By Aram Tolegian
Call it blind faith or just a hunch, but Charter Oak High School receiver Chris Gilchrist is headed to Boca Raton, Fla., next season to play for Florida Atlantic, a school Gilchrist did not visit during the recruiting process and began courting him very late in the game.
Gilchrist decided late Tuesday he would attend Florida Atlantic and made it official on Wednesday morning by signing his letter of intent.
“They showed the most interest, even though it was late,” Gilchrist said.
“I talked to them every night. They have a whole new coaching staff, so it’s a fresh start for me and them.
“It was nice to know that somebody wanted me to go play football for them.
“It’s just a feeling you get when somebody puts a lot of effort into talking to you, trying to get to know you and wanting to meet you.”
Gilchrist was far from the only local athlete to make his or her college destination official on Wednesday.
At West Covina, 2010 Tribune Player of the Year Chris Solomon ended a long recruiting process by choosing to play for Nevada over Colorado.
Pomona’s Gerrad Kough picked Colorado long ago and stuck with that decision Wednesday.
Bishop Amat saw football standouts Ajee Montes (SMU) and Jalen Moore (Eastern Washington) make their plans official. For Moore, the decision came down to where he would get the earliest opportunity for playing time, and that meant Eastern Washington instead of Colorado.
“Too many running backs,” Moore said of Colorado. “When I was on my trip (at Eastern Washington), they made me feel like I was at home.”
Montes is headed to play for well-known coach June Jone at SMU. He will play defensive back for the Mustangs.
“I have a chance to play early,” Montes said. “What I liked a lot about June Jones is that he’s consistent. He’s had winning seasons and three back-to-back-to-back bowls.”
Diamond Ranch saw four members of its football team sign on Wednesday and their destinations were quite impressive. Receiver Andrew Fischer (Harvard) and linebacker Jacob Ardron (Columbia) will play in the Ivy League.
Offensive tackle Blake Benjamin will play for the Navy and aim for medical school.
Defensive back Chris Miller will make it easy for local fans to follow his career by playing in the Pac-12 at Oregon State.
“It’s a college town and everybody in the town is friendly,” Miller said of Corvallis, Ore., where Oregon State is located. “Being in the PAC-12, that’s a competitive conference.
“Any school that would’ve given me an offer, I would’ve taken it. Oregon State gave me the offer and I hopped on it.”
The Wilson duo of J.R. Nelson (Montana) and Keith Hawk (Yale) made their choices official. Nelson will play cornerback for the Grizzlies after making a name for himself as an one of the area’s most dangerous offensive players.
“I chose Montana because it’s a great school and I just felt like it was a great place for me,” Nelson said. “I loved the mountains and the snow. It’s cold, but you have to love that snow. It’s something we don’t get in Southern California.”
Glendora running back Corey Victoria became the first of probably many local standouts to choose Azusa Pacific University, which will begin play in Division 2 next season. For Victoria, the chance to stay local and play in front of family and friends was too good to pass up.
The signings did not stop at football. Several of the area’s top girls also made their college plans official.
The soccer signings were as follows: Shavonn Johnson (Bonita) signed with Lamar. Shannon Kent (St. Lucy’s) signed with Loyola Marymount. Alyssa Cabral (Bishop Amat) signed with Cal-State Dominguez Hills. Amber Marani (Walnut) signed with UC Riverside and Mayra Almazan (South Hills) is heading to
UC Santa Barbara.
Bishop Amat saw a pair of volleyball players sign in Rachel Seals (Seattle University) and Megan Bowcock (Great Falls).
Glendora field hockey standout Leah Cofer signed with Pacific.
Softball signees were as follows: Kellie McCleve (Glendora) Salt Lake College. Jeovanna Rios (Bishop Amat) Fort Lewis College. Sumer Knight (West Covina) La Sierra. Tayler Castro (West Covina) Cal Baptist. Alexzandra Blanco (West Covina) Central Arizona and Taylor Miller (Glendora) La Sierra.
Rowland track and cross country standout Nick Rivera signed with Texas Tech.