This is the beginning of azcentral sports’ Top 150 high school football prospects for the 2017 class.
This is a loaded list. There were quite a few changes from last year’s original 2017 list, including a new No. 1.
Note: Spring football practices begin on May 2 for most teams in the state.
Editor’s note:Last year, Obert unveiled his Top 100 prospects in the 2017 class before their junior seasons. This is a new list, with new rankings. He will unveil a new batch of ten each week.
RELATED: More high school recruiting coverage
No. 30 Kade Warner, Scottsdale Desert Mountain, WR, 6-2, 205
Led the state last season in catches with 96. His next move will be to show that he is more than a possession receiver. He’ll improve on his 12-yards-a-catch with improved speed and quickness. He is the son of former NFL MVP quarterback Kurt Warner, who is Desert Mountain’s offensive coordinator.
No. 29 Eddie Rivas, Mountain Pointe, OL, 6-4, 280
Continued to work hard in the weight room and on his footwork since helping Mountain Pointe to an unbeaten regular season. One of the best motors coach Norris Vaughan has had among the many strong linemen to come out of Mountain Pointe.
No. 28 Dalton Cash, Pinnacle, TE, 6-5, 235
A converted offensive lineman, Cash had a breakout junior season at tight end with 20 catches for 346 yards and five TDs. He’ll have one of the top quarterback throwing to him in sophomore-to-be Spencer Rattler. Cash has good hands with speed and is an exceptional blocker.
No. 27 Tehran Thomas, Goodyear Desert Edge, Athlete, 5-10, 190
This two-year starter at quarterback might be the most dynamic running quarterback in the state. He is working with local QB coach Mike Giovando and has shown improved accuracy and arm strength. He could be a major surprise in May. He ran for 1,500 yards and passed for 1,000 each of the past two years. He led Desert Edge to a win over Paradise Valley in the Division III state championship game. He has an Army offer and possesses a 3.3 grade-point average.
No. 26 Brandon Ruiz, Gilbert Williams Field, K, 5-10, 170
Last week, he showed off the strongest leg in the state with a 72-yard field goal during a workout. He is ranked No.3 in the country by Chris Sailer Kicking for the 2017 class. He will be hitting several college camps this summer and should be among the most sought after high school kickers in the nation.
No. 25 Tavion Allen, Laveen Cesar Chavez, FS, 6-0, 165
Allen made All-Arizona last season when he had 10 interceptions, taking three back for touchdowns. He had three interception, two returned for TDs, in a state playoff game against Sabino. Very smart player who makes good grades and is versatile enough to play corner. He runs track and has best marks of 11.2 seconds in the 100 meters, 22.6 in the 200 and 43 feet, 3 inches in the triple jump. He seeks his first offer. Once that happens, it will blow up.
No. 24 T.J. Green, Chandler, RB, 5-11, 190
Coach Shaun Aguano expects Green’s recruiting to blow up in the spring. He has one offer from Hawaii. He has gotten bigger since his breakout junior season when he ran for 1,148 yards and 17 TDs, averaging 10 yards a carry, after Chase Lucas’ season got derailed with a knee injury in the second game of the season. Aguano compares Green to former Chandler running back Paul Perkins, who went on to star at UCLA.
No. 23 Johnny Johnson, Chandler, WR, 6-1, 190
Picked up his first offer from Nevada. Johnson emerged in his first season at Chandler with 37 catches for 552 yards as a third option. He’ll become one of the Wolves’ bigger weapons next season. When college coaches come around in May, his recruiting will take off. He has different gears and exceptional moves. Extends the play after catching the ball.
No. 22 Rhett Rodriguez, Tucson Catalina Foothills, QB, 6-1, 190
He has committed to his dad’s University of Arizona team. He will become coach Jeff Scurran’s first four-year starting quarterback. He threw for 35 touchdowns and five interceptions, completing 68 percent of his passes last season. He nearly had 2,000 rushing yards with only one fumble. And he’s a 4.0 student.
No. 21 Drew Dixon, Tucson Sabino, QB, 6-5, 205
He has picked up offers from Arizona, Hawaii and San Jose State, but which position he’ll play in college is anybody’s guess. He has been a dynamic dual-threat quarterback for Sabino, but he could transition to receiver or safety, he is that good of an athlete. He will use the spring and next season to show he can be a Division I college quarterback. UA, Hawaii and San Jose State all have offered him as a quarterback. “He’s a Pac-12 level athlete,” coach Jay Campos said.
