Five more county football players sign, many others undecided

Lincoln quarterback Tyler Jensen, shown in October 2019 vs. Madison.
Lincoln quarterback Tyler Jensen, shown in October 2019 vs. Madison, committed to Northern Colorado but changed his mind and has yet to pick a college.
(Chadd Cady)

Two San Diego County players headed to Jackson State to play for Deion Sanders


The three-day national football signing period that ended Friday, Dec. 18. finished with a rush.

And Carlsbad High football coach Thadd MacNeal expects things to really heat up when the second signing period begins Feb. 3.

Two weeks ago, 24 San Diego County players signed to play college ball, including five that came after initial reports.

Two of the five, both from Lincoln High, are headed to Jackson State to play for first-year coach (and Pro Football Hall of Famer) Deion Sanders — defensive back Herman Smith and Daelyn Moses-Dunn, a defensive lineman who played for his father David at Lincoln and for two years at Southwestern College.

Mater Dei Catholic quarterback Trevor Appleman, who threw for 2,109 yards with 25 TDs and three interceptions, signed with New Mexico State.

Patrick Henry receiver Kai Jessie, who caught 65 balls for 972 yards and 16 TDs, signed with New Mexico.

And Mission Hills defensive back Elisha Lloyd signed with Utah.

“Now things get interesting,” MacNeal said. “Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, because we’re not going to play until February, March, April, there are some really good guys who would have had an opportunity to sign this month that weren’t seen by colleges.

“There are a lot of two-and-three star recruits who are on the radar, but colleges wanted to see them play this season before offering a scholarship. So now, it’s a waiting game.”

This season didn’t count against a college player’s eligibility, so in theory everyone returns next season, limiting scholarships and opportunities for prep players.

“That’s a problem,” MacNeal said. “There are some really good players in San Diego. I’m hopeful most will get the chance to play in college.”

Another problem could be if there’s no season at all. According to the latest guidance issued Dec. 14 by the California Department of Public Health, a county must be in the orange, or moderate, tier in order to play football. Nearly every county currently is in the purple tier, where only outdoor, low-contact sports are allowed. The orange tier is two levels below the purple tier.

Helix defensive end Josh Simmons (6-foot-6, 280) is a 247Sports four-star recruit, ranked No. 37 in California. He had a verbal commitment to Oregon, but changed his mind and made it known his recruitment is open.

“I really wanted to see other schools,” Simmons told 247Sports. “I’ve seen a few schools, not too much.

“Me and my mom talked it over and we really want to go around and visit some schools. We were in California. We never really went outside of California so we really want to see who could really develop me beyond, not just college, but the next level.”

He has USC, Nebraska, Arizona State, Arkansas, Boise State, San Diego State and West Virginia among others after him.

Helix receiver Clay Petry, who caught 68 passes for 1,204 yards and 14 TDs last season at Bishop’s, is one of the three-star recruits to whom MacNeal was referring.

Petry, ranked No. 126 in the state, has Boise State, San Diego State, Air Force, Cal Poly and Columbia on his recruiting list, but colleges wanted to see him play at Helix.

Highlanders linebacker Jerry Riggins, a three-star player ranked No. 236 in the state, has Concordia, Holy Cross and Valparaiso on his list.

Lincoln quarterback Tyler Jensen had committed to Northern Colorado, but changed his mind and has drawn interest from Duke, Kansas, North Carolina State and Valparaiso. The 6-foot-5 Jensen, a three-star player ranked No. 260 in California, completed 115 passes for 1,617 yards and 12 TDs for the Hornets last season.

Giant Lincoln defensive tackle Isaiah World (6-8, 270), a three-star player ranked No. 204 in the state, committed to play for former San Diego State and NFL defensive back Herman Edwards at Arizona State, but didn’t sign last week. Arizona, Nevada and Idaho are still in the picture.

Mater Dei Catholic receiver Jessie Campbell, a three-star player ranked No. 176 in California, had committed to Army, but changed his mind and didn’t sign. New Mexico and Idaho now appear to be on his radar.

There are a number of other interesting players still available.

Morse four-star running back Byron Cardwell, ranked No. 16 in California, had 1,183 yards rushing and receiving at St. Augustine last season with 23 TDs. He has drawn interest from Cal, Oregon, UCLA, Florida and Florida State.

Oceanside receiver/tight end Kameron Beacham caught 34 passes for 557 yards last season. A three-star recruit ranked No. 84 in California, he committed to Arizona State, but didn’t sign early.

Another Oceanside player, running back/defensive back Kavika Tua, a three-star player ranked No. 172 in California, had 2,824 yards all-purpose yards with 23 TDs for the Pirates last season. He also had 46 tackles. He has drawn interest from San Jose State, Sacramento State and South Dakota.

Linebacker McKyle So’oto, undersized at 6-foot, 215 pounds, transferred to Oceanside from Mission Hills. High school coaches rate him highly but he has drawn little interest from college recruiters.

St. Augustine three-star linebacker Malcolm Williams had 65 tackles and three sacks last season. His options appear to be Idaho, Lake Erie College, USD, Southwest Minnesota State and Valparaiso. He’s ranked No. 239 in California.

Mt. Carmel quarterback Carson Taumoepeau, , a three-star player ranked No. 244 in the state, completed 125 passes for 1,751 yards and 15 TDs last season. He has drawn interest from Idaho, Southern Oregon and Valparaiso.

Poway receiver Vance Jefferson had 15 catches for 182 yards in five games last season. Still he’s a three-star player who is ranked No. 119 in the state. He has interest from Arizona State, Colorado State, Central Michigan, Holy Cross and USD.

Torrey Pines defensive back Mo Vanderwiel is a two-star player and ranked No. 311. He appears headed to the Naval Academy.

Carlsbad offensive lineman Dylan Smith, a three-star player who ranked No. 120 in California, stands 6-6, and weighs 280. He has interest from Colorado, Oregon, UCLA, USC and Central Florida.

“It’s going to be a very interesting next few months,” MacNeal said. “We probably won’t be playing games before the next signing date.

“Maybe we’ll be practicing. So kids are really in a waiting game.”

— John Maffei is a sports writer for The San Diego Union-Tribune