It's fitting that Las Lomas High School wide receiver Diante Jackson and Pittsburg cornerback Avery Patterson finished one-two in this year's Cream of the Crop rankings.

They talk every day on the phone, Patterson said.

They could wind up as teammates in college. Patterson has been orally committed to the University of Oregon since August. Jackson originally committed to the Ducks, then changed his mind and remains undecided.

They are second cousins, Jackson on his mom's side of the family, Patterson on his dad's.

The cousins rank atop what is potentially one of the better Cream of the Crops since the 2003 and 2004 classes that featured future NFL players Marshawn Lynch (Bills), Dennis Dixon (Steelers), Maurice Jones-Drew (Jaguars) and Thomas DeCoud (Falcons), and college stars Ra'Shon Harris (Oregon), Wopamo Osaisai (Stanford), Brent Casteel (Utah) and Joe Mortensen (Kansas).

In addition to family ties, this year's Crop is adding San Mateo County, which reflects the Bay Area News Group's circulation area. After paying the $4 toll to cross the bridge — San Mateo Bridge, of course — the Crop came back with Serra-San Mateo offensive lineman David Bakhtiari at No. 8 and Woodside linebacker Sekope Kaufusi at No. 11.

Both typify the kind of player that gives the 2009 Cream of the Crop — the 27th edition — its potential. They are big guys with athleticism. Bakhtiari, who on Wednesday gave an oral commitment to Colorado, is a 6-foot-4, 240-pound offensive lineman who could wind up on either side of the ball, depending upon how much he grows. Kaufusi, who is uncommitted, is 6-4, 225, and likely will play outside linebacker or defensive end.

Others in the same mold include Monte Vista tight end Zach Ertz (Stanford commit), San Leandro offensive lineman Charles Leno (Boise State commit), Piedmont defensive end Keaton Arden (Oregon commit), Fremont offensive lineman Sosaia Tauaho, Castlemont defensive end Paul Piukala and Pinole Valley tight end Delton Edwards Jr.

Oral commitments are not binding until Feb. 4, when recruits can begin signing letters of intents.

Whether or not Jackson and Patterson become teammates, they are as close as first cousins. Or brothers.

"Life, everything," Jackson said when asked what he and Patterson discuss. "We talk all the time."

Patterson said it has only been a "year ago, I think," since they really got to know each other. And the only time they faced off in football was at a Cal camp.

"He didn't catch any passes on me," Patterson said.

Jackson had a slightly different recollection. "It was one pass, and it was a bad throw," Jackson said. "It was a slant, the quarterback underthrew it and Avery knocked it down."

While it's possible the cousins will have future opportunities to go against one another, either as Ducks in practice or as rivals from opposing teams, unless Jackson is keeping one heckuva secret, it won't be during a Cal-Oregon game. For the first time since 1998, it appears the Bears will not sign a player from the Cream of the Crop. It wasn't for lack of effort. According to scout.com, Cal offered scholarships to Jackson, Patterson and Ertz.

Cal fans shouldn't fret. The Bears, with 18 commitments going into the weekend, had scout.com's 23rd-ranked class. Stanford, with Ertz (No. 3 in the Crop) among its 20 commitments, was ranked 11th.

And now onto the facts that make every Cream of the Crop class unique:

  • No teams dominated the 2009 class. Seventeen schools are represented, the most ever in a single Cream of the Crop. Castlemont, Encinal and San Ramon Valley had two players apiece.

  • This is a well-rounded class, too. Every position is represented with the exception of a place-kicker. Receivers led the way with four, followed by three offensive linemen.

  • Two players were picked as athletes. Encinal's Jonathan Brown might get a shot at quarterback in college, but most scouts see him in the secondary. San Ramon Valley's Byron Gruendl is a little tougher call. He could play linebacker, strong safety or line up as a big possession receiver. One scout said Gruendl could add as much as 30 pounds in college.

  • Jackson Rice is the first punter selected to the Crop since 1999, when Antioch's Eric Johnson finished at No. 11. Johnson went to Stanford and did most of the punting from 2001 to 2003.

  • At No. 7, Rice is the only specialist ever to make the Crop's top 10. That's what happens when you're rated from No. 1 to No. 3 punter in the nation by the various scouting services. Hill was the highest-rated specialist previously.

  • The quarterback drought continues, even with the addition of Tom Brady's old school (Serra). San Ramon Valley's Joe Southwick was the only QB in this class, making it a total of four in the last four Crops. In the four prior classes (2002 to 2005), there were 11 signal callers, including San Leandro's Dennis Dixon, who might have led Oregon to a national title in 2007 if he hadn't been injured. That stretch also included Piedmont High's Drew Olson, who had a nice career at UCLA.

  • Finally, the last player eliminated was Serra's Cody Jackson, ironically a quarterback. He is headed to Army, where he likely will start off behind center. Other players in it to the end were Bishop O'Dowd running back CheRod Simpson, linebacker Garrison Goodman from San Ramon Valley, San Lorenzo strong safety Tevita Mafi, and Castro Valley teammates RB Dash Oliver and TE Andy Alcarez.