After scouring over prospect lists, CHSAANow all-state teams and 2020-21 stats, The Denver Post compiled a list of some of Colorado’s top high school football talents. Players are listed in alphabetical order and cover all of the 11-man football classifications.
Jackson Adams (Arapahoe), LB/TE, Sr. — Hobbled by ankle surgery for most of his junior year, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound three-star recruit enters his senior season with something to prove. Northern Colorado is already interested, and others may soon follow suit.
Mohamed Altayeb (Denver East), DE/TE, Sr. — A disruptive force on the interior defensive line, the 6-3, 250-pound Altayeb (28 tackles, 4.0 for loss) is one of two returning 5A spring football all-state picks for the Angels, with RB/CB Isaiah Davis (689 yards, 6 TDs) the other.
Jade Arroyo (Highlands Ranch), TE, Sr. — The top-rated senior tight end in the state by 247Sports.com, the 6-3, 230-pound CSU commit enters his fourth varsity season with 64 receptions for 860 yards and nine touchdowns, including 23-325-5 in six games as a junior.
Josh Bates (Durango), C/G, Jr. — The anchor of a Demons offensive line that paved the way to the 3A state title last fall, the 6-3, 285-pound Oklahoma commit has two more seasons to chase a second championship before joining Valor’s Gavin Sawchuk in Norman in the fall of 2023.
Jace Bellah (Pueblo South), QB/CB, Sr. — With prolific RB George Longoria gone, the Colts turn to their ironman star. A second-team 3A all-state pick last fall, Bellah is a ball hawk in the secondary (30 tackles, 11 career interceptions) and a dual threat under center (954 total yards, 9 TDs in 2020).
Mac Busteed (Fossil Ridge), WR, Jr. — A massive sophomore year (27 receptions, 561 yards, eight TDs) put the 6-5 pass catcher on the recruiting radar, with New Mexico making an offer over the summer. Expect Busteed and junior QB Tyler Kubat to hook up quite a bit this fall.
Rashad Caldwell (Denver South), WR/DB, Jr. — The Ravens love to chuck it, and Caldwell is their most dangerous target. The rangy 6-foot wideout already has 41 catches for 816 yards and 11 touchdowns in two varsity seasons, including 25-454-8 in last spring’s 5A all-state campaign.
Mason Claunch (Centauri), RB/CB, Sr. — If the Falcons get over the hump in 1A, their returning all-state selection will be the one pushing them over the top. Claunch not only led the state with 24 TDs last year (22 rushing), he also had 99 tackles, two interceptions and 1,050 yards on the ground.
Anthony Costanzo (Palmer Ridge), WR/S, Sr. — Bound for UNLV next fall, Costanzo is one of the few receiving holdovers from last year’s prolific Bears attack that fell a win shy of a 4A state title. The 6-3 pass-catcher has 55 receptions for 1,120 yards and 17 TDs in three varsity seasons.
Seth Cromwell (Columbine), FB/MLB, Sr. — The Rebels’ ground-and-pound will feature a heavy dose of Cromwell, a stout 5-10, 210-pound fullback who totaled 814 yards rushing and 14 TDs last year. The second-team 5A all-state pick also had four sacks and 38 tackles.
Brayden Dorman (Vista Ridge), QB, Jr. — Rated the 12th-best quarterback in the nation for the Class of 2023, the 6-5 Dorman is coming off a sophomore season that saw him throw for 1,829 yards and 24 TDs in five games. Unsurprisingly, FBS schools are lining up for his services, with Wisconsin, Iowa State, CU and CSU among them.
Isaiah Eliot (The Academy), QB, Jr. — Able to punish teams as both a passer (1,037 yards, 10 TDs) and runner (599, six), Eliot is the driving force behind an up-and-coming Wildcats program looking to build off last spring’s run to the postseason.
Tai Faavae, of Fountain Fort Carson’s football team, took part in CHSAA’s third annual high school media day, in partnership with the Denver Broncos, at Empower Field at Mile High on Aug. 16, 2021 in Denver.
Tai Faavae (Fountain-Fort Carson), MLB/RB, Jr. — After sharing a backfield with Gold Helmet winner Q Jones, the 205-pound junior’s workload is sure to grow after he gained 317 yards on 29 carries last fall. But it might be his work leading the Trojans defense (67 tackles, 3.0 sacks, two interceptions) where he makes his biggest impact.
