Lineman of Year, Buena High's Raymond, Picks Arizona State

Buena High offensive tackle John Raymond, The Times' Ventura County lineman of the year, said Monday he will sign a letter of intent to play football at Arizona State.

The NCAA football signing period begins Feb. 1.

Although Raymond had drawn interest from UCLA, Colorado, Colorado State, Washington and San Jose State, the only school that came through with a trip for Raymond was Arizona State.

"Arizona State is the one who stuck in there," he said. "They have been telling me the truth the whole way along."

Raymond (6-foot-7, 305 pounds) was a dominant lineman this season, but many college coaches were skeptical about Raymond because he had a substance abuse problem that drove him into drug rehabilitation and Juvenile Hall last summer.

"(Coaches) came by in the preseason and I was in jail," Raymond said, explaining why he initially received little interest from colleges. "It kind of makes me mad that they would (ignore me) because I was in trouble."

Raymond was arrested last winter for possession of controlled substances with intent to sell and he spent three weeks in Juvenile Hall over the summer. That experience, he said, convinced him to sober up and concentrate on earning a college scholarship. Raymond said he has been clean since then.

He also cleared academic obstacles, scoring an 890 on the Scholastic Assessment Test on his first try. Because he dropped out of school temporarily during his substance abuse problem last spring, in addition to his course load at Buena, he needs to take one class this semester at Ventura College to ensure NCAA eligibility.

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Ventura High defensive back/quarterback Erik Olson, a two-time Times' All-Ventura County selection, has committed to Colorado State, where he expects to play safety.

Running the Cougars' veer option, Olson passed for 822 yards and ran for 580 and nine touchdowns last fall. As a defensive back, he had five interceptions.

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