(Azusa)- When the world changes it happens in the big and the small. Political landscapes change in profound ways with every election cycle and in the shadows, with little fanfare, a college football program goes from one station to another.
This fall Azusa Pacific University will join the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) in the move up to the NCAA’s Division II level for football.
“It’s a big transition,” said Cougar offensive coordinator Rudy Carlton. “Without question we have had staff meetings, department meetings, to learn all the rules of compliance. There’s more responsibility.”
“In this area,” said Maranatha HC Pete Karavedas. “When it comes to high level college football there is USC, UCLA, and Azusa Pacific.”
“It’s instant credibility,” says Carlton who played quarterback for the Cougars. “There’s a huge bed of talent, and some of the greatest high school football in the nation, right here. Traditionally they go some place else with cold climates, places like Mesa State or Grand Junction, Colorado. Besides those other two (USC, UCLA) we’re the only school that offers scholarships. If you don’t go PAC 12, this is where you want to be. We’re very excited.”
While excited about kicking things off on September 1, up at UC Davis, the program is also excited about the recruiting class it inked.
This recent class includes Charter Oak standouts Travis Santiago and Jonathan Thropay.
“Jonathan is just a tremendous athlete and will do well in our secondary,” said Carlton. “When you see Travis play, you see a big time arm, very athletic. He’s an electric player. When the time comes we will mold around his talents.”
Other key signings include JoJo Bones (6-1,260) a hybrid defensive end/linebacker who converted from quarterback after his junior year at Lincoln High School in Stockton, California.
Matt Hackett another defensive end (6-0, 235) from northern California (Modesto) that Carlton describes as a dynamic player.
On the offensive side the Cougars signed well travelled quarterback Nick Owens (6-0 210) out of Moorpark College, who also spent time at South Alabama. He arrives with a lot of talent and two years of eligibility.
Wide receiver/tight end Michael Martens (6-2, 190) is another deluxe athlete from Centennial High School in Bakersfield that Carlton foresees using very much in the same manner the New England Patriots utilize Aaron Hernandez.
Offensive lineman Jordan Wernet (6-4, 280) out of Decatur High School in the state of Washington had been a D-I prospect until suffering a knee injury. He is someone Carlton is anxious to coach.
“He’s an extremely gifted offensive lineman that we are excited about grooming into a left tackle.”
Quick Note: APU’s current left tackle position is manned by Luke Marquardt (6-10, 320). Marquardt will be a senior next fall and is considered to be an NFL prospect.
Other signees include:
Noah Ciccel: DB; 5-11, 165
Crespi Carmelite HS (Encino, Calif.)
Van Dennis: LB; 5-11, 210
Centennial HS (Corona, Calif.)
Sam Flemming: DB; 6-0, 210
Etiwanda HS (Etiwanda, Calif.)
Talaiasi Taueli: DL; 6-1, 270
Mesa HS (Mesa, Ariz.)
Mark Urtz: DB/WR; 6-1, 190
Ontario Christian HS (Ontario, Calif.)
Corey Victoria: RB; 5-10, 180
Glendora HS (Glendora, Calif.)
The Cougars will run spring ball February 21 through March 15, with scrimmages on March 3 & 10.