Once compared to Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Rothlisberger, Valhalla (San Diego) passer Pete Thomas has attracted nationwide attention from the top Division I colleges.
Although Thomas will spend his senior season draped in the Norsemen’s Orange and White, he will do so knowing he has a scholarship to Arizona State University in hand.
This guy can find the open receiver, which is obvious by his better than 68 percent passing accuracy (246 of 360). His pinpoint marksmanship netted him 3,159 yards and 28 touchdowns. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Thomas also rushed for six TDs.
Statistics aside Thomas’ trump card is he will graduate from high school in January.
“I look at that as an advantage, yeah sure,” Thomas said. “By getting there early I’ll be able to compete for the starting job as a true freshman.”
In addition to ASU, Thomas received scholarship offers from Boston College, Northwestern, Colorado State and Maryland. He took official recruiting tours to each of those campuses as well as the Ivy League’s Harvard.
Thomas and his family visited more than a dozen college campuses.
“When we weighed all the pros and cons it always came back to Arizona State as the best fit for me,” Thomas said. “So I decided, ‘why wait?’”
Key magnets to ASU for Thomas included its proximity to his Rancho San Diego home and playing in the Pac 10.
The Sun Devils coaching staff is geared to a pro-style offense. Designed by head coach Dennis Erickson and his son offensive coordinator Bryce, this also weighed heavily in Thomas’ making an early commitment.
“Coach (Dennis) Erickson has won two (NCAA Division I) championships, and has coached in the NFL,” Thomas said. “He definitely knows how to develop quarterbacks. He’s put a lot of guys in the NFL, so I know I cannot get better coaching.”
Not surprisingly, Erickson has recruited a picket-line of quarterbacks for ASU’s future.
“I figure I’ll be competing with at least three guys who are on the roster now,” Thomas said. “That’s OK. I welcome the challenge.”
Valhalla’s offensive scheme is similar to that at ASU.
“Both teams run the same basic stuff,” Thomas confirmed. “Obviously, Erickson’s package is a lot complex.”
More Football: Florida woos Helix’s Van to ‘The Swamp’
Running back-corner Travon Van, who was a standout at La Mesa Helix last season, has accepted a football scholarship to the University of Florida.
Van won’t step into “The Swamp” until the 2010 season as he must first take a season’s worth of hand-offs at Milford Academy, a prep school in New Berlin, N.Y.
Helix head coach Troy Starr believes Van can succeed at Milford and move on to Florida without a hitch.
“There is a lot of upside to Travon,” Starr told EastCountySports.com. “He has the ability to be a running back or a corner at the Division I level. I know he can compete for playing time. (Florida) did not take him as a favor to me.”
Starr was an assistant coach for head football coach Urban Meyer at Florida in 2007.
“The Florida coaches liked him the first time they saw him,” Starr said.
The 6-foot, 195-pound Van rushed for 1,237 yards and 11 TDs on 139 carries last season for the Highlanders (10-2-1) who lost the San Diego CIF Division II championship to Oceanside (23-19) in the final seconds.
Van also caught 21 passes for 411 yards and four TDs while totaling 1,907 all-purpose yards last season.
Milford Academy plays a 13-game schedule, including games against Navy JV, Army Prep, Yale JV, South Alabama JV and Princeton’s frosh.
“My objective is to make it to ‘The Swamp,’” Van said. “I know I can make an impact on the field, but I also have to take care of business in the classroom.”
In the last three years, Milford Academy has sent 98 percent of its students on to college.
“I’m not sure where I stack up at Milford, but I’m ready to compete,” Van said. “All I know is Milford is the No. 1 prep school in the country.”