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ERIC SONDHEIMER / ON HIGH SCHOOLS

They're underrated, and overlooked, by football recruiters

Talented, accomplished players who don't fit the physical mold colleges are looking for often fall through the cracks on letter-of-intent signing day. Case in point: Garfield's Lanny Delgado.

February 09, 2009|ERIC SONDHEIMER | ON HIGH SCHOOLS

On letter-of-intent day, there were slick news conferences, big celebrations and lots of picture taking to capture the moment of teenagers' officially accepting college football scholarships.

For Lanny Delgado, a two-time All-City defensive back at Los Angeles Garfield High, Wednesday started with trying to fix the family computer, followed by a trip to the laundromat to wash a uniform, then an appearance in a soccer match, where he scored a goal in a 3-2 loss.

"I didn't even know today was letter-of-intent day," he said.

He didn't have any reason to pay attention, because no coaches offered him a scholarship.

"He didn't know, because no recruiters have talked to him and no one has shown any interest," Coach Lorenzo Hernandez said.

They didn't notice or didn't care that he more than held his own covering USC-bound De'Von Flournoy in two games last season.

"He's a good player," Flournoy said. "He plays with a lot of heart. He didn't back down, which I respected the most."

At 5 feet 11, 150 pounds, with 40-yard speed of about 4.6 seconds and grades that saw him receive an A in AP calculus and an A in trigonometry, Delgado would seem a good candidate to help a college football program.

"I'm still puzzled," Hernandez said. "This is a guy with a 3.6 GPA and played solid defense."

Unfortunately, there are lots of successful high school players who go unnoticed or unappreciated by college recruiters. Another is Josh Brannon, a running back at Garden Grove Pacifica who rushed for 2,175 yards and scored 22 touchdowns but had no takers at the next level.

People can place blame on lack of exposure or failure to impress at camps or combines, but the bottom line is football recruiters know what they want, and if you don't fit into their mold, it will create obstacles to reaching the next level.

"I'm dedicated and convinced I can take on a higher level," Delgado said. "I'm fast enough, I'm quick enough and I'm strong enough."

Hernandez keeps making phone calls and sending out tapes, hoping someone will see something special in Delgado, a three-year varsity standout.

Perhaps Delgado, Brannon and others who didn't sign letters last week will get a chance to play after enrolling at a college as a walk-on or making it through the junior-college ranks.

It's frustrating, but opportunities come to those who don't give up.

Headed to Texas

To celebrate his 30th season as football coach at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, Kevin Rooney has agreed to take his team on its first out-of-state trip. The Knights will open the 2009 season Sept. 7 in Texas as part of the Kirk Herbstreit Varsity Series. Organizers are hoping to play four games at the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium in Arlington.

Notre Dame's opponent will be either Southlake (Texas) Carroll or Spring (Texas) Klein Oak. With quarterback Ryan Kasdorf and four offensive line starters returning, the Knights ought to be able to put on an offensive show. But will Rooney's team be able to handle the Texas humidity?

Looking for another Corvette

After three weeks of weight training, Santa Ana Mater Dei Coach Bruce Rollinson is trying to get a feel for what football is like without quarterback Matt Barkley.

Barkley was a four-year starter for the Monarchs.

"It's time to get ready to build a race car and get a new driver," Rollinson said.

With Barkley now enrolled at USC, the Monarchs have begun their search for a quarterback replacement. The leading candidate is 6-4, 200-pound junior-to-be Max Wittek, who guided the junior varsity team, but he has competition from junior Jack Doll and senior Nick Connor.

"It's going to be a healthy competition," Rollinson said. "It's kind of weird. We haven't faced this since Matt was a freshman."

Break out the radar guns

Mark Feb. 28 on your calendar if you want to see more radar guns on display than at a California Highway Patrol convention. At 11 a.m. at Lake Forest El Toro, there will be a baseball scrimmage between Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley and El Toro. Baseball scouts will be out en masse to watch Capistrano Valley left-hander Tyler Matzek pitch against 6-7 right-hander Chad Thompson of El Toro.

The most radar guns I've seen for a high school game was in 1997 when Jon Garland of Granada Hills Kennedy pitched against Sean Douglass of Antelope Valley. A couple of months later, Garland was drafted in the first round and Douglass went in the second round.

I'd better show up to bring luck to Matzek and Thompson.

--

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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