SBLive California is previewing the top football teams and players in the state ahead of the 2020-2021 high school football season. Even with the season in doubt, we will continue to highlight the best teams, players and coaches in California.
Here’s a closer look at the Top 50 wide receivers in the CIF Southern Section heading into the 2020-2021 season. The rankings were compiled by SBLive reporter Lance Smith.
The primary criteria for our Top 50 CIFSS wide receiver rankings are statistics on offense from the 2019 high school season and strength of schedule. Production as a return specialist on special teams was also taken into consideration. Two-way players’ contributions on defense were noted in the article, but were not factored into the rankings.
Since this is not a recruiting ranking, players’ national rankings or college offers were not main criteria, but were taken into account. Performances in club football or at camps were not taken into consideration.
Four receivers who would have made this list graduated in December and won’t partake in a spring football season if there is one:
Beaux Collins – St. John Bosco – Clemson
DJ Justice – Alemany – UCLA
Cristian Dixon – Mater Dei – Michigan
Jonah Carnell – Rancho Verde – Northern Arizona
Here’s a look at the Top 50 receivers who are scheduled to suit up if there is a winter/spring season in the CIF Southern Section:
TOP 50 WIDE RECEIVERS IN CIF SOUTHERN SECTION
50. Nicholas Kohl – West Ranch – SR.
Kohl was one of the stars of a lethal West Ranch passing game last season, catching for 860 yards and 10 touchdowns in 12 games. He also completed three passes for 120 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 22 yards. Kohl also punted for over 800 yards, although that didn’t factor into our rankings.
49. Jamaal Fisher – Pacifica (Garden Grove) – SR.
Fisher accounted for well over half of Pacifica’s receiving production in 2019 with 993 yards and eight receptions in 11 games.
48. Brandon Pena – Burbank – SR.
Pena was second on Burbank last season with 928 yards and eight touchdowns receiving. He also had over 100 yards as a returner on special teams, rushed for 17 yards, and completed two passes for 71 yards.
47. AJ Horning – Trinity Classical Academy – JR.
As a sophomore, Horning caught for 995 yards and 18 touchdowns despite facing defenses loaded up heavily against the pass. He was even more dominant as a returner on special teams, finishing with 460 KR yards and 212 PR yards (672 combined). Also, while it didn’t factor into our rankings, Horning was a standout defensive back with seven interceptions.
46. Malachi Riley – St. Bernard – SO.
Riley hasn’t even produced at the varsity level yet but already has at least eight D-1 offers. He’ll burst onto the scene for new-look St. Bernard as soon as high school football resumes.
45. Jacoby Kelly – Loyola – JR.
Kelly led the Division 4 finalist with 480 yards and five touchdowns receiving as a sophomore last season. Loyola played a brutal schedule and had a run-first defense in 2019, but the high 3-star prospect’s ability is likely to show up more on the stat sheet going forward.
44. Kade Jones – South (Torrance) – SR.
The best player last year on the Division 14 champ and state finalist, Jones caught for 884 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s not only one of the top 50 wide receivers in the section with room to spare, but one of the top all-purpose football players in Southern California. Jones also had nearly 550 more combined yards returning kicks and punts.
That said, while it doesn’t affect his ranking here, his very best work comes on the defensive side of the ball. He was one of only two players in the section last season (and the only junior) with 11 interceptions and 100 tackles, good for Third Team All-Southern Section and First Team All-L.A. County by our count.
43. Tiger Bachmeier – Murrieta Valley – SO.
Bachmeier’s 2019 totals of 407 yards and three touchdowns receiving don’t jump off the page, but he did that as a freshman playing in the Trinity League at Orange Lutheran. That was enough to accomplish the extremely impressive feat of making All-Trinity League as a 9th grader, and he subsequently received offers from Boise State and Arizona State. Now he’s a part of Murrieta Valley’s stacked young playmaking core, and he’s likely to produce statistically at a much higher level.
42. Nicholas Timko – Long Beach Wilson – SR.
Timko caught for 838 yards and 10 touchdowns in 11 games last season. He did it on a steep 23.9 yards per reception. This year he’ll form one of the better receiving triumvirates in the section with Tyrie Robinson and Michael Bruner.
41. Jake George – La Serna – JR.
One of the section’s top underrated junior WRs, George had 888 receiving yards, eight receiving touchdowns, and over 100 rushing yards last season for 13-1 Division 6 finalist La Serna. Throw in 182 KR yards and 41 PR yards, and he finished with over 1,200 receiving yards despite sitting a lot of fourth quarters in blowout victories.
