcaterra, Santa Margarita, Sr.
He has tight end-type size (6-4, 210), but Calcaterra showed throughout last season he also has the speed and wiggle to turn a simple crossing pattern into a big gain. The Oklahoma commit solidified himself as one of the county’s most skilled athletes toward the end of last year, accounting for four straight 100-plus yard games (against JSerra, Orange Lutheran, Servite and Mater Dei), and racked up five of his nine touchdowns along the way. Look for Calcaterra, Santa Margarita’s top returning playmaker (48 receptions, 926 yards in 2015), to be highlighted in new coach Rich Fisher’s passing attack.
5. Prince Ross, La Habra, Sr.
Ross etched his name in La Habra lore last December, catching a Hail Mary pass on the final play for the touchdown that gave the Highlanders an epic victory in the CIF-SS Southwest Division final. But the La Habra playmaker was so much more than that one catch. In the postseason alone, Ross put together four games of 100-plus yards and hauled in 11 touchdown grabs. He was Orange County’s overall yardage leader (1,310 yards) and was fourth with 18 touchdown grabs. Generously listed at 5-11, 150 pounds, Ross isn’t as big as most of the other players on this list, but he’s capable of scoring from anywhere on the field with his top-notch speed.
6. Jeremiah Hawkins, Buena Park, Sr.
The Cal-bound senior is one of the quickest, shiftiest athletes in the county, which makes him a nightmare to tackle in the open field. Buena Park did an excellent job of getting the him the ball in space last season, whether it was on jet sweeps, bubble screens or utilizing him in the slot. Hawkins (5-9, 180) dazzled in the semifinals against San Clemente last November, grabbing 10 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown. Playing alongside athletes like Taariq Johnson in Coyotes’ spread system, Hawkins’ skill set will make Buena Park one of the more entertaining teams to watch this fall.
7. Shane Coleman, Tesoro, Sr.
With his size (6-foot-5, 205-pounds), Coleman is a quarterback’s best friend in the red zone, but he also demonstrated last season that he has the giddy up to stretch defenses vertically. Four of his eight touchdown grabs were from 35 yards or more last fall. Coleman finished his junior campaign with 52 receptions for 953 yards. He put together one of the best three-game stretches for a receiver last fall, tallying 24 receptions for 429 yards and five touchdowns in games against San Clemente, El Toro and Mission Viejo. Whoever ends up starting under center for Tesoro will benefit greatly from having Coleman line up on the outside.
8. Austin Liles, Orange Lutheran, Sr.
Though the Lancers used a triple-option attack last season, Liles (6-3, 190) still managed to finish 2015 with 34 grabs, 828 receiving yards and six touchdowns. His 24.4 yards per catch was among the best in the county. This season, Coach Chuck Petersen has installed a new passing scheme, and Liles, who recently committed to San Jose State, figures to be their go-to receiver. Liles caught the winning touchdown pass from highly regarded sophomore quarterback Ryan Hilinski as the Lancers captured the 7-on-7 passing tournrecenament at Huntington Beach in late July.
9. Jacob Huff, San Juan Hills, Sr.
Huff (5-11, 165) might have been the most underrated player in Orange County last season. He showed a knack for getting open and making plays as he led the area in receptions (82) and finished third in receiving yards (1,298). He was the only receiver to top the 100-yard plateau in seven games. With star quarterback Patrick O’Brien now at Nebraska, Huff will have to build a rapport with the team’s new starter, either Doug Jackson or Matt Rodriguez.
10. Taariq Johnson, Buena Park, Sr.
After transferring to Buena Park in the middle of the 2015 season, Johnson figures to play a much larger role for the Coyotes this fall. At 6-2, 210 pounds, the Cal-bound senior is one of the most physically gifted athletes in the Freeway League. Johnson showed flashes of his potential last year, making 34 catches for 477 yards and six touchdowns. That productivity should spike while he plays alongside a host of speedsters in the Coyotes’ spread attack.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Shaun Colamonico, Edison, Sr.; Christian Downey, Canyon, Jr.; James Fatasia, Katella, Sr.; Kyle Ford, Servite, So.; Olaijah Griffin, Mission Viejo, Jr.; Delon Hurt, Servite, Jr.; Dylan Laurent, Los Alamitos, Sr.; Tae Le, Corona del Mar, Jr.; Auston Locke, St. Margaret’s, Sr.; Bru McCoy, Mater Dei, So.; Brandon McKinney, Orange Lutheran, Sr.; Logan Montgomery, Laguna Hills, Sr.; Niko Remigio, Mater Dei, Jr.; Isaac Rex, San Clemente, Sr.; Matt Roach, Villa Park, Sr.
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OCVARSITY PRESEASON RANKINGS