Wait was worth it for two St. Paul graduates

Daniel Reyes, who played defensive back in football and pitched for St. Paul High school is headed for New Mexico State University on a baseball scholarship.
Matt Carrillo, a starter in three sports for the Swordsmen, signed to play tight end for Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.

Both credit their time spent preparing at a community college this past year as making it all possible.

While Reyes and Carrillo received letters of interest from prospective colleges during their senior year, neither received bonafide offers.
Reyes walked on at Cal State Los Angeles but transferred to Whittier College and finished his freshman year with two innings of game time.
He switched to Fullerton College his sophomore year and became the Hornets’ closer, working 28 innings in a school record 22 appearances and recording 24 strikeouts, a team-leading 3.21 earned run average and a 1-3 record.
“The work ethic taught at St. Paul combined with the coaching I got in college helped make a big difference,” said Reyes, a 5-foot-9, 188-pound right-hander. “I learned how to pitch, beginning at Whittier College and then developing it last year at Fullerton.
“(Fullerton) is in such a tough conference (Orange Empire), every game was a learning experience. I should have gone to JC right out of high school. I’d probably have gotten better opportunities.”

New Mexico State University competes in the NCAA Division I Western Athletic Conference (WAC).

Carrillo said San Jose State asked him to walk on but he decided Mt. San Antonio College offered him better scholarship prospects for the future.
He saw limited playing time for the Mounties as a freshman, then earned All-Mission Conference and All-State honors as Mt. SAC won the Southern California championship before losing to San Francisco City College, 31-28, in the state title game.

The 6-5, 250-pound sophomore, who played football, basketball and baseball for St. Paul, averaged 15 yards on eight receptions and was considered an outstanding blocker.

Carrillo said what he got most out of the community college experience “was learning more about the importance of academics, about making myself go to class.”

Carrillo is in a unique situation. He was recruited by a university that has not played football for 68 years, but is going full bore to reestablishing a progam in the 2009 season.

The school is renovating many of its facilities, including locker and weight rooms, and the on-campus stadium that was built in 1936. The community’s renewed interest in resuming football is evidenced by the 24 suites atop the stadium that already are sold out.

Carrillo says the wait to play an official game was not a deterrent. Not at all,” he said. “It will be a redshirt year for me. I’ll be able to handle it. I’ll continue to focus on the classroom and grades, and I’ll concentrate on conditioning, improving my speed and footwork.” Carrillo said there also will be a regular Monday-through-Friday schedule of workouts and practices run by the coaching staff.

Old Dominion will be a member of the Colonial Athletic Association, considered one of the NCAA’s toughest mid-major conferences and including perennial national honors candidates Delaware, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

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