“It motivates me to know that there are scouts who do go to a small city like Tulare. It gives me hope,” Portillo said during his appearance at the Passing Down Northern California regional held on April 10 at Chabot College.
The 5-foot-8 wideout has had an industrious offseason as he prepares for his senior year, hitting different camps and tournaments plus taking in the sights and sounds of two Cal State Universities: Sacramento State and Fresno State.
It’s the latter, though, that invited him out to the school’s Junior Day. Portillo got a chance to sit and chat with the Bulldog coaches about having accountability in classroom.
“They talked about our grades a lot,” Portillo said. “They told us to keep them up and said we’re students before athletes.”
Outside of the student-athlete session, Portillo roamed around the Fresno State campus and came away impressed during his visit.
“That went really well. It gave me experience to see what college ball will be like beyond high school, because I want to play after high school,” Portillo said.
In the Tulare Western red, blue and white uniform, Portillo has assembled a dynamic resume that features All-Tulare County second team honors and All-East Yosemite League second team recognition.
Portillo caught 35 receptions for 602 yards last season, averaging 17.2 yards per catch. He also accumulated 1,103 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns for the unbeaten EYL champion Mustangs.
He shows fearlessness with catching the ball in front of defenders and hauling down the air lob. He’s a threat to gain more than 40 yards or score six points whenever he touches the ball.
“I’m good with my route running. That helps me a lot,” Portillo said. “And everything else falls into place. “[Right now] I’m focusing on catching the ball in traffic and getting upfield.”
One of his NFL idols is Los Angeles Rams star Tavon Austin, who Portillo says “I like how he’s small and agile. His play makes me feel better about myself [as a wide receiver].”
So far, Fresno State and Sacramento State are the only NCAA Division I programs showing interest in him.