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High School Sports

Finding the right fit can often be the hardest part of the recruiting process

Rancho Cucamonga wide receiver Jayden Dixon-Veal catches a pass during a USC summer camp on June 12.
Rancho Cucamonga wide receiver Jayden Dixon-Veal catches a pass during a USC summer camp on June 12.
(Shotgun Spratling / For The Times)

The Southland produces some of the best talent in every recruiting class, including five of the top 50 seniors, per the 247Sports composite rankings, this season.

But it also is an area that produces a lot of college-bound players who may not be ranked as high. There are currently 287 California players who are rated as three-star prospects in the 2020 class and there will be several two-star prospects from the state who become productive college players as well. It may just be at UC Davis or Montana State rather than UCLA or USC.

Every prospect wants to play at the highest level of college football in front of 100,000 screaming fans with a national championship on the line. But that isn’t always the reality. Finding the right fit can often be the hardest part of the recruiting process for prospects who don’t have four or five stars placed beside their name by a recruiting service.

Eight seniors at Rancho Cucamonga are prospects in the 247Sports database. Only quarterback CJ Stroud is rated a four-star and only 6-foot-6 offensive lineman Julian Ripley has committed, choosing San Diego State. The rest are weighing their options, including deciding what level of college football will be best for their personality, skill set and academics.

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Jayden Dixon-Veal

The wide receiver may be the best example of the gamut of options that could be presented to a prospect. Dixon-Veal has been the Cougars’ top receiver through three games with 22 catches for 358 yards and four touchdowns. He plays bigger than his 5-10, 162-pound frame and has drawn attention from FBS Group of Five, FCS and Division II schools, earning him six scholarship offers thus far with some other schools still evaluating where Dixon-Veal could fit into their programs.

Dixon-Veal’s most important offer may have been his first, from Nevada, because that let him know that all his hard work running track, catching balls off the Jugs machine and lifting weights to improve his receiver abilities was paying off.

“It was just a blessing because you go from not knowing that you’re going to go to college to now it’s like for sure that you’re going to college, so it’s just a blessing,” Dixon-Veal said.

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His most recent offer came from FCS Idaho, which offered Dixon-Veal and running back/cornerback Silas Bolden. Bolden also has offers from Oregon State and multiple Mountain West schools. Dixon-Veal has been getting pursued heavily by Eastern Washington and Nevada Las Vegas.

“I’m looking for maybe like an ‘Air Raid’ offense. I want to go to school where their graduation percentage is high. It doesn’t matter about division,” Dixon-Veal said. “It matters about where I’m going to play and the best fit for me with team chemistry and stuff like that. It’s not just my decision. My family also plays a part too.”

Dixon-Veal took a couple of visits to schools, including Utah and USC, in the offseason, but said he hasn’t scheduled any of his five allotted official visits because he wants to see if any of the other schools he has been communicating with choose to offer.

Quentin Moten

The defensive back said he is in a similar holding pattern as he waits for schools to evaluate the film from his first few games his senior season.

“They just want to see my film this first couple games,” Moten said. “They like how I’m a team player and how I can go on both sides of the ball and be versatile. They’re not sure if they can trust me at DB, but I’m going to prove them wrong. I’m going to go in there and hopefully get a couple offers about time of midseason. All I can do is grind.”

Moten’s first scholarship offer came from Brigham Young. He has also earned opportunities from FCS schools Portland State and Sacramento State. He’s hoping to pick up more options and then wants to take visits.

Some prospects’ focus is on becoming a Power Five FBS player while others are looking for particular aspects of the program that fits their college wish list. Moten is looking to see how the coaches treat the players and people around the program and how he would fit into the environment of the football program and school.


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