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West Coast Preps highlighted five sleeper prospects from the region after the 2021 spring season. Stay tuned for more student-athletes in the coming days.
Nick Bandanza (Branham, Senior, QB)
It’s hard to find a sleeper prospect who led the section in passing, but that’s just who Branham senior quarterback Nick Bandanza is: an overlooked prospect whose high school production and talent shows why he is destined for the next level.
Despite losing a remarkable 2020 class around him, Bandanza stepped up as a senior with a young squad and delivered, leading the Central Coast Section in passing with 1,567 yards – 500 more than anyone else in the CCS and also sixth-most in California – and 13 touchdowns.
That follows up a year when Bandanza tossed for 1,414 yards, 22 touchdowns and just four picks while rushing for 678 yards and seven touchdowns, helping the Bruins to a CCS championship game appearance.
The only offer Bandanza has announced is from Pacific, and head coach Stephen Johnson said the recruiting process is slow for Bandanza because most 2021 recruiting classes are already filled.
Nate Bell (Liberty, Sophomore, QB)
Bell was a second team all-league selection in the Bay Valley Athletic League, only behind Pittsburg senior Eli Brickhandler (two Division I offers), and the class of 2023 star would have been a first teamer in most other leagues out there.
The dual-threat signal-caller only got better and more confident as his first year as the varsity starter wound on, going from 293 combined passing yards through the first three games to 563 over the final two.
Those final two contests were monster outings for Bell, who was a remarkable 29-of-34 passing for 368 yards while scoring three total times in a 21-14 win over Freedom, which he followed up with 195 passing yards, 138 rushing yards and four total scores in a 30-21 win versus Heritage.
Bell finished the season as the BVAL’s No. 1 passer with 856 yards, six touchdowns and one interception, adding another 219 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
Jayden Payne (Foothill, Senior, RB)
Payne’s senior campaign was electrifying in Foothill’s run to its first league title since 2015.
The senior backfield warrior totaled 562 rushing yards – the No. 7 mark in the NCS – and six touchdowns in five games, alongside one receiving score. Four of his five games went for 100-plus rushing yards, highlighted by 161 in the league championship versus Livermore.
Foothill assistant Johnny Millard said he spoke to a former coach of his, who said Payne – who has no offers – is a Division I caliber player.
Cameron Wright (Antioch, Senior, LB)
In one of the wilder storylines, Wright somehow garnered only second team distinction in the Bay Valley Athletic League.
Wright – along with Deer Valley’s Bryson Parker – was the league’s leading tackler at 42 in five games, as he also made six stops in the backfield and forced one fumble. That follows up a junio campaign when he tallied 58 tackles and eight tackles for loss.
His 42 tackles ranked 13th in the North Coast Section.
Corbin Yates (Leland, Senior, WR/FS)
Yates is just about as good of a two-way player as it gets.
In addition to 180 receiving yards and two touchdowns, Yates was a premier defender for Leland this year, registering 51 tackles, which was No. 2 in the Central Coast Section.
As a junior in 2019, Yates had 493 receiving yards, seven touchdowns, 67 tackles, two interceptions and one forced fumble.
Yates boasts offers from La Verne and Valparaiso.
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