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June 9, 2012

Power Positions: Reloading on the line

Here's the greatest testament to the star power on Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita Catholic's offensive line:

Santa Margarita Catholic must replace two starters up front, including Rivals100 selection and USC signee Max Tuerk. And even without those guys, it should head into the fall with arguably as much Division-I talent as any high school offensive line in the nation.

"We'll still be solid," Santa Margarita Catholic offensive tackle Riley Sorenson said. "Replacing Max is a burden, but we'll definitely still be good."

Sorenson may be underselling his line's prospects just a bit. All three returning starters on Santa Margarita Catholic's line have Pac-12 offers.

ERIK BUNTE
Position: Offensive tackle
Height/Weight: 6-foot-7/330
Rating: Four stars (No. 31 offensive tackle in 2013 class)
College: UCLA

Notable: Although Bunte is projected as an offensive tackle in college, Bunte actually played guard for his high school team last year while 2012 USC signee Max Tuerk and Riley Sorenson` lined up at tackle. He likely will stay at guard this fall. Bunte verbally committed to UCLA on March 14.

Quotable: "I think he's going to move outside this year, and that's probably his more natural position. He's a physical kid. He's definitely not totally developed yet. I think moving to tackle is going to give him some challenges in the sense he hasn't played a lot there, especially last year. But with his size alone, he's had some great coaching at the high school level and with more coaching at the college level, he could really emerge there.''
- Rivals.com West recruiting analyst Adam Gorney

DANE CRANE
Position: Center
Height/Weight: 6-foot-3/308
Rating: Three stars (No. 4 center in 2013 class)
College: Washington

Notable: Crane committed to Washington on April 29. He also received offers from Arizona, Arizona State, California, Colorado, Florida State and San Diego State. Although he's considered a prototypical center, he likely will play tackle his senior year in high school.

Quotable: "A lot of people think Crane might be their best offensive lineman. He could play guard. He's talented enough to play guard if you need to. He's another big kid. Big legs. Big arms. He's a guy who's gotten some pretty big offers really and could be a pretty good pickup for Washington.''
- Rivals.com West recruiting analyst Adam Gorney

RILEY SORENSON
Position: Offensive tackle
Height/Weight: 6-foot-5/330
Rating: Three stars
College: Undecided

Notable: Sorenson plays tackle in high school, but he could end up at either tackle or guard in college. He also plays high school basketball. Sorenson has received offers from California, Colorado, San Diego State, SMU, Washington and Washington State.

Quotable: "He's a physical kid who uses his hands really well. Sometimes he gets beat more than you'd like to see, but he's definitely a kid with a lot of size and who should really develop.''
- Rivals.com West recruiting analyst Adam Gorney

Erik Bunte, a four-star tackle prospect, has committed to UCLA. Washington has received a commitment from three-star center Dane Crane. Sorensen, a three-star prospect, has an offer list that includes California, Colorado, Washington and Washington State.

They already have Pac-12 size.

The Rivals.com database lists Bunte as 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds, Sorenson as 6-5 and 320 and Crane at 6-3 and 313. Santa Margarita Catholic coach Harry Welch indicated Bunte and Sorenson have since bulked up to 330 pounds, while Crane weighs 308.

Santa Margarita Catholic's new starters on the line also measure up, at least from a physical standpoint.

Candidates for the two open spots in the lineup include senior Frank DiPietro (6-3/288), senior Jack Kerry (5-10/255), junior Ryan Kilander (6-1/276), sophomore Austin Maihen (6-5/267) and junior Drake Schwenke (6-4/235) and sophomore Will Sorenson (6-4/335).

"The parents are all buying stock in Costco, Smart & Final and Albertson's," Santa Margarita Catholic assistant coach Jay Noonan quipped. "I speak to the moms all the time and they're saying, 'These kids are eating us out of the house.' ''

They have plenty of skill to go along with their size.

For instance, Sorenson plays basketball as well as football. The footwork he shows on the basketball floor has enabled him to make the most of his size on the football field.

Sorenson says playing one sport has helped his performance in the other.

"They kind of complement each other," Sorenson said.

Sure, he can physically dominate most of the guys who match up against him. But he doesn't use his size as a crutch. He also has plenty of athleticism.

"He can pass block like the very best," Welch said. "He's a proverbial wall. He's very good with his hands and feet, and he has the athleticism from being a basketball player. And he's a really good student."

Sorenson isn't the only versatile lineman on this team.

Bunte likely will play offensive tackle in college, yet he actually spent most of his time at guard last season and will probably end up there again this fall. He is rated as the nation's No. 31 tackle in the 2013 recruiting class.

"When you start off with having the physical presence he has, and you add having good hands and good basic athleticism and a good brain, it's not a bad combination," Welch said.

Crane may represent the most noteworthy example.

