Boston High School: UCLA

LA's senior class comes full circle

February, 4, 2011
2/04/11
1:52
AM ET
BOSTON -- Two weeks ago, Mike Orloff's phone went off during class, as sometimes happens these days. And when he looked down at the missed call, he was startled to see a Los Angeles area code number.

"I couldn’t for the life of me guess who it was going to be," the Lawrence Academy senior laughed as he recalled the story of how he ended up just minutes earlier this Thursday evening, from the 37th floor of the 40-story 28 State Street skyscraper in Government Center, signing a National Letter of Intent to play football at UCLA next fall.

Turns out the mystery call was a voicemail from Rick Neuheisel, head coach of the Bruins, and he had just finished watching his film 10 seconds ago. Not only did he love the linebacker's physical, downhill style of play, and natural nose for the ball, he wanted him to call back immediately and come down to Westwood for an official visit.

Mike Orloff
Brendan Hall/ESPNBoston.comSenior linebacker Mike Orloff switched his commitment Monday from Iowa to UCLA and signed his letter of intent Thursday night in Boston.
Orloff had verbally committed to Iowa last summer, but couldn't resist. He flew down for an official visit last Friday, and by Monday he had made up his mind to switch his commitment.

On Thursday night, high above the downtown Boston skyline, he and six of his Spartan teammates signed National Letters of Intent to play Division 1 football at the FBS or FCS level, bringing the Spartans' amazing run these last two seasons -- 17-1, with two ISL championships and a NEPSAC Bowl victory -- full circle.

Wednesday's National Letter of Intent signing day for football prospects was one that lacked drama, with all of the top in-state prospects already committed. But it was quite an anomaly, with 13 players signing NLI's to Division 1 FBS schools from the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Conference-USA, Pac-10, Mountain West and MAC, most significantly Brockton's Albert Louis-Jean (Boston College), Rivers' Taariq Allen (Nebraska) and St. John's of Shrewsbury's Richard Rodgers (Cal). One of Orloff's teammates, three-star wideout Marcus Grant, signed with Iowa; they were joined by running back Anthony Knight (Nevada), tight end Clay Horne (Villanova), linebacker Dan Giovacchini (Brown) and linemen Max Ricci (BC) and Ryan Welch (UNH).

It's a level of depth not seen year to year in this state. Allen, for instance, will be the Huskers' first scholarship player from Massachusetts since Peabody's Grant Miller in 2002; before that, you have to go back to Lincoln-Sudbury's duo of Mike Croel and Joe Sims in the 1980's. Louis-Jean, meanwhile, is the No. 9 overall cornerback in the nation by ESPNU's rankings, and committed to Miami last March before dropping the Hurricanes following Randy Shannon's firing as head coach.

"Being from Mass, and seeing other kids from Mass going on to big places, Taariq going to Nebraska and Albert going to BC, and all of us in this room, it’s been incredible," said Grant, a Carver native, moments after putting the ink on his paperwork. "To see people you’ve known for so long, going on to play big time football, it’s been a pretty amazing experience for me."

IOWA DILEMMA HITS HOME

Grant was in Iowa City this past January 21, a Friday, the day after a number of players performed an intense squat workout that has since come under scrutiny from the national media. Grant said he saw "players limping, looking like they couldn't move, couldn't even go out at night to hang out."

He didn't put too much weight into the scene until Monday rolled around and reports surfaced that 13 players were hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis, a stress-induced syndrome that can cause kidney problems and damage cells. The news has resonated back in the Boston area, as Duxbury native and linebacker Shane DiBona was among the 13 hospitalized, while strength coach Chris Doyle hails from Quincy.

Earlier today, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics spokesman Tom Moore told the Associated Press that three employees were in the process of being terminated over a breach of players' medical records, while two more were handed five-day unpaid suspensions.

Grant says he sticks by the Hawkeyes, and that the news has not had an affect on his commitment.

"It was crazy," Grant said. "First thing I did was talk to my recruiting coordinator, Ken O’Keefe, and he actually had no idea at the time because he was out on the road. It was crazy, but then again they said it wasn’t anything to do with people on the team doing something illegal or anything. It wasn’t too concerning, you’ve just got to take care of your body when you do a gruesome workout like that."

When asked how much of an affect the highly-publicized incident had on him switching his commitment from the Hawkeyes, Orloff swiftly responded, "Absolutely not, absolutely not. I mean, coach Doyle is one of the most respected people in that business. As far as I know, he’s one of the best, so that has nothing to do with it."

Football Signing Day is here

February, 2, 2011
2/02/11
2:15
PM ET
The first day of the football National Letter of Intent signing period has arrived, and we've got you covered all day (though we'll probably be buried under snow ourselves). Here is a list of Massachusetts athletes committed to Division 1 programs headed into today's big day.

Any commitments can be sent to Scott Barboza at sbarboza@espnboston.com or Brendan Hall at bhall@espnboston.com.

