A strong start for Salesian standouts

Los Angeles Salesian was seemingly a mandatory stop for college coaches during the spring evaluation period and with the Mustangs making a strong push out of the gates this fall, coaches will continue to visit Salesian’s standouts.

The biggest news came last week, when quarterback Jihad Vercher picked up his first offer, from Army. Vercher was tremendous this spring and summer, as he stood out at every camp he attended. He threw for 331 yards and rushed for 165 yards and four touchdowns in a tough Week 2 loss, but bounced back in blowout wins the past two weeks, as he completed 22 of 29 passes for 331 yards and three touchdowns in the two wins.

Vercher said he understands that an offer from a service academy carries a different meaning than one from any other FBS program, but he added that he views that offer as a distinct possibility. Boise State and Oregon State coaches have been by the Salesian campus in recent weeks and Vercher said he has heard from additional programs as well, but the senior quarterback added that he is content to play out his season and wait for coaches to make a decision.

“Hopefully something comes through soon, but if not, I’ll stay patient,” Vercher said.

After a 22-0 win to open the season, the Mustangs have scored at least 34 points in their last three games, and Vercher is arguably the biggest reason.

“It hasn’t been the best start statistically, but I’ve been taking over games lately with how my coach tells me to,” Vercher said. “I just have to keep working.”

Offensively, Vercher’s main target through the air has been UCLA commit Jermaine Kelly. The speedy two-way standout 12 receptions for 324 yards and three touchdowns this season. Though Kelly will begin his UCLA career at cornerback, he is asked to do much more than that for the Mustangs.

“I love defense, but I like to play offense to help out my boy Jihad,” Kelly said. “They had me at tight end blocking as well. I’ll do whatever it takes to help the team.”

Kelly had a huge summer performance at various camps. He was a standout at USC and earned a scholarship from Washington after his showing there. But the Bruins have a solid commitment in their class.

“I was at the game last week and I loved it,” Kelly said of UCLA. “I’m already all in.”

The senior class at Salesian could add another FBS prospect as well, in two-way lineman Chris Gonzalez. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound senior said San Jose State, Harvard and Yale have expressed interest in his football ability as well as his 3.85 grade point average. Gonzalez already has 44 tackles this season.

“They want three-game film that they’ll review and then maybe offer,” Gonzalez said of the schools showing interest. “It’s exciting.”

But it’s the junior class that could really drive recruiting for Salesian. Linebacker Jamardre Cobb and tight end Marquis Ware already hold multiple offers. Cobb said his top three schools right now are Oregon, UCLA and USC, but that Washington is also showing interest. Though he feels most comfortable at linebacker, Cobb said that isn’t the only position where schools have spoken to him about playing, as defensive end, running back, fullback and even wide receiver have all been mentioned.

Fellow 2014 prospect Rodney Carr, an athlete who lines up at safety and tailback, hasn’t received an offer yet, but interest is mounting. He said Vanderbilt is easily the most involved, as he receives letters nearly every day from the Commodores. Carr said Boise State and USC have also expressed interest.

Not to be outdone, sophomore athlete Kyahva Tezino has already received letters from Boise State and Wisconsin. Tezino has been credited with 50 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions this season, as he adjusts to the varsity level.

“It’s been tough going against the seniors, but I just continue to keep working hard in practices,” Tezino said. “I want to follow guys like Jihad Vercher--make sure I do well in school and keep my grades up, and keep working hard on the field.”

Tezino plays defensive end, outside linebacker and occasionally works at tailback for the Mustangs.

“In college I’d expect to play defense, but for right now I’ll play wherever,” Tezino said. “Wherever they put me, I’m going to work hard.”

Salesian closes out their non-conference schedule on Friday with a game at La Habra (Calif.) Whittier Christian. With four games in the books, mid-season highlight tapes will likely find their way to college coaches, which could make the Mustangs even more of a target for coaches this fall.