VENTURA, Calif. -- Steve Stephens of Fresno (Calif.) Edison won’t officially graduate from high school for about two years, but that hasn’t stopped three Power Five programs from making an early attempt to lock away the rising defensive back for the 2018 recruiting period.
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Stephens tells Scout that Oklahoma, California and USC are “recruiting me the hardest.” Those three universities are among a pool of eight colleges that have extended an early scholarship paper to the 2018 prospect.
The Golden Bears were among his first offers. Stephens said that he’s received a positive vibe from the Cal coaches, especially during his junior day and spring game visits to Berkeley.
“It was real nice out there,” Stephens said. “They were very welcoming out there. I especially enjoyed my time with Coach [John] Lovett. He gave me good thoughts and helped my game a little bit with the little tips he gave me.”
One of those tidbits of advice the veteran cornerbacks coach gave him was rising up against challengers, even if it’s against someone Stephens is close to.
“Just playing on the big stage and playing at home. He even told me ‘Even if you’re playing against your little brother, you’ve got to play him the same way; play him like he’s a big dude,” Stephens said.
Stephens said the Sooners and the Trojans were his latest offers and adds that Oregon has increased its interest, with the possibility that offer No. 9 could come from Eugene.
With the early offers, Stephens doesn’t want to announce a verbal commitment right away and says, “I want to ride it out until National Signing Day.”
It’s a similar approach that former Tiger Tyler Horton did before he put the Boise State cap on his head in February 2015. Horton happens to be one of a number of former Edison stars Stephens looks up to along with T.J. McDonald ( Los Angeles Rams), Rob Golden (Pittsburgh Steelers) and others who came from the EHS defensive back pipeline.
Said Stephens: “I want to be just like those guys. They set the bar. I’m trying to reach the bar and go high above it.”