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Position-By-Position: Mesa numbers low, expectations high

Grant hopes to convince Mustangs' 34 players that battling rival Estancia does not a season make.

August 14, 2012|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza

Grant said Markiece Traylor, who was ineligible last year, is a wideout with speed and great hands. The senior runs a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash.

Juniors Daniel Lawrence (6-1) and Quinten Bell (6-3), a transfer from Long Beach Poly, will see time at receiver as well.

Tight end: Anthony McCormick returns as a starter. The 6-2, 230-pounder will be doing a lot more blocking than route running in the Mustangs' run-oriented attack.

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When the team goes to a double-tight-end formation, Villalpondo or Bell will line up.

Offensive line: The guys up front are bigger than last season's group.

The biggest isn't senior Oscar Reyes, a third-year starter, but the 5-7, 215-pound left guard is the strongest. He's the first to join Grant's 1,000-pound club, which combines the bench, squat and power clean exercises.

At left tackle is junior Marco Zalpa (6-2, 270 pounds) and senior Brian Elias (6-2, 330) is the right tackle. Next to Elias on the right side is junior guard Joseph Quiroz (6-2, 265).

Three players — junior Jesse Liebel (5-6, 180), senior Alan Obregon (5-9, 225) and sophomore Benny Dawson (5-10, 260) — are competing at center.

Defensive line: The Mustangs are running a 46 defense and they have two starting linemen returning. Reyes is back at nose tackle and McCormick at one of the end spots.

Villalpondo is the other end. Sophomore Will Padilla will back up McCormick and Villalpondo.

Quiroz, Elias and Zalpa will see time inside next to Reyes.

Linebackers: Crenshaw is the top linebacker in the area. He is back in the middle after making 130 tackles, the most in Newport-Mesa last year.

Crenshaw earned Dream Team and first-team all-league honors last season.

The outside linebackers are seniors Rudy Aguirre, Kyle Barnett and Erick Diaz.

Secondary: Fast is the best way to describe this unit.

Smith and Bell are the cornerbacks. Smith, a returning defensive starter, moved to corner after playing outside linebacker last season.

Traylor is a safety and JeyaRajah a hybrid safety-linebacker.

Special teams: Grant has five athletes, from Bell to Traylor to Smith to Crenshaw to JeyaRajah, who can return punts and kickoffs.

Jake Lux, a senior, will no longer split the kicking duties. The job is his.

david.carrillo@latimes.com

Twitter: @DCPenaloza

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