As high school football players and fans await the start of the season with excitement, some of the best gridiron performers in the state are right here in Albuquerque. One of them is Albuquerque Academy’s wide receiver Brandon Branch. The 5-foot-10 inch, 185 pound recruiter magnet is one of the top playmakers in New Mexico.
According to Jason Jewell, south west recruiting analyst, Branch caught 47 passes for 1,036 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2009. Branch also was adept at carrying the ball. He gained 976 more yards on the ground and scored 10 more touchdowns lugging the pigskin. No wonder college scouts and recruiters are salivating at the thought of having him on their teams! Branch was equally prolific on the other side of the ball. He made 33 tackles as a defensive back and intercepted three passes. An all-around performer, Branch returned kickoffs or punts for three more touchdowns.
St. Pius X High School linebacker Isaac Leon wears number 34 on his jersey. This class of 2011 athlete gained all league honors playing fullback and linebacker when he was a sophomore. After the 2009 season he was selected to the All-State 1st Team Defense by PrepNew Mexico.com. Some of the colleges reported to be interested in signing Leon are Colorado, New Mexico, New Mexico State, San Diego and Wyoming. The 6-foot tall, 200 pounder was clocked at 4.85 seconds in the 40 yard dash.
Darrelyn McCloud and Jayson Serda, both defensive backs for the Monarchs of Manzano High School, were also selected to the All-State 1st Team Defense. This is the last prep season for La Cueva High School’s running back Ronnie Daniels. The 6-foot, 198 pound Bear will be performing for Texas Tech in 2011. At a scout combine in Phoenix, Arizona last year, Daniels was clocked at 4.69 seconds in the 40 yard dash. He demonstrated a broad jump of 9-6 and a vertical jump of 33.5.
Outstanding middle linebacker Zach Daugherty of Onate High School has verbally committed himself to play for the UNM Lobos next season. The 6-foot tall, 195 pound player participated in a scout combine at Phoenix, Arizona last year. Daugherty ran the 40 yard dash in 4.91 and the short shuttle in 4.53. He demonstrated a vertical jump of 26.0 and a broad jump of 8-4. Joe Baca of PrepNewMexico.com described Daugherty as having a non stop motor, “he flies to the football, has a nasty streak and is a very instinctual player.”
Baca said Daugherty has good lateral speed and is an explosive hitter. La Cueva High School Bear’s quarterback Meiko Locksley is another highly touted local player. Locksley is described as having great feet, good speed and a very strong arm. Baca said Locksley has every tool to play at the next level, both in a spread and pro style offense. Baca believes Locksley is athletic enough to play free safety at the college level.
All of these players are ranked in the top 10 ten prospects of the 2010 Prospect Rankings. Also in the top 10 are Gary Maestas, Xavier Madrid and Seth McVey. Maestas is a 5-foot-11 inch, 180 pound running back and strong safety for the Golden Eagles of Eldorado High School. Maestas is described as having incredible explosiveness and being one of the premiere backs in New Mexico.
St. Pius X High School’s Xavier Madrid has great cut back ability and doesn’t shy away from contact when he’s running with the ball. Baca said Madrid is very strong for any high school running back. Especially when you consider his size, 5-foot-8 inches and 160 pounds. Seth McVey patrols the defensive middle as a linebacker for Sandia High School. At 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, Baca describes McVey, “as having a great frame and an almost college ready body.”
So not only do Albuquerque high school football fans get to watch local schools compete against each other in the upcoming season, they also will be able to watch college bound prospects perform up to their potential in their last prep season.