Local players mull where to play football in college
In one week, high school libraries, gymnasiums and lunchrooms across the country will be filled with family and friends to watch Friday night heroes sign to play on Saturdays.
National letter of intent day is Feb. 4, the first day high school football players can make their verbal commitments official.
For the athletes, the decision is a big one. Grand Junction High School coach Robbie Owens is a former recruiting coordinator for Mesa State and said deciding where to sign has just as much to do with what is happening off the field as it does with what happens on the field.
“This is the first major decision of their lives,” Owens said. “They have to figure out what the best fit will be for them.”
The local recruit that garnered the most interest was Grand Junction’s Tyler Palmer.
The Tigers’ safety will sign with Colorado School of Mines. Owens said Navy and the University of Pennsylvania were also options for Palmer.
As of Tuesday, Palmer was the only local to have his signing day lined up.
Owens said receiver Ashur Verna and linebacker Ty Nielson could walk on somewhere.
At Fruita Monument, tight end Scott Miller will likely sign Wednesday.
Miller, who was also a dangerous punter for Fruita, is leaning toward staying in town and signing with Mesa State, Fruita coach Bill Moore said. The Wildcats don’t have any other players looking to sign or even play at the next level. Moore said most of his players are looking to pursue higher education at a bigger school and not play football.
Central has several players with interest in playing in college but none of the Warriors have made their decisions.
Warriors coach Vern McGee said Charlie Peyton is probably the team’s most likely player to sign, with Western State at the top of his list.
All-conference linebacker Trent Harris is set to attend Mesa State next year but hasn’t decided if he will play football for the Mavericks.
Other Warriors who could be on a roster next fall are defensive lineman Dylan Begg, receivers Blaine Jackson and Clay Kame and tight end Ross McGee. Vern McGee, Ross’ father and coach, said his son is looking at Western State and Wyoming. If he chooses the Mountaineers, he’ll probably play football, but wouldn’t play at Wyoming. The elder McGee said just because some players don’t sign on the national signing day doesn’t mean they won’t play in college.
“A lot of kids are confused by that, because they think you have to sign by that day,” McGee said. “There are still a lot of options out there for the schools and players.”
Palisade has several players interested in playing but haven’t had an abundance of offers.
Jake Appling, Steaphen Isaac, Matthew Young, Zach Adair, Aaron Wagler, Travis Fehlman and Jake Edmiston all are hoping to play college football.
“They all really don’t know where they stand,” Arledge said. “Western and Mesa are the options for the kids and I expect all of them to be playing somewhere, I just don’t know where yet.”
Arledge said Edmiston has also been talking to CSU-Pueblo and Colorado School of Mines, where his sister is a standout on the volleyball team. The Bulldogs’ coach said he’s disappointed in the limited interest college coaches have shown the Bulldogs this year.
“I don’t know who all will be getting scholarships, but these are kids who just want to play,” Arledge said. “They have good work ethic and toughness and it’s frustrating with the lack of interest.”
A handful of Montrose athletes are looking at Division II schools, coach Todd Casebier said. Linebacker Brian Rumbaugh, safety Mac Alexander, quarterback Kirk English and linebacker Taylor Neill all are looking at schools in the Rocky Mountain Athletic
Conference, but he said he didn’t think any of them would be ready to sign by Wednesday.
This past fall, two Western Slope schools rode the individual performances to state championships. Olathe’s David Rhodes put the Pirates on his back on the way to a 2A state championship. Rhodes, a running back, is considering Mesa State, according to Olathe Athletic Director Brent Wareham. Rhodes rushed for more than 2,000 yards this past season.
Dakota Stonehouse of Glenwood Springs also hasn’t made a final decision but has been in contact with a lot of RMAC schools according to Glenwood Springs Athletic Director Craig Denney. Denney added that Stonehouse has been interested in NAIA power Carroll College in Helena, Mont.