100 impact players to watch in 2022


After scouring over prospect lists, CHSAANow all-state teams and 2021 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.

Ray Aragon (Pueblo South), WR/DB, sr. — A retooled Colts program that’s been a consistent 3A power will lean on the two-way talents of Aragon, who’s a game-changer at receiver (28 receptions, 435 yards) and defensive back (five interceptions).

Brett Alvey (Pine Creek), MLB/FB, sr. — A championship powerlifter, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound all-conference returnee was a defensive menace for the 4A semifinalists (102 tackles, 13.0 for loss with 10.0 sacks in 13 games), and will be counted on to be so again with the Eagles moving up to 5A.

Evan Atkin (Moffat County), RB/ILB, sr. — Nobody found the end zone more frequently than Atkin last fall, with 32 TDs in just 10 games. A running (179 carries, 1,341 yards) and receiving (17 catches, 336 yards) threat on offense, and disruptive playmaker on defense (58 tackles, two interceptions, one fumble recovery), there isn’t much the 6-foot, 180-pound senior doesn’t do.

Joshua Ayres (Lutheran), MLB/WR, sr. — The Lions defense should be formidable once again this season with the return of the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Ayres (19.0 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and five forced fumbles in ’21) a primary reason.

Blake Barnett (Erie), QB, jr. — Coming off an epic run to the 4A title game, the 6-2, 215-pound Barnett is one of Colorado’s top-rated Class of 2024 prospects. CU, CSU, Kansas State and Washington all have offers on the table. A state champion sprinter with a cannon arm (2,560 pass/1,049 rush yards in ‘21), Barnett is sure to see more offers come his way.

Joshua Bates (Durango), OL, sr. — The son of Justin Bates, an all-Big 12 O-lineman at CU, the 6-4, 290-pound three-star recruit is Oklahoma-bound next fall. He’ll once again anchor a Demons line that paved the way for 258.7 rush yards per game last season.

Matthew Baudendistel (Resurrection Christian), OL, sr. — The Cougars’ rise to the 3A ranks coincides with the loss of several key contributors, but the return of Baudendistel, an all-state offensive lineman, should make the transition a little smoother.

Sam Beers (Air Academy), RB, sr. — A two-time all-state selection, the 5-10, 200-pound Beers could reach the 5,000-yard career rushing plateau this fall after putting up 3,443 yards, 50 TDs and 17 games of 100-plus rushing yards over his first three varsity seasons.

Alex Birch (Horizon), QB, so. — Thrown into the varsity fire as a freshman, Birch proved more than capable of leading an offense with 2,130 yards, 16 TDs and just five interceptions on 61.6% passing. What will he do for an encore in Year 2?

Chase Brackney (Cherry Creek), DE/OLB, sr. — The presence of the 6-foot-4, 245-pound Iowa commit (4.0 sacks, 3.0 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles in ‘21) means opposing offenses can’t throw all of their attention at Blake Purchase on the opposite end.

Deven Brady (Centauri), RB/LB, jr. — A two-way playmaker on the Falcons’ 1A state title team last fall (890 total yards, 15 TDs on offense; 66 tackles, three interceptions on defense), the returning all-state selection should only see his role expand this season.

Logan Brantley (Cherry Creek), LB, sr. — Committed to Kansas, the 6-1, 205-pound outside linebacker is coming off a junior campaign that saw him rack up 61 tackles, seven pass deflections and one forced fumble for the 5A state champs.

AJ Burton (Cherry Creek), OT, jr. — The Bruins’ junior class of offensive linemen is an embarrassment of riches, with the 6-5, 280-pound Burton one of three to receive offers from CU. Like the rest, the Buffs are just one potential destination for Burton, who’s also got CSU, Indiana and Iowa State after him.

Mac Busteed (Fossil Ridge), WR/TE, sr. — Long, rangy and tough to tackle in the open field, the 6-foot-5 Busteed is a man for all seasons. In the fall, he caught 77 balls for 1,154 yards and 11 TDs. In the winter, he appeared in 27 of 28 games for the 5A state runner-up basketball team. And in the spring, he placed third in the 5A shot put at state.

Dominic Butts (Severance), DE/OT, sr. — A dominant Silver Knights defense returns many of its impact players as they move up to the 3A level, highlighted by Butts, a 6-5, 235-pound all-state pick who racked up 25.0 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and a blocked field goal last fall.

