With The 2023 Season Just A Day Away In The Sac-Joaquin Section, Our Preseason All-NorCal List Spotlights Linebackers & DBs •
PRESEASON ALL-NORCAL LIST SCHEDULE: Quarterbacks/Running Backs | Receivers & Tight Ends | Offensive & Defensive Linemen
PICTURED UP TOP: Folsom Linebacker Theo Greule, left. (David Gershon photo)
Our 2023 Preseason All-NorCal Football roster wraps up by highlighting the best of the second and last lines of defense.
It’s a deep group of linebackers, headlined by the returning SportStars NorCal Defensive Player of the Year, Jabari Mann of Serra-San Mateo. The Padres have two other linebackers on this list AND a safety, just in case you were wondering why they’re NorCal’s No. 1 ranked team to open the season. Let’s get to the list!
SEFO AKUILA (Tennyson-Hayward) | Sr.
6-foot-3, 227-pounder is another returning talent for the Lancers; counts Arizona, BYU among his scholarship offers.
MARLEY ALAPATI (Serra-San Mateo) | Sr.
Army commit joined Jabari Mann, Danny Niu to form one of California’s top linebacking units in 2022; the bad news for opponents—they’re all back (and all on this list) in 2023.
DREW CUNNINGHAM (De La Salle-Concord) | Sr.
Second team All-EBAL selection in 2022 returns as one of the defensive leaders for the Spartans this year.
FRANK CUSANO (Granite Bay) | Sr.
Washington State commit recorded 11 tackles and 16.5 tackles for loss for the Grizzlies in 2022. He also ranked third on the team with 434 receiving yards.
THEO GREULE (Folsom) | Jr.
Made an immediate impact and landed multiple postseason honors after recording 75 tackles and 5.5 sacks as a sophomore.
MARCO JONES (San Ramon Valley-Danville) | Jr.
149 tackles as a sophomore put Jones on everyone’s radar, including Alabama; returns to lead the defense for a Wolves team seeking another CIF bowl berth.
DANNY NIU (Serra-San Mateo) | Sr.
Another star in a unit full of them returns as one of NorCal’s elite playmakers at linebacker as well as a key contributor in the offensive backfield.
JABARI MANN (Serra-San Mateo) | Sr.
2022 NorCal Defensive Player of the Year recorded 87 tackles with five sacks and an INT as a junior.
ETENE PRITCHARD (Pittsburg) | Jr.
Whether dropping into coverage or supporting the run defense, Pritchard made an impact for the Pirates at all three levels in 2022.
JOHN STOWERS (Overfelt-San Jose) | Sr.
San Jose State commit recorded an otherworldly 192 tackles to go with 16 sacks as a junior in 2022; also rushed for 672 yards.
MICAH AVERY (El Cerrito) | Sr.
A standout on both sides of the ball at Clayton Valley-Concord, Avery will play a major role for the Gauchos both at defensive back and as a primary running back.
JOSEPH BEY (Serra-San Mateo) | Sr.
If an opponent somehow manages to escape the Padres’ front seven, they’ll almost surely find the 2022 WCAL Defensive Back of the Year waiting; another star on the Serra defense.
BROOKLYN CHEEK (Central Catholic-Modesto) | Sr.
6-foot-2, 180-pound Cal commit stands out on both sides of the ball as a ball-hawking defender and a primary target for QB Tyler Wentworth.
OMARI GAYLES (St. Mary’s-Stockton) | Sr.
All-NorCal choice did a bit of everything for the Rams in 2022 with 96 tackles, four interceptions, five fumble recoveries and four blocked kicks.
JOHNATHAN GUERRERO (De La Salle-Concord) | Sr.
Another returning All-NorCal selection grabbed a team-best seven interceptions along with a pick-six, sack, and 25 tackles as a junior.
JADYN HUDSON (Pittsburg) | Jr.
Long regarded as one of NorCal’s top recruits, Hudson enters his junior year with Georgia and Michigan among his 27 offers.
KAMANI JACKSON (El Cerrito) | Sr.
Talented playmaker showed up in the season’s biggest moments in 2022, grabbing the game-sealing interception in the Gauchos’ NCS title win over Windsor.
JADEN JEFFERSON (De La Salle-Concord) | So.
Only special talents see the field as a freshman for the Spartans, and Jefferson earned second team All-EBAL honors along the way.
KINGSTON LOPA (Grant-Sacramento) | Sr.
Oregon commit returns to lead an uber-talented defensive backfield but also stands out as a team leader for the 2022 bowl champs.
KAYO PATU (Capital Christian-Sacramento) | Sr.
Two-way standout for the Cougars will be a key senior leader as well as playmaker before heading to Arizona next fall.
PHOENIX ROSE (Whitney-Rocklin) | Sr.
Highly sought after playmaker in the defensive backfield gives coach Zac McNally one of the SJS’s top options in pass defense.
ROBERT SANTIAGO (De La Salle-Concord) | Jr.
Another heralded playmaker in the secondary for the Spartans enters his junior season with Miami and Oklahoma among his offers.
BARON TAYLOR (Inderkum-Sacramento) | Sr.
First team All-Metro selection by the Sacramento Bee recorded seven interceptions and 11 pass breakups as a junior.
RJ WHITTEN (Folsom) | Sr.
Will step into the role of senior leader for the Bulldogs no matter if he’s in the defensive backfield or playing closer to the line as a hybrid linebacker