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Here’s where 13 local high school football stars have signed to play in college

By Joe Davidson, Sac Bee, 12/20/18, 9:00AM PST


Student athletes used to blocking, tackling, running, catching, defending and competing went with one simple move Wednesday.

Thirteen area high school football stars signed national letters of intent to scholarship programs, making for a bumper crop for the early signing period. The next signing period is in February.

Folsom seniors Kaiden Bennett and Joe Ngata signed with Boise State and Clemson, respectively, just days after leading the Bulldogs to a CIF State Division I-AA championship repeat.

Bennett passed for 4,254 yards and 62 touchdowns and ran for 13 more scores in producing one of the best single-seasons in regional history.

Ngata, one of the area’s all-time great receivers, had 66 receptions for 1,269 yards and 22 touchdowns. Clemson won the national championship in 2016 and is back in the College Football Playoffs this season.

“This is fantastic,” Folsom coach Kris Richardson said while watching his two stars sign. “They’re two of the most humble, hardest-working kids. They’ll be on our Mt. Rushmore of all-time great players here like Jordan Richards, Jake Browning, Jonah Williams, Cody Creason and Dano Graves.”

Jesuit had three players sign, including cornerback Isaiah Rutherford to Notre Dame, also in the College Football Playoffs.

Teammate Laiatu Latu, a linebacker and tight end, is off to Washington, where he will play for Chris Petersen, the one-time UC Davis star quarterback.

Also, tight end Connor McIntee signed with Air Force.

Latu and Rutherford were the two most heavily recruited Marauders in program history. Jesuit opened in 1963.

Monterey Trail was the third area school to have two players sign early after guiding the Mustangs to a 12-1 showing.

Zach Larrier, a quarterback and defensive back, will play at Air Force, while running back and defensive back Jehiel Budgett is off to UC Davis.

Larrier passed for 1,426 yards and 18 touchdowns and he rushed for 990 and 16. Budgett ran for 1,564 yards and 23 scores. They combined to make seven interceptions in the secondary in leading the best team in school history. Monterey Trail opened in 2004.

River Valley also had two players sign, the most for one season in program history. Quarterback Dawson McPeak is headed to Northern Arizona and lineman Dean Rice is off to Utah State

Levelle Bailey of Burbank signed with Fresno State, which has surged under second-year coach Jeff Tedford.

Bailey was one of the most heavily recruited football players in the history of the school, which opened in 1963. Bailey played quarterback and linebacker for Burbank and will play defense in college.

He passed for 1,405 yards and 20 touchdowns, ran for 722 and 15 and made 81 tackles and six interceptions for a team that reached the section Division III playoffs.

There were also some large signings Wednesday in terms of player size.

The 6-foot-4, 275-pound Joey Capra of Placer is headed to San Diego State after an earlier verbal commitment to Oregon.

Blake Baughman is a 6-5, 270-pounder who signed with Nevada. He teamed with Capra to give the Hillmen on of the best bookend tackles in the state. Placer went 12-1 and reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III finals.

The 6-4, 295-pound Zac Welch of Oak Ridge will go to Nevada. The Trojans went 8-4 and lost to Monterey Trail in a section Division I semifinal.

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