Joseph Ngata had himself a Thursday.
The Bee’s Football Player of the Year from Folsom High School caught an NBA game and fielded yet another scholarship offer, and the cheer in his voice on Friday afternoon reflected all of it.
Ngata joined scores of teammates clad in Bulldogs red jerseys at Golden 1 Center to meet, greet and schmooze. They were guests of the Kings, who tend to acknowledge the profound achievement of regional teams. Folsom is still basking in the glow of a 16-0 season and a CIF State Division I-AA championship.
Before the tipoff against the Clippers, Ngata and quarterback Kaiden Bennett hammered on the massive bell. They then they joined their buddies, took photos with Kings dancers and high-fived well wishers while walking across the hardwood.
“It was a great way to get back with the guys and to enjoy Sacramento,” Ngata said. “It was fun to be honored like this.”
And more good vibes: Ngata on Thursday also received a call from a Clemson coach offering kudos to a great season – and a scholarship.
Clemson followed up its 2016 national championship campaign with its third consecutive appearance in the College Football Playoff. The Tigers lost to eventual national champion Alabama in the semifinal, 24-6.
Ngata is interested.
The junior wide receiver understands that it is good business to be curious about all of the offers roaring his way, because studies show that he is one of the fortunate ones. Some 2 percent of high school athletes receive full athletic scholarships.
At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds with great hands, good grades and speed to match, Ngata is just now feeling the heat index. There will be an increased amount of texts and calls from recruiters, and then he will boil down five schools to take official visits in the coming months.
Ngata will also take unofficial visits, including Jan. 27 to Notre Dame.
“I know I have to stay humble, keep working,” he said. “I am very blessed. I’m very excited about all of this. This will shape my future, and when you have the power to impact your own future, it’s a great feeling.”
Ngata will end up as one of the most intensely recruited football prospects in regional history, joining Kevin Willhite of Cordova in 1981 (Oregon), Marc Hicks of Davis in 1984 (Cal), Donte Stallworth of Grant in 1997 (Tennessee), Arik Armstead of Pleasant Grove and Shaq Thompson of Grant in 2011 (Oregon and Washington) and Jonah Williams of Folsom in 2014 (Alabama).
Ngata’s other suitors include just about every Pacific-12 Conference team, Notre Dame and Penn State. More schools will jump on the bandwagon.
One Pac-12 recruiter told me during a sideline visit this fall that Ngata, “is going to be in the NFL. You can see it already.”
It’s good to be great.
Recruiting updates – Inderkum senior receiver Isaah Crocker is in the midst of recruiting visits, including Oregon State on Friday and Oregon on Jan. 26.
Alabama has also offered Crocker, on the same weekend last summer as Jesuit junior cornerback/running back Isaiah Rutherford.
Rutherford also has offers from Cal, Oregon and Notre Dame, among others.
To best prepare for that crunch, Rutherford recently left the Jesuit basketball team with the backing of his teammates and coaches.
“It’s tough to lose him but we’re trying to look out for his best interests and what’s in his heart,” Jesuit basketball coach Jon Rotz said. “Isaiah’s an awesome football player with some great opportunities. We have to understand where he’s coming from.”
▪ Christian Brothers tight end Spencer Webb has given a verbal commitment to Oregon, but until he formally signs in February, the recruiters will continue to court him.
UCLA recruiting coordinator Angus McClure stopped by the CB campus on Thursday to reiterate an offer. Earlier this winter, Florida State, Notre Dame and Texas A&M offered.