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The 20 most underrated high school tacklers in the West

These defenders put up big stats last season but thus far don’t have a bunch of stars next to their names in the recruiting world

The high school football recruiting world seems to get bigger and glitzier every year.

As the hype around top prospects grows, high school football players who don't get flooded with D1 offers keep grinding away.

SBLive Sports has been featuring high school football players from the Western United States who might not be big names in the recruiting world — but could be soon if they keep showing out on the football field.

We started with quarterbacks, defensive backs and pass rushers, and now it's the tackling machines' turn.

Here are 20 tacklers in line to boost their recruiting stock this season.

Daan Cano, jr., Gadsden (New Mexico)

At 5-foot-8 and 155 pounds, Cano doesn’t look like a tackling machine. But the Gadsden linebacker plays bigger than his size, showcased by a 137-tackle season as a sophomore. He also had three interceptions for Class 5A Gadsden.

Manny Chavez, jr., Portales (New Mexico)

The reigning Class 4A state champion in the javelin who owns a personal-record throw of 181 feet, 9 inches, Chavez is also a sure tackler on the football field. He tallied 137 total tackles (10.5 for loss) as a sophomore to go along with four sacks and three fumble recoveries.

Tashi Crofut (12) photo by Naji Saker.

Tashi Crofut (12) photo by Naji Saker.

Tashi Crofut, sr., Lakeridge (Oregon)

Crofut showcased his athleticism as a junior, recording 138 total tackles (10 for loss), two sacks and two interceptions. He also had 13 catches for 191 yards and four touchdowns from the tight end position.

Maxx Ellermeyer, sr., Truckee (California)

Ellermeyer was the anchor of a Truckee defense that surrendered just 12.9 points per game last season en route to the Nevada Class 3A state title (Truckee is one of five California members of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association.) Ellermeyer finished the year with 133 total tackles (19 for loss), five sacks, an interception, four pass breakups, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Trevyn Gates, sr., Pleasant Grove (Utah)

Gates was one of Class 6A’s most productive tacklers a season ago, recording 145 total tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery. He notched 23 tackles in a loss to Lone Peak.

Champ Gennicks, sr., Red Mountain (Arizona)

Gennicks racked up 133 total tackles last season, the fifth-most in all of Class 6A. The 6-foot-3 linebacker also forced three fumbles and recovered two.

Colton George, sr., Highland (Idaho)

A defensive starter since his sophomore season, George entered this fall with 189 career total tackles (12 for loss) and three forced fumbles. A Class 5A state wrestling placer, George has sideline-to-sideline speed at 6-foot and 200 pounds.

Akhir Harris, jr., Sierra Linda (Arizona)

Harris put up 20 tackles last season in a loss to Prescott, a Sierra Linda school record. He ended his sophomore campaign with 124 total tackles (19 for loss), five sacks, two forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries.

Mason Jeppsen, sr., Box Elder (Utah)

Jeppsen has terrific instincts and tackling ability from the middle linebacker position. He recorded 116 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, six quarterback hurries and an interception as a junior while also working into the running back rotation.

Julius Leapai, sr., Newport (Washington)

Leapai piled up 123 total tackles, four pass deflections and two forced fumbles a season ago for Newport. He is a two-time all-KingCo Conference selection at inside linebacker.

Noah Luginbill, sr., Clovis (California)

It took Luginbill just two years of varsity football to become Clovis’ all-time leader in tackles. Luginbill entered his senior season with 288 career tackles and six sacks.

Joseph Minchello, sr., Crawford (California)

In 13 games as a junior, Minchello recorded 169 total tackles (20.5 for loss) and six sacks. He was also a standout in coverage with three interceptions.

Luke Myklebust, sr., Mercer Island (Washington)

Myklebust set the Mercer Island single-season tackles record as a junior with 130. Twenty of the tackles went for loss, and Myklebust also had three sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He even scored four rushing touchdowns on offense.

Kieran Netburn, sr., Fergus (Montana)

Netburn tallied 115 total tackles for a Fergus team that finished 12-0 a season ago and captured the Class A state championship. Netburn also had four sacks, four fumble recoveries and scored five rushing touchdowns on offense.

Brock Paquet, sr., Windsor (Colorado)

Paquet was one of Colorado’s most prolific tacklers a season ago, finishing with 141 total tackles, an interception and two forced fumbles. He can also rush the passer opposite teammate Colton Pieper, who had 96 tackles and five sacks last year.

Cooper Park, sr., Reed (Nevada)

Park put together a strong junior season that included 123 total tackles (six for loss), three quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries. He has the necessary speed and physicality to play inside and outside linebacker.

Baylor Seabolt, sr., Aztec (New Mexico)

Seabolt flew around as a strong safety/outside linebacker hybrid last season and finished with 130 total tackles (15.5 for loss). He also had two sacks, six quarterback hurries, an interception, four pass breakups and three forced fumbles.

Deacon Shea, sr., Notre Dame Prep (Arizona)

Shea is a complete linebacker who excels at the point of attack and in coverage. As a junior, Shea put up 129 total tackles (11.5 for loss), 4.5 sacks and an interception.

Kaleb Shine, sr., Glacier (Montana)

An elite wrestler who finished third in the 152-pound bracket at the Class AA state championships, Shine is also a productive linebacker for Glacier. He recorded 105 total tackles (7.5 for loss) as a junior to go along with 2.5 sacks, four quarterback hurries and five pass deflections.

Ryder Villarreal, jr., Fairview (Colorado)

Villarreal was a defensive stalwart for Fairview as a sophomore, putting up 101 total tackles (nine for loss), four sacks and two quarterback hurries. He also showcased his coverage skills with four pass breakups.

-- Bob Lundeberg | @sblivesports