One of the more under-the-radar prospects in the west comes from one of the region's most high-profile programs. Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei is no stranger to having elite recruits on its team. Seldom has its top player flown as far under the radar as its biggest playmaking threat in 2012, Thomas Duarte.
The 6-foot-3, 223-pound athlete plays both ways for the Monarchs and is being recruited as an athlete by every school he has been in touch with. Duarte has the athletic ability, the size and the skill to play tight end, H-back or even wide receiver for almost any program.
Duarte currently holds offers from Arizona State, Colorado, California, Notre Dame, Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA, Utah, Washington and Washington State.
After a standout performance at USC's football camp this summer, where he got the best of some of Southern California's top defensive backs, Duarte has been in contact with the Trojans' coaching staff. If not for USC's lack of available scholarships, Duarte would likely have an offer from the Trojans. For now, he continues to talk with them in hopes that something breaks and he is able to earn an offer from the local school.
The Oregon Ducks -- a program that fits Duarte's skill set perfectly -- offered the three-star not long after his performance at the USC camp.
Duarte's versatility and athleticism make him an ideal fit at a program such as Oregon. He can line up anywhere on the field as a pass-catching weapon -- which is what Oregon likes about Duarte -- as evidenced by his eight catches for 136 yards and a touchdown against Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne two weeks ago. Duarte also showed his versatility by leading the Monarchs with 11 tackles and two sacks in helping hold the explosive Gauchos to just 18 points.
Duarte's mother confirmed that her son has frequently been in touch with Oregon and a number of other schools, but he plans to wait to schedule visits until after his senior season.
Oregon, UCLA and Notre Dame are the names most often associated with Duarte, but his preference for staying on the West Coast bodes well for the Pac-12 schools in the mix.