One of the first places we can look for talent in the 2007 recruiting class
is the same spot where Stanford landed its Parade All-American in the recently
concluded '06 crop. Norco (Calif.) High School is on the leading edge of a
rising tide of talent in Riverside County, as can be seen by their CIF Southern
Section Division V championship this past fall and two championship game
appearances the previous two seasons. Unquestionably, the star performer
through those seasons was Mr. California running back Toby Gerhart. The
6'0" 225-pound runner did more than break the California high school career
rushing record, previously held by Lorenzo Booker - he obliterated it with more
than 1,100 yards of distance.
There are some observers who have argued that Gerhart's numbers impressed
because of the blocking he received at Norco. Senior film of the
Stanford-bound tailback accentuates the individual abilities he possesses, but
there was some talent on that offensive line. Big, strong and aggressive,
the front five established a physical and dominating tone to each of Norco's
games this year. The three seniors and two juniors were the hammer, while
their all-world tailback was the nail. Or maybe it's the other way around.
Gone is athletic Josh Laibach, the First Team All-CIF and Second Team CIF
All-Southern Section senior, along with two of his classmates. But both of
the junior linemen who started for Norco this past fall are future Division I
players who are already receiving a good deal of recruiting attention.
6'2" 304-pound center Garth Gerhart and 6'4" 276-pound right guard Adam Tello
will help make Norco High School a must-see destination for college coaches
again this year.
The younger Gerhart is the center of attention, both literally and
figuratively, but not due solely to his name. He was tabbed First Team
All-State Underclass in addition to First Team All-CIF Division V honors.
A rarity, Gerhart has the physical build as well as the skills and athleticism
needed to play center at the next level, where often college offensive line
coaches have to take a high school guard or tackle and teach him how to snap the
ball and play the position.
"He's a prototypical college center," says Norco head coach and father Todd
Gerhart. "He has great feet and long arms - the wingspan of a 6'6" guy.
He has great length but a heavy lower half of his body to give him that low
center of gravity you like."
More than just a body, the younger Gerhart obliterated defensive linemen and
linebacker to pave a path for his brother this past fall. "It's amazing
what he does to people," Todd Gerhart laughs.
At this early stage of his recruitment, the 300-pounder has a trio of
favorites: Stanford, UCLA and Oregon. With Toby already headed to The
Farm, could Garth be blocking for his brother come the fall of 2007?
"He went on the recruiting trip with my wife and I and Toby," Todd says of
Garth's experience at Stanford. "He had a ton of fun. We just don't
know yet if he would academically qualify."
Toby Gerhart has earned a perfect 4.0 core GPA at Norco High School, about to
be crowned the valedictorian of his class, and has been taking classes at a
nearby junior college since he was in the eighth grade. Not just a good
student, the older Gerhart brother is an academic superstar on par with this
football abilities. It is a difficult act for Garth to follow.
"He's not Toby in terms of academics, but he has a 3.63 on his last report
card," Todd Gerhart reports.
The Norco coach says that Tello is also a talent destined to play Division I
football, most likely as an offensive guard. The lens through which he is
looking at colleges is different from his classmate.
"Adam is a Samoan kid who wants to go where other Samoans do well. He
likes Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and also UCLA," the Norco coach comments.
Todd Gerhart also tells us to watch for his next big talent on the offensive
line. Sophomore Kyle Johnson waited behind senior starters this past fall
but could be a prominent figure in Southern California recruiting for the 2008
class. He already stands 6'6.5" and tips the scale at 282 pounds.
Johnson will start at right tackle for the Cougars.
Another Norco name to watch in the junior (2007) class is linebacker Jordan Campbell. He is a bit undersized at 5'11" but is well-built at 226 pounds
and runs well enough to play outside linebacker in college. Campbell was
second on the team in tackles this past fall, with an eye-popping 75 solo and
135 total wrap-ups. He earned First Team All-CIF and Second Team All-State
Underclass honors. His early favorites are USC, UCLA, Oregon, Colorado and
More than just "Toby Gerhart's school," Norco has numerous faces to watch in
the next year of high school football headlines and recruiting reports.
You can look for junior highlight video of Garth Gerhart, Adam Tello and Jordan
Campbell here at Scout.com soon, and also look for these exciting
underclassmen at an upcoming Scout.com All-American Combine in the spring.
Stay tuned for their film, photos and stories in the months to come.
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