RANCHO CUCAMONGA>> Rancho Cucamonga typically holds its annual winter Signing Day festivities in an all-purpose room in the middle of campus. But it was celebrating the accomplishments of so many athletes on Tuesday those festivities had to be moved to the much larger gymnasium.
The school honored 28 athletes, six of those from the football team which had a banner season.
Four of those six are headed to Division I schools with running back Jaylon Redd and defensive back Thomas Graham joining forces at Oregon and defensive backs Tayari Venable and Darren Hall doing so at San Diego State.
Graham was not on hand for the festivities. He graduated early and is already enrolled in classes at Oregon.
Redd said the other two schools high on his list were Mississippi and Arizona State with him taking a trip to Mississippi last weekend instead of one had intended for Baylor.
“I am happy with everything I accomplished here but at the same time it was stressful,” said Redd, the Daily Bulletin’s Inland Valley Player of the Year. “I’m excited about getting the chance to test myself at the next level.”
Rounding out the Cougar football contingent were wide receivers Austin Piceno and Tyree Baker who signed at Wisconsin Lutheran and Trinity (Conn.), respectively. Baker’s plan only materialized in the last 48 hours.
Coach Nick Baiz had 40 seniors on his squad so there are many others still considering their options. The team had unprecedented success this year but it has had a similar crop of highly-touted prospects four years ago.
“This is a lot like the class we had in 2013 when we had four Pac 12,” he said. “In terms of talent this is right up there. We’re going to have some more before it’s all over.”
Other future Pac-12 players signed as well. Running back Nathan Tilford of Colony is already at University of Arizona, like Graham, enrolling early.
Running back Stephen Carr of Summit signed with USC as expected. Like Redd he took other trips but never wavered on his original commitment.
Carr also visited Oregon and UCLA.
“I wanted to take other trips because I wanted to explore and see what other schools were about, comparing them to USC,” he said.
The biggest question mark from the Inland Valley was what school would land defensive back Emmanuel Flowers of Ayala. He had 10 offers and narrowed his choices to San Diego State, Colorado and Michigan State before settling on the latter.
He plans to go into real estate so the school’s business school was as much a factor as the football program. Flowers announced his decision live on Fox Sports West two-hour Signing Day special.
Wednesday marked the official signing day for football, soccer and boys water polo athletes. There are also less celebrated signing days in the fall and spring. Many schools, including Rancho Cucamonga, choose to have one ceremony rather than three and include all athletes at once, even those who have already signed. Of the 28 Rancho athletes, half were from sports whose “official” day was today.
Tyree Baker, Rancho Cucamonga, Trinity (Conn.)
Stephen Carr, Summit, USC
Emmanuel Flowers, Ayala, Michigan State
Thomas Graham, Rancho Cucamonga, Oregon
Andre Grayson, Etiwanda, Utah State
Trey Green, Diamond Ranch, Idaho State
Darren Hall, Rancho Cucamonga, San Diego State
Lomario Howard, Eisenhower, Azusa Pacific
Max Masad, Chino Hills, Concodia-St. Paul (Minn.)
Nate Neal, Etiwanda, UNLV
Josh Oregel, Damien, Western Colorado
Austin Piceno, Rancho Cucamonga, Wisconsin Lutheran
Jaylon Redd, Rancho Cucamonga, Oregon
Sonny Robision, Carter, University of Redlands
Tyler Sweet, Upland, Western Oregon
Gary Theard, Upland, Naval Academy
Nathan Tilford, Colony, Arizona
Andrew Toothman, Damien, Abilene Christian
Tayari Venable, Rancho Cucamonga, San Diego State