Jim Harbaugh was a big reason why JB Salem in March committed to play football at Stanford. The coach's recent departure to the NFL has not influenced the Newport Harbor High senior to look elsewhere, just not yet.
Salem said he is playing the waiting game with Stanford, which has not accepted him into the school. The first day a high school player can sign a national letter of intent is next month.
Salem hopes he learns before then if he is going to join the Cardinal or not. Stanford is where the 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive lineman wants to play football and study business or journalism.
There are other schools keeping in contact with Salem, a three-time Daily Pilot Newport-Mesa Dream Team pick, just in case it does not pan out with the Cardinal, who last week beat Virginia Tech, 40-12, in the Orange Bowl and finished the season at 12-1, a school record for wins.
"Obviously, I'm anxious to find out. I want to get into Stanford," said Salem, adding that USC, UCLA and Northwestern are also interested. "I've exceeded what [Stanford has] asked me to do. My GPA is above 3.0 and my SAT score is above 1,500."
Salem said his patience with the admissions office at Stanford is not wearing thin. He has been calling up north and pushing for updates.
Salem expects to get one in person Thursday, when he travels to Palo Alto for an official visit. Beside the usual dinner with coaches, or who is left of Harbaugh's staff, and meeting with future teammates, Salem will look for answers.
Salem is OK that Harbaugh, the coach that Salem said gave him more than answers with his high energy 10 months ago, is no longer at Stanford. Salem called Harbaugh's decision to leave Stanford to coach the San Francisco 49ers for $25 million over five years a business move.
"Him leaving wasn't going to change my mind," Salem said. "It kind of disappointed me at first because I met the guy. He had super energy and I fell in love with the guy's personality. I've seen what he has done with the program [in four years], and Stanford's education speaks for itself. Football lasts for only so long."
Salem is waiting to get his collegiate football career started, hopefully at Stanford.
Other local high school seniors with dreams of playing on the next level are Newport Harbor fullback Ryan Andrews and all-purpose threat Parker Norton, and Costa Mesa offensive tackle Andrew Albers. The three Dream Team picks have not made any commitments.
Jeff Brinkley, Newport Harbor's coach, said Army has offered Andrews an opportunity to continue his football career.
"I'm not sure he wants to pursue the military right now," Brinkley said.
"UC Davis is very interested in him."
Kirk Norton said his son Parker is going on an official visit to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas in a couple of weeks. Kirk said Wyoming is also interested in Parker, the Sunset League Defensive Back of the Year, who started at cornerback and wide receiver, and was a return specialist.
Albers, the biggest player in the area at 6-8, 285 pounds, has not had any offers yet, said Costa Mesa Coach Jeremy Osso.
"It's probably a little frustrating, but that's not to say it's not going to happen for him," said Osso, adding that UCLA, Washington State, SMU and Arizona State are recruiting Albers, who shared the Orange Coast League Lineman of the Year award.
"This college recruiting thing can be tricky."
The Newport Harbor boys' soccer program has undergone quite the turnaround in just one season.
Through 13 matches, first-year coach Juan Mares has led the Sailors to one more victory than they achieved all of last season.
Newport Harbor is 5-5-3 and 1-1-0 in Sunset league play. A home win against Los Alamitos on Wednesday will match last season's league win total.
Corona del Mar is the lone local boys' soccer program still unbeaten.
The Sea Kings are 8-0-5. They are ranked No. 2 in the ESPN RISE state poll and No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Division III poll.
CdM plays at Irvine at 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday.