6:15 PM PST, December 24, 2013
When the 2013 prep football season began, Jaleel Wadood of Bellflower St. John Bosco was known primarily as a safety who could make an impact on defense.
Sixteen games later, Wadood has been named The Times' player of the year by showing he was the most versatile and valuable player in Southern California.
As a receiver, he caught 78 passes for 1,293 yards and 21 touchdowns. As a safety, he had thee interceptions, 20 tackles for losses and also returned punts and kickoffs and demonstrated leadership on and off the field.
In big game after big game, he played a prominent role in helping St. John Bosco finish 16-0, win its first Pac-5 Division title and defeat Concord De La Salle, 20-14, in the CIF state championship Open Division bowl game.
"From an individual perspective, I just wanted to prove myself as one of the elite players in California," he said. "Just kind of let everyone know there's a great player on the St. John Bosco team named Jaleel Wadood that can do many things other than just defense."
In the Pac-5 final against Santa Ana Mater Dei, he had two touchdown catches. In the Open Division regional final against Corona Centennial, he had one TD catch. In the Open Division final, he caught five passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
"He brings so much to the table from a leadership standpoint out of the locker room, getting the kids riled up and ready to go," Coach Jason Negro said. "Then there's the way he approaches the game offensively, defensively. He's so versatile and so flexible in what he can do and what he can accomplish. He's been the pin that's kept this thing together."
Committed to UCLA, Wadood helped St. John Bosco enjoy its best season in school history.
"Jaleel is amazing," quarterback Josh Rosen said. "UCLA is getting a heck of a player. That kid can do it all. Actually, I shouldn't call him a kid because he's older than me, but I just throw it out there and he catches it."
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