2017 High School Notes & Nuggets

We are on the count down to National Letter of Intent Day. Most of the local players have already made their college decisions but some of the higher-end prospects are still, at least publicly, weighing their options. Recruiting continues to evolve with technology and so many different ways of communication in our digital era so let’s start this week with…

Hey, Thank You…Some of the state’s best prep programs don’t need to buy billboards around the Valley to promote their product, they simply open their social media platforms. What started, possibly by accident, has become commonplace when distinguished college guests arrive on campus.

“It’s an advertisement for their program,” Publisher of ArizonaVarsity.com on the Rivals network Ralph Amsden said to Sports360AZ.com. “If they really wanted to thank [these coaches] they have their phone numbers…instead it serves as a form of branding for both the high school and the college doing the recruiting.”

“It’s like that scene from Anchorman,” Amsden explains. “Where Ron Burgundy shouts, ‘Hey everybody, come see how good I look’ before doing a cannonball into the pool. Parents want to send their 8th graders to schools they feel will give them the most opportunities. It’s a passive form of recruiting which has seemingly paid off.”

The times they are a changin’. These coaches, especially in the ultra-competitive East Valley, need to evolve socially before they get left behind.

“This is a brilliant strategy,” Sports360AZ.com Director of Social Strategy Greg Esposito said. “The key to any good marketing is to be at the right place at the right time. For high schoolers, that’s social media. If you can get a leg up in promoting your program where your next future star could be watching you should do it.”

No (Extension) Cord Needed…One of the better feel-good stories of the 2016 season was that of Sunrise Mountain quarterback Chase Cord whose diligence and hard work paid off in a big senior season. The talented duel-threat player, who committed to Boise State last May, had a big weekend playing in the Blue-Grey All American Game.

Now it’s time to relax and enjoy the rest of his senior year without the pressure and, at times, indecision many players face with the LOI clock ticking.

“It’s a good feeling,” Cord said to Sports360AZ.com. “Knowing I am locked in with a school that thinks so highly of me. [I’m] very excited to sign on February 1st to such a prestigious school. You never know what you can achieve when you put your mind to it.”

Speaking of Sunrise…Keep an eye on one of Cord’s teammates in 2017. Jay Anderson was a Swiss Army Knife last season as a sophomore with over 700 yards receiving and eight scores. He added three rushing touchdowns and even threw for two more. With Cord gone look for Anderson to assume an even bigger role in the Mustangs’ offense moving forward. Anderson is a difference-maker in the return game, as well. Could be a sleeper D-1 prospect with still two years left to play.

Jacked Up…Once again it looks like NAU is putting together a solid in-state class, especially at wide receiver. Two of the most productive players in Arizona last fall, Basha’s Terrell Brown and Williams Fields’ Justis Stokes, committed to be Lumberjacks.

“I chose NAU because I’ve grown up around the program,” Stokes told Sports360AZ.com. “Throughout high school I’ve played up there in their [7-on-7’s]. I’ve learned a lot from [Wide Receivers] Coach [Aaron] Pflugrad. The team and the coaches are very structured.”

Hearing the ‘Jacks are also heavily pursuing Hamilton’s Chance Brewington who had nearly 1,000 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns for Steve Belles last season.

Wrestling With Success…Williams Field senior Shavez Hawkins has a chance to win two state titles in just a matter of months. In the fall he rushed for nine touchdowns and caught two more for the Black Hawks. Now he’s the second-ranked wrestler in the 170-pound weight class.

As a junior Hawkins was the state runner-up in the 145-pound class. He lost by a single point. Last year he finished 49-3. This year he’s 48-2 with his only two losses coming to out of state wrestlers. That’s getting it done.

Down To Two…Cesar Chavez appears close to naming Jim Rattay’s replacement. I’m hearing the Champions will decide between former Basha head coach Gerald Todd and Manny “JR” Alcantar who resigned at Dysart in late December. Whoever gets the gig will have the benefit of 6-foot-4, 240-pound Mike Rogers who was nearly unstoppable as a junior tallying close to 2300 total yards and 25 total touchdowns (22 rushing).

Meanwhile, Arcadia has been busy. The Titans are conducting more interviews this week and have narrowed their list down to three names I’ve been told.