California: Top 25 Student-Athletes to Watch in 2015-16


East Coast bias is the only reason we can explain Juju Smith being snubbed from from the preseason Biletnikoff Award list as one of nation’s top receivers.

We ran the Value Add Sports calculations on all returning California athletes and emailed 139 sports writers and other experts in the state to help rank the 25 state players to watch on a list we will update here.

The USC receiver beat out great athletes from rival UCLA and Cal, as well as a host of great track, soccer, baseball, and basketball players from Cal State Northridge, Fresno State, Long Beach State, Pepperdine, Sacramento State, San Diego State, and Santa Clara.

Frankly, we find it shocking that Smith could be left off the list of 48 receivers considered for the award. Rarely do you see a freshman as dominant, and players make their biggest jump between their freshman and sophomore years.

Now add that with Nick Agholor going to the NFL Smiths become the main target for his main competition for top player in the state, quarterback Cody Kessler. He also plays alongside two other great receivers in Darreus Rogers and Adoree Jackson to keep defenders from focusing on him.

Smith’s Freshmen Stats vs. Result Rec Yds Avg
Fresno Won 52-13 4 123 30.8
at Stanford Won 13-10 1 -2 -2.0
at Boston College Lost 37-31 6 49 8.2
Oregon St. Won 35-10 3 13 4.3
Arizona St. Lost 38-34 4 24 6.0
at Arizona Won 28-26 4 39 9.8
Colorado (TD) Won 56-28 4 104 26.0
at Utah (TD) Lost 24-21 6 77 12.8
at Washington St. (3Tds) Won 44-17 6 74 12.3
Cal Won 38-30 4 30 7.5
at UCLA Lost 38-20 4 79 19.8
Notre Dame Won 49-14 5 48 9.6
Nebraska Won 45-42 3 66 22.0

Tiger Woods edges out Brady as the best athlete ever from California despite the sad showing this weekend that indicates Woods likely plays in the twilight of his career.

Here are the top 25:

  1. Juju Smith, USC, Football,
  2. Cody Kessler, USC Trojans, Foot, QB
  3. Jaylen Brown, California, Basket, PF
  4. Andi Sullivan, Stanford, Soccer, Midfielder
  5. Kaulyn Lee-McNeill, UC Irvine, Track/Field, 400m Intermediate Hu
  6. Jared Brownridge, Santa Clara, Basket, SG
  7. Khalfani Muhammad, California, Foot/Track, zzzz
  8. Annia Mejia, California, Soccer, Defender
  9. Hailey Harbison, Pepperdine, Soccer, Midfielder
  10. Ashley Gonzales, Long Beach State, Soccer, Forward
  11. Emily Boyd, California, Soccer, Goalkeeper
  12. Allexis Bennett, UCLA, Softball,
  13. Faith Anumba, UCLA, Track/Field, Triple Jump
  14. Zoey Goralski, UCLA, Soccer, Defender
  15. Austin Hazel, UCLA, Track/Field, Long Jump
  16. Ivan Rabb, California, Basket, PF
  17. Adoree’ Jackson, USC, Foot/Track, zzzz
  18. Indigo Gibson, California, Soccer, Defender
  19. Jason Chandler, UC Davis, Track/Field, 400m Intermediate Hu
  20. Bryce Alford, UCLA, Basket, PG
  21. Jamie Van Horn, Pepperdine, Soccer, Defender
  22. Sydney Sladek, USC, Soccer, Midfielder
  23. Brianna Cueva, Cal St. Northridge, Track/Field, Discus Throw
  24. Trey Kell, San Diego St., Basket, PG
  25. Daulton Jefferies, California, Baseball, SP

Others Receiving Votes in Alphabetical Order

Aric Walden, Sacramento St., Track/Field, 110m High Hurdles

Chris Paul, California, Baseball, 1B

Ellis Newton, California, Track/Field, 800m Run

Faith Makau, UC Riverside, Track/Field, 1,500m Run

Garrett Stubbs, USC, Baseball, C

Grant Dyer, UCLA, Baseball, RP

Guro Bergsvand, California, Soccer, Midfielder

Isaiah Brandt-Sims, Stanford, Foot/Track

Leon Powell, UCLA, Track/Field, 200m Dash

Lucas Erceg, California, Baseball, 3B

Malik Pope, San Diego St., Basket, C

Marvelle Harris, Fresno St., Basket, PG

Stacy Davis, Pepperdine, Basket, PF

Tyrone Wallace, California, Basket, PG


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