Junior college football in the North State reached its apex this summer when U-Prep alum and former Butte College tight end Connor Gilbreath signed to LSU. Gilbreath's move to the SEC has captured the imagination and has sparked a wave of talented football players who are attending both Shasta College and Butte College with the hopes of obtaining similar stardom. The buzz around junior college football across Redding hasn't been greater as Shasta College looks to climb atop the California rankings and contend with the best programs across the state. With three Redding and Red Bluff products on the starting offense on Shasta College, there are plenty of reasons to pay attention to the Knights in 2023.
One starting linebacker played Division I football in New York while the Knights offense touts three starters from Shasta and Tehama counties. But who are these athletes? Where do they come from and how did they end up in Redding? Shasta College carries a roster with players from 13 different states. It's time to explore the top offensive and defensive athletes at Shasta College before taking on San Joaquin Delta at home on Saturday at 6 p.m. Top offensive players to watch Eli Wehbey Hometown: Red Bluff, CA High School: Red Bluff Class: Sophomore Position: Quarterback Scouting report: Wehbey has a high-level touch after guiding Shasta College last year.
Wehbey threw for 1,291 yards, 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. He graduated in 2020 from Red Bluff following a solid senior year throwing for 1,484 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. He completed 12 of 25 passes for 181 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in a 35-21 loss last Friday against Reedley College. Eli Cortinas Hometown: Redding, CA High School: Enterprise Class: Sophomore Position: Running Back Scouting report: Cortinas was the key offensive catalyst for the Hornets during his junior and senior year.
Cortinas averaged 6.5 yards per carry with the Hornets and rushed for 1,518 yards and 12 touchdowns during his junior year in 2019. Cortinas has the combination of being shifty and strong. He can shed the first player of tacklers at the line of scrimmage, change speeds in the open field and find his second wind to score touchdowns. Jahari Johnson Hometown: Redding, CA High School: Enterprise Class: Freshman Position: Wide Receiver Scouting report: Johnson took 2022 off to become a more muscular athlete.
The good news is Johnson kept the same trademark speed that allowed him to play four years of varsity football. Johnson has grown two inches and stands at 6-foot-3. He caught five passes for 61 yards and rushed for a touchdown in his Knights debut last Saturday. Johnson runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash and has the hands and body frame to play Division I football. Hakeem Lowe Hometown: Apopka, FL High School: Wekiva Class: Freshman Position: Wide Receiver Scouting report: Lowe is dangerously quick at 5-foot-11.
Lowe snaps his routes and creates space with his footwork and change of direction. He caught four passes for 57 yards last Saturday. Randy Gibson Hometown: Sheridan, OR High School: Sheridan Class: Freshman Position: Wide Receiver Scouting report: Shasta College isn't short on options when it comes to the length of its receivers.
Gibson stands 6-4 and ranks 21st in receiving yards at Sheridan High School in 2021. Malachi Kinyon Hometown: Grants Pass, OR High School: Grants Pass Class: Freshman Position: Wide Receiver Scouting report: Kinyon at 5-8 is another quality slot receiver who can easily pick up major yards. Kinyon was a top receiver for Grants Pass and beat Shasta High School in 2022. Juan "Phoenix" Chavez Hometown: Salem, OR High School: McKay Class: Sophomore Position: Tight End Scouting report: Chavez has massive hands and a big body at 6-2, 220 pounds.
He flew under the radar in high school and is at Shasta College to prove his worth as a top-level tight end. Joey Comyford Hometown: Grants Pass, OR High School: Grants Pass Class: Sophomore Position: Offensive Lineman Scouting report: Comyford is a fast-moving and dynamic blocker who generated attention while attending Grants Pass High School.
Comyford was a four-year starter as an offensive guard and was selected to play in the East-West Shrine All-Star football game. He was one of the top-ranked offensive linemen in Oregon in 2021. Comyford stands 6-4 and 268 pounds. His proven size and abilities should help him land at a four-year school after this season. Matthew Lefeau Hometown: Tacoma, WA High School: Washington Class: Freshman Position: Lefeau Scouting report: Originally from Tacoma, Lefeau has bounced around having originally attended Garden City Community College earlier this year.
Lefeau chose instead to attend Shasta College, a little closer to his Washington state roots. Lefeau towers at 6-5 and was a top-ranked player in the South Puget Sound League as a high school senior in 2022. Shyloh Nicholson Hometown: Eureka High School: Eureka Class: Sophomore Position: Offensive Lineman Scouting report: Nicholson was one of the many hundreds of athletes who weren't given full seasons in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Nevertheless, Nicholson has found a home in Redding and has been one of Shasta College's more productive offensive linemen in the past two seasons. Nicholson towers at 6-5 and tips the scales at 305 pounds. He's another athlete with Division I pedigree. Elgen Faraimo Hometown: Fife, WA High School: Fife Class: Freshman Position: Offensive Lineman Scouting report: Faraimo plays fast, with passion and brings an upbeat energy to Shasta College's offensive line.