40. Jeremiah Calvin – John Muir – SO.
Calvin is ranked as a 4-star WR by 247Sports and he’s hardly played a snap on offense at the varsity level yet. That’s because Muir’s receiver corps was ridiculously crowded last season, but the 6-3, 240-pound deep threat is sure to break out sooner than later based on what the scouts are saying. He already has an offer from Washington State and interest from a litany of other high-majors. There’s a good chance he’ll be near the top of this list by the season’s end.
Additionally, it doesn’t affect his ranking here but Calvin is also a big-time defensive prospect. In nine games in Muir’s front seven, Calvin had three sacks, a pick, and four pass breakups playing SS/LB.
39. Kade Zimmerman – Irvine – SR.
At the top of every game plan, Irvine’s opponents’ all geared up to contain Zimmerman no matter what. And he still finished the season with 79 catches for 1,049 yards and eight touchdowns. Not having played any games as a senior yet, Zimmerman has gone overlooked so far in terms of recruiting, but he’s a clear college-caliber talent.
38. Malik Hunt – Simi Valley – SR.
In 11 games for the Division 10 finalist, Hunt led Simi Valley with 63 catches for 903 yards and six touchdowns. He also proved to be one of Ventura County’s top return specialists with 206 KR yards and 168 PR yards. Add in 44 rushing yards and Hunt finished with 1,322 all-purpose yards, good for nearly 120 per game.
37. Rashaun Ramsey – Adelanto – SR.
Ramsey is a 3-star prospect specifically at WR, but at the high school level he’s a true all-purpose back who spreads his production around. Last season, he caught for 537 yards and seven touchdowns, ran for 139 yards and two touchdowns, racked up an amazing 420 yards (including a touchdown) as a punt returner, and had 93 more yards as a KR. That was good for 1,189 all-purpose yards plus 73 more passing on 2-2 completion. Ramsey holds an offer from Arizona State.
36. Cooper Wallace – Simi Valley – JR.
One of the section’s most underrated C/O 2022 receivers, Wallace caught for 844 yards last season playing a brutal schedule at Westlake. He wasn’t a big factor during the first four games of his sophomore season, but in the final seven he put up 781 yards and six touchdowns against elite competition: Rancho Cucamonga, Grace Brethren (x2), Calabasas, St. Bonaventure, Newbury Park, and Oaks Christian. If that stretch was any indication, Wallace could be much higher up the list with even just a few games played as a junior.
35. Travis Arena – Northwood – SR.
In 2019, Arena was fifth in the Southern Section in receptions with 92 of them. That’s the most in the CIFSS among returning receivers this season, and his average of 8.36 catches per game is by far the highest returning mark of anybody who played a full season in 2019. To go with it, he caught for 1,169 yards and 14 touchdowns, and rushed for 80 yards too.
On top of that, Arena might be the only player on this list who is also a standout defensive player… on the defensive line. It doesn’t affect his ranking on this list, but Arena did serious work at DE with five tackles for loss and six sacks last season.
34. Keyonta Lanier – Long Beach Poly – SR.
A 3-star New Mexico commit as an ATH prospect, Lanier is one of the top candidates in SoCal to break out statistically if there’s a season. He led the run-first Jackrabbits with seven receiving touchdowns and was second with 433 receiving yards in just nine games. Those are solid numbers, but Lanier is likely to take a solid leap on a per-game basis in 2021 as the WR1 of an improved Poly aerial attack.
33. Earnest McDaniel – St. Bernard – SR.
In only nine games last season, McDaniel caught for 451 yards and three TDs playing one of the toughest schedules in the country at JSerra. If the 3-star prospect has a senior season, he’s likely to surpass those totals in just a few games for a new-look St. Bernard squad, and potentially make a leap towards the top of our rankings. McDaniel has at least three offers, including Power-5.
32. Ty Belton – Citrus Valley – SR.
Belton now has college offers under his belt after an outstanding junior season, and he’s likely to break out even more if he gets the chance. In 2019, Belton – a threat at RB, SB, and WR throughout the course of any game – caught for 828 yards and 11 touchdowns, ran for 135 yards and a touchdown, and added 210 KR yards. Citrus Valley is already one of the IE’s most underrated programs, and could make some serious noise with Belton leading the charge if there’s a season.
