West Region Spotlight: Midseason takeaways


We are into the second half of the high school season, as top prospects have proven their worth and others have burst onto the scene. Additionally, recruiting classes across the country are putting the finishing touches on the 2023 cycle.

Here are five takeaways from the West so far this season.

MORE FROM THIS SERIES: Mid-South Spotlight | Midwest Spotlight

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CLASS OF 2023 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State

CLASS OF 2024 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State

CLASS OF 2025 RANKINGS: Rivals100

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1. DYLAN RAIOLA IS AS GOOD AS ADVERTISED

In the first couple weeks of the season, I saw Chandler, Ariz., travel to San Diego (Calif.) Cathedral Catholic in the annual Honor Bowl and it was there I was convinced that Dylan Raiola should be the top-rated player in the 2024 class.

Just looking at him on the field, Raiola looks like a college-ready quarterback. He has all the arm talent in the world but standing on the Chandler sideline I saw it all from leadership, to communication with his coaches and players, to his teammates cheering him on and many other intangibles when you’re considering not only a five-star ranking but the No. 1 spot.

The Ohio State quarterback commit has pretty much everything plus an NFL pedigree since his dad, Dominic, and his uncle, Donovan, had pro careers as well. Raiola absolutely has that killer instinct and hunger to be a big-time winner.

It was one reason why he picked the Buckeyes and considering his raw ability on the field, Raiola might not have been able to pick a better spot to be coached by Ryan Day, position coach Corey Dennis and others.

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2. JULIAN SAYIN IS SPECIAL, TOO

Julian Sayin

Julian Sayin

Here’s the thing: Julian Sayin doesn’t have the rare physical traits of Raiola and when he jogs on the field for warm-ups he doesn’t look like a Patrick Mahomes clone like Raiola does but he can really play ball.

The 2024 five-star quarterback has an incredible arm not only deep but as a precision passer and he almost always makes the right read. Sayin is not surrounded by elite playmakers at Carlsbad, Calif., but the addition of three-star Michigan tight end commit Zack Marshall this season has been nice. At the college level, where Sayin will have lots of weapons, he should be even better because he’s a technician on the field.

Georgia and LSU are battling it out for him as Sayin is still working through his options before reaching a decision.

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3. THE 2023 QB DEBATE WILL CONTINUE TO RAGE

Much like a few years ago where there was a camp pushing DJ Uiagalelei as the No. 1 quarterback in the state and another on the side of Bryce Young (and I’m not talking about their fathers who were great through the process and supportive of both players), there are Malachi Nelson fans and Nico Iamaleava fans and the difference between the two are razor thin.

Iamaleava, a Tennessee commit, is having another great season, putting up big numbers, not making a lot of mistakes and using his freakish physical abilities to dominate at this level. He’s so special in so many ways and his coach at Downey (Calif.) Warren, Kevin Pearson, also coached Young for a time and said their instincts are very similar.

But Nelson has been fantastic as well. He can pick apart defenses with the best of them, make snap decisions, hit receivers with the long ball, score quickly and the USC commit just has a knack for making big plays.

Both are five-stars. Both are top-six players nationally. Right now, it’s Iamaleava and then Nelson but this remains a close race for tops in the state.

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4. RODERICK ROBINSON IS A STAR RB

Roderick Robinson

Roderick Robinson (Matt Moreno | Rivals.com)

Roderick Robinson is already the top-rated running back in the West for the 2023 class so he’s highly respected. But maybe not enough nationally especially with the season he’s putting together.

First off, the San Diego (Calif.) Lincoln standout looked phenomenal while working out at the Elite 11 this summer running routes and catching passes for the quarterbacks. He’s leaned out but looks stronger at the same time and now he’s proving himself on the field more than ever.

Through seven games (six wins), Robinson has carried the ball 121 times for 1,501 yards and 21 touchdowns. By what I’ve researched, those stats are better than any of the six running backs ranked ahead of him and while stats aren’t the end-all, be-all of rankings they’re certainly taken into consideration.

Robinson is having a phenomenal season and with a deep playoff run, another 1,000 yards this season is certainly not out of the question.

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5. LOTS OF EVALUATION COMING FRIDAY NIGHT

Evaluations all year are important but when Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco and Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei play, it’s something different. Those two schools are arguably the top two high school programs in the country. They play in the same league and every year it’s an incredible opportunity to see elite players all over the field.

By my count, there are 35 Bosco players with offers. Mater Dei has 31 right now, many of whom are underclassmen. That’s 66 players on one field, on Friday night battling it out and it’s put-up or shut-up time.

In comparison, the entire state of Iowa’s 2023 class lists 55 offers. Missouri has 53. The amount of talent at Bosco and Mater Dei is extraordinary and from an evaluation standpoint, there’s nothing like it.



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