With the spring 2021 California high school football season coming to a close, SBLive 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 linebackers in the state, we’re now breaking down the state’s top defensive linemen.
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. The rankings were compiled by SBLive reporter Bodie DeSilva.
Class of 2021 defensive linemen who have decided to graduate and enroll early in college were not considered in these rankings.
TOP 40 DEFENSIVE LINEMEN IN CALIFORNIA
40. Cole Spivey – Hart – Junior
Spivey collected 28 tackles and five sacks over four games during his junior season for the Indians.
39. Jake Melander – Folsom – Senior
Melander finished his high school career with 67 tackles, six sacks, and two forced fumbles.
38. Sebastian McQuigg – Patrick Henry – Senior
The six-foot-five McQuigg finished with 16 tackles during the spring season. He’s committed to UNLV as a preferred walk on.
37. Finley O’Gorman – Steele Canyon – Sophomore
O’Gorman burst onto the scene with 22 tackles, seven sacks, and two forced fumbles during the spring season.
36. Thomas Bouda – Corona Del Mar – Senior
Bouda had a strong to his high school career with 5.5 sacks during the spring season. He signed with Cal Poly.
35. Sioeli Helu – Serra (San Mateo) – Senior
Helu was a playmaker up the middle, collecting 35 tackles and four sacks combined during his sophomore and junior seasons. He signed with New Mexico State after picking up 11 scholarship offers from schools across the country.
34. Caleb Manson – El Modena – Senior
Manson totaled 52 tackles and six sacks during his varsity career. He’s signed with Nevada.
33. Marcel Sanders – Clovis West – Senior
Sanders made 19 tackles and three sacks during the shortened spring season. He signed with San Jose State in December.
32. Christian Gaeta – St. Augustine – Senior
A four-year varsity player for the Saints, Gaeta totaled 104 tackles, 10.5 sacks and six forced fumbles during his career. He’s signed with the University of San Diego.
31. Tyler Narayan – Mater Dei – Senior
Narayan appeared in varsity games during each of his four seasons with the Monarchs, making 71 tackles and 11.5 sacks. He signed with Navy.
30. Jordan Guzman – Corcoran – Senior
Guzman has been a game wrecker for the Panthers with 15 sacks and three forced fumbles in only four games this spring.
29. Ilaisa Gonebure – Rocklin – Senior
Gonebure has been a difference make on both sides of the ball throughout his high school career and finished with 116 and 8.5 sacks combined during his sophomore and junior seasons. He’s signed with San Diego State.
28. Nick Fryhoff – Foothill – Senior
Fryhoff collected 25 tackles and three sacks during five games this spring. He’s committed to Penn.
27. Jahzon Jacks – St. Mary’s (Stockton) – Junior
Jacks has 60 tackles and 2.5 sacks over the past two seasons. He’s committed to Fresno State.
26. Malachi Cooper – Serra (San Diego) – Senior
Cooper played a big role in the Conquistador’s 2019 CIF run, registering five tackles and three sacks in the championship game. He’s signed with the University of San Diego.
25. Ahmed Hassanein – Loara – Senior
Hassanein didn’t pick up football until 2019 after moving from Egypt. He’s signed with Boise State.
24. Nick Ostlund – St. Margaret’s – Senior
Ostlund compiled 31 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and a forced fumble during his shortened senior season.
23. Rashad McKenzie Jr. – Bishop Alemany – Junior
McKenzie had a big February, adding offers from USC and Texas among several others.
22. Caden Harman – Sierra Canyon – Junior
Harman has been very productive during his three varsity seasons, totaling 95 tackles, 15 sacks, and three forced fumbles.
21. Mathias Malaki-Donaldson – Oaks Christian – Junior
Malaki-Donaldson had 19 tackles and a sack in five games during the spring season. He’s surpassed the double digit scholarship mark.
20. Jacob Tuioti – Long Beach Poly – Senior
Tuioti’s 61 tackles, five sacks, and two forced fumbles during his junior season earned him several offers before deciding to sign with Army.
19. Dylan Shaw – Casa Roble – Senior
Shaw has been a dominant force for the Rams over the past two seasons. He racked up 30 tackles and nine sacks in only four games this season.
18. Trey White – Eastlake – Junior
White had eight sacks during his sophomore season and added five more this spring. Arizona is one of several offers that have come in.
17. Aubrey Scott – Leuzinger – Junior
Scott entered his junior season having racked up 60 tackles and ten sacks. Arizona State and Utah are among his five offers so far.
16. Mandela Tobin – Westview – Senior
Tobin has been a playmaker on defense for the Wolverines, racking up 93 tackles and 13 sacks during his sophomore and junior seasons. He signed with Duke in December.
15. David Gusta – Cajon – Senior
Gusta closed out his senior season with 34 tackles and four sacks. He’s signed with Washington State.
14. Damonic Williams – Bishop Alemany – Junior
Williams is a run stuffer up the middle at 6-foot-2 and 325 pounds. He committed to Cal in January.
13. Jairus Satele – St. John Bosco – Junior
Satele has played in 29 games for the Braves during his first three seasons. He’s totaled 126 tackles and ten sacks during that time.
12. Mason Graham – Servite – Junior
Graham is one of several talented class of 2022 prospects for a Servite team that is on the rise. His recent offers have come from Army and UNLV.
11. Zach Rowell – Torrey Pines – Junior
The six-foot-five Rowell is one of the top rising prospects on the West Coast with recent offers from Oregon, Michigan, and Stanford.
10. Ezekiel Larry – Sierra Canyon – Junior
Larry had an excellent spring season, finishing with 34 tackles and seven sacks in only six games.
9. Enoka Migao – Chaparral – Senior
Migao had 49 tackles and seven sacks during five games this spring. He’s signed with BYU alongside his twin brother Elia.
8. Hero Kanu – Santa Margarita – Junior
Kanu has been one the country’s hottest recruits since moving in from Germany. Clemson, Ohio State, and Texas are among his many offers.
7. Nathan Burrell – St. John Bosco – Junior
Burrell had 14 tackles and half a sack during the spring season for the Braves. Eight schools from the Pac-12 have already extended offers.
6. Jaxson Moi – Cathedral Catholic – Junior
Moi helped San Diego’s top team record shutouts in four of their five spring games. USC, Stanford, and Oregon are among his many offers.
5. Maurice Heims – Santa Margarita – Senior
Heims had 18 tackles and a sack over his five games during the spring season for a loaded Santa Margarita defensive line. He’s signed with Washington.
4. Dejon Roney – Etiwanda – Junior
Roney causes havoc up the middle and requires a double team. USC, Oregon, and Miami are among the double digit offers that have arrived.
3. Jailen Weaver – Antioch – Senior
The three-sport standout is a load to deal with at six-foot-seven and 280 pounds. His junior season included 46 tackles and nine sacks. He’s signed with Nebraska.
2. Gracen Halton – St. Augustine – Junior
Halton split time at running back and defensive line this season after injuries left the Saints shorthanded. He heads into his senior season with 89 tackles, eight sacks, and four forced fumbles on his resume. He committed to Oregon in January over a group that included USC, Penn State, Nebraska, and Arizona State.
1. Derek Wilkins – Santa Margarita – Senior
Wilkins’ junior season included 54 tackles, seven sacks, four forced fumbles, and three blocked punts. He added three more sacks during the 2021 spring season. He signed with Cal after picking up scholarship offers from 20 schools.