MODESTO — The combination gym-cafeteria-multipurpose space at Central Catholic High School was set up for a blood drive that had been scheduled well ahead of Wednesday's national letter of intent signing day.
But in a way it was a fitting setting for John Mundt, who will be bleeding University of Oregon green for at least the next four years.
Mundt, the Raiders' blue-chip tight end recruit, was one of three Stanislaus District football players to sign letters of intent to accept NCAA Division I full athletic scholarships, joining Downey quarterback Aaron Zwahlen (Hawaii) and Buhach Colony offensive lineman Aaron Cochran (California.)
They were far from the only district athletes signing contracts to continue their athletic careers.
At Buhach, Cochran's teammates Joe Marquez and Jayce Webster signed papers to accept appointments to the Air Force Academy, where they intend to play football.
Zwahlen was joined inside the Downey conference center by four teammates headed to lower-level colleges on full football scholarships: John Kreifels (Eastern Washington), Juan Vaa-Ayala (Northwest Oklahoma State), Herman Harris (Chadron State), and Austin Holt (Menlo).
Holt's father and uncle played football at Merced High under coach Mark Speckman, who is the head coach at Menlo.
And just a few feet away from where Mundt was signing his LOI, Joey Abbate who led the state in interceptions last fall as a Central Catholic defensive back - was signing his contract to attend Duke University. Abbate, whose scholarship offer was weighted heavily toward the academic end will wrestle for the Blue Devils.
None of Wednesday's signings came as a surprise, since all three of the Division I football athletes had made verbal commitments months ago.
"I made the decision way back in June, after my unofficial visit," Mundt said. "I was able to talk to the coaches and figure out the scheme of the offense and I saw that it was a perfect fit.
"I knew right then and there and stayed 100 percent solid ever since. The recruiting process has been a great experience, but it's good to finally see my name next to the Oregon 'O' and have it all be official."
But Zwahlen's signing with Hawaii did come with a new twist. It was reported during the fall that he would attend Hawaii for one year before leaving the school to accept an assignment for a two-year Mormon mission.
On Wednesday he announced that he would be embarking on that mission this year, and will not enroll at Hawaii until 2015.
"They changed the age requirement from 19 to 18, so now I can go right out of high school," Zwahlen said. "This way I can get everything out of the way and figured out, then go to Hawaii for five years."
While he did sign the LOI, it was little more than a symbolic gesture. The terms of the LOI bind the student-athlete and the university in a one-year commitment. As a result, as of Feb. 6, 2014, there will be no binding agreement between Zwahlen and Hawaii.
"The scholarship is not guaranteed, nor is my commitment," said Zwahlen, who added that he expects to know his mission destination by the end of the month. "But if everything stays the same, I'm definitely going to go.
"Hawaii is very understanding about this. I'm going to keep working out every morning of my mission and throw as much as I can, and I'm still very excited about playing football. I don't think anything is going to stop me from playing."
Cochran was nationally recruited by schools like Oklahoma, Nebraska and Notre Dame. However, once he made his decision a couple of weeks ago to attend Cal where he'll join brother Matt on the offensive line he hasn't wavered.
"Today means everything is valid," Cochran said. "No more verbal agreement, everything is official. They have my signature."
There is a growing trend in college football for incoming students to forego their final semester of high school if they have met graduation requirements in order to enroll at their college in the spring semester. It gives the young student-athletes a chance to be immersed in college life academically, athletically and socially prior to their first fall of college football.
For instance, nine student-athletes in the class of 22 recruits at national champion Alabama already are on campus.
"I was offered a chance to come on campus for the spring, and that's something Oregon offers all its commits," Mundt said.
"But I wanted to finish out my senior year here at Central, to be a part of the basketball and baseball teams and to be a part of more championships before I'm through here."
Mundt is a reserve center on Central Catholic's basketball team and pitches on the Raiders' baseball team. And when it was mentioned to him that three-sport athletes in this area who pitch in high school and then play college football tend to go onto the NFL and play in the Super Bowl, Mundt smiled.
"Hopefully, that is the trend," Mundt said. "That would be good."