31. Khari Butler – Oaks Christian – JR.
A 3-star transfer from St. John’s (Washington D.C.) and Archbishop Spalding (Maryland) before that, Butler cracked the rotation at two nationally reputable programs as an underclassman and is now at Oaks Christian. He currently holds at least three offers coming from USC, Oregon, and Illinois State.
30. Asontt Williams – Cathedral – SR.
In 10 games last season, Williams caught for 730 yards and six touchdowns in a crowded Phantoms receiver corps. He’s received interest at the D-1 level, but for now he’s one of the very best receivers in the section waiting for his first D-1 offer (per 247Sports).
29. Donovan Williams – Sierra Canyon – SR.
A 3-star prospect who’s been offered at the D-1 level, Williams was an important piece of the Division 2 champ and 1-AA state finalist. Sharing touches and targets with a litany of other D-1 prospects, he caught for 749 yards and six TDs, and he also had 91 KR yards.
28. Jason “JT” Thompson – Harvard-Westlake – JR.
Despite facing a massive share of defensive coverage as a sophomore, Thompson caught for 772 yards and eight touchdowns in 10 games. He’s a 3-star prospect with at least seven offers, including Arizona State, Fresno State, and three Ivies.
27. Ian Duarte – Chaminade – SO.
After spending the first half of the season just trying to crack the rotation as a freshman on varsity, Duarte emerged as one of the top freshman receivers in football anywhere. He had 790 receiving yards in nine games in 2019, and nearly 700 in the Eagles’ last six games alone, and it’s no coincidence that ‘Nade went on an underdog run to the Division 2 title game during that stretch. Now, Duarte has multiple D-1 offers including Arizona, and is likely to get a strong national ranking sooner than later as well.
26. Makai Lemon – Los Alamitos – SO.
If you’re wondering who the Southern Section’s next three-phase superstar is, Lemon might very well be your guy. As a freshman, he caught for 784 yards and five touchdowns for a run-first La Mirada offense with no other deep threats. He also had 96 KR yards, and proved to be a big-time DB prospect as well with team-highs of four interceptions, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble (tied), and one blocked punt.
Now a Los Al Griffin, Lemon is rated as the top-ranked ATH prospect and eight-best prospect in the Class of 2023 by 247Sports. He and Malachi Nelson, 247Sports’ second-ranked sophomore QB in the C/O 2023, project to form perhaps the best sophomore WR/QB tandem in high school football once it resumes. And Lemon is likely to remain a force on defense and special teams as well.
25. Michael Bruner – Long Beach Wilson – SR.
Bruner caught for 1,078 yards and 18 touchdowns in just 10 games last season for one of the best Bruins squads in years. An underrated college prospect with very good size for a downfield threat, Bruner has a great chance to break out in terms of recruiting if he has games to play as a senior.
24. Branden Alvarez – Corona Centennial – SR.
As a junior, Alvarez was the second-leading receiver one of the better teams in the country. A 3-star San Jose State signee, he caught for 520 yards and five TDs in a particularly balanced offense, but he could easily put up WR1 numbers if needed. And he likely will for another elite Cen10 squad if he has a senior season.
23. Bryson Reeves – St. Francis – SR.
A 3-star Utah commit with a hefty 25 offers, Reeves caught for 995 yards and 10 touchdowns last season despite facing double and triple coverage on the regular. He also ran for 44 yards and a TD, and surpassed 250 returning yards on special teams for the second straight season.
That level of offensive production is outstanding, but the numbers say Reeves could’ve put up even more eye-popping numbers had he needed to. All of his best games came in close games against premier opponents, and all four games in which he didn’t catch for over 100 yards were blowout victories where the stars were pulled early. For what it’s worth, Reeves is also a standout DB and a college prospect in the secondary as well.
22. Alexander Jones – Oak Park – SR.
One of the section’s top breakout WRs of 2019, Jones caught for 1,242 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior. He averaged a lofty 23 yards per catch as well. Jones holds multiple college offers and could potentially land some at the D-1 level with a senior season.
21. Philippe Wesley – St. Bernard – SR.
If there’s a 2020-21 season, one of St. Bernard’s new additions will be one of the section’s premier out-of-state transfers. Wesley, a 3-star San Diego State signee, caught for 987 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2018 for Bishop Miege, at the time the third-ranked team in Kansas.
20. Jode McDuffie – St. John Bosco – SR.
Last season for the national champion, McDuffie put up 650 all-purpose yards sharing the field with three 1,000-yard receivers who’ve now graduated. If he has a senior season, expect the 3-star prospect to rise up the section ranks in terms of nightly production and adding to his four-plus offers.