Welch notes that coaches from about 30 different schools have told him Crane is a prototypical Division-I center. Rivals rates him as the No. 4 center prospect in the entire 2013 recruiting class.

Yet the Washington-bound recruit likely will move over to tackle this fall to fill the spot Tuerk manned last season. Crane means so much to this team that Welch wants him at the most important position on the line.

"They write movies and write books about playing left tackle," Welch said. "In the NFL, the left tackles make the big money, and there's a reason for that. You put your best guy at left tackle. You'd better protect the quarterback's blind side. You could have a great center, but if the quarterback's on his tush or banged up, you don't have much of an offense."

Crane and Co. should help Santa Margarita Catholic have quite a potent offense this season. After all, the presence of four major-conference prospects made Santa Margarita Catholic's offensive line virtually unstoppable last year.

Tuerk, Bunte, Crane and Sorenson helped the Eagles win the California Interscholastic Federation Division I bowl championship and finish 31st in the RivalsHigh 100 national rankings last season. That line also featured Cole Luther, who is graduating this summer.

"We did really feel [last year] we could beat any single line that you could throw at us," Sorenson said. "As long as we were on our game, we couldn't really lose."

With three Pac-12 prospects on the line, Santa Margarita Catholic should be tough to beat again this fall.

POWER POSITIONS: WHAT IT'S ABOUT
As we head into the summer, we've decided to look ahead to the 2012 fall football season by rating which high schools have the best prospects at each position unit. Here is the series schedule:

Wednesday: Offensive Backfields (QB/RB)
Thursday: Pass-Catch Duo (QB to Ind. WR)
Friday: Receiving Corps (Entire Group)
Saturday: Offensive Line
Sunday: Defensive Line
Monday: Linebackers
Tuesday: Secondary

OTHERS OF NOTE (in alphabetical order)

Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton: OT Eason Fromayan (three-star prospect, 5.5 rating, committed to Cincinnati), OG Josh Harris (three-star prospect, 5.6 rating, No. 39 guard in 2013 class, committed to Wake Forest), C Cory Helms (three-star prospect, 5.4 rating, No. 7 center in 2012 class, committed to Wake Forest)

Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton: OG Devon Finai (listed in Rivals.com database, though he doesn't have a rating or any reported offers), OT Patrick Joseph (three-star prospect, 5.6 rating), OT Casey Tucker (2014 prospect with offers from Arizona State, Boise State, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon State and Washington), C Bryce Holland (2014 prospect listed in Rivals.com database, though he doesn't have any reported offers)

Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech: OT David Dawson (four-star prospect, 5.8 rating, No. 8 guard and No. 171 overall prospect in 2012 class, committed to Michigan), OT Dennis Finley (three-star prospect, 5.5 rating)

Dillon (S.C.): OT Brenden Alford (unrated prospect with an offer from Wake Forest), C Bryce King (three-star prospect, 5.7 rating, No. 3 center in 2013 class, committed to South Carolina), OT D.J. Park (four-star prospect, 5.8 rating, No. 30 offensive tackle in 2013 class, committed to South Carolina)

East Point (Ga.) Tri Cities: OT Shamire DeVine (four-star prospect, 5.8 rating, No. 18 offensive tackle and No. 188 overall recruit in 2013 class, committed to Georgia Tech), OG Jeremi Hall (four-star prospect, 5.8 rating, No. 10 guard and No. 240 overall recruit in 2013 class, committed to Georgia Tech)

Lemont (Ill.): C Tim McAuliffe (unranked prospect with offers from Ball State, Toledo, Western Michigan and Western Kentucky), OT Ethan Pocic (four-star prospect, 6.0 rating, No. 3 offensive tackle and No. 36 overall recruit in 2013 class, committed to LSU)

Orange (Calif.) Lutheran: OG John Lopez (four-star prospect, 5.9 rating, No. 6 guard and No. 140 overall recruit in 2013 class), OG Colin Sutton (three-star prospect, 5.6 rating, No. 43 guard in 2013 class, committed to Colorado)

Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe: OG Natrell Curtis (2014 prospect with offers from Arizona State, Arkansas, Boise State, Colorado, Nevada and Vanderbilt), OT Kenny Lacy (four-star prospect, 5.9 rating, No. 13 offensive tackle and No. 127 overall prospect in 2013 class)

Salt Lake City (Utah) Cottonwood: TE Siale Fakailoatonga (three-star prospect, 5.6 rating, No. 29 tight end in 2013 class, committed to Utah), OT Lo Falemaka (three-star prospect, 5.5 rating, committed to Utah), OT Elijah Tupai (three-star prospect, 5.5 rating)

The Woodlands (Texas): OG Jonathan Huckins (three-star prospect, 5.5 rating), OT Sam Kronshage (three-star prospect, 5.5 rating), TE Jayme Taylor (unrated prospect with offers from Texas State and Wake Forest)


Steve Megargee is the national college columnist for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.



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