By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer
The phone call came at lunch time in March.
Muir High School’s Tairen Owens was given orders to wait outside for a call from Demetrice Martin, the secondary and cornerbacks coach recruiting Owens to play college football at the University of Washington.
The conversation wasn’t long, but it left a lasting impression on Owens.
Martin extended a scholarship offer to Owens, a shifty and speedy tailback who racked up 822 yards and 10 touchdowns last season while splitting time in the backfield for the Mustangs.
Owens, surrounded by an overflowing crowd, stood motionless except for an obvious expression on his face.
“All I could do was smile,” he recalled.
Owens didn’t need to think it through. He accepted on the spot and ended the recruiting process. The only other school in the mix was Arizona State, where former teammate Karl Holmes Jr., is, but the Sun Devils weren’t ever really in the mix.
“I’m not a real fan of the heat,” Owens said. “I know it rains a lot in Washington, but I can deal with it.”
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Owens didn’t attend many camps. He took part in the B2G Elite Football Camp and Keyshawn Johnson’s Big Man on Campus Camp. His 40-yard dash was clocked at 4.5 seconds, but his versatility made him attractive to Washington. Owens said he’s being recruited to play tailback, special teams and slot receiver.
This season he’ll be the featured tailback at Muir, a team loaded with skilled players including Kevon Seymour, who has 18 offers and counting.
Owens doesn’t need a change of scenery despite a tough upbringing in Northwest Pasadena. He set his agenda straight and exercised tunnel vision when it mattered. He always focused on his ultimate goal of attending a school that would provide a good education with an opportunity to play college football, and Washington was it.
“I don’t worry about none of (the)bad influences,” Owens said. “My mom (Charlene) was a big influence since I was a kid, telling me not to do this or that and do this and that. I do me, and let them do them.”
Owens said he’s earned respect from friends because he’s remained determined to not become involved with the wrong circles.
“Everybody knows me in Pasadena,” said Owens, whose older brother Ahmere plays at Division II East Central University in Oklahoma. “I’m just living the life right now.”
Owens, who juggles school, football practice and working for the third summer in a row at the Boys & Girls Club in Pasadena, said he wants to major in criminal justice and one day become a police officer.
The 5-foot-9, 165-pounder said talking about the chance at an NFL career is surreal, but it’s nice he can even talk about it, especially with a chance to play at a major Division I school.
Owens remains focused, though, and instead chose to talk about short- term goals such as hopefully getting Muir past the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division playoffs.
If it all turns out well, Owens will take that momentum with him to Seattle and make a name for himself just like he has in Pasadena.
And to think it all started with one phone call in March.