Alec Falk (Palmer Ridge), G/OT, Sr. — An offer from Wyoming in hand, the 6-5, 275-pound three-star recruit is sure to turn even more heads as a key member of the “Monument Moving Company” — the apt nickname for the Bears’ stacked offensive line.
George Fitzpatrick (Cherry Creek), OT, Sr. — The state’s most sought-after offensive line prospect will suit up for Ohio State next fall. But first things first: The 6-6, 270-pound four-star recruit will go for his third 5A state title in three seasons.
Ethan Florez (Eaton), OLB/RB, Sr. — One of two first-team all-state returners for the defending 2A state champions (DE/RB Ryan Dirksen is the other), Florez led Eaton in rushing yards (616), touchdowns (11) and tackles (62) last fall.
Zach Friedman (Ralston Valley), QB, Sr. — The three-sport athlete (basketball and lacrosse are Friedman’s other two) took over the QB reins last fall for the Mustangs and was incredibly efficient, completing 78 of 118 passes for 1,007 yards and 11 TDs in seven games.
Nico Gagliardi (Cheyenne Mountain), DE/RB, Sr. — Entering his fourth varsity season, the 5-10, 205-pound 4A all-state selection has wrecked opposing team’s game plans the past three years, racking up 32.0 tackles for loss (18.0 sacks) and three forced fumbles in just 22 games.
Gavin Garrettson (Mead), QB, Sr. — The Mavericks offense went to the air a little more often with Garrettson taking snaps last season, and for good reason: the 6-3 signal caller averaged 13.1 yards per attempt (38 of 68, 891 yards, 11 TDs) as a second-team 3A all-state pick.
Travis Gray (Cherokee Trail), OT, Sr. — The CU Buffs scored a big in-state recruiting win when they got a pledge from Gray, a 6-foot-8, 305-pound three-star prospect and yet another product of Six Zero Academy in Parker.
Blake Haggerty (Castle View), WR/CB, Sr. — A big-play threat on offense (23 receptions. 555 yards, six TDs) and capable cover corner on defense (two interceptions, five passes defense, 35 tackles), Haggerty is a high-impact three-star recruit for the Sabercats.
Andrew Hale (Valor Christian), S/WR, Sr. — The top returning tackler (47) on the Eagles roster, Hale also had two interceptions and a punt block as a 5A all-state honorable mention safety last season. Idaho has sent an offer.
Anthony Harris Jr. (Smoky Hill), WR, Sr. — An automatic double-double on the basketball court, the 6-5 receiver’s smooth athleticism and excellent hands translate well on the football field, too, where he was second in the state in receiving yards (868) and tops in receiving TDs (15) last fall.
Cayden Hawkins (Valor Christian), LB, Sr. — Bound for Wyoming next fall, the 6-3, 185-pound outside linebacker had 31 tackles (4.0 for loss) as one of several returners from an Eagles defense that only surrendered 7.8 points per game last season.
Justin Hawthorne (Resurrection Christian), LB, Sr. — A returning 2A all-state pick, Hawthorne had at least one tackle for loss in six of seven games last fall. With fellow all-state selection Eddie Lemos (six interceptions) in the secondary, the Cougars should have a stout defense once again.
Jaxon Heil (Mullen) S/RB, Sr. — If the Mustangs are to break a string of four straight losing seasons, their senior 5A honorable mention all-state safety will play a role as a defensive leader (67 tackles, 2.0 for loss).
Connor Jones (Palmer Ridge), T/G, Sr. — Committed to play for the Michigan Wolverines, the 6-7, 290-pound 4A all-state left tackle teams up with Wyoming-bound left guard Alec Falk to make up perhaps the most ferocious left side in the state.
Bryce Johnson (Lutheran), S/WR, Sr. — Johnson (6-2, 180) averaged 9.5 tackles per game last season. The Colorado State commit also plays wide receiver with two career touchdowns. He projects as an edge rusher for the Rams.
Dontay Johnson (Fort Collins), WR/DB, Sr. — The Colorado State commit has elite talent but played in only five games over the past two seasons due to injuries. Johnson (6-2, 175) has 22 career receptions for 266 yards and one touchdown.
Antwuan Jackson (Douglas County), QB/S, Sr. — After four straight losing seasons, the Huskies are looking to make a move this fall with Jackson entering his fourth year under center (2,733 career passing yards) and fellow three-star recruit Taylor Nichols (OL) providing protection.
