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Tustin High is a big hit with the NFL

September 24, 2008|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

Southern California high schools have a rich history of producing NFL players, with Long Beach Poly normally at the top of the list.

But this year Tustin holds a share of that title. There were six Tillers among the 1,693 players on opening weekend rosters, tying Tustin with Dillard of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for the most former players in the league.

Tustin Coach Myron Miller's team is 0-3 this season, but that's no indication of the talent his program has developed in recent years.

The six former Tustin athletes in the NFL are offensive tackle Sam Baker of the Atlanta Falcons, linebacker Beau Bell of the Cleveland Browns, offensive guard Chris Chester of the Baltimore Ravens, running back DeShaun Foster of the San Francisco 49ers, linebacker Matt McCoy of Tampa Bay Buccaneers and defensive lineman Frostee Rucker of the Cincinnati Bengals.

"Tustin means a lot to me," Baker, a former standout tackle at both Tustin and USC, said in a statement released by USA Football. "It's where I got started and it's where I first played football.

"Coach Miller, who is still there, told me to get in the weight room because that's where everything I was going to accomplish was going to start. It was all about work and I was fortunate that there were a lot of guys around my same age that were top-caliber athletes.

"A lot of those guys are in the NFL today. DeShaun Foster started the trend and a lot of us followed in his footsteps."

Concord De La Salle began the season with five former players in the NFL, second-most among California high schools, according to USA Football.

Long Beach Poly, which began the season tied for seventh with four players in the NFL -- tight end Marcedes Lewis, defensive end Willie McGinest, offensive tackle Winston Justice and wide receiver DeSean Jackson -- recently added a fifth when wide receiver Samie Parker signed with the Seattle Seahawks.

Los Alamitos also had four former players on NFL rosters at the start of the season -- punter Chris Kluwe, defensive lineman Mike Patterson and defensive backs Orlando Scandrick and Antoine Cason.

California had 214 players, the most of any state, followed by Florida (185) and Texas (170).

Among hometowns, Los Angeles was tied with Cleveland for seventh with 11 players.

Miami had the most, 34, followed by Houston with 27, Detroit with 16, and Atlanta, San Diego and Ft. Lauderdale each with 12.

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lonnie.white@latimes.com

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