Dear Mr. Football: How fortunate was Arizona to tap into SoCal’s Serra High School football recruiting vein?
Over the last decade, Serra High, located in Gardena 11 miles from USC’s campus, has become the most fertile college football recruiting site in California. It ranks with the top high schools in Florida and Texas.
The Trojans have eight Serra grads on this year’s team, including NFL prospects such as defensive linemen John Houston and Rasheem Green, receivers Jalen Greene and Deontay Burnett and future stars like linebacker Wole Betike.
Ironically, Greene was Serra’s starting quarterback — Tate was his backup — when the Cavaliers went 13-1 in 2013. Greene was sensational, passing for 2,544 yards and rushing for 1,229. But the Trojans switched Greene from QB to receiver, which Tate feared would happen to him if he followed the Serra pipeline to USC.
That’s why he’s a Wildcat, not a Trojan.
Ten years ago, 2007, when Pete Carroll’s Trojans were the most feared program in college football, Serra was not yet a recruiting hot spot. The ’07 Trojans had just one Serra Cavalier in 2007. USC was powerful because it dominated the traditional SoCal recruiting caches at Mater Dei, Long Beach Poly, Bishop Amat and in the Inland Empire. It was then that Serra started assembly-lining players like Khalil Tate.
This year’s Serra team is unexpectedly vulnerable, 5-4 through games of last week, but coach Scott Altenberg’s club has at least eight Pac-12 caliber recruits. It includes two who have been offered scholarships by Arizona: four-star athlete Byron Addison, who is being pursued by ASU, Washington and Michigan, and four-star cornerback Merlin Robertson, who has also been offered by Oklahoma.
Funny story: Altenberg, the coach whose players line up to play for the Trojans, is a UCLA grad.