Rashad Caldwell (Denver South), WR, sr. — The state’s top returning receiver in terms of production (59 receptions, 1,193 yards, 15 TDs) is both a star on the field (4A all-state pick) and in the classroom (4.6 GPA). Wyoming and UNC have made offers, but the Ivy League (Penn, Columbia, Dartmouth, Princeton and Yale) is also calling.

Brady Campbell (Rock Canyon), OLB, jr. — The 6-foot, 190-pound edge rusher set the bar high in his first varsity season, compiling 10.0 sacks with three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries as a sophomore.

Haden Camp (Buena Vista), QB/FS, sr. — One of two returning first-team 1A all-state picks for the Demons — senior lineman Elijah Evans is the other — Camp punishes defenses with both his arm and legs (2,155 total yards, 23 TDs) as the hub of the BV offense.

Carson Caplan (Pine Creek), OL, jr. — An impact player at left guard as a sophomore last fall, the 6-2, 275-pound three-star prospect showed he has the agility to pull out to the edge and the power to drive blockers to the turf.

Joseph Capra (Denver South), QB, sr. — A breakout junior year — 2,464 yards, 33 TDs on 66.1% passing, plus 710 yards and eight TDs on the ground — will be hard to top. But with favorite target Rashad Caldwell also back, expect fireworks at All City Stadium.

Exander Carroll (Regis Jesuit), QB, sr. — The engine that powered the Raiders’ shotgun spread attack with 2,148 total yards (1,482 passing/666 rushing) and 22 TDs (14/8) last season, the third-year starting quarterback is poised to lead Regis on another deep playoff run.

Diego Cearns (Eaglecrest), RB/WR, sr. — One of the bright spots in an otherwise down season for the Raptors last fall, Cearns can make noise as both a runner (175 carries, 1176 yards) and receiver (38 receptions, 339 yards) out of the backfield.

Trey Ciccio (Lutheran), WR/OLB, sr. — The 6-foot, 175-pound Ciccio is getting looks for track and football, including from Army, due to his game-breaking talents on defense (37 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss, three interceptions, one forced fumble).

Ismael Cisse (Cherry Creek), WR, sr. — Colorado’s top-rated Class of 2023 receiver, the physical 6-1, 180-pound Cisse caught 39 passes for 652 yards and six TDs as a junior. Cal, CU, CSU and USC are among the schools who took notice.

Jeremy Claycamp (Valor Christian), K, sr. — The 5A all-state selection has a booming leg who regularly boots touchbacks (21 last season), but it’s his consistency on extra points (51 of 51) and field goals (6 of 6) that’s the real head-turner.

Ethan Cook (Arvada West), QB, sr. — A-West’s return to prominence last fall started with Cook, a 6-3 all-5A Jeffco pick who threw for 1,857 yards and 20 TDs before an injury robbed him of postseason play. Back and healthy, he will have the Wildcats contending once again.

Jackson Cowgill (Erie), OLB/DE, jr. — At 6-5, 250 pounds with sub 4.8-second speed in the 40-yard dash, Cowgill has all the tools to cause problems off the edge, as his sophomore year numbers (46 tackles, 10.0 sacks, 5.0 tackles for loss) can attest.

Cai’reis Curby (Aurora Central), RB, sr. — In the slot, in the backfield, off the edge — no matter where Curby lines up, there’s a good chance he’s about to produce something explosive (1,952 total yards, 25 TDs and a 13.4 yards/carry average in ’21).

Carter Daniels (Mountain Vista), MLB/RB, so. — After registering 106 tackles (6.0 for loss) and two interceptions as a freshman middle linebacker — not to mention 511 yards on 73 offensive touches — it’s clear Daniels is a future star for the Golden Eagles.

Zach Dibella (Mead), OL, sr. — Big and athletic at 6-4, 270 pounds, the three-year starter and former soccer player is the cornerstone of an offensive line that makes the Mavericks’ unconventional ground-and-pound attack possible.

Brayden Dorman (Vista Ridge), QB, sr. — Rated the nation’s 20th-best quarterback prospect in the Class of 2023, the four-star Arizona commit enters his fourth and final varsity season with 6,502 yards and 67 TDs passing to his name. Make another postseason push, and his name will be all over the CHSAA record books.

Isaac Engle (Highlands Ranch), LB, sr. — The 6-2, 200-pound middle linebacker is a disruptive force for the Falcons defense who racked up a team-high 140 tackles (14.0 for loss) and seven forced fumbles in just 10 games last year.

Silas Evans III (George Washington), WR/FS, sr. — No doubt the Patriots will make it a priority to get Evans the ball. A year ago, he scored eight touchdowns on just 16 receptions with a 29.3 yards/catch average. Imagine what the CSU commit could do with a few more touches.