19. Andre McKinney Jr. – Rancho Verde – SR.
A 3-star prospect with at least four D-1 offers, McKinney had 758 receiving yards and a team-high nine receiving touchdowns last season.
18. Alonzo Fontenette – Oaks Christian – SR.
Fontenette is coming off an injury-riddled season in which he had just 180 receiving yards, but he’s a 4-star prospect with upwards of nine offers for a reason. He did have 648 receiving yards in just nine games as a sophomore at Alemany in 2018. Expect him to make a push towards the top of the list if he has a senior season.
17. Makai Cope – Culver City – SR.
A high 3-star recruit, Cope picked Utah over a dozen other offers after catching for over 800 yards as a junior. If there’s a season, Cope will be a star of what’s sure to be another elite Culver City passing attack, and could surpass his 2019 totals in well less than a full campaign.
16. Deshon Thompson – Northview – SR.
After catching for over 1,000 yards as a sophomore, Thompson took another step in 2019 into the section’s upper strata of the multiphase backs. He finished with 1,242 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns in 11 games, plus 78 yards and three TDs rushing.
Thompson also remained a punt return threat in special teams, and while it doesn’t affect his ranking here, he proved to be a scholarship-caliber defensive back as well. He’s a 3-star prospect and D-1 offeree who could potentially play either position going forward.
15. Camarion Thorton – Cathedral – JR.
Thorton only played six games last season but still registered 587 receiving yards, four receiving touchdowns, and 52 KR yards. That included a 212-yard effort against Bishop Amat. Thorton is a high 3-star prospect with three Pac-12 offers, and he’s just getting started.
14. Mekhi Fox – Pasadena – JR.
Fox, a 4-star prospect, has been one of the most versatile offensive threats in SoCal since his freshman year of high school. He can dominate a game running the ball, receiving at slot or wideout, and returning both kicks and punts. Most games, he’s doing all of the above, and he comes into his junior season with an astounding career line of 1,008 receiving yards, 919 rushing yards, 658 KR yards, and 455 PR yards – over 3,000 yards total.
13. Brandon Vasquez – La Habra – SR.
In 2019, Vasquez totaled 1104 receiving yards, 12 receiving touchdowns, and 73 rushing yards for an explosive La Habra offense. He’s one of the premier pure slotbacks in the state, and can also thrive as a wideout. So far, Vasquez has been underrated from a recruiting standpoint, and is easily one of SoCal’s best available offensive playmakers.
12. Dominic Arango-Serna – Chaminade – JR.
As a sophomore at Canoga Park, Arango-Serna led the L.A. City Section in receiving yardage last season with 1,341. He also finished with 15 receiving touchdowns for the Division II champ, giving him career totals of 2,364 yards and 22 touchdowns receiving just in his underclassman years. While it won’t benefit him in these rankings, he was a standout FS too last season with five picks and 41 tackles. Arango-Serna is a 3-star prospect with three Ivy League offers.
11. Tyron Smith – Apple Valley – SR.
The top receiver in the High Desert, Smith caught for 1,037 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. That came in only 11 games with Apple Valley’s starters coming out early in a lot of blowout wins.
10. Calen Bullock – John Muir – SR.
A 4-star ATH signed with USC, Bullock is one of the top three-phase players in California. Last season for a formidable Mustangs squad, he caught for 914 yards and eight touchdowns, and also had over 200 returning yards in special teams.
While Bullock is a Power-5 caliber wideout, he’s an even better FS, and DB is expected to be his primary position once he’s a Trojan. It didn’t factor into these rankings, but he had six interceptions, 45 tackles (29 solo), and a sack last season in the secondary.
9. Ezavier Staples – Millikan – SR.
As a junior, Staples caught for 1,087 yards and 11 touchdowns in just nine games despite facing regular double and triple coverage. The high 3-star prospect picked UCLA over at least 17 other schools, and possesses elite upside at 6-2, 180, with track star speed.
8. Kevin Green Jr. – Alemany – JR.
As just a sophomore, Green had 1,076 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns going against outstanding secondaries nearly every week. Green, a 4-star prospect, has at least 11 offers heading into his junior season.
7. Jordan Williams – Etiwanda – JR.
Williams carried a heavy load as the focal point of a very talented but young Etiwanda offense last season, and he put up monster numbers. In 12 games, he totaled 1,218 receiving yards, 11 receiving touchdowns, 242 yards and two touchdowns rushing, and 295 KR yards. Williams is currently a 4-star prospect with at least seven offers from mostly Power-5 schools.
