Zo huddle
Photo Credit: Sierra Canyon Athletics

FSM Presents: Zo Huddle –West Coast Sleepers – High School Edition – Cole Bullock Of Sierra Canyon Deserves A Four-Year Chance, Even As a 2021 Prospect

 

There are players taking advantage of the truncated 2021 high school football season in California, which includes those who never signed the National Letter of Intent or were given a preferred walk-on opportunity in this past recruiting cycle. In the latest edition of the Zo Huddle, we head down to Cali state power Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon and discover a 2021 linebacker who is showing why he couldn’t wait to put on the Trailblazers uniform one more time and shows us why he’s worth a late addition to one’s roster…

 

Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: Sierra Canyon Athletics

March 13, 2020: The day sports shut down on this pristine campus located below the Ronald Reagan Freeway. And the day that left the 2021 Trailblazers, including a blue-collar, chiseled linebacker who was once on the Tennessee-Martin recruiting radar, wondering if they had just put on the Sierra Canyon athletic attire for the last time.

The spread of COVID-19 forced the closure of all activities nationwide, including for the Sierra Canyon teams either preparing for a state basketball run, prepping for the spring sports season, or, in the case of Cole Bullock, grinding away for a senior season originally set to be played five months from now.

But now confined to his house and needing to download Zoom just to stay connected with his coaches, teammates, and other peers, Bullock’s once-promising four-year university football aspirations…let alone his one last ride at this football program that began as an 8-man team before ascending to Division I/II…were in jeopardy of not happening at all.

Mixed thoughts crept inside Bullock’s head. There was anxiety…but also hope.

“Of course, it (not playing for Sierra Canyon again) crossed my mind,” Bullock told Franchise Sports Media. “But I never gave up. I was going to be prepared when and if the opportunity arose to play again.”

 

Weight room ready to stay ready

 

Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: Sierra Canyon Athletics

According to a report from WebMD, the average human gained approximately two pounds each month during the Coronavirus lockdown period.

Bullock, however, was not getting his gains off Cheetos, potato chips, or anything deemed salty and unhealthy. He instead kept to the bar and weights.

And the 6-foot-1, 225-pounder went viral online and during a brief clip from Fox Sports West that showed him pushing 225-pounds 21 times on the bench press. Reportedly, only 12 out of 30 NFL Draft linebacker hopefuls bench pressed more reps at 225 during combine workouts than Bullock.

Deep in his heart, Bullock knew he would have the silver ‘SC’ covering the sides of his face one more time – and prepared like he would put on the helmet tomorrow, even during a time tomorrow wasn’t promised.

“I had faith that all this was going to workout somehow,” Bullock said. “I never stopped believing, never stopped training, never stopped trying to get better. I was always striving to do the next best thing.”

And on Feb. 19, 2021, Bullock and his Trailblazer teammates realized that there was a road map to gridiron normalcy again – high school football in Los Angeles County got the green light to return under mandatory health guidelines. But still, a linebacker who had helped SC’s elevation from 8-man squad to taking on the best in the always loaded Southern Section was going to be guaranteed one last high school football ride.

And now, he’s got the film to prove his work ethic was never affected by the nationwide lockdown but instead was ready to be unleashed all along.

 

Four games versus four huge lines – a breakdown

 

Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: Sierra Canyon Athletics

March 13, 2021: One year after COVID-19 lockdowns halted everything, football returned for Sierra Canyon in blockbuster fashion – a rare meeting with a Trinity League foe.

And the newest obstacle for this football program that has climbed each division? The St. John Bosco Braves.

The Braves overmatched the Trailblazers 42-21 that evening, but the optimism returned to the Trailblazers’ side…knowing they took on the challenge of a superior Trinity League titan and in the case of Bullock, realizing he can tangle with a program that has won state and national titles.

“Being able to play arguably one of the best programs in the state St. John Bosco first game of the season…to be the best you have to beat the best,” Bullock said. “That game showed us and our coaches that we can play with the big dogs.”

Bullock’s stat line going against a larger, more violent offensive line: Nine tackles, six solo stops, and one tackle behind the line of scrimmage.

And that tackle for a loss came against fast-rising 2022 running back Jabari Bates – a Power Five target for his class with Michigan, Oregon and Oregon State offers.

 

 

Bullock resorted to a variety of linebacker fundamentals to withstand Bosco: Extending out and fighting with his hands, read and reacting to plays, and lastly, finding the open gap and filling it with his own wave of destruction.