Tai Faavae (Fountain-Fort Carson), LB/FB, sr. — With a long mane of curly hair spilling out the back of his helmet, the 6-foot, 205-pound Faavae is hard to miss. But it’s mostly because of the Washington State commit’s unrelenting production (126 tackles, two forced fumbles, one INT, one blocked punt last fall).

Kafui Fiadonu (D’Evelyn), DT/RB, so. — After a monster freshman season that saw him rack up 50 tackles (20.0 for loss), seven sacks and one fumble recovery, the 6-3, 230-pound Fiadonu has established himself as both the Jaguars’ present and future.

Drew Foley (Loveland), RB/OLB, sr. — One of two returning 1,000-yard runners for the Red Wolves last fall — QB Garrett Harstad is the other — Foley came on strong toward the end of his junior year with 589 yards and nine TDs in the five games prior to the team’s 3A quarterfinal loss.

Ron Gallegos III (Kennedy), WR/CB, sr. — There are few passing combinations at the 3A level more dynamic than Isaac Sisneros to Ron Gallegos — a connection that returns for one more year after hooking up for 1,163 yards and 19 touchdowns on 44 completions last fall.

Logan Gilmore (Erie), OL/DL, sr. — A second-team all-state pick for last fall’s 4A runners-up, the 6-1, 250-pound senior is a force in the interior on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

Gage Ginther (Fossil Ridge), OL, jr. — The 6-6, 260-pound Ginther is a key cog on a SaberCats offensive line looking to do big things this fall. With offers from Colorado, Colorado State and Indiana, he’s one of the top Class of 2024 prospects in the state.

Isacc Gomez (Thornton), WR/DB, sr. — An all-state pick in 2020, the two-way standout enters his final varsity season with 99 career receptions for 1,371 yards. Last season, he showed off his ball skills on defense with seven interceptions and one forced fumble.

Zach Haber (Durango), RB, sr. — With nearly all of the playmakers from the 2020 state title team gone, the second team 3A all-state pick filled the void with 1,696 total yards and 20 TDs last year. Between Haber and junior QB Tyler Harms, the Demons have the weapons to contend for another state crown.

Nathan Hallmark (Fossil Ridge), DE/LB, sr. — A one-man wrecking crew for the SaberCats last season with 19.0 sacks, 81 tackles (29.0 for loss), five forced fumbles and one blocked punt, the 6-3, 221-pound 5A all-state pick is the kind of player who can flip the field.

Dimitri Haralambopoulos (Thomas Jefferson), RB, jr. — After a sophomore year in which he ran for 728 yards and 15 touchdowns and picked off two passes on defense, the Spartans star will be a key figure in the program’s rise to the 4A level.

Garrett Harstad (Loveland), QB, sr. — The Red Wolves senior may not throw it often, but he’s efficient (594 yards, 11 TDs on 78.3% passing in first 11 games) when he does. The more significant damage, of course, is what he does with his legs (126 carries, 1,245 yards and 17 TDs).

Bronco Hartson (Roosevelt), QB/DE, jr. — After seeing limited time under center for last year’s 3A semifinal squad, Hartson is the next man up at QB for the Roughriders. But what he does on the other side of the ball (17.0 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks in ’21) speaks to his all-around physical tools.

Zachary Henning (Grandview), OT, sr. — Armed with a basketball player’s athleticism and offensive lineman’s power, the 6-6, 255-pound three-star recruit is off to Washington next fall. Until then, he will anchor a Wolves offensive line fresh off a trip to the 5A state semifinals.

Derek Hester (Palmer Ridge), QB, jr. — If his first varsity season taking snaps is any indication (2,345 yards, 25 TDs on 67.1% passing), the 6-1, 165-pound Hester is ready to do big things for a Bears program ready to take the next step at the 4A level.

Brandon Hills (Vista Ridge), WR, sr. — With a 4A state long jump title and 1,000-yard receiving season already under his belt, the all-state pick has the credentials to match his Washington State commitment. More accolades are likely on the way with four-star QB Brayden Dorman targeting him this fall.

Marcellus Honeycutt Jr. (George Washington), RB/DB, sr. — A 3A all-state returnee, Honeycutt did it all for the Patriots last fall, whether it was as a bell cow back on offense (1,612 total yards, 22 TDs), game-breaking returner on special teams (three return TDs) or turnover-producing machine on defense (seven interceptions).

