It shouldn't come as a surprise that this year's Cream of the Crop is topped by a star from De La Salle High.
The surprise is that Michael Hutchings is the first Spartan in nine years to lead the Bay Area News Group's annual ranking of top high school recruits. The rankings include players from high schools in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
"It's kind of stunning, just thinking back of all the great guys at the school," said Hutchings, who becomes the first De La Salle player since wide receiver Cameron Colvin topped the charts in 2004 when he went to Oregon. Finishing No. 2 that year was a running back from Oakland Tech named Marshawn Lynch.
Hutchings planned to sign with USC on Feb. 6, the first day recruits could sign their national letters of intent.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound linebacker was a unanimous selection for the top spot during discussions with college coaches who recruit the area.
"No doubt," said a Mountain West recruiter. "Ballplayer. The complete package."
Hutchings was named Mr. Football by Cal-Hi Sports, its award that honors the state's top player.
Rated a four-star recruit by Scout, Rivals and ESPN, Hutchings had a team-leading 113 tackles for De La Salle, helping the Spartans win their fourth straight California Interscholastic Federation Open Division state title.
Among the many schools to offer Hutchings were Cal, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, UCLA, Utah and Washington.
Hutchings is the best of what seems to be an area prototype this season: Big guys with speed.
"He's a freak of nature," another recruiter said. "Anybody that can run the 110 hurdles at that speed, he's just touching his potential."
The next four on the list, which is now in its 31st year of being published, also fit the profile of combining size with speed.
Freedom-Oakley wide receiver Darrell Daniels, a Washington commit, is 6-3, 210 pounds. ESPN.com calls him "a galloping horse of a weapon."
Daniels is followed by De La Salle's Austin Hooper, who will play tight end for Stanford but was also a pass-rushing weapon off the edge for the Spartans. At 6-4, 245, he's an athletic play-maker who is expected to thrive in the Cardinal's tight-end happy offense.
The player with the most upside comes in at No. 4 in Kennedy-Richmond's Takkarist McKinley, a Cal commit. He's 6-3, 240 pounds and will play defensive end in the 4-3 defense that new Bears' defensive coordinator Andy Buh is expected to install.
Football is still relatively new to him, but his speed can't be questioned. He won the 200 meters at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions last year in his first season running track, and is a sight to see when he gets running.
The top five is rounded out by another fast, physical specimen in Foothill-Pleasanton tight end Ray Hudson, who is bound for Cal. His 40-yard dash time has been reported as low as 4.6 seconds for the 6-4, 230-pound converted wide receiver.
Follow Jimmy Durkin at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.