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August 17, 2012

West Region: Six to watch

SIX TO WATCH: Midwest | Mid-Atlantic

With the high school season about to begin, Rivals.com's recruiting analyst Adam Gorney takes a look at the six players to keep an eye on in the West.

1. QB Max Browne, 6-5/202, Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline: Browne had a solid summer competing at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge , The Opening and the Elite 11 but other quarterbacks are creeping up the rankings so the USC commit must continue to put up big numbers to keep his top ranking.

Browne has thrown for 8,216 yards with 95 touchdowns and 20 interceptions the last two seasons. A huge matchup against Alabama quarterback commit Cooper Bateman and his Salt Lake City (Utah) Cottonwood squad will be closely watched on Sept. 7.

2. S Su'a Cravens, 6-1/205, Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta: In his junior season, Cravens finished with 100 tackles, 11 sacks and three interceptions playing safety and outside linebacker. He also rushed for 673 yards and 15 touchdowns, and caught 20 passes for 339 yards and four scores.

There is a smooth dominance about the way he plays football that's uncanny. He's not the biggest or seemingly the fastest but Cravens looks so comfortable on the field and so he is usually by far the best player on the field.

So why are there questions? Well, Cravens attended none of the major camps this summer, he's committed to USC, so will the hunger still be there? The guess is absolutely yes but a bigger target will be on his back - more than ever. It's unlikely anyone can slow him down, let alone stop him though.

3. RB Thomas Tyner, 6-0/200, Beaverton (Ore.) Aloha: The most impressive aspect of Tyner's game is that he has outstanding size and he's a blazer. There aren't many players in Oregon who are even close to his level and so he dominates - that's when he's not sidelined with an injury.

Too often in his high school career, Tyner has been slowed by injuries including in his junior season and that's obviously a concern. Reports are that he's healthy again, ready for a big senior year but the jury is still out until he actually proves it on the field. There's no doubt he can post massive numbers but not if he's slowed by an ailment.

It's also important to note that Tyner participated in no major events this summer including The Opening, which was in Beaverton. It would have been nice, at least once, to see him against national competition.

4. QB Hayden Rettig, 6-4/210, Los Angeles Cathedral: Rettig threw for 508 yards and six touchdowns in his first game last season. Things were going so well but then the LSU commit tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and meniscus in his right knee in Cathedral's second game and was out for the rest of the season.

At the time, Rettig was crushed but he bounced back, landed in the SEC and looked bigger, stronger and more mature this spring during a throwing session. It will be interesting to see how Rettig comes back with full contact, in game situations and how he handles the knee injury especially from the mental side.

5. QB Keller Chryst, 6-3/215, Palo Alto, Calif.: Although he's a 2014 prospect, there are going to be many coaches and fans who keep a close eye on Chryst this season. He was outstanding at the Oakland Elite 11 and already claims an offer from USC.

There is no question he has all the tools to be a big-time player in the Pac-12 so it would not be a surprise if he starts landing major offers after the first few games. Chryst's father, Geep, is the quarterbacks coach of the San Francisco 49ers so he's learning the position from one of the best. He has a great pedigree, tools and could be one of the top 2014 quarterbacks in the West if not the country.

6. QB Kevin Dillman, 6-4/205, La Mirada, Calif.: It is far too early to be concerned with 2015 quarterback unless that prospect already has offers from Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida State, Louisville, Ole Miss, UCLA and Utah. That would be Dillman, who could be a special prospect according to those close to him because of his size and unique development for a player his size.

Dillman was not seen on the 7-on-7 circuit this summer so it will be especially interesting to see him during game action this season. He could be a big-time player down the road - or possibly even now as a sophomore.



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