Faraimo has the framework at 6-4 to generate buzz. Faraimo was another top player in the South Puget Sound League in Washington. Danny Battilega Hometown: Beaverton, OR High School: Southridge Class: Sophomore Position: Offensive Lineman Scouting report: Battilega shined as a center and defensive tackle while attending Southridge High School in 2021.
At 6-3, Battilega has flown under the radar. Hopefully a few pancakes at Shasta College will help him attract four-year colleges. Defensive players to watch Braden Rohde Hometown: Eugene, OR High School: Churchill Class: Sophomore Position: Defensive Lineman Scouting report: Rohde was one of the top-ranked pass rushers in Oregon in 2021.
He was selected to play in the Les Schwab Bowl, an All-Star game in 2022 that features the top high school football prospects from Washington and Oregon. Rohde was First Team All-Conference and Second Team All-State during his tenure. Rohde made three tackles last Saturday against Reedley. Trey Meredith Hometown: Tacoma, WA High School: Lincoln Class: Freshman Position: Defensive Lineman Scouting report: Meredith is 5-11 and his low center of gravity helps him win 1-on-1 battles with blockers.
He is muscular, quick and provides Shasta College with consistent pressure. Tanner Dobeck Hometown: Myrtle Creek, OR High School: South Umpqua Class: Freshman Position: Defensive Lineman Scouting report: Dobeck is coming off a stellar 2022 senior year at South Umpqua High School. Dobeck was named the Far West League Defensive Player of the Year after leading South Umpqua to a 9-3 season and a quarterfinal appearance in the Oregon Schools Activities Association in 2022.
Dobeck brings quickness and mobility to the Knights' defensive front. Dobeck made one tackle last Saturday. Chase Barnes Hometown: Albany, OR High School: West Albany Class: Sophomore Position: Defensive End Scouting report: Barnes was a Division 5-A state pass rusher in Oregon in 2021. Barnes is 6-3 and his quickness and pressure give opposing offenses problems. Zack Mahan Hometown: Lake Oswego, OR High School: Lake Oswego Class: Sophomore Position: Linebacker Scouting report: Mahan started his junior college career in southern California following a stellar career at Lake Oswego.
Mahan played at Santa Barbara City College last season making 13 tackles including a sack. Mahan had three tackles last Saturday. Xander Kendall Hometown: Cincinnati, OH High School: Colerian Class: Freshman Position: Linebacker Scouting report: Kendall transferred to Shasta College after playing at Marist College in 2021.
Kendall played in three games in 2021 making three tackles including one for loss against Columbia. Kendall made two tackles last Saturday. His minimal amount of playing time at Marist allowed Kendall to keep his status as an athletic freshman. Javon Edwards Hometown: Cleveland Heights, OH High School: Cleveland Heights Class: Freshman Position: Linebacker Scouting report: Edwards, a 2021 graduate from Cleveland Heights was a First Team All-District member in 2020.
Edwards is one of the hardest-hitting tacklers for the Knights. At 6-1 inch and 235 pounds, the quarterback better get off the ball quickly. Edwards forced a fumble last Saturday. Drake Granberry Hometown: Tacoma, WA High School: Lincoln Class: Freshman Position: Defensive Back Scouting report: Granberry is another top player from Washington picked up by Shasta College.
Granberry led Shasta College with seven tackles last Saturday. He was a quick first step, stays disciplined by keeping his hips down and feet chopping. Kaden Bryant Hometown: Statesboro, GA High School: Georgia Premier Academy Class: Sophomore Position: Defensive Back Scouting report: Bryant was a two-sport athlete lettering in baseball and football while attending high school in Georgia.
Bryant was an all-league safety and competed in the NUC All-American game in Savannah, Georgia. Bryant made four tackles last Saturday. Rashawn Boone Hometown: Fort Wayne, Indiana High School: Northrop Class: Freshman Position: Defensive Back Scouting report: Boone gives Shasta College a dynamic at safety and cornerback.
Boone was a highly rated at 6-feet tall. Boone made one tackle last Friday. Elijah Grooms Hometown: Burtonsville, MD High School: Paint Branch Class: Sophomore Position: Defensive Back Scouting report: Grooms played at Shasta College but is also listed as having attended Alderson Broaddus University in Philippi, West Virginia before returning to sunnier skies.
Grooms has also lived in Bronx, New York. Grooms made four tackles for Shasta College last Saturday.