Aaron Karas (Pomona), OT, Sr. — The Panthers’ run to the 4A state semifinals last fall received a major push from Karas, a 6-5, 290-pound all-state pick and three-star recruit who’s now fielding offers from the likes of Air Force, Army and Nevada.
Braden Kramer (Pine Creek), TE/DL, Sr. — The second-team 4A all-state pick and Holy Cross commit only got to play five games due to the Eagles’ COVID-19 issues last fall, but still managed 200 yards receiving, 17 tackles (2.0 for loss) and three passes defensed.
Cole LaCrue (Broomfield), QB, Jr. — Handed the keys to the Eagles offense as a sophomore, LaCrue required zero coddling as he threw for 1,017 yards on 74-of-110 passing with 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Justis La’ulu (Vista Ridge), DT/G, Sr. — Four-star QB Brayden Dorman may get most of the headlines for the Wolves, but the 6-3, 295-pound La’ulu is a massive presence in his own right. A second-team 4A all-state pick last year, he had 5.5 tackles for loss in three games.
Jeremiah Leeper (Limon), RB/LB, Sr. — If the Badgers’ 1A dynasty is to continue, it will be due largely to the efforts of Leeper (2,510 career rush yards and 38 TDs) and fellow senior all-state returnees Chance Cannon (OL), Trey Hines (QB/CB) and Ky Bandy (LB/RB).
Ian Loomis (Loveland) MLB/FB, Sr. — With a state-best 105 tackles (11.0 for loss) and three interceptions, Looms played a central role in Loveland’s second state title run in three years. The 6-3, 205-pound linebacker is now eyeing a third consecutive 100-tackle season.
Jake Maikkula, of Valor Christian’s football team, took part in CHSAA’s third annual high school media day, in partnership with the Denver Broncos, at Empower Field at Mile High on Aug. 16, 2021 in Denver.
Jake Maikkula (Valor Christian), OT, Sr. — The 6-5, 265-pound three-star recruit sifted through dozens of D-I offers before landing on Stanford, re-opening a Colorado pipeline to the Farm that previously netted Barrett Miller (Eaglecrest) and Drake Nugent (Highlands Ranch) in 2019.
Brian Mata (Pueblo South), T, Sr. — The first-team 3A all-state tackle was the anchor of a Colts offensive line that paved the way for 213.3 rushing yards per game last season and fell one win short of a second straight state title game trip.
Jackson McCullough (Chatfield), OT/DL, Sr. — A three-star recruit, McCullough (6-5, 255) should be a key cog for a Chargers team that took its lumps with a younger roster last season but returns nearly all of its offensive leaders, including junior Mason Lowe (951 total yards).
Darius McFarland (Falcon), RB/FS, Sr. — The Rams’ first winning season in six years was powered by their 4A all-state runner, who was a first down waiting to happen during the spring with an average of 10.9 yards per carry (71-775) in the team’s first five games.
Dorion McGarity (Fort Collins) WR/CB, Sr. — The Colorado State commit totaled 84 catches for 990 yards and 13 touchdowns over his past three seasons. McGarity (5-10, 175) won the last Front Range League title for the 200-meter dash.
Brannon McGowan (Arapahoe), LT/RG, Sr. — The 6-3, 265-pound tackle earned second-team 5A all-state honors last fall and is part of a big, physical Warriors team looking to make some noise under new head coach Joe Nu’u and third-year starting quarterback Cole Hansen.
Julian Mechels (Boulder) DE/OLB, Sr. — The state’s returning sacks leader (11.0) was a key playmaker in the Panthers’ march to the 5A spring football title game. Between Mechels and all-state DB Tristan Langenegger (five interceptions), Boulder’s defense is in good hands.
Luke Meyer (Valor Christian), DE, Sr. — The three-star Air Force commit came on strong near the end of last season, compiling 3.5 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery in the Eagles’ final four games.
Spencer Mickelberry (Centaurus), T/G, Sr. — A first-team 4A all-state selection, Mickelberry helped the Warriors end a 10-year playoff drought last spring. With dual threat QB Coleman Teasdale (1,035 total yards) also back, Centaurus has an opportunity to build on that success.
Braden Miller (Eaglecrest), OT, Sr. — The 6-7, 290-pound all-state pick is committed to Mel Tucker’s Michigan State Spartans. But before he heads east, Miller had fellow D-I offensive lineman Kaden Weatherby will provide the Raptors with bookend tackles that will be the envy of the state.
