2022 NFL Draft: Four Coachella Valley Prospects Hope to Get the Call

Brandy Flores

The 2022 NFL Draft is underway from Las Vegas, Nevada and there are several draft prospects who played football in the Coachella Valley.

TWO PALM SPRINGS HIGH SCHOOL ALUMNI DRAFTEE HOPEFULS

Trenton Thompson and Tayler Hawkins were born nine days apart, grew up in Palm Springs, were star athletes at Palm Springs high school, and decided to stick together and attend college at San Diego State University. Both played defense for SDSU, Hawkins at cornerback, and Thompson playing safety and special teams.

Thompson and Hawkins played huge roles in helping the Aztecs crack the top 25 college football rankings for the first time in program history in 2021. They were also instrumental in SDSU’s 2021 Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl win over UTSA.

TAYLER HAWKINS: PALM SPRINGS HS ALUMNI, SDSU

40 TIME: 4.53 SECONDS
HEIGHT: 6-1 WEIGHT: 205
HANDS: 9″ ARMS: 31 1/4″ SPAN: 73″
DATE OF BIRTH: 12/27/1997 AGE: 24 

Tayler Hawkins was a star athlete for the Palm Springs high school Indians, playing cornerback and wide receiver. With several Division I offers, he made the decision to become an Aztec, and attend San Diego State University.

Hawkins made his biggest impact for SDSU as a cornerback for the past two seasons for the Aztecs. In his first two years, Hawkins played safety and some special teams. Once Hawkins made the shift back to cornerback, he really proved himself as a leader in their secondary, being able to keep up with receivers and make adjustments as the game went on.

According to NFL Draft Buzz, Hawkins has an “athletic build with plenty of room for additional muscle mass – a legitimate NFL-caliber athlete.”

With an overall rating of 65/100, Hawkins did not appear on any mock drafts. Hawkins is expected to go in the later rounds or be signed on as a free agent.

TRENTON THOMPSON: PALM SPRINGS HS ALUMNI, SDSU

40 TIME: 4.58 SECONDS
HEIGHT: 6-1 WEIGHT: 196
HANDS: 9 1/4″ ARMS: 32″ SPAN: 75 1/4″
DATE OF BIRTH: 12/18/1997 AGE: 24 

Trenton Thompson was also a star athlete for the Palm Springs Indians, especially on defense. He had several offers from top programs and decided to join his teammate and friend, Tayler Hawkins, to play for San Diego State University.

Thompson played safety and special teams for the Aztecs, and the 2021 season was a breakout year for him on defense. During the 2021 season, Thompson had 14 pass breakups and three interceptions.

A true playmaker, Thompson also contributed on special teams, adding to his resume which makes him a decent draft prospect. Not seen on any mock drafts, however, Thompson has the skill and capability to be taken on the third day in the seventh round as a versatile pickup for teams.

DANIEL WHELAN: RANCHO MIRAGE HS ALUMNI, UC DAVIS

40 TIME: 4.74 SECONDS
HEIGHT: 6-5 WEIGHT: 216
HANDS: 9 3/8″ ARMS: 33″ SPAN: 79 1/2″

Daniel Whelan went to Rancho Mirage high school, where he started out by playing tennis and soccer, before being recruited to play football.

Whelan was born in Dublin, Ireland, and he and his mother moved to Rancho Mirage in the middle of high school. Whelan learned how to play football and became a star kicker for the Rattlers. Whelan was discovered by Rattlers’ head coach, L.D. Matthews, after watching how hard Whelan could kick the soccer ball. His mother told NBC Palm Springs back in 2013, that playing football was instrumental when adjusting to life in America.

After high school, Whelan went on to play his college career at UC Davis, where he continued his success as a punter. He was placed on several mock drafts and has all the talent and skill to be an NFL punter.

He is poised to be the first Irishman to play in the NFL in over 40 years, and you can expect to hear his name called by this weekend.

DATONA JACKSON: COLLEGE OF THE DESERT ALUMNI, UCLA 

40 TIME: 5.15 SECONDS
HEIGHT: 6-2 WEIGHT: 266
HANDS: 9 7/8″ ARMS: 32″ SPAN: 77 1/4″

Datona Jackson is a defensive lineman and College of the Desert Alumni, after two years he went on to play for three seasons at UCLA.

Jackson is older heading into this draft, after high school Jackson took a break from football for four years before jumping back in with the Roadrunners. He was a standout student and dedicated to playing football at an elite level. Jackson had several offers from Division I programs before settling with UCLA.

On the defensive line for the Bruins, Jackson played a big role in the team’s success under head coach Chip Kelly, including beating the USC Trojans for the first time since 2018 and finding themselves back in a bowl game.

Jackson has his fingers crossed this year, he tells NBC Palm Springs that the Las Vegas Raiders and the Los Angeles Chargers have expressed their interest in him.

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