Arrest Led to Top Recruit's Suspension

Times Staff Writer

Randy Estes of Los Alamitos High, one of the most-coveted college football recruits in the nation, was suspended from school last week because of a drug-related arrest, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

A patron eating breakfast at a fast-food restaurant four blocks from the campus called Los Alamitos police Thursday morning to report that a young man had approached him and asked whether he was interested in buying marijuana, according to a police dispatch report on the incident.

Police received the call at 7:30 and by 7:50 they had arrested a 17-year-old fitting the caller's description two blocks from the Los Alamitos campus, according to the dispatch report. Multiple sources said the person arrested was Estes, and that he was detained on suspicion of possession of marijuana to sell.

Police have refused to name the person they took into custody and have not released their report on the arrest because the suspect is a minor. The amount of marijuana allegedly recovered from Estes could not be confirmed.

Estes, a 6-foot-2, 192-pound senior safety, was the featured player on a Los Alamitos football team that is 8-1 and ranked No. 7 in the Southland by The Times.

Before last week, many recruiting experts considered him the top high school defensive back in the nation. He was being recruited by several top college teams, but his future as an athlete is now unclear.

Estes has not attended school since his arrest, and he did not play in his team's 28-3 victory over Anaheim Esperanza last Thursday night. After the game, Los Alamitos Coach John Barnes acknowledged that Estes had been suspended from school, but he did not elaborate.

When contacted Tuesday, Estes father, Randy Sr., refused to comment on the situation.

Los Alamitos High has a zero-tolerance policy regarding issues related to illegal drugs. Incidents that take place on the way to and from campus are considered school related.

Estes has been enrolled at Los Alamitos as a junior and senior after spending his first two years of high school at Long Beach Poly. District policy states that students who are suspended while attending Los Alamitos on inter-district transfers will be removed from school.

Southern Section rules would prohibit Estes from competing in sports for a different school for the remainder of his senior year.

Estes was to be honored at school last Friday during a media event announcing his selection to the U.S. Army All-Star game in San Antonio. That ceremony was canceled last Thursday.

Rated as the nation's No. 2 recruit overall by one scouting service, Estes had reportedly narrowed his college choices to six, including four currently ranked in the Associated Press top five -- No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 USC, No. 4 Ohio State and No. 5 Michigan. He was also said to be considering Miami and Oregon.

A recruiting coordinator for one prominent university, speaking on condition of anonymity, said his school would no longer recruit Estes.

"We're not in a situation to say whether he's guilty or not guilty, but we don't want to touch that stuff," the coach said. "Maybe if the kid was 13 or 14 and that happened and he went through the whole process and got his life together, you would still recruit him, but that's a long [legal] process and you're looking at a signing date in February."

Greg Biggins, a recruiting analyst for Student Sports Magazine, said he expected most colleges would take a wait-and-see approach.

"We're talking about the No. 1 defensive back in the country," Biggins said. "They're not going to drop the kid without knowing all the facts."

Even before last week, Estes had academic obstacles to overcome.

Said Biggins: "To qualify, he [needed] a great [academic] year both semesters and to do well on his SATs, which he hasn't taken yet."

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