College of the Canyons Signings

There was unparalleled success on the field for the College of the Canyons football team during the 2001 season. The success appears to be following the Cougars off the field. The Cougars, who finished with their best-ever record of 10-1 and won a bowl game for the first time in the program's history, are receiving scholarship offers in record numbers.


    Among 27 sophomores on the team, 24 have either signed national letters of intent or received offers from four-year colleges or universities. We're very excited about how it's going, said Coach Chuck Lyon, whose team was ranked No. 11 in the nation the highest final ranking ever for the Cougars by J.C. Grid-Wire.

    Fourteen of the players have signed with NCAA Division I programs and two others have received Division I offers. At the top of the list might be tight ends Leon Pinky and Mike Gomez and defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene. All three players were All-Western State Conference selections as sophomores.

    Pinky, 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds, has signed with Southeastern Conference powerhouse Tennessee; Gomez, 6-6 and 235, with Big 10 champion Illinois; Fanene (6-4, 260) with Mountain West Conference power Brigham Young. Pinky had 16 catches for 318 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore and also had four catches for 88 yards and a touchdown in his team¹s 35-32 victory over Saddleback in the WSC Bowl. Gomez caught 22 passes for 320 yards and a touchdown in regular-season play and had three catches for 24 yards in the WSC Bowl.

    Other Division I signings on offense include linemen Greg Vandermade (6-4, 280) with Utah State, Joe Blackard (6-7, 320) with Troy State of Alabama and Paul Dolinsky (6-1, 280) with Portland State and wide receivers Jamall Broussard (6-1, 180) with San Jose State, Cedric Thompson (5-8, 160) with Idaho and Chris Chestnut (6-2, 180) with Western Michigan. Chestnut had a team-leading 24 catches for 338 yards and a touchdown last season, Broussard 22 catches for 336 yards and four touchdowns and Thompson 21 catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns. Thompson also set Cougar records with three punt returns and a kickoff return for a touchdown last season and five punt returns for touchdowns in his Canyons career.

    The list of defensive players includes defensive backs Larry Bynum (5-10, 185) with Baylor and Darryl Murphy (5-11, 183) with Idaho and three players who have signed with Western Michigan: defensive linemen Hausia Faleofa (6-1, 235) and Andy Endermann (6-3, 265) and defensive back Maurice Hart (6-0, 200). Murphy had a team-leading five interceptions for 82 yards and a touchdown last season and Hart, one of four Cougars headed for Western Michigan, had two interceptions for two yards.

    In addition, punter Jason Daily (6-2, 175) and wide receiver Stephen Stokes (5-8, 180) are also considering Division I offers. Daily, who made the J.C. Grid-Wire All-American first team and averaged 40.7 yards per kick as a sophomore, currently pitches for the Cougar baseball team. Stokes caught 23 passes for 324 yards and four touchdowns last season.

    Two other Canyons players have signed letters of intent with Division II programs: linebacker Joey LaPorte (6-0, 235) with New Mexico Highlands and offensive lineman Maselino Asi (6-2, 292) with Lane College in Tennessee.  LaPorte was an All-WSC first team selection last season. LaPorte returned a fumble 73 yards for a touchdown in the WSC Bowl.

    Four other Cougars‹running backs Major Caldwell and Marquis Brignac, defensive lineman Ryan Davey and defensive back Raul Menjivar‹have received
Division II offers and linebackers Richard Garcia and Danny Corbet are considering Division III programs. Garcia is deciding between Whittier and Chapman and Corbet has narrowed his choices to Cal Lutheran and Redlands.

    Garett Tujague, who coaches the offensive line and serves as an academic counselor at Canyons, said the percentage of sophomores from the 2001 team receiving four-year scholarships is simply remarkable. This is just a testament to the hard work these kids have done and how well they played together as a team, he said. You just look at the colleges that have been through here and it¹s phenomenal.

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