With the spring 2021 high school football season coming to a close, SBLive California continues to take a look at the top football players in the state, position by position.
After taking an in-depth look at the best players on the offensive side of the ball, we’re now breaking down the state’s top linebackers.
The main criteria for our Top 35 linebacker rankings are statistics from the 2021 spring season, statistics from the 2019 high school season relative to team success and strength of schedule. The rankings were compiled by SBLive reporter Connor Morrissette.
Since this is not a recruiting ranking, players’ national rankings or college offers were not primary criteria, but were taken into account – mainly for players who haven’t received a full opportunity to shine at the varsity level yet. Performances in club football or at camps were not taken into consideration.
Class of 2021 linebackers who have decided to graduate and enroll early in college were not considered in these rankings.
TOP 35 LINEBACKERS IN CALIFORNIA
35. Jake Ripp – Los Gatos – Junior
Ripp moved from defensive end to linebacker this spring and has been playing very well. He’s made 54 tackles and forced a fumble.
34. Leviticus Su’a – Mater Dei – Sophomore
Su’a is one of the country’s best 2023 linebackers. He’s made 12 tackles this spring with 2.5 coming for loss.
33. Brandon Wong – Whitney – Junior
Wong is one of the state’s leaders in tackles this spring. He’s made 58.
32. Justin Eklund – Folsom – Junior
Eklund has received scholarship offers from Arizona State and Idaho State. He’s made 21 tackles this spring.
31. Sterling Lane – Oaks Christian – Junior
Lane has received scholarship offers from 14 schools, per 247Sports.com. He’s made 34 tackles this spring and recovered a fumble.
30. Jacob Manu – Servite – Junior
Manu may be a little undersized at 5-foot-11, but he’s a great football player. In 2019, he made 47 tackles with three coming for loss.
29. Kairo Reed – De La Salle – Senior
Reed is one of the top unsigned seniors on this list. He’s made 24 tackles this spring.
28. Josh Tremain – Folsom – Junior
Tremain has been one of the top players in the state this spring. He’s made 57 tackles.
27. Jalen Woods – St. John Bosco – Junior
Woods is one of three great St. John Bosco linebackers to appear on the list. He’s made 23 tackles this spring and has an interception.
26. Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa – St. John Bosco – Freshman
When all of the recruiting ranking dust settles, expect Viliamu-Asa to be ranked as the No. 1 linebacker in the country in 2024. He’s recently received scholarship offers from Ohio State, USC and Auburn.
25. Taariq Al-Uqdah – Inglewood – Junior
Al-Uqdah is committed to Washington State.
24. Braydon Brus – Glendora – Junior
Brus made 47 tackles in 2019 and rushed for eight touchdowns.
23. Josh Long – Loyola – Senior
In 2019, Long logged 86 tackles and recovered two fumbles.
22. Cole Bullock – Sierra Canyon – Senior
Bullock is another great unsigned senior. He made 100 tackles as a junior and has 38 this spring.
21. Lando Brown – Gardena Serra – Senior
In 2019, Brown made 99 tackles. He’s made 55 this spring.
20. Max Smith – La Jolla – Senior
Smith is committed to Navy. He’s played four years of varsity football at La Jolla on both sides of the ball.
19. Tyray Odell – Gardena Serra – Senior
Odell forms a lethal partnership with Lando Brown for Serra. So far this spring, Odell has made 64 tackles and has an interception. He’s committed to UNLV.
18. Noah Short – The King’s Academy – Senior
Short is committed to Army. In 2019, he made 160 tackles, averaging 11.4 per game. He also rushed for four TDs.
17. Jacob Tafoya – Clovis East – Senior
Tafoya is committed to Air Force.
16. Tyler Deleon – Los Alamitos – Senior
Deleon is committed to Army. He’s been a major reason why Los Alamitos is 5-0 this spring.
15. Brady Anderson – Liberty (Bakersfield) – Senior
Anderson is signed to San Diego State. He’s made 20 tackles this spring.
14. TJ Patu – La Habra – Senior
Patu is a fantastic athlete who also runs track: “A year ago he was the sophomore 110 high hurdle champion in our league and he had never run hurdles before, so that gives you insight into his athleticism and I’m sure he would have probably repeated last year if we had a track season,” La Habra head coach Frank Mazzotta told SBLive in November.
Patu was formerly committed to Colorado.
13. Drue Watts – Sierra Canyon – Senior
Watts is signed to Nevada. He’s part of a defensive group at Sierra Canyon that has posted four straight shutouts. He’s made 38 tackles this spring and has an interception.
12. Marco Notarainni – Torrey Pines – Senior
Notarainni is signed to Boise State. He also plays running back for Torrey Pines.
11. Brye Lighon – Linfield Christian – Senior
Lighon is signed to UNLV. He’s starred as both a linebacker and tight end for Linfield Christian in his high school career.
10. Maurice Jamison – Pittsburg – Senior
Jamison is committed to UNLV. In 2019, he made 53 tackles.
9. Dominic Oliver – Valley Christian – Senior
Oliver is signed to San Diego State. In 2019, he made 15 tackles for loss. So far this spring, Oliver has recorded 25 tackles.
8. Tre Edwards – Mater Dei Catholic – Sophomore
Edwards is one of the top players nationally in the 2023 class. He’s received scholarship offers from Notre Dame, Oregon and USC, among others.
7. Bryun Parham – Long Beach Poly – Senior
Parham is signed to San Jose State. So far this spring, he’s made nine tackles, forced three fumbles, snagged an interception and blocked a punt.
6. Niuafe Tuihalamaka – Alemany – Junior
Texas, Arizona State, Notre Dame, Oregon, and Stanford are the school’s in Tuihalamaka’s top five. He’s one of the country’s top 2022 recruits.
5. Jonathan Flowe – Upland – Senior
Flowe will be joining his brother, Justin, at the University of Oregon.
4. David Bailey – Mater Dei – Junior
Bailey has battled injuries in his high school career, but when he plays he’s been tremendous. In Mater Dei’s 24-17 win over Servite this spring, Bailey had eight solo tackles, five tackles for loss, four sacks, and one forced fumble.
3. Andrew Simpson – St. John Bosco – Senior
Simpson is the leader of St. John Bosco’s defense. He has two interceptions this spring.
2. Easton Mascarenas – Mission Viejo – Senior
Mascarenas is signed to Oregon State. He’s battled injuries this spring, but in 2019 he posted 91 tackles, with 17 coming for loss.
1. Raesjon Davis – Mater Dei – Senior
Davis, who has signed with USC, had an impressive spring season, including a pick-six in Mater Dei’s 52-3 win over JSerra.