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Most College Prospects Undecided on Schools, But Some Decide Early : Football: Los Altos back Roger Boden is headed for Stanford. Bishop Amat end Jason Green will be a Bruin.

February 01, 1990|MITCH POLIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It is less than two weeks from The Big Day of Feb. 14--the first day that high school football prospects can sign national letters of intent with NCAA colleges--and the operative word is indecision .

There are several noteworthy exceptions.

Running back Roger Boden of Los Altos in Hacienda Heights announced last week that he has made a verbal commitment to attend Stanford, and tight ends Jason Green of Bishop Amat in La Puente and Elic Mahone of Muir in Pasadena decided this week that they would commit to UCLA and USC, respectively.

But for the most part, valley prospects are undecided.

Two of the most coveted recruits in the valley, wide receiver Jeremy Smith of Bishop Amat and defensive tackle Norberto Garrido from Workman of Industry, agree the decision has been anything but easy.

The 6-foot-7 and 280-pound Garrido "probably won't make a decision until the signing date."

"I'm just taking my time," the 6-0 and 185 Smith said. "I don't want to have any regrets or say, 'Maybe I should have gone there.' I don't want to change my mind."

But both have trimmed their original list of schools considerably. Both want to continue their careers in California and say they will decide between USC and UC Berkeley.

Smith, a prep All-American who caught 46 passes for 638 yards and nine touchdowns last season and 126 passes for 1,638 yards and 18 touchdowns in his varsity career, said he was initially considering additional visits to Miami, Colorado and Washington but had second thoughts.

"I thought about coming home and the distance. I know if I went to any of those schools I wouldn't be able to come home often."

Garrido, an All-Far West selection by Super Prep magazine who had 12 quarterback sacks and recovered a fumble for a touchdown last season, visited Colorado before deciding that he wants to stay closer to home.

"It felt great there," he said. "I liked it a lot. It was even snowing and I still liked it. But it was mainly the distance that I didn't like."

Garrido says he is probably leaning toward USC. "I liked the unity I saw there," he said. "It's like a family. USC has more of an advantage because of the coaching, the tradition and the exposure you get there. . . . You can't say the same thing about Cal because they're not in bowl games every year. But that doesn't mean I won't go there."

USC would also appear to be in the lead for Smith, especially considering that his cousin--former Bishop Amat star Stephon Pace--is a defensive back for the Trojans.

"A lot of people think that because of the tradition of USC and because my cousin goes there I should go there," he said. "But I also liked my visit to Cal."

Boden, the first valley player to make a commitment last week, is "very happy" that he has made his decision. "It's like a dream come true for me."

Before settling on Stanford, Boden visited the Air Force Academy and planned trips to UC Berkeley, Hawaii and Princeton, "but when Stanford offered me a scholarship I canceled all the others."

The speedy 5-11, 175-pound running back, who rushed for 1,602 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 30 passes for 303 yards and one touchdown as a senior, said Stanford was his first choice all along.

"I wanted to stay in California and close to where I grew up," he said. "I like the mountains and the beaches and this is where I wanted to be. They're (Stanford) becoming a good program and I felt I could come in and make an impact there, and once I saw the campus I felt it was a place where I could fit in."

Smith and Garrido agree that it will be a huge relief when they make their decisions. But neither is in a hurry to decide.

Here is where other prospects are leaning:

* Jason Green (Bishop Amat, tight end)--Until last weekend Green, 6-4, 215, was officially on the undecided list. But after a recruiting visit to UCLA, he committed to the Bruins on Monday. With his 4.6-second speed in the 40-yard dash and exceptional leaping ability, Green has the skills to play wide receiver, although he was recruited by UCLA as a tight end. A preseason prep All-American, Green also visited UC Berkeley and Arizona. Green--the first Bishop Amat star to go with UCLA in recent years--caught 63 passes for 941 yards and 14 touchdowns in his career.

* J. J. O'Laughlin (Glendora, quarterback)--Considered one of the premier drop-back passers on the West Coast, O'Laughlin's decision is up in the air. His final three choices, though, all have good passing attacks: Illinois, Houston and UC Berkeley. He has visited Illinois and has trips planned to the other two schools, although getting away has been difficult because he is also a star on the Glendora basketball team. A prep All-American in football, O'Laughlin, 6-3, 200, passed for 1,706 yards and nine touchdowns and rushed for 284 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

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