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All smiles at NLI ceremonies

All smiles at NLI ceremonies
(SCOTT SMELTZER / Daily Pilot)

The gold lamé suit jacket that Steve Hufford brought to the Newport Harbor High gym Wednesday morning for his son, Ramsey, had always been meant as a joke in his family.

Steve Hufford had worn it as a gag to his 20-year high school reunion. Ramsey Hufford put it on for some laughs during his eighth-grade graduation.


When Ramsey Hufford donned the jacket during a National Letter of Intent signing ceremony it drew laughter, yet it wasn’t so much meant as a spoof. It was a symbol of Ramsey Hufford’s maturation and work to reach a full-ride scholarship to play football at UC Davis, whose school colors are blue and gold.

Ramsey Hufford was among several local athletes who confirmed their announcements to play on the next level on Wednesday.


At Newport Harbor, Hufford, a standout lineman for the Sailors, posed for photos with his teammate Colin Duffy (Duke) and his friends Jessica Prather (soccer, Colorado State University Pueblo), Rowan Frederickson (soccer, Colorado College) and Carolyn Bockrath (volleyball, West Point/Army).

Mike Zimmerman, the school’s athletic director explained the NLI procedure to parents and a small group of the athlete’s friends before having each athlete announce their college of choice.

Zimmerman also talked about the reality of Wednesday’s event, since the majority of local athletes had already signed earlier in the morning.

“This is obvious a photo opportunity,” Zimmerman said. “So, smile.”


There was plenty of reason to smile for Ramsey Hufford, a soft-spoken senior who said he had also received a full-ride offer from Fresno State. He said his final year at Newport Harbor was his most memorable. He said he took pride in the Sailors’ run to the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division championship game, taking out top-seeded La Habra along the way.

His senior season had also included the challenging recruiting process. Angela Hufford, Ramsey’s mother, described the process and could have been speaking for many of the athletes’ parents.

“It’s been a little overwhelming,” she said.

But on Tuesday, they were all smiling.


At CdM, signees included soccer players Kendall Mulvaney (University of Denver) and Miranda Stiver (Oregon State) and water polo player Matt Sherburne (Cal). CdM senior Mark Manchester, a junior tournament golfer, said he has committed to compete for Georgia Tech.

At Estancia, track and field standout Persis Williams-Mensah committed to UC Irvine.

At Mater Dei, Newport Beach resident James Walters (water polo, USC) and Corona del Mar resident Chase Forrest (football, Cal) also were part of NLI ceremonies.