No. 20 Kyle Soelle, Saguaro, TE/OLB, 6-3, 215
It didn’t take long after arriving at Saguaro from Scottsdale Notre Dame for the spring semester for his recruiting to take off. He quickly picked up offers from Nevada, San Jose State, Hawaii and UNLV. And he’s yet to line up for the Sabercats in spring ball. But he was Notre Dame’s best athlete last football season and will be one of the more versatile players next season at Saguaro. Coach Jason Mohns will have fun with the many ways he can use Soelle, who could line up as an H-back and be used in double tight ends formation with a power run game.
No 19 Parker Walton, Scottsdale Chaparral, LB, 6-1, 215
Versatile, instinctual linebacker who can play middle and outside. Good cover skills. Plays with a chip on his shoulder. He will also be a running backs his senior season. He has been Chaparral’s defensive MVP the last two season. And he shows up on special teams.
No. 18 My-King Johnson, Tempe, DE/OLB, 6-4, 225
He picked up offers from Nevada and UNLV in March and figures to continue to ride the recruiting momentum with strong grades coming back. He is quick and explosive, a sack machine for the Buffaloes since his sophomore season.
No. 17 Creston Cooledge, Surprise Valley Vista, OL, 6-5, 270
He picked up his first offer from Columbia, but he is expected to get looks from major colleges during spring ball after coming off a fractured foot that kept him out the last four games of his junior season. Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, Arizona State will take good looks at him. UC Davis and Brown have come in. He intends to show that he is 100 percent back from the injury. He started last season at 280. He has leaned up and gotten stronger. He is bench pressing 335 pounds and squatting 450. He recently competed in the Nike Opening Region and Rivals Under Armour camp in Southern California. He feels much stronger and quicker now.
No. 16 Ben Thomas, Phoenix Pinnacle, OL, 6-3, 300
Amazing motor, Thomas, who plays both ways, has three Division I offers. He is getting high interest, according to coach Dana Zupke, from TCU, BYU, Colorado and Utah. Zupke calls him a dominant offensive lineman.
No. 15 Chance Brewington, Chandler Hamilton, WR, 6-3, 190
With offers from New Mexico State, UNLV and Idaho, Brewington could be one of the hottest recruits in May. After injuries slowed him down his sophomore season, the son of a former pro baseball pitcher broke out big last season for the Huskies with 39 catches for 744 yards and six touchdowns. He is big, athletic and fearless. He is not afraid to cross the middle for tough catches.
No. 14 Corey Stephens, Saguaro, OL, 6-3, 285
He made All-Arizona as a junior, leading one of the best offensive lines in the state. His quick feet and strength keep improving. He’ll become a hot commodity in May after already receiving offers from Memphis, Columbia and Louisville.
No. 13 Jonathan Nathaniel, Basha, OL, 6-5, 265
He is starting to build up his recruiting resume after getting his first Pac-12 offer last month from Washington State. He has five Division I offers as of March 28. He is an exceptional pass blocker at tackle with good feet and hands. Coach Gerald Todd believes Nathaniel will be among the state’s top five recruited offensive linemen in the state.
No. 12 Jared Poplawski, Saguaro, TE, 6-4, 225
Offers from Arizona State, Hawaii, Memphis and UNLV will have lots of college coaches out in May to see how much more he has progressed since a breakout junior season in which he had 32 catches for 438 yards and six TDs for the 12-2 state championship Sabercats. Poplawki can play H-back. He is explosive and catches everything in traffic.
No. 11 Andrew Nichols, Peoria Centennial, TE/DE, 6-3, 235
Tremendous athlete keeps racking up the Ivy League offers. Cornell was recently added to Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Brown. Army has also offered him. He is versatile enough to play either tight end or defensive end in college. He had an incredible state playoff run last season, helping the Coyotes capture the Division I title with 7 ½ sacks in four games. He has Ivy League grades with major-college abilities.
