Sports Illustrated honors local prep athletes

Football players will be narrowed down in three rounds by end of year

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Sports Illustrated has unveiled its watch list for its 2020 high school All-American team and eight players are from Colorado schools.

Three of the players were tight ends and two were from Heritage High School in Littleton.

Tight ends are become more prominent in offensive strategies, and to have three from Colorado selected who have committed to play next season at major colleges says a lot about the value of the position.

Terrance Ferguson, a 6-foot-5, 220-pounder who has committed to play at Oregon, and University of Colorado commit Erik Olsen a 6-5, 230-pounder, are the two Heritage players. The third tight end is 6-5, 225-pound Samuel Hart of Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora, who has verbally agreed to play at Ohio State.

Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village also had two players on the watch list in defensive tackle Gus Zilinskas, a 6-3, 263-pound Rutgers commit, and 6-1, 185-pound wide receiver Chase Penry, who has committed to the University of Colorado.

“It’s a great honor when you receive recognition from a great institution like Sports Illustrated,” said Penry. “It is really cool. I have competed against a lot of Division I and Power 5 guys and done really well. I’ve felt like I’ve always made big plays.

“To get the recognition is nice. I try not to focus on it a lot. I just keep my head down and work hard because when the time comes to play, rankings don’t really matter and the best players are going to make the plays.”

Highlands Ranch High School’s Jake Rubley, a 6-3, 190-pound quarterback who plans to enroll early at Kansas State in January, rounds out the local products on the team.

The other two players on the watch list are 6-5, 310-pound offensive tackle Braylen Nelson from Vista Peak High School in Aurora, and 6-6, 300-pound Texas A&M offensive tackle recruit Trey Zuhn of Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins.

“It’s a huge honor,” said Rubley. “There’s some really great players in this country. Colorado guys usually don’t get the credit they deserve and it is truly an honor that all my hard work paid off to have my name on that list. Hopefully I can keep working hard and prove I really belong there.”

The evaluation process will continue throughout the season “until the list of 1,000 contenders coalesces around just 25 young men who can say proudly they are the best of the best and they are Sports Illustrated All-Americans,” said SI Director of Football Recruiting John Garcia Jr.

Sports Illustrated will narrow the candidates to 250 in October, 99 in November and then announce a first team of 25, a second team of 25 and an honorable mention group in December. The first-team selections will be invited to the SI Sportsperson of the Year banquet.

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