When he was coming out of high school, Micah Howeth was a hidden gem in the Lone Star State that ended up signing with Oregon. But because of academics he was not able to qualify and ended up at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in Miami, Okla. Now that he's in his sophomore season the 6-foot-2, 250-pounder is heading back to Eugene and is ready to be a Duck.
"Oregon is getting itself a good player," NEO defensive coordinator Steve Patterson said. "He works hard both on and off the field to separate himself from the average player. We feel he's one of the best defensive ends in the nation."
Howeth was one of several players that earned recognition on Monday when Rivals.com announced its junior college rankings for the class of 2006. Howeth picked up a three-star ranking, showing a dramatic improvement from his senior season in high school.
"He's really grown," his coach said.
"He's was kind of raw, but he's worked hard in the weight room and has physically built himself into a player that should be able to play pretty quickly in the Pac 10. He's a real keeper."
Out of high school - Dallas (Texas) White - Howeth passed up scholarship offers from Alabama, Baylor, Kansas and Kansas State to stay steady for Oregon. He is still firm for Oregon, according to his coach.
"He's the type of kid if he wasn't going to Oregon everybody would be recruiting really heavily," Patterson said.
Beavers get a good one
Oregon isn't the only one that has dipped into the talented and deep junior college pool. Oregon State has gone to California and struck it rich with Dorian Smith, a 6-foot-3, 250-pound strongside defensive end from College of the Desert in Palm Desert.
Smith led his team with 12 sacks in 2004 and through his first three games he racked up 10 sacks.
"He's a really talented player and Oregon State got itself a star," Rivals.com junior college analyst Brad Hoiseth said. "He's the type of player that could continue to climb up the rankings as he continues to dominate."
Smith graduated from Birmingham High School in 2003 and originally went to Alabama A&M to work on his academics. Now that he's progressed in that department he's at College of the Desert and will graduate in December with two years to play two seasons.
Oregon State assistant Mark Banker recruited him. Banker has also landed a commitment from three-star offensive lineman Ryan Pohl out of Hawaii.
A lot to learn
Chaffey College tight end Gerald Washington committed almost immediately when USC offered him a scholarship in late May. The 6-foot-6, 253-pounder was a virtual unknown to both college coaches, recruiters and even opponents when he pledged to the Trojans.
Washington, who was ranked as a three-star junior college player, admits he was a little taken back by the USC offer at the time. As a freshman, Washington only caught 15 passes and he started playing football just a few years ago, but he caught USC's eye at a local combine where the tight end with the monster body ran a 4.6-second time in the 40-yard dash.
"I still have a lot to learn about the tight end position," Washington said. "I only played one year in high school (Vallejo) and one year here at Chaffey College."
Though Washington is raw he has all the potential to be a great one. Better yet for the Trojans, Washington has the discipline and the work ethic to fulfill his enormous upside. Washington is a mature young who served his country first before going to college by enlisting in the U.S. Navy for four years.
Washington is the type of player that USC has had outstanding success developing during their awesome run as the nation's No. 1 program.
Bradford battle gets interesting
Allen Bradford could be the nation's best running back, but instead he's ranked as the top player in California and the No. 1 outside linebacker in the country. With offers from almost everybody in the nation, Bradford looked far and wide at schools from coast-to-coast.
And in the end, he's decided to narrow his focus on Pac 10 schools - Cal, USC, UCLA and Oregon.
"I really like all three schools and all three schools are in California," the five-star linebacker said. "It will be between those three schools and Oregon. I will make my decision between those four schools."
It's not been a big secret that his family would prefer him to stay closer to home in Los Angeles, which means this could turn out to be another classic UCLA-USC battle. In past seasons some would think this is a slam dunk for the Trojans, but with the Bruins rolling up victories many believe UCLA has a great shot at landing him.
In fact, some might think UCLA is the team to beat. But with official visits still on the horizon the battle to land Bradford is sure to have even more twists and turns.
December 9 a big date for Zona
It doesn't get any bigger than December 9 for the Arizona Wildcats. That's when Mike Stoops and his staff are expected to play host to some big hitters. Junior college offensive linemen Mike Gibson - a very solid three-star player that might be under-ranked - and Fenuki Tupou - one of the best in the country - are slated to be in Tucson. They'll be joined by three-star receiver Tyquan Knox and three-star receiver Terrell Turner. Also on tap to visit is big-time Texas sleeper Phillip Burley. Burley's stock has really shot up after an impressive senior season.
ASU set to get visit
Chris Lewis of Fresno (Calif.) Clovis West is one of the up-and-coming prospects in California. His stock has continued to increase throughout his senior season and Arizona State has been with him for quite some time - earning an October 28 official visit for the Washington game. Lewis has offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA, UNLV, Fresno State, Nevada and TCU.
"I pretty much like everybody," Lewis said. "I'm going to those schools on a visit because I want to see their campuses, and learn more about them."
Stanford, UCLA and Arizona are all working Norco, Calif., three-star fullback Toby Gerhart extremely hard. The 6-foot-1, 228-pounder rushed for 441 yards and scored six touchdowns last week. He's now within 600 yards of breaking Lorenzo Booker's state record for rushing yards Cal quarterback commitment Kevin Riley saw his team drop a second and surprising game this past weekend when it fell to Southridge 12-7. Riley finished the game with 210 yards passing.