California is loaded with high school football talent and top college programs flock to the state every year to fill their rosters.
While there are a ton of Power 5 caliber players in the area, there are even more players who can excel at the FCS, Division 3 and NAIA levels.
The players listed below are talented players that vary in their college appeal. Some of them have Division 3 offers but are worthy of FCS offers. Some of them have FCS offers but could easily play for a Group of 5 school. Some of them have no offers at all, but should.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about six Southern California sleepers to keep an eye on this upcoming season.
For my birthday on September 18th, I published a free article highlighting a new batch of sleepers.
Here are a few more sleepers in the Southern California area to watch when football starts in 2021. This time, they all happen to be in Orange County.
Hayden Cook, Running Back, Capistrano Valley, Mission Viejo
Weight: 190 pounds
Analysis: Cook did not get the lion’s share of the carries for Capo Valley last season, but he definitely made an impression on film when he did get the ball. He rushed for 5.5 yards per carry and two touchdowns for the Cougars and have some big kick returns. With three offensive lineman returning and a slight dip in competition for Capo Valley, Cook has 1,000 all-purpose yard potential. He has offers from Lake Erie College and Whittier College.
Giulio Fernandes, Linebacker, El Toro, Lake Forest
Weight: 220 pounds
Analysis: Fernandes has the third most tackles for any returning player in the Southern Section (155). He plays inside linebacker for an El Toro team that won one game on the field last season and was overmatched frequently. He reads his guards well, scrapes to the hole before the lineman can get to the second level and is a very good tackler. Fernandes is very fast to the flat on short passes and takes good angles in pursuit. He has offers from Benedictine College, Lake Erie College and Whittier College along with a Division 1 offer from San Diego. I expect him to gain some FBS offers this season.
Straight out that bottom, nobody gave nothing to me… Hill Work💰 pic.twitter.com/vugsqDHiZX
— Giulio Fernandes (@FernandesGiulio) September 9, 2020
Ahmed Hassanein, Defensive Tackle, Loara, Anaheim
Weight: 270 pounds
Analysis: Greg Biggins of 247Sports called Hassanein one of the biggest sleepers out west. He grew up in Egypt and has only played football for two years but has drawn a lot of positive attention during offseason camps. He was All-Garden Grove League and All-CIF as a junior and has offers from Azusa Pacific and Northern Colorado. Biggins believes Hassanein is a no-brainer Power 5 conference type recruit and based on how he is performing among the top linemen in the nation at these camps, he may be correct. Colorado, Fresno State and UCLA are talking to him and I’m sure others will join during his senior season.
Peter Kelso, Defensive Back, Capistrano Valley Christian, San Juan Capistrano
Weight: 185 pounds
Analysis: Kelso is a tall cornerback who quite frankly physically dominates the receivers that Capo Valley Christian typically plays. Honestly, it doesn’t impress me when he overpowers a receiver from Webb or Mark Keppel and gets an interception against a 5-foot-8 receiver. But he does impress me when he blankets receivers from St. Margaret’s in man coverage, two of which are slated to play Division 1 college football. He functions well in man coverage and zone coverage and he holds his own against top recruits in OC Elite 7-on-7 camps and when groups of players get together to run routes. He won’t be able to physically dominate guys in college the way he does in high school, but he has a diverse skillset that will translate well. Kelso has an offer from Hamline University.
Kellan McGrath, Wide Receiver, Dana Hills, Dana Point
Weight: 185 pounds
Analysis: McGrath stands out on film and was the best skill player for Dana Hills last season. In early games against lesser opponents, he was fast enough to burn cornerbacks in man coverage and win nearly all 50/50 balls thrown his way. Later in the season against top teams in his league like Aliso Niguel, San Juan Hills and Trabuco Hills, he showed his ability as a route runner, finding holes in zones and beating guys on double moves. McGrath has elite speed and gets yards after the catch against anyone he plays. He was First Team All-Sea View League on a last place team as a junior and will play in a much weaker Pacific Coast League next season, where he should get 1,000 yards receiving and 10-12 touchdowns. He had five catches over 60 yards last season and had over 115 yards receiving in half of his games. I expect him to get Division II and III offers during his senior season.
— Kellan McGrath (@McgrathKellan) August 15, 2020
Caiden Robertson, Linebacker, San Clemente, San Clemente
Weight: 220 pounds
Analysis: Robertson will be a three-year starter for one of the top defenses in the state and led the team in tackles last season. That should be enough to warrant collegiate attention. When he blitzes, he is under control and does not overpursue. In the running game, he fills his gaps before the offensive linemen can even think about leaving his combo block. You can tell by watching him that he studies film hard and is familiar with the other team’s tendencies by game day. Robertson appears to be the leader of the defense and what I love about him is that he makes big stops on 3rd and 4th downs. His football IQ is off the charts. He has an offer from Lake Erie College and should get FBS offers during his senior year.
San Clemente comes up with its 2nd fourth down stop of the game. Robertson stuffs Jefferson and Rancho Verde. San Clemente takes over at the RV43. 0-0. @CaidenRobertso2 @SCHSTritons @Tritonfootball pic.twitter.com/twALUtPKRS
— SouthOCsports (@SouthOCsports) November 16, 2019