While the 2022 high school football season does not start until Aug. 19 for smaller schools and Sept. 2 for larger schools, the recruiting season for NCAA and NAIA football schools hardly slowed down. Here’s a look at the most recruited players from schools West Valley Preps covers.
The top 10 Northwest Valley recruits of the class of 2023 are:
Offers: Arizona, Arizona State, California, Colorado, Colorado State, Fresno State, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, Northern Arizona, Oregon, Oregon State, San Diego State, Texas, UCLA, USC, Utah State, Washington State and Wisconsin
Gardner has 21 Division 1 offers in all, and 15 of those are from the Power Five conferences — aka the schools that fill TV screens every Saturday and the rankings every Sunday. In June Gardner visited Wisconsin, Michigan, Oregon and Texas so he looks likely to head to one of those name brand programs.
Gardner leads a bumper crop for the West Valley overall, with more than 10 seniors to be owning a Division I offer. More than that, though, he is the premier big man in an unprecedented trio of lineman in the region. Other than an elite quarterback, players to protect the quarterback or pressure the quarterback at an the elite level, like Gardner, are at a premium. The local class of 2023 crystallizes this trend.
Offers: Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, California, Colorado, Colorado State, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan State, Nevada, Northern Arizona, Northwestern, Oregon State, San Diego State, Utah, Utah State, Washington, Washington State and West Virginia
Verbal Commitment: Northwestern May 17
Doost is listed as an offensive guard but could end up at tackle with his frame. The big man stood out as a top offensive line prospect since his sophomore season. He’s not too far behind Gardner with his 19 total offers and 12 Power Five offers.
The difference? He made a trip to Evanston, Ill., just outside Chicago, with the third of the Northwest Valley bigs — and quickly committed to the Big Ten football program with top tier academics.
Offers: Arizona, California, Colorado, Northern Arizona, Northwestern, Washington State
Verbal Commitment: Northwestern May 15
Roberts may not have as many offers as the other two big-time bigs, but he had quality over quantity. Five of his six offers were from Power 5 schools. The powerhouse defensive tackle will be counted on to lead a resurgence in Coyote Country. And he can concentrate on that after his official visit to Northwestern, the same weekend as Doost’s, went so well. Roberts actually became the first top local prospect to commit.
Offers: Army, Colorado, Sioux Falls
The other major piece of the Centennial defense is in a bit of a holding pattern after gaining offers before his junior season started, then facing an injury during that season. Washington has not made an official visit, and his eventual landing spot may be the biggest mystery out of all the top local 2023 recruits.
Sunrise Mountain junior receiver Micah Johnson tries to find an opening in the Cactus defense Sept. 24. Johnson is racking up Division I college offers this summer. [Courtesy James T. Abraham/West Valley Preps]
Offers: Grambling State, Montana, Northern Arizona, Northern Colorado, San Jose State
The big-play receiver banked offers from one FBS-level team, San Jose State, and three Big Sky Conference stalwarts — as well as a Historically Black College and University standard bearer in Grambling. A huge junior season with 9 receiving touchdowns and 19 yards per reception brought Johnson squarely on the radar. His name is sizzling at the moment, with all five scholarship offers arriving from May 16 through June 1.
Offers: Nevada, Northern Arizona
Clark picked up these offers fairly early in his Coyotes career and things have been quiet on the recruiting front for quite a while. Like Washington, he may have to remind Division I teams why they had so much interest in him as a sophomore. Weaknesses in other areas of the offense in 2021 allowed Centennial opponents to stack the box against Clark without fear. On the rare occasions he did see an opening, though, Clark was gone. An educated guess says that will happen more in 2022 and revived the top local RBs stock.
Offers: Brown, Butler, Colorado School of Mines, Cornell, Morehead State, Rose-Hulman, San Diego, Sioux Falls, South Dakota School of Mines, St. Thomas (Minn.), Valparaiso
Academically focused FCS colleges are after this defensive line sleeper from Mountain Ridge in force, as Kirkland wrapped up several offers in the 2022 calendar year. The lanky end has put on some weight and shows potential as a pure pass rusher. Six of his 14 total tackles last year — though Kirkland’s stats only cover seven games — were sacks.
Offers: Arizona Christian, Lake Forest, North Dakota, Northern Arizona, South Dakota School of Mines, Wisconsin-River Falls
Winning the big school division 100- and 200-meter dashes in May paid off almost immediately for the wide receiver’s football career. And Nelson is hardly just a track star learning how to play football. He led the Monsoon with 51 catches for 565 yards as a sophomore and 32 catches for 329 yards as a junior despite quarterback instability or inexperience plaguing both teams.
Offer: Adams State, Montana State, North Dakota
Millennium has a large and talented senior class and Wilson has emerged in recent months as the top recruiting target. Wilson can play either corner or both safety positions and can hit as well as cover, finishing third on the Tigers in tackles and tying for the lead in interceptions.
Mountain Ridge junior cornerback Korey Johnson tackles Mountain View senior receiver Mattew Clark during a 6A first round playoff game Nov. 19 in Mesa. Johnson burst onto the recruiting scene in this spring. [Courtesy Mountain Ridge Football Facebook]
Offers: Lake Forest, Sioux Falls, South Dakota School of Mines, St. Thomas and Utah Tech
The late bloomer appears to have arrived just in time. Johnson sprouted into an ideal cornerback frame and shined in his first season of varsity play with 42 tackles. No one is breaking into the top three of 2023 locally, but Johnson could be much higher n this list were it revised at season’s end.