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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Inland Empire Poly Signings

Arizona State reaps Inland-area harvest

LETTERS OF INTENT: Linemen Tello, Gerhart, quarterback Stangel sign with the Sun Devils.
01:21 AM PST on Thursday, February 8, 2007
By ERIC-PAUL JOHNSON, JERRY SOIFER and MARK THOMA
The Press-Enterprise

Blue turned to red Wednesday as Norco High offensive linemen Garth Gerhart and Adam Tello signed national letters of intent with Arizona State as school officials, family members and coaches looked on.

Gerhart and Tello decided to sign with the Sun Devils after originally planning to attend Colorado.

Lori Gerhart, Garth's mother, made a shopping trip to Ontario Mills to buy Arizona State attire for family members to wear to the ceremony. Todd Gerhart, Garth's father and coach, wore a red Arizona State shirt under his blue Norco jacket.

And one of the people most excited by the pair of Cougars' change of heart was busy signing his own letter of intent with Arizona State.

San Jacinto's Chasen Stangel, a quarterback, signed Wednesday with the Sun Devils, after originally planning to attend Texas-El Paso. He'll have a couple of familiar faces blocking for him at Arizona State.

"I was super excited when I heard about those guys," Stangel said. "They're going to do great there, and I know they're going to do great protecting me."

More than two dozen other Inland-area football players signed letters of intent with Division I schools Wednesday, the first day of a week-long signing period. Other top players who signed included Temecula Chaparral's Talmadge Jackson (Oregon), Norco's Jordan Campbell (USC) and Redlands East Valley's Ronnie Fouch (Washington).

Gerhart, Stangel and Tello were swayed to the Valley of the Sun by new Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson, a veteran college and NFL coach, who took over in Tempe after a 10-month stint at Idaho.

"Coach Erickson is so highly respected by everyone. ... He knows what kind of players he wants, and he's a proven winner wherever he's been," Stangel said.

At the Norco signing ceremony, Gerhart, Tello and their legal guardians signed the letters of intent before they were faxed to Arizona State.

"It's the same rules as high school," said Gerhart, who looked over the letter Tuesday night. "Just don't screw up and you'll be fine."

Gerhart and Tello are the 16th and 17th offensive linemen to get a Division I scholarship out of Norco in the past 20 years, and they'll continue their careers together.

"It means a lot," Tello said. "I'm going to be at that place four or five years."

QB Clausen Gets Emotional

Riverside North quarterback Mike Clausen was the model of composure on the football field, but even Clausen was moved to tears following speeches from family members, coaches and school administrators.

Clausen, who was chosen The Press-Enterprise's Riverside County Player of the Year, signed his national letter of intent to play at UNLV. Clausen was joined by several family members, including his father, Cedric, and his mother, Debbie.

"I didn't expect it was going to be like that. I thought it would be quick and easy," Clausen said.

Huskies football coach Lou Randall praised Clausen for his character on and off the field, but it was Clausen's basketball coach, Mike Bartee, who might have summed things up best.

"Mike is the type of kid who keeps old coaches coaching," Bartee said. "Athletes like him come around once every 10 or 12 years, and it's a joy to coach them when you get them."

Cedric Clausen gave the most emotional speech, and some of the final words of advice to his son were, "Never forget who you are or where you came from."

Mike Clausen wiped away the tears and signed his name on the papers, and Huskies athletic director Jim McNamara faxed the documents off to Las Vegas.

Soon after, Clausen got a phone call from UNLV coach Mike Sanford.

"It's a good feeling knowing you have some place to play after high school," Clausen said.

History at Vista Murrieta

Tyler Beck, Jamel King and Justin Taplin-Ross made school history, becoming the first Vista Murrieta football players to receive scholarships from Division I schools.

Vista Murrieta completed its third varsity season last year.

Beck, a linebacker, signed with Brigham Young, while King, a linebacker, and Taplin-Ross, a defensive back, both signed with Utah.

REV Pipeline

Redlands East Valley produced the most Division I signees in the area -- five, after producing four a year ago.

In addition to Fouch (Washington), the Wildcats who signed: Andre Ferguson (Idaho), Justin Marquez (Weber State), Marquis Persley (Washington) and Caleb Turner (Weber State). Josh Wallace signed with Division II Minnesota State-Moorhead.

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