55 Local Athletes Sign NLI’s for Scholarships – Purdue, BYU & UCLA among colleges chosen during National Signing Day

National Signing Day — is the first day of the official signing period for a number of college sports. Around the local Valley, at least 55 student-athletes at eight schools signed their letters of intent.

All throughout the nation high schools are holding special signing ceremonies, television and radio stations are broadcasting special programs, social media is blowing up and student-athletes are making dreams come true or breaking hearts as they choose the colleges and athletic programs to which they will bring their skills and talents. It’s a wild day with scouting services and the media tracking top recruits and feeding the frenzy of changed minds, surprise decisions and ratings of various colleges’ recruiting classes.

Signing Day is the first day that a high school senior can sign a binding National Letter of Intent (NLI) with an NCAA school, committing in writing to attend that school in exchange for a commitment from the school to receive financial aid (scholarship). The initial signing date for many collegiate sports is the first Wednesday in February.

“This day is as much a celebration for parents as it is for the student-athletes. “This is a culmination of all the hard work and it’s now paying off,” said Sal Rodriguez, parent of Evan Rodriguez, a football player at Heritage High School. Matt Palmer, whose son Matthew played cornerback at Heritage, had this to say about the recruiting process, “Stressful, taxing, fun, heart-breaking, a lot of different emotions. The kids get their sights set on specific schools; the coaches tell you what you want to hear a lot of times until it comes down to the nitty-gritty. The process is taxing . . . something we started freshman year. It’s a relief to be done with it and see him start this next chapter of his life.”

Evan and Matthew will both be attending Azusa Pacific University. “Azusa has been with him for over a year and continued to show him the love throughout the year,” said the elder Palmer, “They were really honest and I’m excited for him to have this opportunity to go to that school and be with this coaching staff.”

Limahai Hifo, Sunbelt MVP for football, chose San Jose State, “They were the ones that gave me hope, even when I broke my leg last year.”

Brianna Reese, soccer player from Lakeside High School committed to CSU Northridge, “I loved the team, and the campus and the coaches.” “Hard work and dedication has paid off,” said her father Kerry Reese, “Financially, this is great for me!”

Ricky Ruiz, the first boys’ soccer player in Lakeside history to commit to a Division 1 school, chose UC Riverside over UCLA. Ruiz gave credit to his mom, high school coach Colin Gilliland, his travel ball coach Jimmy Obleda (Fullerton Rangers), teacher Miss Glenn and counselor Miss Solano for helping him realize the importance of grades and hard work in the classroom.

“As parents, we did our part,” said Ruiz’ mother, “Thank God he did his part. Here are the results. We are so proud.”

Murrieta Mesa had the earliest signing ceremony at 9 am; Vista Murrieta had the largest number of signees at 23. One school – Great Oak – will be holding their ceremony on April 13th. Congratulations to all these student-athletes!

Here are the signings as reported thus far from February 5th, 2014:

2014 NLI Signings

9 am — Murrieta Mesa

• Ruben Meza, Football, Sacramento State

• Kristiana Perata, Soccer, Cal Poly Pomona

10 am – Heritage

• Limahia Hifo, Football, San Jose State

• Sione Takitaki, Football, BYU

• Evan Rodriguez, Football, Azusa Pacific

• Matt Palmer, Azusa Pacific

10:30 am — Temecula Valley

• Kyle Plantier, Baseball, UC Santa Barbara

• Nick Juhl, Baseball, Metro State

• Angela Ziff, Cross-country/Track, University of Nevada at Las Vegas

• Payton Nicciolo, Soccer, Cal State San Bernardino

• Lindsay Kutscher, Soccer, Cal State Northridge

• Nicole Robertson, Soccer, Purdue University

• Marissa Laster, Volleyball, Vanguard University

11:20 — Vista Murrieta

• Randy Beggs, Football, US Naval Academy

• Michelle Benjamin, Soccer, Chico State University

• Curtis Bolton, Football, University of Oklahoma

• Kasey Calderon, Volleyball, Corban University (Oregon)

• Tyler Cook, Football, Brigham Young University

• Darry Denby, Football, Weber State University

• Sarah Dunaway, Track & Field, University of Northern Colorado

• Clarissa Flexen, Softball, Northwestern College (Iowa)

• Coltin Gerhart, Football, Arizona State University

• Greg Hoyd, Football, Washington State University

• Kylee Keller, Softball, Howard College (Texas)

• Ryan Lillie, Baseball, University of California, Riverside

• Jimmy Maloney, Football, University of San Diego

• Kwesi Mashack, Football, University of Arizona

• Kylie “River” McLeod, Rowing, San Diego State University

• Michelle Norman, Track & Field, University of Utah

• Kristen Parker, Volleyball, CSU San Marcos

• Angie Phetbenjakul, Swimming, UC San Diego

• Ryan Russi, Diving, University of Wyoming

• Selena Ta’amilo, Softball, UCLA

• Tyler Van Dyke, Football, Menlo College

• Artie Vasquez, Football, United States Naval Academy

• Taylor Zamora, Softball, Metropolitan State University (Denver)

11:30 – Lakeside

• Ricky Ruiz, Soccer, UC Riverside

• Brianna Reese, Girls Soccer, CSU Northridge

11:50 – Chaparral

• John Baron, Football, San Diego State University

• Tristan Janeway, Lacrosse, Notre Dame de Nemour (Belmont, CA)

• Dominic Brown, Lacrosse, Notre Dame de Nemour (Belmont, CA)

• Julian Wells, Soccer, William Woods University (Missouri)

• Stephanie Martinez, Soccer, Hawaii Pacific University

• Paige Posvar, Soccer, Presentation College (South Dakota)

12 noon – Linfield Christian

• Dallas House, Football, Portland State University

• John Shurance, Baseball, Point Loma Nazarene University

2 pm — Paloma Valley

• Max Sias, Baseball, Arizona Christian

• Cody McCoy, Baseball, Goshen (Indiana)

• Bryce Macy, Baseball, Cal Baptist University

• Kailee Smith, Softball, Drake University

• Holly Oyhenart, Softball, Christian Brothers University

• Jennifer Callais, Softball, Hesston College

• Zach Castor, Cross-Country/Track, Arizona Christian University

• Franco Portillo, Cross-Country/Track, Viterbo University (Wisconsin)

• Dazhana Jackson, Track, Kentucky Wesleyan

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