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Discerning Eyes to Watch All-Star Football Game : Burbank-Glendale Contest Provides Opportunity for College Coaches to Make Last-Minute Evaluations

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Exposure.

It’s the name of the game for the have-nots of the college football world, and it’s a precious commodity during the summer as athletes and schools make their final bids for each other.

The first all-star football game between players from the Burbank and Glendale areas tonight at 7:30 at Burroughs High will offer added exposure for high school players hoping to continue their playing careers, and plenty of coaches will be on hand seeking to round out their recruiting classes.

“This is the first year of this game, and I think it’s going to help give a few young men more exposure,” East Los Angeles College Coach Al Padilla said. “It gives them one more opportunity to display their talents.

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“The point of it is how many can get (a scholarship) as a result of this game.”

It is unlikely that this contest will be confused with the Shrine Game. The players are hardly blue-chippers; most are a step slow, a few inches short or 20 pounds light. For some the game will be a last hurrah. For others it offers one last chance to turn a college coach’s head with a crushing hit or tackle-breaking run.

“I’ll play in two all-star games right now and see if I get picked up or not,” said Glendale fullback Rafik Thorossian, who is also scheduled to compete in the San Gabriel Valley Hall of Fame game. Thorossian plans to play at Glendale College, but he hopes to elicit some interest from Division I schools with his all-star performances.

“My coaches said I could go Division I,” Thorossian said. “I’ll walk on, anything to get the chance.”

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While USC, UCLA and other major football powers have long since filled their recruiting classes, junior colleges are still scrambling for players and a stray scholarship or walk-on invitation might be available at smaller universities. A strong performance tonight could change a borderline talent’s football future.

“That’s basically what it is,” said guard Leon Panduro of Crescenta Valley High. “Besides having fun, a lot of guys are trying to get schools interested in them.. . . . (The coaches) told us there are going to be plenty of scouts, and these (players) will be keying up, trying to get some notoriety.”

Like several other participants tonight, Panduro hopes to join a college football program as a walk on. Panduro and other potential walk-ons will try to answer not only coaches’ doubts but their own.

“It will give me a chance to prove myself one last time,” said Burbank center Cory Kessinger, who would like to play at Glendale College. “If I do good in this game maybe I can go to college and play, but I’m tentative because I don’t know if I’m good enough to play college level.”

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Linebacker Russell Greene of North Hollywood High has no doubts about his ability. He is scheduled for three all-star games but is still in the market for a Division I scholarship.

“I think I was overlooked because my school, North Hollywood, doesn’t have a very good reputation. We don’t get scouted very much,” he said. “I’m interested in going to San Diego State, so I hope they’ll go to the game.”

And so the recruiting dance drags on into the dog days of summer. The trick is to find the best partner, and for those still on the dance floor, that’s what games like tonight’s are all about.


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