Duarte Continues to Impress

FOX Sports NEXT caught up with Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei athlete Thomas Duarte to discuss the Monarchs' 48-13 victory, official visit plans, and more...

Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei athlete Thomas Duarte proved yet again on Friday night why he's one of the top uncommitted prospect on the West Coast.

Duarte helped the Monarchs defeat Santa Ana (Calif.) Carson 48-13 in last weekend's match up; he had two touchdowns in the game (22 yards and 53 yards). On defense, Duarte had some big hits throughout the game and said that was the area that he had been preparing for all week.

"Going into this game, we knew that Carson was explosive and that they were really fast, but we prepared for it as best we could and once we got out here, our defense tore it up. We were running all over the place, tackling them. You couldn't have asked for more from our defense," he said.

Duarte would have also had a defensive touchdown (an interception for an 89 yard return into the end zone), but it was called back due to penalty.

"You just have to shake it off. Whoever the penalty was on, you pick them up; they are going to be down on themselves, so you just pat them on the back. You just brush it off; you have to have a short-term memory in football. That's one key thing you must have," he said.

Though the 6'4", 225 lb. prospect has a collection of offers which include Notre Dame, Oregon, Washington, Utah, UCLA, Oregon State, California, Colorado, and Arizona State, he's really putting recruiting on the back burner.

"I just put it off to the side. I'm really focusing on Mater Dei football first. College comes second. These fans, these coaches...the support system here is just so great and I feel like I kind of owe them the best senior year I can give," he said.

He has, however, had some discussion as to where he will be taking his official visits, but it's unlikely he'll take those trips until after his senior season.

"I have had long talks with my parents about where I want to take my official visits, but after season I have time set aside in late December, early January to take those visits," he said.

Duarte recently told FOX Sports NEXT recruiting analyst Greg Biggins that he had been thinking about taking the official visits to UCLA, Oregon, Washington, Notre Dame, and "probably" USC.

After the game, he said of Notre Dame: "It's a school I've been looking at, it's always been a dream." On Saturday night, at the end of UCLA's game, Duarte tweeted: "Andrew Abbott comin up clutch for my bruins."

Though he plays on both sides of the ball for Mater Dei, he think's he'll play on the offensive side at the next level.

"I find myself being recruited on offense at wide receiver, kind of h-back, that new hybrid tight end if you want to call it that. That's really where all the colleges are recruiting me," he said.

For now, Duarte is just taking things a week at a time and trying to accomplish a few season goals.

"I want to take my team to playoffs, really step up as a leader and kind of guide the younger guys. Ben Humphries is someone that I'm kind of mentoring. The coaches have told me to help pick up the younger players and give them the experience I have had, but I tell Ben not to follow in my footsteps, that he should create a name for himself, and he did that tonight," he said.

Mater Dei hosts Santa Monica (Calif.) this Friday at 7:00 PM PST.

OF NOTE TO BRUIN FANS: I had about a minute and a half to interview him after the game...was literally called away mid-interview as we were going in detail about schools. Don't let the comment about Notre Dame make you think the Irish are his leader--he made it clear he didn't have one. Just happened to be the only school quote I was able to get before he had to leave.

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