The Menlo College Football Team unveils its second wave of signings, welcoming 12 new players to their 2012 roster. Austin Baker, Mykel Block, Ray Burney, Greg Danese, Gabriel Deol, Nathan Dodson, Bryce Howard, Matthew Lewis, Moosa McClean, Dominic Mercurio, Brandon Rauth, and Visa Thach will dawn Menlo blue and white in year one of the Mark Speckman era.
"This is a group we have very high hopes for," said Coach Speckman on the 12 new signees. "Potentially, they have a chance at making an immediate impact and we as coaches are very excited about the talent this group has."
Diversity and depth is a key factor in the Oaks new group of 12. The collection features seven offensive players and five defensive talents, all of whom have the ability to compile successful Menlo careers.
From an offensive standpoint the Oaks welcome in three forces to their O-Line. Bryce Howard, Moosa McClean, and Brandon Rauth show promise after enjoying remarkable success at the high school level. A four-year varsity starter at St. Genevieve High School in Panorama, CA, McClean was a two-time 1st Team All-League recipient, while taking home the Valiant Spirit Award and Heart of a Champion Award (team honors). Brandon Rauth boasts similar accolades while suiting up for Mark Morris High School in Longview, WA. The 6'2", 250lb. tackle was a two-time Greater St. Helens League 1st teamer and was the Team Captain in 2011. As far as Bryce Howard is concerned, the native of Los Banos, CA was highly touted coming out of high school with his imposing 6'5", 265lb. size.
Other offensive potential lies in Mykel Block, Ray Burney, and Dominic Mercurio as all three feature blazing speed in crucial skill positions. Block, a wide receiver and kick returner is the younger brother of former Oak Keoni Block, who transfers into his Menlo tenure from College of San Mateo. Burney comes over from Jefferson High School in Portland, OR, while Mercurio brings a star-studded resume after playing running back at Corona Del Sol High School in Tempe, AZ. The Chandler, AZ native was a 2011 All-State Honorable Mention, a 2nd Team All-Region running back, and the MVP of his 2011 Varsity team. The impressive achievements earned Mercurio an opportunity to participate in the nationally televised football combine put on by the U.S. Marines and Jr. Rank in January 2012.
This wave of 12 also features a quarterback in the form of Nathan Dodson, a gunslinger who led Palisades Charter High School to their first playoff appearance in over ten years. "Nate brings all the intangibles you look for in a quarterback," commented Dodson's high school head coach. "He has an outstanding work ethic, he understands the game inside and out, he is a great leader, and he brings a lot of energy to the field."
From a defensive perspective, this second wave of signees shows potential for an immediate impact. Linebackers Matthew Lewis and Visa Thach are two to keep a keen eye on. Lewis earned a 1st-Team All-District distinction while playing his high school ball at Friendswood High School in Friendswood, TX and is overzealous at the prospects of hitting the gridiron at Menlo. "I'm very excited to join the Menlo Oaks," remarked Lewis. I can't wait to start playing football again and I know Menlo is going to have a great team this year."
For Visa Thach, the native of Kent, WA brings as much promise as anyone into his first season in Menlo blue and white. While suiting up at Kentwood High School in his hometown, Thach was an All-State linebacker, All-State fullback, Team MVP, Rotary Athlete of the Year, and a Scholar Athlete. "Visa is a very hard working young man that lets his actions speak for him," said Thach's high school head coach. "His skill and speed help make up for his size on defense. His 345 bench, 500 squat and over 500 pound dead lift show why he becomes an immovable object on defense."
Austin Baker has the skill set to be a stellar defensive lineman after immense success at Brea Olinda High School in Brea, CA. A three year varsity starter, Baker was an All-League selection for both his junior and senior campaigns.
In the secondary the Oaks will welcome in Greg Danese and Gabriel Deol. Danese, who played his high school ball at Newberg High School in Newberg, OR, was a Pac 9 Conference Honorable Mention, in addition to earning an invite to the All-Star combine in Los Angeles as one of the Top 100 recruits in the northwest area. For Deol, the Livingston, CA native was a three-sport star for Livingston High School. Last year Deol was the school's football, basketball, and track MVP, while earning All-Conference recognition as a defensive back.
This second wave of 12 signees should help bolster a Menlo squad that is ready to go for the start of the 2012 season. According to the aforementioned Coach Speckman, "We are pleased with our geographic diversity, and the size, speed, and competitiveness of this group."
Stay tuned for the Oaks next wave of recruits, to be released shortly.