Next Level: Kirk among alumni to shine in week 1
NCAA football is now in full swing, and there were several Arizona prep stars of yesterday making plays at the next level. Here are a few who stood out to me in week 1:
Christian Kirk, Texas A&M: I was out in Houston to witness the debut of Christian Kirk against the team that almost landed him, Arizona State. Not only did Kirk lead the Aggies in receiving, thanks in part to a crafty 66 yard TD run after catching a bubble screen from former Arizona prep star Kyle Allen, but he also returned a punt to the house early in the game that let the entire NCAA that the former 5-star recruit of Saguaro had officially arrived.
Kyle Allen, Texas A&M: Perhaps the gutsiest of the week 1 performances, the Desert Mountain alum was subbed in for on multiple occasions by freshman Kyler Murray, who has achieved legend-status for his high school career at Allen high in Texas, but Allen threw for 2 TDs and ran for another in the Aggie win over ASU, and clearly showed why he was named the starter to begin the season.
Kani Benoit, Oregon: When Thomas Tyner went down with an injury, Benoit's chance of being a contributor on Oregon's fast-paced offense increased dramatically. In a week 1 win over Eastern Washington, Benoit showed what he could do, as the Thunderbird grad ran for 83 yards and a TD on 11 carries, and had a 19 yard reception.
Billy Freeman, San Jose State: The Red Mountain product is primed for a big season, and he got down to business last week with a 4 catch, 69 yard performance in the Spartans season opener, adding a receiving TD.
Emmanuel Butler, NAU: You have to figure it was just a matter of time before Butler announced his arrival. By the time he was a senior on Mountain Pointe's 2013 state championship team, he was still honing his craft as a receiver, and NAU got an absolute steal when he committed to the Lumberjacks. Butler had 216 yards and 3 TDs on just 7 catches in NAU's season opening win.
Blake Decker, UNLV: Of all the Arizona prep alum to start games last week, Decker may have had the biggest day. While the Runnin' Rebels lost in head coach Tony Sanchez' debut, Mountain View's Decker managed to throw for 319 yards on 21/39 passing, adding 2 touchdowns.
Kyler Fackrell, Utah State: Mesa's Fackrell, coming off an injury, opened his season with 2.5 tackles for a loss and 2 sacks in a win over Southern Utah.
Anthony Lopez, Arizona: Mesquite's Anthony Lopez helped the Wildcats secure a win over UTSA by returning an interception 23 yards for a TD.
DaVonte' Neal, Arizona: Not only did the converted WR from Chaparral lead Arizona in tackles with 11, he also blocked a UTSA field goal to help the Wildcats get a season-opening win.
Luke Rubenzer, California: Luke Rubenzer, fresh from being moved to safety from quarterback, where he set all sorts of record for Saguaro High, had 4 tackles and an interception in his defensive debut.
Blake Martizez, Stanford: Stanford may have lost, but the Canyon del Oro product had 7 solo tackles and 7 assists on Saturday to help keep the Cardinal in a close game against Northwestern.
Josh Bamrick, NAU: Bamrick, who prepped at Mesquite, had 9 tackles in NAU's win over Stephen F. Austin, and added a sack as well.
QB Mark Andrews (Desert Mountain/Oklahoma): 4 catches, 50 yards, QB Tyler Rogers (Liberty/N.M. State) 14/27, 128 yards, TD, QB Blake Kemp (Hamilton/East Carolina) 29/37, 235 yards, WR Nate Phillips (Basha/Arizona) 3 catches, 28 yards, TD, RB Casey Jahn (Northwest Christian/NAU) 178 total yards, TE Kody Kohl (Mesquite/Arizona State) 4 yard TD catch, LB Jeremy Timpf (Sabino/Army) 9 tackles, DB Kelvin Fisher (Higley/UTEP) 3 tackles against former team (Arkansas), DB Cole Luke (Hamilton/Notre Dame), 1 tackle, 1 pass broken up in 38-3 win over Texas, LB Dedrick Young (Centennial/Nebraska) 7 tackles.