December 26, 2010
With the 2010 high school season football coming to a close it's time to look ahead to the Class of 2012. Cali High Sports is the first site to come out with its list of the top players for 2012 as we unveil our Cali High's Top 15 which will be re-evaluated and expanded to a top 25 over the spring and summer. For a look at our 2011 rankings, click here.
We continue our countdown to #1 with Whitney High School tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, a physically gifted prospect who goes under the radar because of his small school.
#10 Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick
Position: Tight End
Schools Considering: UCLA, Oregon State, Cal
NFL Comparison: Tony Gonzalez
The first thing that stands out about Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick is his size. At a legit 6’5 and 250 pounds as just a 17 year old, he is far, far more physically mature then most football players his age. It’s not a stretch to say he already has D1 size and his frame has college coaches tantalized.
It’s more then Jalen’s just big, he has the body of a football player. Very broad shoulders, fluid hips, strong legs and a frame that could probably add another twenty pounds. Football players physically mature so much in their first 12 months of college When you consider that Jalen is 16 months away from being a college freshmen, you can really understand the sky is the limit as far as his physical potential.
Jalen’s size allows him to project to play a few different positions in college: tight end, offensive tackle or defensive end. Jalen has enormous potential on both sides of the ball and his final position likely won’t be determined until college but he has been recruited as a tight end. Jalen has played defensive end in high school.
As a tight end, Jalen’s size makes him an incredible difficult cover. Not a single guy he matches up with in high school is big enough or physical enough to cover him and even at the next level guys will have difficulty matching up with him. Jalen is very athletic for his size and moves well, giving linebackers trouble.
He is a solid route runner who is crisp in and out of his cuts. He has enough quickness and burst that he can create space and breakaway from his defenders, and he is so strong that he is very hard to drag down, almost always requiring more then one tackler. He shows good instincts in finding holes in a zone defense and at the high school level is too hard to match up with one-on-one.
As a blocker Jalen is very solid with room to improve. He gets into his back pedal well and uses his hands nicely. He usually just overwhelms guys physically but can shuffl e his feet to stop defenders who try and speed around him. What Jalen will need to work on is his blitz recognition and he could shore up some of his fundamentals, like making sure his shoulders stay low and his weight stays centered.
Overall Jalen is one of the most physically gifted players in the country with strongly developing skills. In a Whitney offense that doesn’t pass the ball a ton he hauled in seven touchdown grabs and was a force in the redzone. Look for a strong senior year from Jalen.
The next level?: Fitzpatrick currently has offers from Oregon State, Cal and UCLA but is receiving heavy interest from USC and Washington. Fitzpatrick is somewhat of an unknown name but that is due in large part to the fact that he plays at a small school. Fans are used to identifying the top players at traditional powerhouses (Mater Dei, Long Beach Poly, Servite, etc) and if Jalen were at one of those schools he would have long been on the national radar.
Still, the guy is a stud. Currently his top two seem to be Cal and UCLA but it is unclear how USC and Washington fit into that equation. This is a guy UCLA should really go hard after. In the pistol little dumps, flats, and outs to tight end are very important and Jalen is a guy who can be relied on to keep the chains moving.
Cali High Grade: 91