No. 10 Bryce Gilbert, Gilbert Higley, TE, 6-5, 230
His recruiting began to blow up in the first two weeks of February with four offers, including Arizona, Arizona State and Nebraska. He added offers since then from Louisville, Oregon State and Columbia. Penn State and Duke are evaluating his transcripts before offering. Since catching 65 passes his junior season, he has put on 20 pounds. He is a big, physical receiver talented enough to play wideout, which is where coach Eddy Zubey has him in Higley’s spread offense. He has exceptional hands and athleticism.
No. 9 Kolby Taylor, Chandler, WR, 5-11, 190
Taylor is up to double-digit offers, including four Pac-12 schools – ASU, UA, Oregon State and, most recently, Utah. He is on pace to come back this summer from a broken tibia suffered early in the state semifinals against Desert Ridge. He led the Wolves in receiving last season with 69 catches for 879 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Watch: Kolby Taylor highlights
No. 8 Odua Isibor, Phoenix St. Mary’s, DE, 6-6, 215
Isibor began to make a recruiting impact late in his basketball season, gaining UA and USC offers. He still is raw but colleges see athleticism and a chance to get stronger and bigger. He has the drive to get better.
Watch: Odua Isibor highlights
No. 7 Chase Cord, Peoria Sunrise Mountain, QB, 6-3, 190
Cord didn’t pick up his first Division I offer until late October, from Colorado. In the past two months, he has had offers from Indiana, Iowa State, Illinois, UTEP and Nevada. He had more than 4,000 total yards last season when he passed for 3,173 yards and 52 touchdowns and ran for 1,059 yards and 13 scores. Cord is a great dual-threat prospect.
Watch: Chase Cord highlights
No. 6 K.J. Jarrell, Saguaro, S, 6-2, 180
Jarrell’s recruiting has picked up lately. He has 13 offers, including ASU, UA and UCLA. He is a big hitter with speed, skills and range. He benefited last spring when college scouts came out to Saguaro to watch 2016 cornerback Byron Murphy. Jarrell’s skills were so apparent that he picked up five Pac-12 offers in two days.
Watch: K.J. Jarrell highlights
No. 5 Tyler Johnson, Gilbert Highland, TE, 6-4, 245
Coming off an All-Arizona season, Johnson oozes big-time college potential. It’s a matter of getting him to challenge himself every play. He is blessed with tremendous talent. He can move from tight end to wide receiver. He has big-play capabilities. He is even a threat to return punts for touchdowns.
Watch: Tyler Johnson highlights
No. 4 Isaiah Pola-Mao, Phoenix Mountain Pointe, S, 6-4, 195
Pola-Mao is a two-time All-Arizona player who has offers from most of the Pac-12, including ASU and UA. Nebraska also has offered. He is a big, physical safety with great range and a knack for intercepting passes. He anticipates passes as well as any safety in the state. He will be a major college impact safety before he’s done.
Watch: Isaiah Pola-Mao highlights
No. 3 Jalen Harris, Mesa Desert Ridge, DE/WR, 6-4, 210
This is a huge jump for someone who was barely on the radar entering his junior season. But Harris is an athletic freak who had a monster junior season, helping the Jaguars reach the Division I state championship game. He could go to college as either a wide receiver or a defensive end/outside linebacker. He has been receiving lots of interest lately, including offers from UA, ASU, San Diego State and Oregon State.
Watch: Jalen Harris highlights
No. 2 Ryan Kelley, Chandler Basha, QB, 6-4, 187
Kelley committed to Oregon after his junior season ended, but he hasn’t stopped working. He has grown an inch and added 12 pounds. He is rated by ESPN as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the nation, which shows how far he has come as a guy who can make plays with his legs. Kelley averaged more than 300 total yards a game last season.
Watch: Ryan Kelley highlights
No. 1 Austin Jackson, Phoenix North Canyon, OL, 6-5, 260
Jackson is an athletic tackle who can get down the field and make blocks. He holds his blocks well, is very mobile and has quick feet. He already has SEC offers from Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M and Georgia. Florida could be the next school to offer. He currently holds 23 offers, including ASU, UA, Oregon, USC and California. Add offers from Notre Dame, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, and he is clearly high on the recruiting list of most major colleges in the country. Three-sport athlete who helped North Canyon’s basketball team go deep in the state tournament. He also throw the discus and shot put in track and field.
Watch: Austin Jackson highlights
Reach Obert at email@example.com or 602-460-1710. Follow him at twitter.com/azc_obert.