One of the elite talents in San Diego County is also one of the most elusive recruit stories in Southern California this year. Two-sport star Nelson Rosario from Oceanside (Calif.) El Camino High School is not participating in any combines this spring or football practices at his school. He instead is fully involved in his junior season of track & field, where he ranks as one of the state's best jumpers.
In the 2007 season, Rosario currently stands #2 in the Golden State in the long jump (24'2"), #5 in the triple jump (47'11") and #9 in the high jump (6'8"). And he has just started warming up.
Last week at the CIF San Diego Section Prelims, Rosario won all three events and only a small tailwind kept him from establishing new personal records. The 2.2 meters per second wind during his 24'6.5" long jump was just past the wind-legal mark of 2.0 mps. His 48'5.25" triple jump came with a 2.5 mps wind, though he jumped a 48'4" PR last year and will likely top that mark in the next two weeks.
This weekend at Mt. Carmel High School is the San Diego Section Finals, which will qualify competitors for the CIF State Championships in Sacramento June 1-2.
"I always seem to jump big at Mt. Carmel. For some reason, that's where I hit those PRs," Rosario explains. "Lately in dual meets, I have done a good enough job to win. I haven't really had to push it lately. I know I can turn it on and turn it off, but I'm trying to get out of that habit and just dominate."
Helping to push him is Hoover High School senior Gary Lee, with whom the El Camino junior finished 1-2 in both the long jump and triple jump in the Prelims.
"I have competition down here now," Rosario says. "The week after I went 24-2, [Lee] went 24-2.5, so he beat me by half an inch. He'll be at CIF, too, so I can't let him outdo me."
While most of his peers in the Class of 2008 are bathed in the heat of spring football and the NCAA's evaluation period, Rosario won't touch the pigskin until July. He likewise has taken little action in his recruitment. The 6'6" wide receiver, who runs a 4.43 40 and caught 53 passes for 1,010 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior, currently holds scholarship offers from Stanford, UCLA, Oregon, Oregon State, Arizona, San Diego State, UNLV, North Carolina State and Duke.
"There is nobody else I'm particularly waiting on to offer," the recruit comments. "I'm just going to wait it out a little bit and narrow it down, sooner or later, when my dad gets back in town."
Rosario's father, a military man, has been on business in Albany, Ga. The family plans on sitting down upon his return to trim the universe of suitors to a final five or six.
"First of all, it's the education and if the school has what I want to major in - which I don't even know yet, so we'll have to figure that out too," Rosario chuckles. "Then of course, the football team. And probably location because I know they don't want to be flying all over everywhere just to see the games."
Does the two-sport standout have any inkling, prior to that conversation, of who might make that cut?
"Of course. There are a couple of colleges who are already on my mind in my top five or top 10," Rosario replies. "For a rough draft, I would say UCLA, Oregon and Stanford. I know those three for sure."
"UCLA has a good campus and their football team is coming up. It's a UC school and has a good education," he continues. "Stanford is a great education, and they have a new coach who is supposed to be doing big things. I'm looking for a turnaround up there. Oregon, they just throw the ball a lot. I know that much. It's a big receiver school. I just like all three of them."
Cutting his school list is an important step for Rosario in moving forward with his college recruitment. He however has no idea what steps he will take next, or when.
"I don't know at all. That's something we're going to figure out," he offers. "I'm just planning on not rushing into stuff."
The only plans upcoming include the CIF State Meet to conclude his track season, finishing the school year at El Camino High School and then a family vacation to Florida. Though he may not have much of his mind on football today, Rosario says that should not confuse the importance he will soon put into the gridiron.
"When I come back, around July 1, I will start football every day with my team and all the passing league stuff," he describes. "Just the fact that I'm getting offered, period, that's getting me fired up to play football and show why I'm being offered and why I'm being recruited."
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