High School Sports

Sacramento-area athletes sign national letters of intent; where they’re going

Twin brothers Cade and Cole Wyant led Rocklin High School’s football team for three seasons, Cade as quarterback and Cole as a linebacker. Now, they’re heading to Montana Tech.
Twin brothers Cade and Cole Wyant led Rocklin High School’s football team for three seasons, Cade as quarterback and Cole as a linebacker. Now, they’re heading to Montana Tech. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

Wednesday was national signing day.

That’s a virtual holiday for scores of student-athletes across the country who made their pledges to compete at four-year colleges official with signatures.

Why is it such a big deal? Fewer than 2 percent of high school athletes sign athletic scholarship packages. There are tens of thousands of athletes scrambling for hundreds of scholarships.

In the Sacramento region, there were signing parties on campus, or simple at-home signings, from football and baseball to softball and volleyball. Some signed full scholarship packages, some partial deals and some as walk-ons, which means they have a roster spot and a chance to make the team but are not on scholarship where tuition and room-and-board are covered by the school.

Regardless, it’s onward and upward, and a flood more students are sure to enroll in community college programs to keep hopes and dreams alive. There are no binding letters of intent for community colleges in California.

In December, 17 area football stars signed early letters of intent. On Wednesday, more football players signed, and it’s a big deal because football has a hold on fans at all levels.

Those who signed Wednesday came from Placer County, Del Paso Heights, Sacramento, Elk Grove, Folsom and El Dorado Hills.

At Grant, signing day has long been a community celebration. On Wednesday, defensive back Tyler Bohannon signed with Montana State of the Big Sky Conference, and the senior was surrounded by family, friends, teachers, coaches and community members.

Athletes committed to large programs and small ones, including football players Zac Welch and Bryce Law of Oak Ridge. Welch is off to Nevada to play offensive line, and Law is headed to Linfield in Oregon to play just about anything as a multi-purpose guy.

Folsom saw Bee All-Metro stars Kaiden Bennett and Joe Ngata sign in December with Boise State and Clemson. On Wednesday, four more Folsom players signed: linemen Tyler Hardeman and Joe Wagner with Sacramento State and defensive back Caleb Nelson and defensive lineman Chandon Pierre with North Dakota.

Jesuit in December saw linebacker Laiatu Latu sign with Washington, tight end Connor McIntee with Air Force and defensive back Isaiah Rutherford with Notre Dame.

Wednesday signings for Jesuit included tight end Jackson Canaan with San Jose State, running back/defensive back Cade Cunningham with West Point and quarterback Hank Harvego with Claremont McKenna in Southern California.

At Rocklin, twin brothers Cole and Cade Wyant signed with Montana Tech after leading the Thunder for three varsity seasons.

At nearby Del Oro in Loomis, the Golden Eagles celebrated four football signings: receiver and return specialist Johnny Guzman with Sacramento State, defensive back/receiver Dawson Hurst with Cal Poly, lineman Wyatt Berry with San Diego and kicker/punter Ryan Whalley with UC Davis (as a preferred walk-on).

At Capital Christian, a rising-fast power from small school status to medium, had three linemen sign and a defensive back in Damion Malott Jr. with Division II Black Hills State in South Dakota. The Capital linemen moving on: Jonathan Boyd to Princeton, Will Buck to San Diego and Shane Semeit to Northern Arizona.

Area football players who made commitments to programs as preferred walk-ons include Jesuit defensive end Akili Bonner with Wyoming, Jesuit linebacker Cade Brownholtz with Oregon State, Christian Brothers defensive back Tyler Green with Cal Poly, Woodcreek receiver Hudson Habermehl with UCLA, all-purpose teammate Carter Krupp with BYU and Folsom center Kaden Richardson with UC Davis.

Sacramento State also secured walk-on commitments from Folsom seniors Parker Clayton (receiver), Dylan Jorge (linebacker) and Gavin Davis-Smith (defensive back).

An example of just how competitive football recruiting can be, consider those within the Elk Grove Unified School District. Of its nine high schools, only five players signed with FCS or FBS programs Wednesday, not because there isn’t enough good football in that region, but because there are only so many scholarships to be had.

What’s more, Wednesday is not the last day students can sign football deals. The signing period goes into April.

Those from the EGUSD who signed: Valley receiver Tyler Williams-Cescato with Idaho, Elk Grove defensive back Matt Horne with Northern Arizona, Sheldon receiver Michael Graves with Idaho, Cosumnes Oaks defensive back Elijah King with Montana State and Cosumnes Oaks running back Jacob Trach with Air Force.

Valley running back Roncelle Waffer signed with Division II Western New Mexico.

Monterey Trail, also in the EGUSD, saw stars Jehiel Budgett and Zach Larrier sign in December with UC Davis and Air Force.

Jesuit had 24 young men at its signing party, including baseball players: pitchers Carter Benbrook with UC Santa Barbara and Cade Pilchard with Cal State Northridge and outfielder Sam Daly with Willamette.

Follow The Bee’s Joe Davidson: jdavidson@sacbee.com, @SacBee_JoeD, sacbee.com/high-school.

Area football players who signed scholarship packages with four-year programs Wednesday (send updates to jdavidson@sacbee.com):

Wyatt Berry Del Oro DL San Diego

Tyler Bohannon Grant DB Montana State

Eric Bledsoe Oakmont OL Montana Tech

Jonathan Boyd Capital Christian Princeton

Will Buck Capital Christian OL/DL San Diego

Jackson Canaan Jesuit TE San Jose State

Tyler Williams-Cescato Valley WR Idaho

Michael Graves Sheldon WR Idaho

Johnny Guzman Del Oro WR/KR Sacramento State

Tyler Hardeman Folsom DL Sacramento State

Matt Horne Elk Grove DB Northern Arizona

Elijah King Cosumnes Oaks DB Montana State

Brandon Knott Inderkum OL Sacramento State

Damion Malott Jr. Capital Christian DB Black Hills State

Seth Miller Oakmont DB Southern Oregon

Caleb Nelson Folsom DB North Dakota

Chandon Pierre Folsom DL North Dakota

Shane Semeit Capital Christian OL Northern Arizona

Elijah Swonger Folsom LB Southern Oregon

Jacob Trach Cosumnes Oaks RB Air Force

Joe Wagner Folsom OL/DL Sacramento State

Ryan Whalley Del Oro K UC Davis

Cade Wyant Rocklin QB Montana Tech

Cole Wyant Rocklin LB Montana Tech

Eric Yeager Oakmont TE San Diego

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Joe Davidson has covered sports for The Sacramento Bee since 1988 and is award-winning authority on high school sports, specializing in going behind the scenes. Davidson was a high school athlete in Oregon, where he participated in football and track.