A star of the Inland Division championship team was a standout on offense and defense and played his best against the best. He is considered the top college prospect in Southern California for 2013.There was no high school football player in Southern California more versatile than 6-foot-3, 210-pound junior Su'a Cravens of Vista Murrieta.
He was listed on the roster as a linebacker-receiver, but that hardly told the story of the impact he had for a team that went 14-0 on the field and won the Inland Division championship.
Cravens rushed for 673 yards and 15 touchdowns. He caught 20 passes, four for touchdowns. He made 96 tackles, with 11 sacks and three interceptions. One opposing coach said Cravens should be wearing a cape, a la Superman.
For turning in a season in which he played his best against the best, Cravens has been selected The Times' player of the year.
"He loves the game of football, studies the game and lives the game," Vista Murrieta Coach Coley Candaele said.
In a semifinal playoff game against Upland, Cravens recorded 12 tackles and three sacks. In a quarterfinal playoff game against Riverside North, he rushed for 201 yards and scored three touchdowns. Candaele purposely prevented Cravens from doing too much during the regular season in an attempt to save him for the playoffs, then turned him loose. And that's when he was all over the field, tackling, receiving, rushing and blocking.
He is considered the No. 1 college prospect in Southern California for 2013 with more than 25 scholarship offers, and that is certainly not based on potential alone. Cravens said his motivation this past season was to prove he could produce results.
"Before this year started, my dad said, 'It's your most important year. This year tells you if you're going to be a bust or the guy that's the real deal.' I took it to heart to make sure I'm not going to be all hype and when the big game came he didn't show up.
"I wanted to put pressure on myself to make the plays. I think I've accomplished a lot. I'm not saying I've done it all. I have a lot to work on. But so far, so good."
He's expected to be the No. 1 recruiting target for USC and UCLA in 2012, and Southeastern Conference schools also are trying to inject themselves in the recruiting process. Cravens said he intends to wait until he takes his five visits to schools before making a final decision in 2013.