It’s no surprise that 16-0 CIF Open Division champion St. John Bosco led the state with 10 players who signed Division I football letters of intent on Wednesday during a ceremony at the school.
Based on internet searches and Twitter updates, the 10 were led by first team all-state picks Damien Mama (offensive line USC), Jaleel Wadood (WR/DB UCLA) and Chandler Leniu (LB Cal) along with four others that frankly were pretty close to being first team all-state themselves — WR Shay Fields (Colorado), DB Naijiel Hale (Washington), DE Jacob Tuoti-Mariner (UCLA) and DE Malik Dorton (USC). Also signing were DB Chandler Hawkins (Navy), DB Brett Baldwin (Air Force) and DL Ivan Martinez (Idaho State).
The only school comparable to the Braves was Serra of Gardena, which went 13-0 before getting upset in the CIF Southern Section Western Division final by Chaminade of West Hills. Serra’s signers were WR/DB Adoree Jackson (USC), DL/LB Olajuwon Tucker (USC), DB Glen Ihenacho (Oregon), WR Jordan Lasley (UCLA), QB Jalen Greene (USC), LB Dwight Williams (UCLA), DL Sam Akoteu (Fresno State) and LB Malachi Mageo (Hawaii).
If Bosco and Serra had played in the CIF SoCal Open Division final, as many were hoping, it might have been a matchup with as many D1 college-bound players than any in California history. The most we remember ever seeing in one game was in 1985 when Long Beach Poly (10 signers in February 1986) played Banning of Wilmington (which had eight or nine) and Banning (9) vs. Carson (10) two times in 1988, including once in the L.A. City Section 4A title game. And of course, the Bosco-Serra game wouldn’t have counted some of the juniors, such as All-Americans Josh Rosen of the Braves and John Houston of the Cavaliers.
For the record, for NFL players in one game, the famous 2001 Concord De La Salle-Long Beach Poly game produced three from De La Salle and four seniors from Poly, including Maurice Jones-Drew of the Spartans and Marcedes Lewis of the Jackbrabbits (who are now teammates in Jacksonville). That total doesn’t even include Poly’s underclassmen such as Derrick Jones or DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles, the latter who was not on the varisty club as a freshman.
Poly had nine signers off of its 2001 team that lost to De La Salle, then 10 more from its 2002 team. There ended up being 28 players in all from Poly’s 2001 team (including two freshmen and sophomores on the roster) that signed D1 letters of intent. That is believed to be the state record. That’s also a total to keep in mind as the younger players from this year’s St. John Bosco team keep improving.
Another recent State Team of the Year that had 10 D1 signers was Oaks Christian of Westlake Village in 2007. The state’s No. 1 team from 2006 had QB Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame), DL Michael Ebbitt (Texas A&M), DB Anthony Gildon (Oregon), DB Marshall Jones (USC), DT Justin Landseadel (Air Force), DL Duke Lemmens (Florida), LB Casey Matthews (Oregon), RB Marc Tyler (USC), WR Sean Wiser (Stanford) and OL Cory Yriarte (Boise State). Oaks Christian also has been listed with DL Tommy Grillo to UC Davis for an 11th player. Bosco’s final total could eventually include a similar player as well.