Jim Romero has been waiting quietly and patiently to prove he deserved to be among the best California high school football players.
People whispered that the 5-foot-11, 175-pound wide receiver from L.A. Baptist High did not belong.
Romero proved them wrong at the Shrine all-star game, leading the South with two catches for 30 yards in a 7-7 tie with the North on Saturday night in front of 7,600 fans at Citrus College.
When Romero reported to practice for the Daily News all-star game in June, other players in the game said flatly that they thought he did not deserved to be there.
"It really weighed on my mind in the Daily News game," he said. "I thought it was better to just ignore it."
Romero wound up catching the game-winning touchdown in that game, and wanted to show that he could do the same against the state's best as well.
"I put a lot of pressure on myself so I could prove I was able to play with the big boys.
"The players weren't real vocal about it (at the Shrine game), but they were at the Daily News game. Hopefully I proved that I can do big things at the big-school level."
Statistically, his performance was hardly spectacular, but Romero did show he was athletic enough to compete at a high level.
One play saw the Arizona-bound receiver catch up to a badly underthrown ball on a reverse pass by Glenn Thompkins, only to have a defender strip him of the catch when he came down.
"I came close," he said. "Glenn kind of underthrew it. That was where my track (experience) came in, and I was able to jump for it.'
The South could manage to complete only eight of 25 attempts for 107 yards.
"I caught a couple of passes, and that was really satisfying," he said. "I thought they took me out a couple of times when I thought I should have been in there, but that's just the game of football. I had a lot of fun."
Incoming freshmen are expected at Arizona's preseason camp by Aug. 7, and Romero is eager to prove himself again.
"Arizona lost two receivers (to graduation), and we're going to have three new guys competing coming in," he said. "There's going to be five guys competing for two positions and I am looking forward to it."
Romero caught 87 passes for 1,568 yards and 15 touchdowns at L.A. Baptist. He was named small schools player of the year by Cal-Hi Sports magazine.