Blake Nieslanik (Glenwood Springs), RB/OLB, Sr. — The leading rusher for last spring’s 3A state semifinalists, Nieslanik piled up 1,009 yards and nine touchdowns on 108 carries as a first-team all-state selection.
Jordan Norwood (Valor Christian), MLB/RB, Sr. — The Eagles’ loaded LB corps starts with the 6-1, 205-pound Norwood, a Liberty pledge and three-star recruit who totaled 44 tackles (6.5 for loss) during their run to the 5A state title game. Norwood also placed third in the shot put at the 5A state meet.
Ky Oday (Cherry Creek), WR, Sr. — There aren’t many in the state who keep up with Oday, last spring’s 5A state champion in the 400 meters and runner-up in the 100 who is committed to play for Colorado State after one last season in Greenwood Village.
Dorian Pacheco, of Luthran’s football team, took part in CHSAA’s third annual high school media day, in partnership with the Denver Broncos, at Empower Field at Mile High on Aug. 16, 2021 in Denver.
Dorian Pacheco (Lutheran), RB/MLB, Sr. — The 3A all-state pick has been a defensive menace since Day 1 for the Lions, tallying 295 tackles (31.5 for loss), five forced fumbles and an interception in three varsity seasons. After 2020, he’s a rushing and receiving threat (698 total yards) as well.
Cade Palmer (The Classical Academy), RB/S, Sr. — The 6-1, 195-pound Air Force commit has two 1,000-yard rushing seasons so far, including last spring’s 1,122-yard, 18-TD tour de force that saw him average 12.2 yards per carry. Most impressive? He saved his best for last, gashing Rifle for 346 yards in a heart-breaking 3A title game loss.
Grant Page (Fairview), WR/DB, Sr. — The future Nebraska Cornhusker may be a receiver at the next level, but his abilities as a pass catcher (134 career receptions, 2,065 yards) are just part of the package, as his defensive stats (five interceptions, 11 passes defensed) suggest.
John Pastore (Erie), T/DT, Sr. — A three-sport varsity athlete who qualified for the 4A state meet in the shot put, the 6-6, 270-pound Kansas State commit dominates both sides of the ball as a pile driving blocker and disruptive defensive tackle (22 tackles, 2.0 sacks, one forced fumble).
Keegan Patterson (Longmont), QB/SS, Sr. — Entering his third year as a starter under center, Patterson has already put up prolific passing numbers (3,444 yards, 24 TDs) in 17 games. With favorite target Caleb Johnson (832 yards in ’20) also back, Longmont should light up scoreboards.
Ty Pell (Cherry Creek), TE, Jr. — The younger brother of CU tight end Alec Pell, Ty has the size (6-4, 215) to follow in big bro’s his footsteps and will have the opportunity as well this fall after recovering from a shoulder injury that cost him part of his sophomore year.
Blake Purchase (Cherry Creek), OLB, Jr. — Another younger sibling on Creek’s D-I assembly line — older bro Myles headed off to Iowa State this fall — the 6-4, 220-pound four-star recruit is just getting started with the Bruins and already has offers from CU, CSU, USC and Iowa State.
Cole Rairick (Lutheran), T/DE, Sr. — The Lions are looking to take the next step after back-to-back playoff seasons, and having a 3A all-state tackle to protect prolific passer Clayton Jacobs (1,198 yards, 14 TDs) is a good place to start.
Jareb Ramos (Arapahoe), DL/TE, Sr. — At 6-4, 260 pounds, the three-star defensive end is a handful on the edge with speed, power and solid instincts. The CSU Rams sent an offer Ramos’ way this spring, and Idaho and Penn are also interested.
Collin Reetz (Estes Park), QB, Sr. — The state’s top returning passer (177 of 310, 2,332 yards, 22 TDs), Reetz, a 6-foot-6 all-state spring football selection, will have his work cut out for him this fall with his four favorite targets all graduating.
Kahden Rullo (Grandview), DB, Sr. — The all-state track and field sprinter (4×200), and three-sport athlete, was a turnover machine in the Wolves secondary last fall, snatching six interceptions, forcing and recovering one fumble and even blocking a punt on special teams.
