Placer hosting National Signing Day extravaganza for Vanderdoes, Denham, Gregg and Sander
Eddie Vanderdoes isn’t the only Placer High School athlete signing a National Letter of Intent next week.
While throngs of college football fanatics across the land will be tuning in to Big Eddie’s Big Decision, Hannah Gregg, Stone Sander and Peter Denham will also be placing their John Hancock on a binding contact on National Signing Day.
Placer High will be hosting a signing day extravaganza on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the Placer High auditorium for the school’s four sports stars.
Vanderdoes, the Pioneer Valley League’s football Defensive MVP who picked up just about all kudos in the book, is the only one in the group who is undecided. He’ll be choosing between UCLA, Alabama, Notre Dame, Washington and Southern California, where he was previously committed.
Vanderdoes visited Notre Dame last weekend for his fourth official visit and will be in Tuscaloosa, Ala., this weekend for his final tour.
The whole recruiting process — from having coaches coming to school and calling him daily to going on trips and missing classes — has been rather stressful for the Placer senior.
“It’s not just a four-year decision,” Vanderdoes said. “I’m an 18-year-old kid making a decision for the rest of life.”
Denham, Gregg and Sander have already made their decisions.
Denham, the quarterback who threw for 12 touchdowns and 1,026 yards operating out of the Hillmen’s run-happy Wing-T offense, is signing with Northern Arizona. Denham will become the second quarterback from his family to graduate from Placer and sign with a college football team. His brother, Greg, was a signal-caller at UC Davis.
“I grew up watching my brother play football,” said Denham, who credits his father Greg for helping the brothers become great athletes. “I used to catch the footballs for him. Seeing him play football is a big factor in my athletic career. It was a joy to see him play at UC Davis and go through Placer. The fact we are both QBs coming out of Placer to Div. I schools, it’s funny how things work out. It’s a privilege to be in the same category as him.”
Denham, who isn’t sure if he’ll be redshirting next year and will gladly play whatever role the Lumberjacks ask him to, recently visited the school.
“About two weeks ago I got to go out there with 12 other recruits, hang out, meet with coaches and tour the facilities,” Denham said. “It was a real blast. It’s such a humbling experience to be able to go on an official visit like that. Not all athletes in high school get to do that. It’s definitely an awesome place. I’m excited to be a part of that program. I’m fired up and chomped at the bit to be a part of the program.”
Gregg, the Pioneer Valley League girls golf MVP, recently committed to Sonoma State.
Lady Hillmen golf coach Carol French believes Gregg is the first Placer girl to receive a golf scholarship in school history.
“We haven’t taken girls golf seriously until Hannah showed up and made it competitive,” French said. “It makes a statement that girls can go to college and get paid to do it. It might inspire some other kids. I’m so happy for her.”
Gregg herself was inspired by local female golfers, including Natalie Gulbis, who went to Granite Bay High School and is currently on the LPGA.
“There were a few people who grew up in our area that became good golfers, they were my inspiration,” Gregg said. “It’s cool that I could be that for somebody else.”
Sander, a stud defensive lineman and tight end who played in the Optimist All-Star Game along side Vanderdoes, will be attending Sacramento State next year.
Sander hopes to avoid redshirting his freshman season.
“I got to go in and prove myself,” he said. “I’m gonna work as hard as I can to not redshirt. Whether it’s rotating on offense or playing special teams, I’ll be on the field.”
Ironically, Sander and Denham could be on the field together in the near future. Northern Arizona and Sacramento State are both members of the Big Sky Conference. The two schools have future dates set to meet on the gridiron.
Sander said it wouldn’t be awkward if he had to sack Denham, who he caught five touchdowns from this season.
“It’d be funny,” Sander said. “We’d both get a good laugh out of it.”
Originally a rally during school was going to take place so the entire student body could witness the rare occasion of Placer High having four athletes sign their letters. But because the athletes’ parents would be at work during that time, plans were changed so all family members could attend the event.
“In all of the years at Placer, there’s only been one class that’s done this,” Sander said. “It’s unheard of. Placer has a good program and we’re putting players out there. Eddie gets a lot of glory cause he’s undecided, it’s a big topic. But teachers, coaches and students are all proud of us. It’s big.”
Joe Davidson, the Sacramento Bee’s prep sports guru, has been tabbed as the emcee of the evening. Davidson played a similar part last year when Erik Armstead of Pleasant Grove High signed.
Maxpreps.com will be in Auburn to stream the entire event live on its website.
Reach Matthew Kimel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel