There were many people who were shocked in December when Glendale College was upset by Riverside, 28-10, in the Pony Bowl. The loss ruined an otherwise perfect season for the Vaqueros (10-1), who had spent much of the season as the top-ranked junior college team in the nation.
There is nothing surprising, however, about the current rush on Glendale players by universities looking to restock their football programs for next season.
Four Glendale players have made written commitments and four others have given verbal commitments to four-year schools. Others, such as All-American quarterback Rob Huffman, are still considering a number of offers.
The signed quartet includes All-American offensive tackle Bill Schultz, who has committed to USC, and defensive back Michael Fouther, who is going to Texas A&M. Wide receiver Doug Hooker and defensive lineman Mario Serrano have both signed with San Jose State.
This week is considered a down period for recruiting by the NCAA, so there can be no signings until next week. However, players who have made verbal commitments include defensive back Chris Hale (USC), center Dave Ewing (Fresno State), offensive tackle Todd Vradenburg (San Diego State) and linebacker Don Scott (Rice).
This is a busy time of the year for university-bound junior college players, who must complete final exams and transfer immediately to be eligible for spring football practice.
For Schultz, 6-5 and 260 pounds, a scholarship to USC is a dream come true, especially for a player who had experienced a recruiting nightmare when he graduated from Kennedy High in Granada Hills in 1984.
Schultz, an All-American this season, was set to attend Washington out of high school until a special university admissions committee turned down his application at the last minute. Schultz said his grade-point average was 2.51 when he graduated from high school and that he still doesn't know why he was denied admission to Washington.
"I had a letter sent from Washington apologizing for what happened," Schultz said. "But I never heard from them again."
He did receive a lot of mail and phone calls from many of the nation's top programs, including Arizona State and Miami. But when USC offered him a scholarship, Schultz didn't hesitate accepting it.
"On the JC level, there weren't many players that were my size," Shultz said. "My friends who are playing at the Division I level tell me it's going to be an unreal jump. It's going to be a totally different life."
Fouther, 5-10 and 170 pounds, is another Glendale player who probably never would have been a Vaquero had it not been for a setback during his senior year at Dorsey High. Fouther was being recruited by Oregon and UC Berkeley until he broke his ankle during his senior year. After that, he didn't hear from any schools.
"I went through a lot of disappointment back then, but I'm happy the way things turned out," Fouther said. "Academically, Texas A&M offers me exactly what I want. Architecture is my major, but I'll probably get into environmental design while I'm playing football. I can concentrate on finishing the architectural program when I've completed my eligibility."
Hooker, who had 30 receptions for 414 yards and 7 touchdowns this season, wasn't recruited by anyone when he came out of Muir High School.
"I just wanted to try out for the team at Glendale," said Hooker, who's 5-10 and 170 pounds. "I really didn't think I would be much of a factor. It was kind of like a stab in the dark.
"I found out the game is a lot more complex than the quarterback-sweep-right, quarterback-sweep-left offense we ran in high school. I'm sure the next level is another big step up, but I'm ready for it."
Meanwhile, Hale is waiting to see if the change in coaches at USC--from Ted Tollner to Larry Smith--will affect the full scholarship he said he verbally accepted last week.
Hale, 5-10 and 170 pounds, an honorable mention All-American who had six interceptions, played only one year for the Vaqueros. He had transferred to Glendale after spending his freshman year as a walk-on at Nebraska.
"At Nebraska, I was almost lost in the shuffle," said Hale, who went to Monrovia High. "I think it was my best decision to come back here and get pointed in the right direction. I wanted to start all over again."
Huffman, an All-American quarterback and the Western State Conference Player of the Year, has been offered scholarships to Louisville and New Mexico State, but said earlier this week that he would prefer to stay on the West Coast.
"I want to go somewhere where I can start and be an impact player," Huffman said. "I still have some time to decide what I want to do and I'm sure I'll end up somewhere where I'll be happy."