Luke Sandy, (Legend), OL/DL, Sr. — Armed with a high motor and imposing frame (6-2, 285), Sandy is a run-stuffing nuisance in the interior who led a formidable Titans defense with 9.0 tackles for loss last season while also accumulating 61 tackles and one forced fumble.
Gavin Sawchuk (Valor Christian), RB, Sr. — Since bursting onto the scene as a freshman, there hasn’t been a better running back in the state than Sawchuk. Now, there might not be a better one in the nation as the Oklahoma commit goes for a third straight 1,000-yard season and second state title.
Malique Singleton (Grandview), S, Sr. — The state runner-up in the 5A 110-meter hurdles last spring, and a Wyoming commit, Singleton is one of several athletes from the Wolves’ state championship track and field team certain to make an impact on the football field this fall.
Miles Sprague (Holyoke), QB/LB, Sr. — Sprague’s iron man credentials are as good as any in the state. Whether it’s as a passer (3,433 career pass yards), runner (1,199 rush yards), defender (177 tackles, seven interceptions) or, yes, even punter (35.4-yard average), the senior never stops making plays.
Kevin Sjogren (Palisade), TE/LB, Sr. — The Bulldogs’ defensive leader (64 tackles, two interceptions, one forced fumble) was a first-team 3A all-state selection last fall and should figure heavily into Palisade’s bid to return to the postseason after a one-year absence.
Ethan Thomason (Rocky Mountain), OL, Jr. — The Lobos are on the rise after posting their first winning season in five years, and the 6-8, 295-pound Thomason is a big part of that. With offers from CU, CSU, Oklahoma State and others already out there, Thomason is very much in demand.
Armony Trujillo (Fruita Monument), MLB/RB, Sr. — Named the Western Slope Conference defensive player of the year last fall, Trujillo tallied 66 tackles (10.5 for loss) and an interception as a sideline-to-sideline middle linebacker. He also gained 958 all-purpose yards (11 TDs) as a running back/returner.
Nunie Tuitele (Regis Jesuit), DE, Sr. — The 6-4, 230-pound end is committed to Cal-Berkeley and received 5A all-state honorable mention last fall after racking up 23 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 2.0 tackles for loss and one interception in just five games.
Bryce Vaz (Legend) RB, Sr. — Vaz (5-10, 180) exploded for 310 rushing yards and six touchdowns in a Class 5A playoff victory against Fairview. He finished the season averaging 9.3 yards per carry after overcaming several injuries early in his career.
Cooper Walton, of Rosevelt’s football team, took part in CHSAA’s third annual high school media day, in partnership with the Denver Broncos, at Empower Field at Mile High on Aug. 16, 2021 in Denver.
Cooper Walton (Roosevelt), OLB/RB, Sr. — The Roughriders fell a win shy of the 3A title last fall and enter this season ranked No. 1. Those lofty expectations begin with Walton, a CSU commit who racked up 17.0 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and an interception in 2020.
Trace Williams-Mitchel (Columbine), T/DT, Sr. — The Rebels have a reputation for winning in the trenches, and that will only be reinforced by the 6-3, 275-pound Williams, a disruptive force on the interior (3.0 sacks, two fumble recoveries) and physical blocker (six pancake blocks).
Kaden Weatherby (Eaglecrest), OT, Sr. — The Raptors offensive line factory continues to churn out Division I talent, with the 6-6, 270-pound Weatherby, a three-star Texas Tech commit, and fellow senior Braden Miller just the latest to come off the assembly line.
Briggs Wheatley (Fort Morgan), QB, Sr. — About to start for the third straight season under center, the first-team 3A all-state quarterback can punish defenses with both his arm (1,518 career passing yards, 16 TDs) and legs (1,406 yards, 11 TDs).
Gavin Whetzal (Pine Creek), LB/WR, Sr. — The 6-1, 190-pound honorable mention all-state selection only appeared in four games last fall, but made the most of it with 35 tackles (2.0 for loss). That came a year after he put up 53 tackles (6.0 TFL) as a sophomore.
Cade Whish (Fort Collins), DE/OL, Sr. — The Lambkins figure to throw their weight around in the 5A Metro this fall, with senior QB Andrew Seest starting for a second year and the 6-4, 270-pound Whish providing protection, as well as menacing presence on the D-line (6.0 tackles for loss).
* All recruiting rankings based off 247Sports.com. All stats taken from maxpreps.com.
This content was originally published here.