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SoCal Recruiting Preview with Eric Sondheimer of LA Times

John Elway was one of the first athletes that Eric Sondheimer covered
John Elway was one of the first athletes that Eric Sondheimer covered

SoCal is a hotbed for athletes and prospects who can immediately contribute and make a difference. Robert Woods and Marqise Lee are the good ones that come to mind. We are looking to Bryce Treggs, Kenny Lawler, and Darius Powe to make similar types of impact. Here at CGB, we are honored once again to have Eric Sondheimer, High School Sports Reporter of the LA Times, to tell us more about the upcoming recruiting scene. Make sure you follow Eric on Twitter and LA Times.

What do you look for when evaluating talent?

I’ve been covering high school sports since 1976. One of the first athletes I covered was John Elway at Granada Hills High. When you start out with one of the best QB and athletes of all-time, it gives you a great idea what real talent looks like on and off the field. I’m not a talent evaluator. I’m a sportswriter trained to observe, and having seen so many top athletes, I look for how they respond to good and bad situations, how hard they work, how they react and how they treat others.

How has the recruiting game changed in the time you have spent following it?

The Internet has made things instantaneous. A recruit gets an offer and 10 minutes later everyone knows. That’s good and bad. It’s good that athletes know where they stand and who else is being pursued, but the pressure becomes immense and there’s little privacy.

What weight do you put on recruit's twitter chatter? Is it all to screw with the media or are they saying legitimate things on there?

There are some who write the most ridiculous things, and I don’t know why some colleges would recruit them. Athletes need to be careful what they write and how much profanity they use. It does not reflect positively, whether it's recruiters paying attention or others.

How do you see Jim Mora changing the balance of power between UCLA and USC in the fertile SoCal recruiting fields?

Mora really made a positive impression on everybody. He was organized and he hired some great assistants who know the SoCal area. His message was that change is coming to UCLA and people believed him. Now he must follow through on the field.

So many teams from well outside of LA send coaches down to try to poach LA recruits back to their parts of the Pac-12. How is reporting on the SoCal recruiting scene different than if you were following a more regional recruiting scene?

I think the recruiting scene is far more intense in Texas and in the South. Yes, there are individuals who’s lives revolve around recruiting, but in SoCal, we have such great weather and we love all our sports. We don’t just focus on one sport 365 days a year.

How well do you think Cal did in the Los Angeles area by landing players like Treggs, Powe, Haper and Lawler and Ford?

All are good athletes. I know Treggs the best. He works his butt off, he’s dedicated and he takes nothing for granted. He wants to succeed and will do whatever it takes.

What do you see from each of the four receivers originating from the LA area? What skills do they possess and how will each of them be utilized in Cal's pro-style offense?

Powe has excellent raw talent. Lawler is a great athlete who can jump and make tough catches. Ford has speed and big-play ability. But Treggs is the best. He’ll come through from the start.

What do you know about Jeffrey Coprich and Willie Fletcher, the last under-the-radar targets Cal landed?

I saw Coprich in a summer competition, and he stood out as an athlete. Fletcher comes from the Trinity League, and anyone who plays in Trinity is well prepared for college.

Who would you say are the top recruits in the 2013 class from the Los Angeles area?

Su’a Cravens of Vista Murrieta was No. 1 in 2011 and he’ll be top player in 2012. He’s not only a great player but a great kid. He’s the complete package. What an athlete. I also like defensive backs Dashon Hunt from Westlake and Max Redfield from Mission Viejo, quarterbacks Johnny Stanton from Santa Margarita and Troy Williams from Narbonne and linemen Cameron Hunt from Corona Centennial and John Lopez from Orange Lutheran.

Who would you say is the player most likely to be an All-American at the next level?

Su’a Cravens.

Who are under-the-radar players from the 2012 class from your region who will make a big impact?

Conrad Ukropina from Loyola is a Stanford walk-on at punter. He can be very good.

If there's one local player you're rooting for to succeed at the next level because of his success on and off the field, who would it be and why?

Jeremiah Allison, Dorsey, defensive end headed to Washington State. He grew up in a tough neighborhood, got all As at Dorsey. His mother suffered a heart attack right before Christmas, has been in a coma and Allison was forced to make his college decision by himself. He’s going to become a lawyer, than maybe mayor, senator or anything he wants. A great kid who has made his mom proud.