Prior to making the death march down the 10 to LA, I was at Colton, where Colton High School put on an assembly honoring DB Derrick Malone (Oregon), K Alejandro Maldonado (Oregon), DB Jonathan Mack (UNLV), DE Michael Newton (Arizona Western Junior College) and LB Ma’alona Kiliona (University of Redlands), along with softball players April Vasquez and Jessica Lemus.
Several hundred students showed up to honor the athletes, who added to Colton’s rich tradition of sending players to college.
“It’s something we take a lot of pride in,” Colton athletic director Harold Strauss said. “When these kids come into this program, I tell them that if they give me their all in the classroom and on the field, we’ll give them our all in getting their college paid for.”
Both Malone and Maldonado will be Ducks, with Malone deciding for Oregon in November and Maldonado deciding over the weekend, switching his commitment from Washington.
“It was hard to tell Washington no, but I had to go with what was in my heart,” Maldonado said. “When I visited Oregon, I knew that was where I had to be. Washington was nice, but Oregon was perfect.”
Malone chose the Ducks over several colleges, including most of the Pac-10 and Nebraska. While he made his decision well before Maldonado made his and was pumped about Oregon already, having his teammate with him made it that much sweeter.
“It’s awesome,” Malone said. “I’ve been going to school with (Maldonado) since middle school. Middle school, then high school, and now college together. It’s going to be fun and I can’t wait.”
Mack might have been the happiest of the Division I signees. As of Monday, Mack was unsure if he would sign today, but he secured his ride with the Rebels Tuesday night and was all smiles when he signed his letter of intent today.
“My mom was really nervous, but I had faith that it was all going to work out,” Mack said. “I’m really happy right now and it’s a big relief.”