High School Football

Why college football recruiters are flocking to Buhach Colony

Buhach Colony’s Lavon Wallace (22) catches a touchdown pass in the end zone over El Capitan defender Andrew Flores (30) during a game at Atwater High School last season. Wallace has become a highly sought after recruit by Pac-12 and Mountain West schools.
Buhach Colony’s Lavon Wallace (22) catches a touchdown pass in the end zone over El Capitan defender Andrew Flores (30) during a game at Atwater High School last season. Wallace has become a highly sought after recruit by Pac-12 and Mountain West schools. akuhn@mercedsun-star.com

Lavon Wallace’s stock is on the rise.

To prove it, all you have to do is look at the e-mail inbox folder or voicemail list belonging to Buhach Colony High football coach Kevin Navarra. The Thunder coach has been flooded with inquiries since National Signing Day in February.

Buhach Colony High has been a must-stop for college coaches recruiting the Central Valley this spring and the scholarship offers have followed for Wallace, who will be a senior this season.

The Buhach Colony High football star has received eight Division I scholarship offers, including offers from Pac-12 schools Colorado, Cal and Oregon State.

One recruiter told Navarra that Wallace, who is a 6-foot-3, 190-pound defensive back, is among the top handful of athletes in the 2018 class from Sacramento to Bakersfield.

“The Cal coach that came by told me if Lavon was in Southern California going to a school like St. John Bosco, he would be a national recruit with 30 offers,” Navarra said.

Wallace has become the most highly recruited football player from Merced County since college coaches flocked to Buhach Colony in 2011 and 2012 to recruit brothers Matt and Aaron Cochran and Aziz Shittu.

Nava was the defensive coordinator on former BC coach Kevin Swartwood’s staff back then and was able to experience the recruiting process.

“The Cochrans allowed us to be part of the process,” Navarra said. “We were able to be in the house when coaches came through. One of Rod Cochran’s goals when his sons were recruited was that schools continued to make stops at Buhach Colony to check in and see if we had anybody to show them.”

Wallace has had the opportunity to talk with Aaron Cochran, who transferred from Cal to Oklahoma State this spring as a graduate transfer, to get advice from someone who has gone through the recruiting process now twice.

“We talked a lot about Cal and how good the education is there,” Wallace said. “He basically told me to do what makes me comfortable. He said to make sure I do my research.”

Fresno State was the first school to offer Wallace a scholarship after Wallace’s sophomore season. After a coaching change at Fresno State this past offseason, Wallace didn’t know if the offer was still good. However, new coach Jeff Tedford told Wallace there was still a scholarship waiting for him after the Thunder star attended a Fresno State camp.

It was almost a year after Wallace received the initial offer from Fresno State before he received his second offer from Wyoming.

Wallace says he was a little concerned when the first offer wasn’t immediately followed by offers from other schools. However, this spring Colorado, Cal, Oregon State, San Jose State, Utah State and Nevada have all followed Fresno State and Wyoming with scholarship offers.

Other schools may follow.

“Colorado came in and watched film on him,” Navarra said. “You could tell it was something different with Colorado because he made extra stops. Cal has been here two or three times. San Jose State has been by three or four times. John Rushing from Oregon State has stopped in. Washington has been here.

“They love his size. At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds they like his build. He has great numbers in the weight room. He’s a physical defensive back. He reminds me a little of Aaron Cochran. He’s not very talkative. He’s pretty reserved and shy. If you go in my room there could be 30 kids in there and he’ll be in the corner watching football videos. He’s not a big talker like Aziz or Matt.”

Wallace helped get his name out there by playing with the TMP Elite 7 on 7 team from Southern California this offseason. He also played with the local Students With Aspiring Goals (SWAG) team.

“We played in some tournaments in Vegas,” Wallace said. “That helped get my name out there too because most of my teammates had offers. We also took visits to UCLA and USC.”

Wallace says he’d like to start taking visits and hopes to schedule a trip to Colorado this month. He may not make his decision until after the football season.

“I’m looking for a good fit for myself,” Wallace said. “I want to have a good relationship with my coaches. I want to be at a university that I can be comfortable and not worry about anything.

“It feels good. It’s exciting. It motivates me to work harder in the classroom and with my teammates. We want to have a winning season and get back to the playoffs.”

Shawn Jansen: 209-385-2462, @MSSsports

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