Bishop Gorman’s football team was on a mission this season to retake its place as the best in Nevada.
The Gaels did just that by blowing out McQueen 56-7 in the state championship game. A large part of that success can be attributed to a senior class that had seven players sign to play college football Wednesday.
Two of them, defensive backs Zion Branch and Fabian Ross, will remain teammates at Southern Cal.
“It’s great that I’m going to be able to play at (Southern Cal) with my boy,” Ross said. “Not too many guys get the chance to do that.”
Ross and Branch were joined in signing by running back Cam Barfield (Boston College), wide receiver Jonathan Brady (New Mexico State), tight end JJ Bwire (Air Force), linebacker Ben Hudson (Stanford) and offensive lineman Jake Taylor (Oklahoma).
Ross was one of the first commits for the Trojans’ 2022 class and decided to keep his pledge after Lincoln Riley was hired as coach.
“When I heard about Lincoln’s hiring, I was excited,” Ross said. “It’s been great to see how fast he’s changing things around. He’s a great person and coach.”
Liberty defensive lineman Sir Mells and athlete Anthony Jones will also remain teammates in college, as both signed to play at Oregon.
Jones’ signing was a surprise, considering he had been committed to Texas since July.
“He had mentioned a few times he was thinking about (his recruitment),” Liberty coach Rich Muraco said. “He told me at about 11 a.m., he was going to sign with Oregon.”
Jones and Mells make it four players from Liberty who have signed with Oregon. Offensive lineman Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu was the first of that group after transferring from Navarro College (Texas) and recently announced he will declare for the 2022 NFL Draft. Tight end Moliki Matavao is a freshman after signing last year.
Muraco chuckled when asked if having as many players as he has that have signed with Oregon make him a Ducks fan, but he said he cheers for all his former players.
“We’ve had four guys that have gone to Liberty and played at Oregon that are all legit Division I guys and great people,” Muraco said. “What happens is you develop a relationship where you send one kid and he’s everything you say he is, they’re going to come around to see who else you have and believe what you tell them the next time.”
Overall, it was a slower than usual in the valley for an early signing day, and Muraco attributed that to a couple factors.
The transfer portal has made it such that colleges must keep a certain number of scholarships available for players who are already in college and looking to make a move. But the bigger factor, at least for this season, was COVID-19.
“I think there are a lot of issues going on with scholarship offers,” Muraco said. “The offers are less now because of the transfer portal, and this class was really impacted by COVID-19 because they didn’t get to play their junior year and that’s a big recruiting year for kids. If they weren’t on colleges’ radars as sophomores, they might have been overlooked.”
Contact Jason Orts at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @SportsWithOrts on Twitter.
Southern Nevada football signees
Cam Barfield, RB, Boston College
Jonathan Brady, WR, New Mexico State
Zion Branch, DB, Southern Cal
JJ Bwire, TE, Air Force
Ben Hudson, LB, Stanford
Fabian Ross, DB, Southern Cal
Jake Taylor, OL, Oklahoma
Ryan Henderson, DL, San Diego State
Noah McKinney, OL, UNLV
Montae Pate, WR/DB, Weber State
Germie Bernard, WR, Washington
Anthony Jones, TE/LB, Oregon
Jayden Maiava, QB, UNLV
Sir Mells, DL, Oregon
Edward Rhambo, WR/DB, Northern Arizona