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Hard to Wear Lineman Down but Phone May Do It : Arroyo's Rick Fuller Wearies of Night Calls From College Recruiters; Others in Same Fix

February 04, 1988|MITCH POLIN | Times Staff Writer

At 6-8 and 275 pounds, All-CIF Southeastern Conference lineman Rick Fuller of Arroyo High in El Monte expected to receive considerable interest from college football recruiters.

But after a barrage of letters and phone calls since the end of the season and four recruiting trips, Fuller admits the process is wearing thin.

"It's going to be a big relief when I decide because they won't call me as much and I'll be able to concentrate more on other things," he says.

The 17-year-old Fuller said: "I get an average of four or five calls a night and it's a lot slower than it was. If I'm talking to my friend and I get a call, I have to get off the phone and talk to them, or if I'm doing homework I have to break away to take a call."

It has been so bad lately, he says, that it is affecting his schoolwork.

"I go away every weekend (on recruiting trips) and am so tired when I get back. My grades are dropping."

He said the trips did not make it any easier for him to decide which college to attend.

"It's all been very confusing," Fuller said. "It's hard to decide which school is better. All look good, so I just decided that I will go where I feel most comfortable."

Fuller has visited UCLA, USC, UC Berkeley and Washington and had a trip scheduled to Arizona.

But after the trips to Berkeley and Washington, Fuller decided to stay closer to home. "I thought I wanted to go away but decided that I would miss my family and friends. All the trips were great and I liked every college I went to, but staying home is important to me."

He said that has narrowed his choices to UCLA and USC and that he will probably cancel the trip to Arizona.

"I'm just tired of everything and I'm close to committing," he said. "I don't think it's fair for me to take a trip (to Arizona) without really even considering them."

That would seemingly make Fuller's choice easier. Only the decision between the Bruins and Trojans is not easy because he wants to compete in both football and track.

If Fuller wanted to play only football, his decision might be easy. That's because Fuller wants to play defensive tackle, where USC is recruiting him. UCLA wants him to play offensive tackle, where he made All-CIF in high school.

"I like playing defense a lot better," he said. "To me it's just a lot more fun."

However, there is also the track factor--which immediately eliminated a lot of colleges.

"That's the first thing I told them when they called," Fuller said. "If they weren't going to let me compete in track, I told them just don't call and they've all been pretty cooperative.

That would seemingly help UCLA's chances, considering that the Bruins won the NCAA track title last season. But Fuller said it will probably depend on which track and football coaches he feels most comfortable with.

"If the coach works it out, I can work out with the track team before spring practice," he said. "I'm just looking for where I can get along best with the track coach and the football coach."

Fuller had an outstanding junior year in track, finishing fifth in the shot put with a 58-3 at the CIF state finals. "I like track," he said. "It's just something that I think would be hard to give up."

He has received more attention from colleges for his football skills, though.

Fuller was named to Houston-based scout Max Emfinger's preseason top 100 list of prospects and earned honorable mention on Street and Smith's team. Emfinger called Fuller the best offensive tackle in the state.

He was looking as good as advertised until an ankle injury ended his season in a second-round playoff game against Apple Valley last November. Fuller tore two ligaments and had bone chips.

"It's not fully recovered but it's getting there," he said. "I was in a cast for about four weeks and as soon as I got out of it I was running on it. It has healed fast but it's still a little tender."

The injury marked a disappointing end to his season, especially when he had to stand on the sideline while his team lost to Cajon (44-6) in the CIF Southeastern Conference finals.

"I was depressed about the whole thing," he said. "It was boring for me, especially for the last game when I felt like it was such a helpless situation. It would have been better if it happened at the start of the season."

Fuller says he is happy with the progress he made last season and is looking forward to playing in college.

Fuller has speed with a 40-yard dash time of 5.0 seconds but realizes he must improve in other areas.

"I know I need to get a lot stronger, but I'll probably redshirt (next season) and learn new techniques," he said.

USC and UCLA have told him he will likely be redshirted next season and have four years of eligibility remaining, a situation which does not bother him, he said.

"I'm not strong enough right now," Fuller said. "I'm big and I'm quick, but I need to work a little harder with weights. I just want to play for the last four years. That'll be fine with me."

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