Upland duo finalizes college decisions

Upland High School four-star receiver Kenny Lawler chose Cal, albeit with a slight hesitation, when the senior announced his collegiate intentions live on Fox Sports West on national signing day. Upland teammate Christian Powell, rated the No. 3 fullback in the nation by scout.com, switched his commitment from UCLA to Colorado on Monday night and signed with the Buffaloes this morning. Upland offensive lineman Kenyatta Johnson picked up a late offer from Texas Southern and signed with the FCS school on Wednesday.

Lawler, who narrowed a list of 17 scholarship offers to finalists Cal, Oregon State and Washington State, was committed to Arizona State prior to the Sun Devils coaching change after the season. It has been a rollercoaster ride ever since.

“Some days I felt like I was with one school then I’d get a call from another coach and they can tell you some stuff that really gets in your head,” Lawler said. “This whole process is crazy. It can be stressful, it can make you happy, it’s just kind of all over the place.”

As for Powell, he was on the verge of committing to Colorado in December before Jim Mora was hired at UCLA. The 5-foot-11, 250-pound fullback was interested in UCLA all along but the feeling wasn’t mutual until Mora did away with Rick Neuheisel’s pistol offense and installed one with a need for Powell’s position. UCLA extended Powell a scholarship offer Jan. 4 and received his verbal commitment on Jan. 13.

It wasn’t Colorado that worked its way back into the picture but Powell who reached out to the Buffaloes, calling offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy last week.

“When I committed to UCLA, he just said good luck to me and that was the end of it,” Powell said. “I called him back because I just had this feeling that Colorado was the right place for me. He told me to do what I wanted to do. (Monday) night I decided I was going with Colorado. It was just a gut feeling that was where I was supposed to be.”

Powell informed UCLA Monday night of the switch. Colorado, whose recruiting class this year includes two of Powell’s Upland teammates, had been interested in the fullback since the beginning.

“I’m a little surprised Christian switched because UCLA is so close to home,” Upland head football coach Tim Salter said. “I think things just happened so fast once the new coaching staff came in and Christian said he was just blown away by his visit to UCLA and that’s why he committed. He said that he just felt in his heart that he needed to go the other way and that’s why he switched to Colorado.”

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