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May 19, 2012
Dallas Jackson is the National High School Sports Analyst for Rivals. Email him your questions and comments at DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
Stockton (Calif.) Lincoln four-star running back Justin Davis can begrudgingly recite the national perception of Northern California by outsiders on-demand because he has been hearing it for so long.
"It's all about [Concord (Calif.)] De La Salle," he said. "And this is a dead area for recruiting. And we have good coaches but no talent to put on the field for them.
"It is always the same thing about NorCal. No talent."
He has heard it for years but hopes to be part of a group that can change the way the area is viewed.
"The truth is that there is a whole bunch of underrated kids up here," he said. "People are going to start seeing more kids out of this area on the next level and I hope to be a part of that."
A trip to Atlanta's Lakewood Stadium from June 22-24 for the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge figures to be a launching pad for Davis - and he hopes the reputation of the NorCal area.
"I am the only running back from the West," he said. "That is a responsibility I take seriously and I have to represent myself and this region.
"I hope my talent stacks up out there. I want to give myself a real evaluation and see what kids are like in the rest of the country."
Davis is ranked as the No. 5 running back in the Class of 2013 and the No. 48 overall player in the country. At 6 feet 1 and 195 pounds, his size and speed are prototypical and his highlight reel would indicate his success will translate from NorCal to national competition.
But as Davis attests there is only so much you can gain from tape and his excitement is to see those rated ahead of him in action.
"I watch their videos but that doesn't really show it as well as in-person," he said. "I hope we are all as good as we are supposed to be, it would make for a great experience."
Being a part of the inaugural, invitation-only event is something that even Davis didn't think would be a possibility as recently as this school year.
"Being from Stockton, there is not a lot of respect for us," he said. "I would have never thought I would have the chances that I do being from here. I was surprised at the beginning of my junior year when I started getting offers, and getting ranked, and getting all this attention."
Davis said that he was just as surprised to be at a point that he would have more than 20 Division I football programs recruiting him.
His representation of NorCal at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge is something that Davis hopes will continue to raise awareness to the quality football being played in his region.
"I am going to put our area on the map."
Mike Farrell's take
Davis is a guy I really want to see in space. He's a guy who works hard, he can shake people even in touch situations it appears, and he has excellent quickness. His ball skills will be interesting to gauge. In 7-on-7 play, catching the ball smoothly while getting upfield is key and he has shown that ability at times. He could be the most polished of the four running backs we have selected overall and possibly the best fit for this type of environment, so he could be a major weapon for his West squad.