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NICK AGRO , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Sonora quarterback Cole McDonald, who passed for 2,313 yards and rushed for 1,091 in the fall, has been offered a scholarship by Alabama A&M and preferred walk-on spots by San Diego State and Arizona.

Recruiting notes: Service guides recruits through tough process

STAFF WRITER

Cole McDonald attended camps and competed on the 7-on-7 passing circuit, but he still felt his college recruiting profile needed a boost as he entered his senior season at Sonora.

The dual-threat quarterback decided to follow the path of friend and Freeway League rival, La Habra linebacker Jake Colacion, by joining a new recruiting service that is gaining popularity in Orange County.

McDonald signed up with Playing for Envelopes, a company started in 2014 by Greg Hoyd, a former assistant football coach at Tustin, El Dorado, Canyon, Santa Margarita and Fullerton and Riverside City colleges.

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound McDonald saw his contacts from colleges go up after an outstanding senior campaign, and he credits some of his recent recruiting opportunities to Playing for Envelopes.

“It was a great thing that we did,” McDonald said. “I know from Jake’s experience that they put him out there on the map.

“(Hoyd) talked about being studious on the field and off the field. Just being a well-rounded guy.”

Hoyd said the belief in a blue-collar work ethic inspired the company’s name. He wants his athletes to “keep working” in the classroom and at their sports to earn the scholarship offers and academic merit awards that often arrive in envelopes.

The nationwide company leans on Hoyd’s network of contacts in college football. He played at Mississippi and has a son playing at Washington State.

“I started (the company) because all my (college) coaching buddies were begging me to do it,” Hoyd said. “They were, ‘Man, it’s just so hard to find all these kids and there’s not enough time.’”

Playing for Envelopes also features former Montclair State wrestling coach Steve Strellner in New Jersey and former college football player Marcus Royster covering Washington and Oregon.

Playing for Envelopes also works with athletes in girls wrestling, volleyball, lacrosse, softball, soccer and tennis. The company counts about 178 athletes nationwide as clients.

The company generally charges a one-time fee of about $3,500, and it makes no guarantees about scholarships.

“It’s good to have those top guys who basically jump off the paper,” said Hoyd, who worked with highly recruited Servite receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, now at Notre Dame.

“But the kids who are on the bubble, we can position them to go to a (lower division) school and be the top dog … because those coaches don’t have the resources to come to California.”

Playing for Envelopes says that in addition to increasing an athlete’s exposure, it provides assistance in academics and training in the use of social media and in dealing with media.

Hoyd said social media has become a major force in recruiting. Players now form relationships with college coaches on social media platforms such as Twitter, and there is less emphasis on colleges visiting a campus to talk with high school coaches.

Social media also presents challenges for the high school athletes.

“If they post one thing wrong, it doesn’t matter on what social media, colleges will reject them,” Strellner said.

“Just monitoring the social media is huge. I don’t know any other service that actually does that.”

The Orange County contingent of football players currently working with the company includes Yorba Linda offensive lineman David Garfunkel, Mater Dei sophomore offensive tackle Tommy Brown and Villa Park junior All-County linebacker John Stamos.

Garfunkel is scheduled to visit Princeton this weekend.

McDonald passed for 2,313 yards and rushed for 1,091 in the fall, helping the Raiders reach the second round of the CIF-SS Southwest Division playoffs.

He also brings plenty of speed. He is the reigning league champion in the 200 meters.

McDonald has been offered a scholarship by an FCS school, Alabama A&M, and preferred walk-on spots by San Diego State and Arizona, which recently lost Tesoro quarterback Devon Modster as one of its commitments for 2016.

McDonald will visit Division II Colorado Mesa next weekend with Sonora teammates Jacob Fimbres and Eric Pulliam, Raiders coach Paul Chiotti said.

On Jan. 30, the trio will play in the San Gabriel Valley’s Hall of Fame all-star game.

“I’m excited just to be recruited,” McDonald said. “It’s a great experience and a great feeling to know that my talents are wanted.”

MODSTER, COLACION UPDATES

Since he announced that he is no longer committed to Arizona, Modster has been offered by Syracuse. He also was offered by Oklahoma State just before decommitting on Dec. 31.

La Habra coach Frank Mazzotta said Colacion remains committed to Arizona, but he was recently offered by Hawaii.

ALL-AMERICAN GAME

Santa Margarita quarterback KJ Costello, a Stanford commit, leads a group of county players in Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. The game will air live on NBC at 10 a.m.

NOTES

Mission Viejo quarterback Brock Johnson, the Register’s offensive player of the year, will make an official visit to Georgetown next weekend. … Mission Viejo sophomore standouts Austin Osborne (receiver) and Olaijah Griffin (cornerback) have been offered by Oregon, they announced on Twitter. … San Clemente All-County offensive lineman Donte Harrington has set recruiting trips to Army (Jan. 16-17), Boise State (Jan. 22) and New Mexico (Jan. 29). ... San Clemente All-County all-purpose player Vlad Dzhabiyev has been offered by Trinity College of Connecticut. … Servite quarterback/wide receiver Aaron Simpson has been offered by Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire.

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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