For the third straight year, in fact, the top runner on the west coast is a Ventura County product, this year's being Oxnard (Calif.) Santa Clara's Cierre Wood (6-0, 195).
Wood is up to a dozen scholarship offers, the most recent coming on Wednesday when Cal offered him.
"It's been hectic but I think I'm handling it pretty well," said Wood. "I never thought it would be this crazy. I had no idea. When I first started playing, I thought I sucked. It is pretty exciting when you think about it. I just really started playing and all of this happened pretty fast. The first thing I learned to really play was basketball. I didn't know that football would be my ticket out."
Wood not only has a ticket out via the gridiron, but his options will be pretty impressive. "When I got the offers from Notre Dame, USC and Florida, who at the time was the defending champs, they basically jumped out to me," said Wood. "I know that some more offers could come my way. So I see myself waiting."
Along with those four, Wood has been offered by San Diego State, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas A&M, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Wake Forest and Washington. And he's interested in a couple other schools that haven't offered.
"Texas and UCLA are two schools I'd be interested in more if they offered," said Wood. "I had heard from UCLA some during the season and they invited me to a game, but I haven't heard as much because of the coaching change. Texas is a school I grew up watching and always liked them, too."
Because he's still waiting to hear from some more schools, Wood said he's in no rush to make a decision, let alone narrow his options. "It's really too early for me to begin narrowing things down," said Wood. "I don't have a timetable on when I'll decide. I know my time will come, I can make my decision when I feel ready to. And I'm open to going across the country. Distance isn't a factor for me. But you know how moms are, she'd like it if I stayed on the west coast."
Wood said a few factors will come into play when he's making a decision. "What I want to major in, the school needs to have that. I want to major in architecture or engineering. The academics of the school. And how I feel with the coaches," said Wood.
As a junior, Wood scored 42 touchdowns, rushed for 2,612 yards on 178 carries and caught seven passes for 191 yards. He also played cornerback, recording 50 tackles and three interceptions and led Oxnard (Calif.) Santa Clara to the CIF-MidValley Division Title. Wood averaged 14.7 yards per carry and 200.9 yards per game. Following the season, Wood was named the CIF Player of the Year and Ventura County Player of the Year.
Academically, Wood is carrying a 3.5 GPA and will take the SAT in May or June.