A large contingent of Valley high school football recruits convened at Majerle’s Sports Grill in Chandler to fax in their letters of intent on signing day Wednesday.
"There’s a whole lot of athletes in here,” Chaparral lineman Taylor Lewan said.
Here’s a sampling of players’ thoughts after officially committing to their colleges earlier in the day:
High school: Apache Junction
College choice: Arizona State
Outlook: The 6-foot-2, 193-pounder verbally committed to Arizona State months ago and has been anxiously awaiting this day. His parents both went to ASU, and McCullen has been a lifelong Sun Devils fan. “I’ve been pretty pumped about it,” McCullen said. His goal is to play as a true freshman, but was dealt a blow after having surgery for a torn labrum last week. McCullen suffered the injury early in his senior season but didn’t get it checked out until his team was eliminated from the playoffs. “I thought I broke my collarbone at first because it felt stuck,” McCullen said. “Then it loosened, so I was like, ‘All right, I’m fine.’ I didn’t get it checked out until the end of the season, but I knew something wasn’t right because it was dislocating and locking up.” The expected recovery time will be four months.
High School: Scottsdale Saguaro
College choice: Utah
Position: Running back
Outlook: The Tribune’s Player of the Year is heading to Utah. He won three straight titles with the Sabercats, and wishes his new team would have gotten that chance this season. The Utes finished the year undefeated and routed Alabama in a BCS bowl game, but they didn’t get a chance to play for the national title. “It would have been good to see,” Burton said. “You come out and beat a team like ‘Bama that convincingly, and it’s hard to say they don’t deserve a shot.” Not surprisingly, Burton would like to see a college football playoff. Burton has lived in Arizona all his life, but loves outdoor activities. He said he can’t wait to get up to Salt Lake City. “I fell in love with it,” he said. “There’s everything around you could want. Snowmobiling, snowboarding, all sorts of good stuff.”
High school: Peoria
College: Arizona State
Position: Running back
Outlook: The four-star recruit drove all the way from Peoria to take part in the signing day festivities in Chandler. Miles narrowed his college choices down to Arizona and ASU, before eventually choosing the Maroon and Gold. “I just felt like I fit in better at ASU,” Miles said. “I liked the coaches a little bit more. I talked to Coach Erickson and he’s laid back and knows how to have fun. He’s not uptight, and I like that.” There has been talk about switching to defense, but for now Miles will be playing tailback for the Sun Devils.
High school: Phoenix Desert Vista
Position: Defensive end
Outlook: After possibly the most high-profile recruitment in Arizona history, Kennard verbally committed to the Trojans last week. Things have finally slowed down after months of intense pressure. “It’s calmed down a whole lot,” Kennard said. “It’s not as demanding. It’s a crazy feeling knowing it’s done. I’m a Trojan and there’s nothing else to do.” Kennard is looking forward to the competition at USC, and doesn’t think the torn ACL he suffered this season will affect his chances. “By the first of April I should be completely back. ... I’m really excited for where I’m at in my recovery and it’s going awesome, so hopefully I can make a difference next year.”
High school: Scottsdale Chaparral
Position: Offensive tackle
Outlook: Lewan doesn’t have family in Michigan and hasn’t gone through a cold winter, but neither of those deterred him from picking the Wolverines. There’s something about the prestige of Michigan that couldn’t keep him away. “I love the Big Ten,” Lewan said. If he can pack on about 15 pounds, Lewan could possibly compete for playing time as a true freshman, and he’s excited to get on the field in front of thousands of screaming fans. “I do like to be around a lot of people when I’m playing,” Lewan said. “It’s always fun when people are watching.”
High school: Chandler
College: Texas Tech
Position: Track and field
Outlook: Lamb is heading to Texas Tech on a track scholarship. He’s not sure yet if he will play football there. Lamb’s cousin, Terra Evans, runs track in Lubbock, and it played a big role in his decision to go there. “We’re like brother and sister,” Lamb said. “They had the upper hand because they had someone there that knows me well. Her telling me the school’s not bad was great.” The two will live together, and Lamb is excited to get started. “I think I’m cheating the college system,” he said. “Most people get that dorm mate that could be from the other side of the world. You just don’t know, and you’ve got to learn how to live with someone else. I just have to learn how to live with my cousin.”