On the “Petros and Money” sports talk show, Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said the talent on the field for the Bellflower St. John Bosco-Santa Ana Mater Dei high school football game at the Rose Bowl was the best he’s seen, better than any high school game played in Texas, Florida or Ohio.
St. John Bosco (12-1) has one game left — the CIF Open Division state championship bowl game on Saturday night against San Mateo Serra (13-1) at Saddleback College.
With 45 players in the St. John Bosco program having scholarship offers, let’s take a look at players who could be making an immediate impact at the college level next fall.
Deven Bryant, linebacker: The Washington commit is similar to former Long Beach Poly, UCLA and NFL linebacker Jayon Brown. At 6 feet tall with speed and great instincts, he leads the Braves in tackles and is the perfect spy to watch over mobile quarterbacks.
“He can play sideline to sideline,” St. John Bosco coach Jason Negro said. “He’s super cerebral. He’s so prepared prior to the snap.”
Matayo Uiagalelei, defensive end: At 6-5 and 265 pounds, with agility and strength, Uiagalelei is everyone’s must-have recruit. Besides causing trouble on defense, he’s shown himself to be an outstanding tight end.
“Matayo is a game-changer,” Negro said. “He’s a unicorn when it comes to size, speed, strength, athleticism.”
Ty Lee, safety: The UCLA commit is a model of consistency. He does whatever he’s asked to do, whether blitzing, making tackles on running backs or covering receivers.
“He’s got a lot of versatility,” Negro said. “He can play the back end of a defense and also in the box for the run game or blitz.”
Jahlil McClain, receiver: One of the stars from the Braves’ 24-22 win over Mater Dei was McClain, who went airborne to make an incredible diving catch.
“He’s a talent,” Negro said. “He’s an explosive guy with really good hands. His athleticism is off the charts.”
Deandre Moore, receiver: When he gets into open space, he’s tough to stop. He looks capable of playing any receiver position and causing havoc.
“He’s a difference-maker,” Negro said. “He’s a big-play threat.”
Pierce Clarkson, quarterback: This was his first season as the full-time starter, and he showed improvement each game. There’s no doubt he has the mobility and arm to be successful. As he gains experience in reading defenses, the sky is the limit. He’s committed to Louisville.
“That’s where his greatest development is going to come, understanding defenses and decision-making,” Negro said.
Sean Na’a, offensive tackle: That was No. 74, Na’a, on the key block to give St. John Bosco a game-clinching first down against Mater Dei. A left tackle who used to play at Westlake Village Westlake, Na’a was part of a line group that gave up zero sacks against the Monarchs.
“He’s very underrated,” Negro said. “He can play early at the collegiate level.”
There’s plenty more players who will be heard from. Cornerback Aaron Williams has come on strong in the last month after transferring from Corona Centennial. Center Sean Haney (6-2, 280) has been consistent blocking the best Division 1 players. Defensive tackle Vaka Hansen (6-1, 295) is a roadblock in the middle that any college team could use.
Then there’s the class of 2024. Safety Peyton Woodyard (6-1, 194) continues to get stronger, faster and better. Linebacker Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa (6-3, 226) resembles an NFL player at times. Running back Cameron Jones (6-2, 232) is a star in the making.
So get your high school photos taken now, because one day, you’ll be seeing them on ESPN, Fox, CBS, NBC, ABC and whatever broadcaster covers college and pro games.