Friday Film Session: 9/22/17

Ralph Amsden, Publisher
Arizona Varsity
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A continuation of a feature I started in the spring, where every Friday I'll take a look at the HUDL film that's sitting in my inbox at azhsfootball@gmail.com and give an honest assessment of what I see, and/or highlight a couple of things I think you need to see.

This week I'm taking a look at: Kris Jackson (Mesa), Max Wilhite (Desert Edge), Sean Anderson (Verrado), Marques White (Brophy), Bobby Carlon (Moon Valley), Xavier Watkins (Paradise Valley), Devin Larsen (Queen Creek), Alec Smith (Maricopa), Spencer Brasch (Higley), Ricky Manning (Notre Dame), Jacob Wood (Highland), Isaiah Kellum (La Joya), Isaiah Mercado (Shadow Ridge), Braiden Manusina (Mountain Ridge), Francis Kumi (Red Mountain), and Caleb Easley (San Tan- CAA).

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Kris Jackson (Mesa)

Position: RB

Class: 2018

Height: 5-11

Weight: 210

What I liked: The D1-level Arizona running back is a rare breed. Joe Logan, TJ Green and Zidane Thomas have all put in work to change the perspective of ballcarriers from the desert, and Kris Jackson might just be the least talked about of the bunch. Jackson has the size to be an every-down back, and his no-nonsense running style helps maximize his production. He's a downhill runner that would rather have 20 extra yards than seek out a defender to put a shoulder into, and he's athletic enough to be a serious threat in both the return and passing game. When watching Jackson's film I see shades of a slightly bigger Keegan Herring, a Peoria standout who went on to rush for 2,600 yards and 20 TDs in four years at Arizona State.

Max Wilhite (Desert Edge)

Position: OL

Class: 2018

Height: 6-4

Weight: 300

What I liked: I've been watching Max for three years, and watching college coaches pass on production in favor of potential. There's a (necessary) arrogance to most college position coaches that tells them they can make a beatiful sculpture out of any piece of clay, therefore, they want the biggest pieces of clay around. Wilhite is probably a shade under the 6-4 he's listed at, and that explains why the mauling interior lineman isn't juggling 10 offers at the moment. Wilhite is a smart player that understands that it's his job to open lanes, and turn defenders. My favorite portion of the above mid-season highlight is at 1:55, when Wilhite prematurely attempts to move to the next level while blocking on a pitch, realizes it, and then doubles back to finish what he started.

Sean Anderson (Verrado)

Position: OL

Class: 2018

Height: 6-8

Weight: 300

What I liked: Sean Anderson is leaner and stronger than last year, and has undergone a similar transformation to Tanner Hawthorne (Centennial, now at Purdue) and Thayne Jackson (Gilbert, now at Montana) from junior to senior year. I've see Anderson on the sidelines of ASU homegames on at least four occasions, which tells me this is a kid whp can't wait to spend his Saturdays in pads. I know he's visiting Montana, and selfishly, I almost want him to pull the trigger given what they did for Chandler's William Poehls, a similarly sized prospect who is now with the Jacksonvill Jaguars. My worry about Anderson was quickness off the ball, but as you can see from th above mid-season highlight, that's not an issue in either the run or pass game.

Marques White (Brophy)

Position: DB

Class: 2018

Height: 6-1

Weight: 190

What I liked: If I could use one word to describe Marques White, it would be "involved." Once region play started for Brophy during White's junior year, he was always around the ball. In the last four games of 2016 alone, White had 20 solo tackles, 4 intercepions and a fumble recovery. 2017 has been more of the same. White ahs 38 solo tackles, 4 sacks, and interception and 3 fumble recoveries in the first half of this season. The above highlight takes place against Westview, and it's eye-opening. At :30 seconds, where any lesser intelligent and more brutish football player caught up with tunnel vision and the potential to knock a quarterack into the next dimension, White has the presence of mind to go for the strip. At 1:22, he high points an interception with a receiver draped on his back. By 2:09, you'll start to wonder if White isn't more suited to be a pass rushing OLB at the next level.

Bobby Carlon (Moon Valley)

Position: WR/DB

Class: 2018

Height: 5-10

Weight: 150

What I liked: Moon Valley folks seem to be the best at following instructions and getting me film to review each week. This week I was told by multiple people to take a look at Bobby Carlon, who absolutely went off against Prescott last week. 4 catches, 176 yards, 3 touchdowns, and an interception on defense. Above is that Prescott film. I'd also recommend checking out his film against Seton Catholic, just to watch him help turn a broken play into a 77 yard reception.

Xavier Watkins (Paradise Valley)

Position: WR

Class: 2018

Height: 6-0

Weight: 165

What I liked: A 1,000 yard receiver as a junior, Watkins went into this season with a target on his back as a go-to wideout, and has still managed to produce, with an average of 110 yards receiving and a TD per game so far this year. The thing I noticed about Watkins' film is he's good at finding holes in the coverage, but as you can see at :32 seconds, and again at 1:45, he doesn't need to be open to come down with the ball.