(NOTE: The Ivy League does not recognize National Letters of Intent)


DIVISION 1 FBS
Taariq Allen, Rivers – Nebraska
Manny Asprilla, Everett – Boston College
Dalton Gifford, Bridgton Academy (Maine)/Barnstable – UConn
Marcus Grant, Lawrence Academy – Iowa
Harry Keselman, Oliver Ames - Temple
Anthony Knight, Lawrence Academy – Nevada
Albert Louis-Jean, Brockton – Boston College (enrolled in January)
Brian Miller, Andover – Boston College
Paul Nwokeji, Thayer Academy – UConn
Rodman Noel, Milford Academy (N.Y.)/Everett – NC State
Mike Orloff, Lawrence Academy – UCLA
Liam Porter, Natick – Boston College
Max Ricci, Lawrence Academy – Boston College
Richard Rodgers, St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – Cal
Andrew Siden, Natick – Tulane

DIVISION 1 FCS
Jeff Anderson, Longmeadow - Brown
Ryan Barrett, Holliston – Bryant
Connor Candito, Bridgton Academy (Maine)/St. John's (Shrewsbury) - Sacred Heart
Jamie Casselbury, Philips Andover - UMass
Connor Caveney, Cushing Academy - Sacred Heart
Matt Costello, Everett – Princeton
Jeff Covitz, Reading - Bryant
Ryan Delisle, St. John’s Prep – Harvard
Anthony Fabiano, Wakefield – Harvard
Ryan Flannery, North Attleborough - Columbia
Justin Flores, Tilton School/Woburn - Maine
Dan Giovacchini, Lawrence Academy – Brown
Will Guinee, Malden Catholic - Dartmouth
Greg Hilliard, Suffield Academy (Conn.)/Brockton – UMass
Clay Horne, Lawrence Academy – Villanova
Brandon Howard, Worcester Academy/King Philip - UMass
Randall Jette, Martha’s Vineyard – UMass
Isaiah Jones, Mahar - Maine
Andrew Kestenbaum, Dartmouth – Rhode Island
Ben Koopman, Marblehead – Holy Cross
John Lavin, Falmouth – Bryant
Dan Light, St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – Fordham
Harrison Lyons, Avon Old Farms (Conn.)/Norwell - Bryant
Alec May, King Philip - Georgetown
Brian McDonald, Hebron Academy (Maine)/Westwood - Sacred Heart
Andrew Mizzoni, Gloucester – Holy Cross
Obum Obukwelu, BC High – Harvard
Ben Patrick, Rivers – UMass (preferred walk-on)
Jason Richard, Milford Academy (N.Y.)/Weston - Sacred Heart
Peter Savarese, BB&N - Dartmouth
Zach Smerlas, Lincoln-Sudbury – Brown
Keshaudas Spence, Taft (Conn.)/Catholic Memorial - Sacred Heart
Charlie Storey, Milton Academy - Dartmouth
Brian Strachan, St. Sebastian’s – Brown
Cam Sullivan, Westfield - Bryant
Jeff Synan, Plymouth North - Bryant
Ben Ticknor, Milton Academy - Dartmouth
John Wallace, Somerville – UMass
Ryan Welch, Lawrence Academy – UNH
Conor Wyand, Nashoba - Brown

DIVISION 2 RECRUITMENTS REPORTED
Nick Broughton, Marblehead - Merrimack
Matt Delaney, Barnstable - Assumption
Chris Mooney, Stoneham - Assumption
Mike Muir, Xaverian - Bentley
Bobby Richman, North Attleborough - Bentley
Chris Unis, Gloucester - Merrimack

DIVISION 3 RECRUITMENTS REPORTED
Eric Bertino, BB&N - Middlebury
Ned Deane, Andover - Amherst
Mike Devin, Bridgewater-Raynham, Bowdoin
James DiBlaisi, BB&N - Trinity
Josh Friedland, Marblehead - Bates
Jake Giovanucci, Dexter - Bowdoin
Mike Gustafson, Belmont Hill - Washington & Lee
Brett Harasimowicz, Duxbury - Middlebury
Mike Hogan, St. John's (Shrewsbury) - Wesleyan
Matt Perlow, Marblehead - Bowdoin
Mike Tomaino, Gloucester - Bates

LA's Orloff switches commitment to UCLA

February, 1, 2011
2/01/11
6:21
PM ET
ESPN's Roger Brown is reporting that Lawrence Academy senior linebacker Mike Orloff de-committed from the University of Iowa yesterday, and issued a verbal commitment to UCLA the same day.

According to Brown, Rick Neuheisel called Orloff two weeks ago and offered him a scholarship. Orloff decided he wanted to take an official visit last weekend, and the Iowa coaching staff told him they needed to know his final decision by Monday. He called the Iowa coaches Monday with his decision to de-commit, and followed that up with a call to UCLA.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Orloff, a two-star prospect from Danvers, told Brown he had no previous contact with UCLA until Neuheisel called. Irv Eatman, a former two-time Lombardi Award finalist for the Bruins and whom Orloff called a volunteer assistant at UCLA, sent Neuheisel's staff some film of Orloff, and things progressed from there.

"I considered the offer and decided I would go visit," Orloff told Brown. "I just felt that UCLA was a better fit and I place where I have a better chance to succeed on and off the field. I felt like it was the place where I can be most successful. It had nothing to do with me not liking anything about Iowa.

"They don't look at Massachusetts kids very often. They told me I might be the first player from Massachusetts they've had on their team. Certainly the first in a long time."

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