6. Mavin Anderson – Mission Viejo – SR.
A 4-star Cal signee, Anderson’s ability to thrive as both a slot receiver and downfield threat might be unmatched in California. His 2019 numbers were deflated by the Diablos’ proficiency in ending games before halftime, but he still caught for 533 yards and seven touchdowns in 11 games. Even more than that, the constant attention he commanded in opponents’ game plans greatly helped keep the field open for one of the better offenses in the country.
5. DJ Harvey – Sierra Canyon – SR.
SBLive’s reigning L.A. County All-Purpose Player of the Year, Harvey is a top-five receiver in the section while dominating even more on the defensive side of the ball. On offense, he caught for 1,465 yards and seven touchdowns for the Division 2 champ and CIF 1-AA state finalist. He was one of SoCal’s best return specialists with 312 KR yards and 269 PR yards (581 in total). And while it doesn’t factor into our WR ranking, he’s a 4-star Virginia Tech signee at cornerback who registered four picks and 25 passes defensed as a junior.
Coming into his senior season, that gives Harvey a ridiculous career line of 2,166 yards and 13 touchdowns receiving, 668 yards and 269 yards returning kicks and punts, respectively (937 combined), and 12 picks and 45 pass breakups on defense. Harvey is truly in the running for status as the best three-phase high school football player in the country.
4. CJ Williams – Mater Dei – JR.
A consensus top-five receiver in the Class of 2022, Williams was up to a mind-blowing 48 offers before dropping a top-16 in November. That came before ever taking a snap on a football field as an upperclassman. As a sophomore, he was third on one of the best teams in the country with 684 receiving yards. Expect Williams to contend for the top spot going forward with Kody Epps and Cristian Dixon having graduated.
3. Orion Peters – Inglewood – SR.
In terms of production, Peters is the top returning WR in the section. He helped lead a Sentinels squad that went 0-10 in 2018 to a 12-1 season and Division 13 semifinals appearance in 2019, catching for 1,478 yards and 18 touchdowns. A 3-star prospect, Peters picked Washington State out of a dozen schools to offer him.
2. Kyron Ware-Hudson – Mater Dei – SR.
With 853 yards and 13 touchdowns receiving, Ware-Hudson was the WR2 for arguably the best passing game in the country last season. The 4-star USC commit possesses particularly steady hands, blazing speed, and the body control to make contorted catches in coverage look way too easy. Without a doubt, he’ll be in the running for status as the best WR in California if he has games to play this season.
1. Tetairoa McMillan – Servite – JR.
Expectations were high for T-Mac upon first stepping onto a varsity field in 2019, having already been ranked as the number one WR in the Class of 2022. And McMillan lived up to them to every degree, oftentimes in highlight fashion. In just 10 games going against some of the best defenses in high school football loading up on the passing game, he was second on the Friars with 851 yards and 12 touchdowns receiving, and first in receptions with 65.
McMillan, a 5-star prospect with at least 24 offers, has two more seasons to headline a dominant passing game with arguably the section’s best quarterback, Noah Fifita, who recently came on the SBLive California Podcast. They have a strong chance to prove themselves as the best QB/WR tandem in the entire Class of 2022 before it’s all said and done, while potentially getting Servite over the top.
There were several wide receivers in the conversation for our Top 50 who narrowly missed the cut. Here they are:
Kellan McGrath – Dana Hills – SR.
Devin Hudak – Notre Dame (Riverside) – SR.
Ian Grogan – Santa Margarita – JR.
Tyler Wetmore – Santa Margarita – SR.
Jeremy Naborne – Corona Centennial – SR.
Dane Brenton – Marina – SR.
Thomas Southey – Mira Costa – SR.
Blake Banks – North (Torrance) – SR.
Blake Davis – Diamond Bar – SR.
Chase Wells – La Habra – SR.
Kai Rapolla – Rancho Christian – JR.
Emari Pait – Culver City – SR.
Dayjiohn Wheeler – Roosevelt – SR.
Jaseem Reed – Westlake – SR.
Cole Yoshida – Tesoro – SR.
Damir Abdullah – Charter Oak – SR.
Jahlil McClain – St. John Bosco – SO.
Juan Wilson – Warren – JR.
Tyrie Robinson – Long Beach Wilson – SR.