Devin Larsen (Queen Creek)

Position: QB

Class: 2019

Height: 6-5

Weight: 205

What I liked: Having watched Larsen in person twice now, I support head coach Travis Schureman's assessment that Larsen's ceiling is as high as any of the local QB's that already boast D1 Power-5 offers. Watch the throw at :18 seconds, remind yourself that he's a legitimate 6-5, and tell me that's not a D1 quarterback. Now, Larsen does have a "Sam Kelleresque" shot put delivery that looks strange when he's got a solid pocket to work with, but seems to serve him well when he's on the move. I'm not the best evaluator of mechanics when it comes to throwing motions- all I know is when I see something that works. The things that work for guys like Keller and Philip Rivers are usually the exact things private coaches try and steer some players away from- but all that matters at the end of the day is that you find the open receiver. Larsen can do that.

Alec Smith (Maricopa)

Position: QB

Class: 2018

Height: 5-11

Weight: 200

What I liked: One of the state's more efficient QBs, especially when you toss out the Centennial results (because honestly, who has actually looked good against Centennial?). Completes 73% of his passes with 7 TDs and 2 interceptions. You can tell he knows Coach McDonald's offense well, knows the abilities of the weapons surrounding him, and could be the one to deliver the Rams a playoff berth. As a prospect it's hard to tell where Smith fits in. There's a couple bigtime throws in here, especially the ones at 3:16 and 4:47, but there's long windup when he throws that I'm sure could probably be shortened up.

Spencer Brasch (Higley)

Position: QB

Class: 2019

Height: 6-4

Weight: 190

What I liked: Brasch is the QB that Higley probably thought they were getting in Tyler Bloom before his injury led to the three-year reign of Mason Crossland. He's tall, athletic, and makes some throws that will make you hold your breath. I was surprised by the natural feel he seems to have for the game, and the confidence he displays in his teammates to take some of the risks he does being that he's a new starter on a team with very high expectations. A game-manager at QB could lead this team, but Brasch is more than that- he's an assett to the ofense that I'll be tracking more closely from here on out.

Ricky Manning (Notre Dame)

Position: DB

Class: 2018

Height: 6-2

Weight: 180

What I liked: So I met Ricky Manning before I ever watched him play. This is a nice kid. The kind of person you'd want as a friend, employee, sibling, whatever. In my opinion the world needs more Ricky Mannings. That's why I was shocked when I finally made it out to a game to see that Manning is also a punishing defensive back who is as aggressive on the field as he is unassuming off of it. I love that he included several examples of playmaking in the kickoff and return game, whether throwing blocks or getting around them, in his highlight package. In my opinion, he's showcasing exactly what coaches are looking for.

 Jacob Wood (Highland)

Position: LB/RB

Class: 2018

Height: 5-11

Weight: 210

What I liked: Jacob Wood's highlight showed me one of the reasons Highland is off to a 5-0 start. Wood' field awareness on offense and his anticipation on defense shows the kind of intelligent player that colleges build on. I like him as a linebacker for the way that he runs through the ballcarrier, and look forward to seeing him in person against Perry.

Isaiah Kellum (La Joya)

Position: WR/DB

Class: 2019

Height: 5-10

Weight: 150

What I liked: This is my first time watching Kellum on film, and I'm genuinely impressed with his fundamentally sound tackling from the defensive back position, as well as intrigued with his ability as a ballcarrier on the end-around plays La Joya runs. I'll be watching this promising junior from here on out.

Isaiah Mercado (Shadow Ridge)

Position: OL

Class: 2020

Height: 6-2

Weight: 285

What I liked: Talk about baptism by fire- Mercado's initial varsity playing time has come against four undefeated teams and the interior giants of Valley Vista. I included his Kellis film above so you can see that he's sort of got this offensive line thing down despite his relative inexperience. He has good drive, turns his man, finishes his blocks, and the thing that surprised me most- he's quick off the line and moving from block to block. There's no telling if he'll physically grow into a college tackle prospect, but if he continues to progress on the skillset he has now, I wouldn't be surprised to see him at east playing bigtime football on the interior of an offensive line 3 years from now.

Braiden Manusina (Mountain Ridge)

Position: LB

Class: 2019

Height: 6-1

Weight: 210

What I liked: I need updated film on Manusina. This Tucson film shows a little of what various people have told me- that Mountain Ridge has one of the most aggressive, talented junior linebackers in the state. He's currently averaging 14 tackles per game, and it'll be interesting to see what he does tonight against Chandler.

Francis Kumi (Red Mountain)

Position: LB/DE

Class: 2018

Height: 6-5

Weight: 190

What I liked: I included Kumi's film against Boulder Creek because there's a play at :40 seconds that sparked my imagination. I can see him 3-4 years from now, plus 40 pounds of muscle, doing the same thing on Saturdays. He's got great size and length, and can play standing up, or with his hand in the dirt. It'll just be a matter of production on the field, and whether coaches believe he projects physically to the next level.

 Caleb Easley (San Tan- CAA)

Position: WR/DB

Class: 2018

Height: 5-10

Weight: 150

What I liked: There's talent everywhere. Easley is at San Tan, a Canyon Athletic Association Charter school, and he's got the type of speed that maybe 4-5 other players in the state have. From his highlight you can tell the competition isn't the best available, but you can also see him really turn on the jets on a couple of occasions- and that's a trait that translates to any level of football.

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