Dre’monti Jackson (Far Northeast), WR/RB, sr. — Tony Lindsay’s coaching staff did everything possible to take advantage of Jackson’s versatile skill set last fall, lining him up out wide, in the backfield and in the return game. The result: 1,697 all-purpose yards and 10 TDs.

Eli Keith (Ralston Valley), MLB, sr. — The Mustangs lost the program’s first, and only, head coach with Matt Loyd’s departure for Frederick this offseason, but with Keith (82 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks) and several other impact players back from last year’s 5A state quarterfinal team, don’t expect a big step back.

David Keller (Fort Morgan), OLB/RB, sr. — The leader of the Mustangs’ 3A state title-winning defense last fall with 93 tackles (6.0 for loss), 3.0 sacks and one interception, Keller will be counted on to deliver once again as a retooled offense finds its footing early on in the season.

Cole Kerr (Wiggins), QB, sr. — The numbers Kerr put up in just 10 games for the Tigers last fall speak for themselves. On offense: 2,120 yards passing with 27 TDs, to go along with 1,129 yards on the ground and 15 TDs. On defense: 76 tackles with three interceptions.

Aiden Knapke (Cherry Creek), S, so. — It takes a special freshman to crack the varsity lineup at Creek, and an even more special player to make an instant impact, which the 5-11, 185-pound Knapke did for the 5A champs with a team-high five interceptions last season.

Tyler Kubat (Fossil Ridge), QB, sr. — The maestro of the SaberCats’ prolific aerial attack, the 6-5 Kubat has the arm to make all the throws and instincts to improvise when needed. After piling up 3,116 yards and 27 TDs on 57.5% passing last fall, the sky’s the limit.

Cole LaCrue (Broomfield), QB, sr. — Entering his third year under center, the 6-2, 190-pound dual-threat QB is both dynamic and efficient, as his production through his first 17 varsity games (3,382 yards, 31 TDs on 63.5% passing; 725 yards rushing, 13 TDs) proves. Central Michigan, South Dakota and UNC have all made pitches.

Cody Lanier (Pueblo County), RB/MLB, sr. — The Hornets’ first 3A state playoff berth in six seasons was powered by the always churning legs of Lanier — a physical, tackle-busting back who ground out 1,242 yards and 12 touchdowns in just 10 games.

Dmarian Lopez (Montrose), DL/OL, sr. — The Red Hawks dominated the line of scrimmage throughout their run to the 4A semifinals last fall, and the 5-11, 270-pound Lopez was one of the primary instigators with 15.0 tackles for loss as part of an all-state campaign.

Drew Martinez (Arvada West), WR, sr. — Everybody gets to eat in A-West’s wide-open attack, but nobody finds the end zone quite like Martinez, who hauled in 12 touchdown grabs as part of a 38-reception, 709-yard junior year that ended with honorable mention all-state honors.

D’Quan McClennon (Vista Peak Prep), RB/DB, sr. — A new addition to the Bison from Denver East, McClennon has strong cover corner skills and breakaway talent out of the backfield.

Andrew Metzger (Regis Jesuit), TE/DE, sr. — The 6-5, 235-pound Metzger is committed to CU as a three-star tight end, but his impact on the defensive side of the ball for the Raiders (9.0 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks in ‘21) cannot be ignored.

Austyn Modrzewski (Mountain Vista), QB, so. — Dedicated to the QB craft since grade school, the 6-4, 185-pound pocket passer is as polished as any sophomore passer can be. After throwing for 1,079 yards and 13 TDs in his last four games as a freshman, Modrzewski is prepared for takeoff.

Hayden Moore (Regis Jesuit), OLB/WR, sr. — Whether it’s in the three-point stance at the line of scrimmage, or standing up at the second level, the 6-3, 210-pound Nebraska commit has a nose for getting in an opponent’s backfield (111 total tackles, 11.0 for loss in ’21).

Tanner Morley (Valor Christian), OT, sr. — The first in-state commit for CSU out of the Class of 2023, the 6-5, 295-pound Morley was a pile-driving force at right guard for a dominant Eagles rushing attack last season that chewed up 243 yards per game.

Anthony Munoz (Roosevelt), OL/DL, sr. — An honorable mention all-state defensive lineman as a sophomore, and all-state offensive lineman as a junior, Munoz gets it done in the trenches on both sides of the ball for a program that’s lost only twice in its last 21 games.

Brock Narva (Chatfield), RB/WR/DB, so. — The Chargers’ 4A title run likely does not happen without Narva, a versatile 5-10, 175-pound athlete who piled up 328 yards and four TDs over the team’s final three playoff wins to go along with one interception and one fumble recovery.



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