- Brandon P. Oliver, Reporter, DuckNation
After winning back to back Los Angeles City Section Championships while playing alongside the likes of De'Anthony Thomas (Oregon), Greg Ducre (Washington), Hayes Pullard and Marcus Martin (both USC) at Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw, one of the legendary team's late-bloomers is getting his chance.
After earning Second-Team All-League as a defensive back, S Esston Al-uqdah (Wilmington, Calif./Harbor College) has had schools from around the country checking in with him. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Al-uqdah currently holds offers from South Alabama -- which he officially visited last weekend -- and Illinois.
Al-uqdah ended the season with 49 tackles, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, seven pass breakups and four INT, two of which he took back for TD. Playing alongside such a talented roster in high school prepared Al-uqdah for the next level. Now that he is playing alongside future BCS level players such as new Oregon LB commit Joe Walker (Wilmington, Calif./Harbor College), Al-uqdah understands and embraces the hard work and talent it takes to get to the next level.
"I want to be able to play at the highest level in college. I've been able to play with some great players and I know what it takes to be successful," Al-uqdah said. "Missouri and Illinois are the two BCS schools recruiting me right now. San Jose State and Fresno State aren't BCS schools, but they have great programs."
While he holds just two offers right now, Al-uqdah has been in touch with a number of other programs that are keeping a close eye on him after such a strong season.
"San Jose State, Louisiana Tech, Fresno State and Missouri have all been talking to me," Al-uqdah said. "I am going to be a late signee so I think most schools are just waiting to see what they need after their recruiting classes are done."
Al-uqdah has the grades to qualify but needs to complete the necessary volume of course work to be able to enroll in a Division I school. With four official visits left, Al-uqdah is remaining patient while exploring his options.
"I am about to call the coach at Illinois right now to see what's going on," Al-uqdah said. "We are trying to set up a time for me to visit. I'd like to get out there to see them because they are in the Big Ten. I still want to hear from Pac-12 schools because I'd prefer to stay on the West Coast if I can."