Bullock didn’t stop there following the Bosco loss. Next up was going against Playa Del Rey (Calif.) St. Bernard with its own massive size on the line, with the right starting guard Esekeliu Aevanu and right tackle Trey Books weighing in at 310 and 315 pounds, respectively.

Bullock, though, came unscathed by looping around Aevanu on the forced fumble resulting in an SC fumble recovery.

 

 

Later by watching center Nolan Alvarez and guard Clemone Kennedy flow to their right, Bullock patiently stood his ground then attacked the right where the play was going – ending in the solo stop.

 

 

Throughout the night, Bullock’s knack for zipping past the guards on stunts and blitzes resulted in 16 tackles, 13 solo stops, three tackles for a loss, and two sacks in the astonishing 56-0 romp. And he did it while facing a line that had four 300-plus pounders.

Bullock’s subsequent breakout game came against another state juggernaut he had never experienced a football win against Oaks Christian.

After falling 21-14 in the 2019 meeting with the Lions, Bullock relentlessly attacked the Lions by breaking up short passes with his shoulder pads plowing into intended wide receivers, and forcing two interceptions on blitz calls that sailed to the hands of Virginia Tech signee D.J Harvey.

 

 

He also helped open Harvey on another blitz: Taking on the Lions’ center and right guard to help kick the door for Harvey to crash. If Sierra Canyon’s defense was boiling water, it was Bullock who was the stove applying the pressure.

 

 

Most recently, he and Trailblazers took the trek to Kern County to face a loaded Garces Memorial team featuring P-5 and FCS talent for the 2021 class, including a future Stanford Cardinal in Zach Buckey, an incoming Cal Poly Mustang in Zion Hall and an offensive line anchored by Sacramento State Hornet commit Aidan Meek.

But Bullock continued his March mayhem… leading the way with 15 tackles, two quarterback hurries, and a pass breakup in the astonishing 42-0 rout. Bullock filled gaps and wrecked trench havoc as a blitzer.

Bullock is flying around, controlling his side of the field and blowing plays up. He’s energizing a defense that, since surrendering 42 to St. John Bosco, hasn’t allowed a touchdown since. Yet, he believes his best highlights this season don’t involve the individual accolades.

“First of all, getting back on the field with my brothers and coaches (is one highlight). Getting back in the football/school workflow has been successful too,” says the 3.4 student Bullock. “Also, giving friends and fans something positive, something to be involved in and something to root for (another highlight).”

But now four games in, is it enough to cement his case of getting more collegiate attention? Even if it is at the last minute?

 

Zo Huddle’s take

 

Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: HUDL

I’m fully aware there are programs that have filled its 2021 class. I’m also cognizant of the transfer portal, as teams will likely dip into who is in college football’s version of unrestricted free agency just to bolster team needs.

But Bullock can help fill an LB need ANYWHERE.

He has 36 games of varsity action. He’s gone past 225 career tackles. His Trailblazer teams have gone 29-7 overall with state playoff experience…

And all he’s gotten from college coaches are Twitter direct messages and texts. But no scholarship offers or even a PWO opportunity.

If you ask me if he’s D-I caliber, I’ll tell you this: If you’re someone who was on the FCS radar at UTM, then you’re capable of the NCAA Division-I rigors. He plays like someone with his hair on fire, and he disrupts plays the way teams want their linebackers doing.

He’ll even accept a PWO if need be after conversing with him, saying, “I’m not opposed to anything.”

And his sales pitch to CFB programs is this: “They are going to get all of me…heart, body, and soul. I will do everything in my power to be the best student-athlete and young man. You can bet on me. I will do my best to fulfill my part of the deal.”

But until then and with the rare spring season coming to a closure in the middle of April (SC’s last scheduled game is set for April 16 against Paraclete at home), Bullock plans to continue the same blue-collar work ethic and hard hits he’s been doing throughout his varsity career.

“I’m just gonna continue to work hard in the classroom and on the field,” Bullock said. “I just need one shot and a staff that who totally believes in me as I believe in myself.”

 

Tape don’t lie! Watch Bullock’s HUDL tape here and see exactly what I am talking about. One of the most slept on players in Cali, who will make a college team very happy if he is given a chance. http://www.hudl.com/v/2FCCkr

 

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Lorenzo J. Reyna – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Zo on Twitter: @LJ_Reyna

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