The junior season of a high school football player’s recruiting period is traditionally the most pivotal year to break out on the football field.
And Tae Le of Newport Beach (Calif.) Corona del Mar has not only broken out with a stellar junior campaign, but he’s now emerging as the face of the Orange County tight end class for the 2018 cycle.
Le has already passed the proverbial eyeball test in terms of size at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds. His numbers – 73 receptions, 1,241 yards and 22 touchdowns – would delight fantasy football players or a college football offensive coordinator who runs a pass-happy attack.
And now, the word “resiliency” can be added to Le’s scouting report. After being held to zero catches in the first half against Lompoc on Black Friday, Le erupted in the next half with six catches, 59 yards and a crucial 14-yard touchdown that gave the Sea Kings their first lead at 29-28, before knocking off the unbeaten Braves 35-34 in the CIF Southern Section Division 4 semifinals.
He especially came in handy on the climatic drive, as Le hauled in two receptions for 20 more yards before his quarterback Chase Garbers connected with John Humphreys on the game-winning 19-yard touchdown with 45 seconds left.
And that score came after Lompoc executed some trickery with an 85-yard double pass to take the lead at 34-29 with 3:10 to go.
“They hit us with a stunner. We wished that didn’t happen. But after that, we got on our horse and said ‘Let’s go out and win the game on the final drive,’” an exhausted Le told Scout after the game.
He was mostly covered by Lompoc’s fast riser Shemar Savage, who not only finished with 123 yards on three catches, but blanketed Le for one half from his strong safety spot.
That was until Le’s lone touchdown of the night, with the 6-foot-4 Savage near the vicinity.
“I ran a post, I got over the top, Shemar Savage was sitting there kind of biting down on the coverage, then I got wide open down the middle and it (the ball) hit me,” Le said.
On a 12-1 Sea Kings team with Garbers already committed to California, Le has made it clear that he wants to stay on the west coast and hopes he joins his quarterback in the Pac-12.
He’s now surfacing on the recruiting board of one program from the Pac-12 south division: Utah.
“I recently went to an unofficial visit to Utah on Nov. 19 against Oregon. They’re looking at me,” Le said of the Utes. “Hopefully I’ll get more interest from the Pac-12.”
Outside of Utah, Le adds that Vanderbilt is showing new interest, making the Commodores the first Southeastern Conference school to take interest in the Sea Kings’ fast riser.
While Le has a strong desire to stay near the Pacific shoreline after his prep career ends, he is open-minded about which college wants him.
“I would like to (stay in the Pac-12), but I’m open to all places,” Le said.