Edison High defensive back Steve Stephens verbally committed to Oregon in May, but his mind is on Edison High – and with good reason.
The Tigers finished their last season 5-7 and lost to Central 24-19 in the Division I quarterfinals.
Stephens is heading into his final season and doesn’t want his team to duplicate the Tigers’ misfortunes in 2016.
Fall practices begin next month throughout the central San Joaquin Valley.
“I just want to have a great season and make a lot of plays,” said Stephens, whose team will be guided under new coach Jason Murray. “The ultimate goal is to win a championship because we put in a lot of work every day and grinding.
“This season means a lot to me because I want to be remembered as one of the best classes to leave Edison, and I want to go out with a bang for sure. Ultimately, I want to leave my mark, and the only way to do so is to win Valley and move on to state. That’s my next milestone as a high school football player.”
Committing to the Ducks felt right for Stephens, who will sign his national letter-of-intent in December and transfer to Eugene, Oregon, in January.
“The process went really good for me,” said Stephens, who’s rated the top safety in the West by Scout, a recruiting database. “There were a lot of West Coast schools showing me love and I went out to USC, UCLA, Cal, other schools and I checked out Oregon, and Oregon felt like it was the best fit for me all around – academic and football wise.”
The four-star recruit by Scout said he held about 22 offers and wanted to stay close to home so his family can watch him play. He plans to major in business.
Stephens, listed at 6-foot and 185 pounds, took an official visit and came away impressed with Oregon.
“I went to the academic building and went to practice and liked how the coaches’ (show) energy all-around, and it was all good. Everything fell into place,” he said.
Stephens has been keeping himself busy in the summer. He recently competed at the prestigious Nike Football The Opening at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, June 28-July 3. NFL players Ndamukong Suh, Richard Sherman and Odell Beckham Jr. were there to watch.
“If you really look at it,” Stephens said. “the majority of the guys that went to The Opening went to college and progressed and went to the NFL. Pretty much you get an early picture what the NFL draft is going to be.”
“It’s just a blessing,” said Stephens, who will play in the Under Armour All-America Game in January 2018. “You get to see all the great players that were in your shoes that you’re at now.”