Top 50 Football Returners Countdown: Nos. 30-36

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Edison High's Jordan Whatley, left, competes against Weston Ranch in September 2016 at Weston Ranch High in Stockton. [CALIXTRO ROMIAS/RECORD FILE 2016

Five of these next seven players competed in last year’s Sac-Joaquin Section football playoffs. Four of these next seven players spent time at quarterback. One of these players won a section championship and NorCal play-in game.

Want to know more?  Read on.

My Top 50 Football Returners Countdown continues with Nos. 30-36.

My Top 50 Football Players Countdown, weighing the best returners in The Record’s coverage area: San Joaquin County and the Mother Lode, is in its third edition. The inspiration and much of the wording describing these rankings is thanks to my good friend and former colleague T.J. Holmes of the Redding Record Searchlight. These rankings are based on past varsity experience, as well as potential impact for 2017. These 50 players reflect the 50 days remaining until high school football season begins with Week 0 on Aug. 25.

Because tangible impact is important for these rankings, there are often more skill position players. Yet, you will see plenty of capable linemen here.

Schools included for these rankings:

  • San Joaquin County: Lincoln, St. Mary’s, McNair, Bear Creek, Chavez, Stagg, Tokay, Lodi, Franklin, Edison, West, Tracy, Kimball, Weston Ranch, Lathrop, East Union, Manteca, Sierra, Escalon, Ripon, Ripon Christian, Brookside Christian, Elliot Christian, Millennium and Mountain House
  • Mother Lode: Amador, Argonaut, Bret Harte, Linden and Calaveras

No. 36 – Jalani Flowers (5-6, 170), RB/LB, Stagg, senior

Flowers is primed to do a bit of everything for the Delta Kings. As a junior, he tallied 47 tackles and five sacks, and had 18 carries for 100 yards. With the graduation of linebacker Jalend Dinwiddie, expect Flowers to step up as one of the defense’s leaders. He could follow in the footsteps of Jonathan Phillips and Dinwiddie and be a prolific tackler.

No. 35 – Merle Bass (6-0, 190), WR, Lincoln, junior

Bass posted 29 catches for 395 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore call-up, via senior quarterback Aaron Thomas (now at MJC). While these aren’t astounding numbers, he’s a key part of an Air Raid offense that graduated its top two receivers from a year ago: tight end Miquan Maxey and wide receiver Izaiah Celestine. That means Bass should be a focal point for either senior Quinton Gaines or junior Grant Stevenson.

No. 34 – Alex McNely (6-0, 260), OL/DL, Tracy, senior

The Bulldodgs’ offensive linemen keep performing well, year after year, like All-Area center Dominic Splan in 2015 and 2016. Now, McNely, an All-TCAL selection, returns to anchor an experienced offense with senior quarterback Josh Alvarado and junior fullback Mason Sarsfield.

No 33 – Keonnee Linnell (5-10, 153), QB, Lathrop, senior

Linnell had his ups and downs as a junior, but as a senior in the mighty Valley Oak League, his experience will be invaluable. He completed 46 percent of his passes for 1,088 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The Spartans are in their third year under coach Joe Pirillo, and have gone from an afterthought to a difficult opponent at least, if not the top Division IV playoff seed they reached two years ago.

No. 32 – Quincy Glasper (6-2, 155), QB, Bear Creek, junior

Glasper was prolific as a sophomore, as the Knights won a section Division VII championship and NorCal 6-A play-in game. He completed 55 percent of his passes for 45 touchdowns, 23 interceptions and 3,587 years. These are massive numbers, albeit imperfect. How could someone be No. 33 with that kind of resume? Two reasons, and neither are a bad thing about Glasper.

No. 1: He’s transferring to Bear Creek, and I believe will have to sit out half a season before playing. That limits his season-long impact.

No. 2: When he does play, while he’s playing in an SJAA where the defense is usually lacking, he’ll be playing against large-school teams for the first time. He’s had some amazing games in his two-year career, but they’re against small schools that don’t pack the punch of upper-division competition. He still has to prove himself in this arena.

No. 31 – Ryan Daggett (6-1, 150), QB, Ripon, junior

Daggett returns to a Trans-Valley League runner-up as a second-year starter who competed in the section’s Division V playoffs. As a sophomore, Daggett completed 53 percent of his passes for 1,095 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions, with one rushing score. Daggett could follow in the footsteps of his predecessor Nick Price and become a really valuable varsity quarterback. His 2017 debut is against former Ripon coach Chris Johnson on Aug. 25 at Sierra.

No. 30 – Jordan Whatley (6-3, 170), WR/DB, Edison, senior

I might really be underrating Mr. Whatley, here. He’s incredibly valuable and can play several positions

Whatley proved versatile for Edison last year, even in a season of transition, with 295 rushing yards and two touchdowns, 341 receiving yards and five more TDs, and most impressively, four interceptions and two pass deflections on defense.

He and Hassani Zackery are going to be nightmarish to cover for the Vikings’ opponents.

2017 TOP 50 FOOTBALL RETURNERS COUNTDOWN

 July 7: Players Nos. 44-50

July 14: Players Nos. 37-43

July 21: Players Nos. 30-36

July 28: Players Nos. 23-29

Aug. 4: Players Nos. 16-22

Aug. 11: Players Nos. 11-15

Aug. 16: Player No. 10

Aug. 17: Player No. 9

Aug. 18: Player No. 8

Aug. 19: Player No. 7

Aug. 20: Player No. 6

Aug. 21: Player No. 5

Aug. 22: Player No. 4

Aug. 23: Player No. 3

Aug. 24: Player No. 2

Aug. 25: Player No. 1

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

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    Thomas Lawrence

    Lawrence became a prep and general assignment sports reporter for The Record in August 2014. He has covered high school, college and professional sports and more in his career. From November of 2011 through summer 2014, he covered college and prep ... Read Full
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