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O.C. football players find alternative in non-FBS schools
Three of Orange County's prized high school football recruits in the class of 2013 have committed to UCLA. Top-ranked Max Redfield of Mission Viejo originally committed to USC before picking Notre Dame earlier this month. And a trio of county recruits has given verbal commitments to Cal.
As in most years, many of Orange County's blue-chip recruits will be migrating to an in-state FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) school.
But what are the in-state scholarship opportunities for county recruits who might not pass the Division I-A eye-ball test?
There are only a handful of non-FBS schools in California, but scholarship opportunities are available.
Three FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) schools in the Golden State offer scholarships: Cal Poly SLO, Sacramento State and UC Davis.
University of San Diego also plays FCS but doesn't award athletic scholarships in football. San Diego offers scholarships in most of its other sports.
FCS football teams are allotted a maximum of 63 full scholarships, about 20 fewer than their FBS rivals, a spokesman for Cal Poly SLO said this week.
The opportunities expand because unlike their FBS rivals, FCS schools can divide scholarships into partial scholarships. At Cal Poly SLO, the Mustangs can have as many as 85 players receiving some portion of a scholarship, said Eric Burdick, associate director of athletics communications.
Cypress running back Jake Brito committed to Cal Poly SLO and received a full scholarship, the senior said.
The Mustangs are playing host to Tustin linebacker Marshaun Daniel (5foot-11, 210) on a recruiting trip this weekend.
There are two Division II football teams in California — Azusa Pacific and Humboldt State — that offer scholarships. Division II schools can have a maximum of 36 scholarships, which they can divide into partials, Azusa Pacific coach Victor Santa Cruz said.
Azusa Pacific will be entering its second season as a Division II program this fall.
"Division II is back," Santa Cruz said. "It's an amazing opportunity."
Santa Cruz said his team usually features 50-60 players receiving some level of scholarship money.
He said recruits can help themselves by earning good grades and exploring financial assistance programs such as Cal Grants (www.calgrants.org) and Free Application for Federal Student Aid (www.fafsa.ed.gov). Add football scholarship money, and there could be a match.
"At the FCS level or below, every situation becomes unique because you can break up the scholarships," said Santa Cruz, who played football at El Toro for two years.
Division III schools such as Chapman University are not allowed by the NCAA to offer athletic scholarships.
MARTINEZ VISITS SPARTANS
Laguna Beach All-County pick Drake Martinez is on an official recruiting trip this weekend to Michigan State.
Martinez said the Spartans are recruiting him as a running back/safety.
The senior also has made an official recruiting trip to Nebraska, where his brother, Taylor, is the starting quarterback.
Martinez's recent offers from Michigan State and Florida International have moved him to No. 1 in the county rankings of uncommitted recruits.
He also has been offered by San Diego State.
Mater Dei wide receiver and UCLA commit Thomas Duarte (6-3, 225) didn't make his expected trip to USC last weekend, Monarchs coach Bruce Rollinson said in an e-mail. Rollinson said Duarte stayed home to study for finals.
Several players announced commitments this week. Among the notable:
• Santa Margarita running back Ryan Wolpin (5-9, 192) committed to Northern Colorado. The senior said in a text message that he received a "full ride" from the Big Sky school.
• Fountain Valley linebacker Wyatt Christensen (6-1, 215) picked Montana State.
• Edison quarterback Alek Torgersen (6-3, 210) gave a verbal pledge to Ivy League champion Penn.
• Huntington Beach offensive lineman Adam Khouri (6-3, 275) committed to Air Force.
• Laguna Hills tight end Peter Eggert (6-4, 227) opted for Dartmouth.
• Tesoro's Zach Schottenfeld (6-2, 170) committed to Utah, said Brad Bohn, the senior's kicking coach with West Coast Kicking Academy.
• San Clemente linebacker/fullback Landon Cook (5-10, 205), San Clemente offensive lineman Sam Hunter (6-2, 255) and Aliso Niguel quarterback Nathan Cole (6-4, 220) have committed to Div. II Minnesota Crookston.
Orange Lutheran outside linebacker Gunnar Wolfe (6-1, 210) has been offered by Valparaiso. The Crusaders, along with San Diego, are part of the Pioneer League, which agrees not to award football scholarships. ...
Tesoro running back Nate Tago (5-10, 210) is visiting FCS Portland State this weekend. ...
Yorba Linda WR Shad Pace (5-11, 170) has visited Division II Azusa Pacific and Dixie State in Utah.
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