California is king of West Coast college-football recruiting, home to many of the country's top recruits. Players from California pepper every team in the Pac-12 and programs elsewhere. It rivals Florida and Texas as the most fertile ground for major colleges to fill their rosters.
Oregon, on the other hand, is not high on that list. The Beaver state produces some major college talent, but it yields the least amount of players out of the three states that border the Pacific Ocean, which includes Washington.
For that reason, Kobe Mendez, a 2023 wide receiver from Beaverton, Oregon, will be moving to Florida to advance his game at IMG Academy, which has become a pipeline for football talent. IMG alums play at college programs nationwide and in the NFL.
Mendez, a 6-foot-3, 187-pound pass-catcher from Beaverton High School, will leave the Pacific Northwest for a chance to compete on one of the biggest stages prep football has to offer. He will play his last two years of high school football at the school in Bradenton, Florida, which is near Orlando.
Mendez has worked hard for this opportunity. A year ago, he competed at an ID camp in the Portland area. Tall with raw skills, he hadn't grown into his frame and lacked intentionality in his movements.
Since then, Mendez has worked daily to improve his game. He's spent considerable time with trainers such as Dylan Young, a former wide receiver for Southern Oregon University's 2014 NAIA national championship team who had invitations to NFL training camps before signing with the CFL's Calgary Stampeders and IFL's Arizona Rattlers.
His next step is attending IMG in order to draw recruiting attention from the University of Washington, Oregon or some other top-level program.
"Washington likes bigger receivers and has a good relationship with the academy in Florida," said Mike Martin, Husky Maven recruiting analyst. "I expect the Huskies to be in the mix for Mendez."
Young, once a 6-foot-3 receiver himself, has helped prepare Mendez for this moment and supports his move to Florida. It's a faster track to a major college football scholarship for him than remaining in Oregon.
The trainer helped Mendez learn technique and develop toughness. IMG will provide him with exposure. The receiver has been a willing student, eager to explore all avenues to advance his football career.
“Kobe will go down there and compete every day; he never takes a play off,” Young said. “As a receiver, he has grown in his ability in all phases of the game. His routes are crisp, he gets in and out of breaks smoothly, and he has become extremely physical.”
The Huskies and Ducks likely will find this out about him.