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COURTESY XAVIER STEELE
Orange Lutheran cornerback Xavier Steele, left, recently received a visit to his home from Massachusetts assistant coach Steve Costello, right.

Recruiting notes: Orange Lutheran's Steele embraces his 'sleeper' journey

STAFF WRITER

They’re called “sleeper” recruits because without much recognition or warning, they appear on the wish list of a major college program and begin to blend with more heralded high school players.

Meet Orange Lutheran cornerback Xavier Steele, a speedy senior who fits that bill and represents what is exciting about the lead-up to National Signing Day for high school football recruits on Feb. 1.

Steele (6-0, 180) was recently offered a scholarship by Massachusetts, an FBS school. He plans to make an official visit to the school’s Amherst campus next weekend.

“(I’m) definitely a sleeper,” he said this week. “I like that.”

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Steele was a junior, a critical year for gaining attention from colleges, when he transferred to Orange Lutheran from Tahquitz in Hemet. He observed the CIF Southern Section’s sit out period and missed the first five games. When he became eligible, he served mostly as a backup safety.

Last season, he started out splitting time at cornerback but became a starter for the Lancers when they began playing Trinity League games. He finished the season as the team’s fifth-leading tackler and tied Brandon McKinney, a Washington commit, for the team lead in interceptions with three.

“It was hard (not playing), but I just kept working,” Steele said. “I would just use it as motivation. When I felt like I wasn’t doing good enough, I would just go to my dad’s gym and we would just get a pump and just let all the emotions out in the weight room. Just get bigger, stronger, faster.

“That’s all I could do until I got my chance.”

Steele’s father, Eddie, is the strength and conditioning coach for the Golden West College football team.

Steele also has been offered by two Division II schools, Western State Colorado and Dixie State.

Massachusetts has made its interest in Steele clear. Two coaches, including head coach Mark Whipple, visited Steele at Orange Lutheran last week and another coach made a home visit Thursday.

“I just felt relieved,” Steele said of Massachusetts’ offer. “I just prayed on it and prayed on it. … I felt like everything I’ve done up to this point has paid off.”

ALABAMA OFFERS DANIELS 

Mater Dei quarterback JT Daniels has been offered by Alabama, the sophomore announced on Twitter.

“I'm so grateful and honored to receive an offer from the University of Alabama!” The Register's 2016 offensive player of the year wrote Thursday. "#RollTide"

Daniels (6-1, 195) passed for an Orange County-record 4,849 yards and 67 touchdowns this past season.

DECISIONS APPROACHING

Mater Dei defensive tackle Austin Faoliu is expected to announce his college decision Saturday at the inaugural Polynesian Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Oahu. The game will be streamed live online on ESPN3 at 8 p.m.

The game also features McKinney, recent Fresno State commit Zelan Tupuola of JSerra, USC commit Brett Neilon of Santa Margarita, Cal commit Mike Saffell of Edison, BYU commit Isaac Rex of San Clemente, offensive lineman Liki Seu of Orange Lutheran and Washington commit Keith Taylor of Servite.

The players left Monday for the game.

“We’re staying in Hawaii for the whole week,” Saffell said. “We got some really cool coaches out there, too. And we got the uniforms going. They look pretty sweet.”

On Monday afternoon, Buena Park cornerback Elijah Gates is expected to announce his decision during a 1 p.m. on-campus ceremony, former Coyotes coach Anthony White said. The senior has narrowed his schools to UCLA and Oregon, both of which held in-home visits with Gates this week.

TRUE TO PURDUE

Villa Park quarterback Nick Sipe committed to Purdue in June, one day after attending a camp at the Big Ten school. The Boilermakers made an in-season coaching change, but Sipe said his commitment stands.

His connection to the university in West Lafayette, Ind. is that strong.

“It was the campus (and) the atmosphere of the whole school,” said Sipe, who made his official recruiting trip to Purdue last weekend. “I like the small-town feel. … They’re building new facilities. I just love everything about it.”

Purdue fired coach Darrell Hazell after six games and hired Jeff Brohm of Western Kentucky in early December. Sipe was surprised by the firing but is excited to work with Brohm, a former quarterback whose teams at Western Kentucky averaged 44.6 points per game.

“Coach Brohm wants it (the offense) to be really, really fast paced,” he said.

Sipe is one of two quarterback committed to Purdue’s 2017 recruiting class. The other is Griffin Alstott of Florida, son of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers All-Pro fullback Mike Alstott, who also played Purdue.

“We met (last weekend). I liked him a lot,” Sipe said of Griffin Alstott. “I’m not going to shy away from any competition.”

NOTES

Buena Park wide receiver and Cal commit Jeremiah Hawkins is visiting the Cal campus this weekend, White said. …

Saffell said he and Cal-committed quarterback Chase Garbers of Corona del Mar received encouraging calls last weekend from new Golden Bears coach Justin Wilcox. …

Orange Lutheran right tackle Mason Hagey (6-3, 295) is visiting Division II Humboldt State this weekend. …

Servite offensive lineman/long snapper Michael La Cilento (6-5, 285) has been offered by San Diego, Columbia, Azusa Pacific, Colorado School of Mines and West Liberty. …

Mater Dei’s Amon-Ra St. Brown, one of the top wide receiver recruits nationally in the class of 2018, has added offers from Auburn and Mississippi. …

Buena Park defensive end Cedric Dashiell II is visiting Harvard this weekend. He called his trip to Yale last weekend “amazing.”

“I had a lot of fun,” he said in a direct message via Twitter. ...

Valencia cornerback/wide receiver Jordan John (6-2, 195) has been offered by NAIA Southern Oregon, recruiting service Playing For Envelopes announced.

Contact the writer: dalbano@scng.com


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