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    Alex Van Dyke Jr., right, of Cosumnes Oaks High School is congratulated by his Godfather, Kevin Davis after signing his letter of intent to attend UCLA. His parents, Alex Sr., center, and Renee Van Dyke, in UCLA jackets, stand near. 10 high school football players from Elk Grove signed letters of intent with college programs while surrounded by friends and family members at the Elk Grove Unified School District office on Wednesday, February 4, 2014 in Elk Grove, Calif.

Local football recruits finalize choices on national signing day

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 - 6:50 pm
Last Modified: Monday, Feb. 10, 2014 - 12:33 pm

As a youngster, Alex Van Dyke used to scribble his signature dozens of times in a notebook. His friends wondered why.

“I’m going to be famous one day,” he’d tell his classmates, who responded by giggling or rolling their eyes. Unknowingly, the future star wide receiver at Cosumnes Oaks High School was taking after his father, Alex Sr., who years earlier practiced the same thing as a freshman at Burbank.

Wednesday morning, there was no rolling of eyes or giggling when Alex Van Dyke Jr. formally penned his signature on a scholarship offer to attend UCLA, joining nine of his Elk Grove Unified School District football peers at the same table to highlight the region’s national signing day bonanza.

Van Dyke’s glee, and that of his father and mother, Renee, was reflective of the scene. The EGUSD boardroom, packed with family, friends, campus faculty and media, was bristling with elation and profound relief. The 6-foot-4 Van Dyke said he has “always been motivated by my father to be the best, to work hard.”

After the ceremony, Van Dyke Sr. composed himself as he talked about his son who grew into a national prospect for all the reasons a college program wants: size, skill, character, grades.

“When you have a son who follows behind you, plays the same position, you hope he’s better than you are – and he is,” said Van Dyke Sr., who set receiving records at Sacramento City College and Nevada and played briefly in the NFL. “I could not be happier.”

Van Dyke’s Cosumnes Oaks teammate Kameron Schroeder, a 6-5, 270-pound offensive tackle, experienced a mixture of joy and sadness. A 4.3 student, Schroeder said he “slept like a rock” because he was at peace with his decision to attend Duke, a dream since his freshman season. He was emotional in talking about a newfound motivation he’ll carry through his years in Durham, N.C. Josh Davis, a Cosumnes Oaks lineman and close friend, died in a car accident in December.

“I play in honor of him, and I can live for him as a student and person for the rest of my life, because his spirit is with me,” said Schroeder, who will wear Davis’ No. 77 at Duke.

Schroeder shared his sense of humor, saying he hasn’t been shy about laying the guilt trip on his parents, Diane and Eric, asking for extra lunch money or a tank of gas, because, after all, “You realize I’m saving you $300,000 with the scholarship, right?”

“Oh, we know,” Eric said Wednesday, smiling.

EGUSD interim athletic director Todd Reiswig told the gathering the district exceeded its wildest hopes of a strong scholarship signing class.

“To be a senior starter on a varsity football team is a true accomplishment, and of all the seniors in the country, only 1.4 percent sign scholarships,” Reiswig said. “We had 187 seniors play football in this district, and to have 10 sign, that’s more than four times the national average. Be proud, everyone.”

Elk Grove linebacker Noah Letuligasenoa will continue a family tradition at Cal Poly. He follows brothers Lefi, a lineman, and Josh, a defensive end.

“It’s so humbling and so rewarding, this day,” Letuligasenoa said. “My brothers are my heroes. Everything I ever learned about life and school and competing in football, I got from them because they set examples with effort and words.”

Pleasant Grove defensive back Brandon Lewis, headed to Washington, said he couldn’t sleep “because I’m too excited.” Lewis missed his junior season because of a knee injury and parts of his senior year because of a bad hamstring.

“I’m thankful that Washington stuck with me,” said Lewis, adding he had a connection with new Huskies coach Chris Petersen, the former Sac City and UC Davis star quarterback. “Washington easily could’ve gone after another defensive back because of my injuries, but I’m glad coach Petersen believed in me. It was hard to miss so many games, but it all worked out. I can’t complain.”

Pleasant Grove defensive end Earl Chism signed with Yale, and Pleasant Grove wide receiver Wyatt Demps signed with Nevada. Demps’ brother Cody is a scholarship basketball player at Sacramento State. Said Wyatt: “It’s so hard to get scholarships in football and basketball, and we have two in one family, which feels great. How often does that happen?”

Sac State landed two Franklin players, defensive back Joey Banks and wide receiver Jabarri Johnson, and Franklin linebacker Curtis Williams signed with Humboldt State. Sheldon record-setting receiver Taron Johnson signed with Weber State, a Big Sky Conference rival of Sac State. Johnson and the Sac State signees joked they will run into each other in pads, soon.

•  Burbank had four players sign: defensive tackle Ngalu Tapa (Washington State), wide receiver Calvin Green (Washington State), defensive back Ernest Jenkins (Sac State) and defensive lineman Printess Johnson (Sac State).

• Granite Bay had two players sign: tight end Dylan Keeney (Colorado) and wide receiver Tony Ellison (Arizona).

•  Roseville offensive tackle Kolton Miller signed with UCLA, a year after he was barely a blip on the national recruiting radar.

• Air Force signed Jesuit athlete Jason Elenberger, Oak Ridge fullback Tanner Hughes and Oak Ridge wide receiver Jacob Sipes.

Follow The Bee’s Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD .

Read more articles by Joe Davidson

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