The linemen have taken over.
They have invaded center stage, nudging aside skill players with the subtlety of a pancake block.
On the college football recruiting front, the tackles, guards and ends have generated the most national interest in the Sacramento region in recent years. The focus has been and will remain on a group that has personality to match its power. And candor helps because perception remains that the larger the athlete, the greater the expectations.
This season, the burden belonged to Placer High School's Eddie Vanderdoes, a 6-foot-3, 303-pound defensive end whose friends claim that he could earn summer wages as a bouncer or comedian. Known as "Big Eddie," Vanderdoes is off to Notre Dame. He explained this week that his college choice was so difficult, he wondered what the harm would be of playing one season at UCLA, one at Alabama and two at Notre Dame.
In 2010, the region's top recruit was Grant's Vei Moala, a nose guard who upon landing at Cal promptly set the Bears' bench press record at 495 pounds. Moala measures 6-2 and 350 and goes by "Tiny." He vows to bench 520 pounds, adding, "That can really bend a bar."
In 2011, it was Pleasant Grove's Arik Armstead, a two-sport star at 6-8 and 295 pounds. Armstead's good nature allowed him to laugh off an absurd pitch by Notre Dame. Just over a year ago, Irish basketball coach Mike Brey interrupted a Pleasant Grove math class, said hello and then encouraged Armstead to enroll early at Notre Dame, suit up and grab rebounds. To be specific, Brey meant enroll within a week.
Armstead is now at Oregon playing defensive end. He's also on the Ducks' basketball team.
Next fall, four senior-to-be linemen will be the talk of the region.
Burbank's Ngalu Tapa (6-3, 275 pounds) had 23 sacks this past season. Ask him what his fantasy career is, and he'll tell you sincerely as he runs his hands through his shock of curly hair "to be a mechanical engineer."
Capital Christian's Nifae Lealao (6-4, 275) is so bright, he already has an offer from Stanford. He is into fashion and music.
Two others sure to gain recruiting interest are Kameron Schroeder (6-5, 250) of Cosumnes Oaks and Kolton Miller (6-7, 275) of Roseville. Miller could become the most sought-after Roseville High lineman since defensive end Tedy Bruschi in 1990.
Brandon Monroe had a signing day to remember. The Bee's Player of the Year out of Del Oro signed with San Jose State on Wednesday morning in Austin, Texas. Hours later, he rushed for 238 yards and three touchdowns to lead the U.S. Under-18 team past Team Canada 29-14. San Jose State plans to use Monroe at safety, though he may get a look at tailback.
Two basketball players who had been expected to miss the basketball season with knee ligament tears returned this week, giving their teams a boost with the playoffs looming.
Del Oro senior wing Brianna Ruiz, headed to Washington on scholarship, played her first minutes of the season Tuesday, then saw more time on Thursday, when she made five three-pointers against Nevada Union.
Also on Thursday, Sacramento High senior guard De'Von Boyd, headed to Chaminade in Hawaii, scored five points in three minutes off the bench in a win over Kennedy.