Six Bulldog seniors sign college letters of intent
By Joe Naiman
Six Ramona High School seniors have signed college athletic letters of intent at the San Diego Hall of Champions.
Dylan Blankenbaker will run cross country and track at the University of Oklahoma, Eric Box will play football at Western New Mexico University, Ally Harvey will golf for Texas Wesleyan University, Kwayde Miller will continue his football career at San Diego State University, Kim Whelehon will follow her senior high school softball season with play at Southern Arkansas University, and Jackson Willeford signed a letter of intent to play baseball at the University of Arizona.
“I’m just really excited to get the opportunity to run for the University of Oklahoma,” Blankenbaker said.
Blankenbaker was also considering the University of Portland and the University of Alabama before choosing to run for the Sooners.
“The running’s really good, and I just like what they have going,” he said of Oklahoma.
The University of Oklahoma is in Norman. Blankenbaker’s father, Damon, grew up in the town of Felt, which is in the Oklahoma panhandle and is approximately a five-hour drive from Norman.
Dylan Blankenbaker is a lifelong Ramona resident who attended Barnett Elementary School before attending Olive Peirce Middle School and Ramona High School. He will likely major in business or marketing at the University of Oklahoma.
“I’m really excited about it,” Box said of his letter of intent. “For a long time I wasn’t expecting to get a scholarship.”
Box, an offensive lineman, injured his ankle early in the season and missed playing time. His college considerations also included Northern Arizona, Idaho, and the University of San Diego.
“I love the coaching staff. It’s really similar to Ramona,” Box said of choosing Western New Mexico.
A berth on the WNMU football team also reunites Box with running back Tyler Jackson, who graduated from Ramona in 2011.
“I’ll be blocking for him next year,” said Box, who expects to receive playing time with the Mustangs as a true freshman.
Box moved from San Diego to Ramona when he was in third grade and attended Barnett Elementary School before his years at Olive Peirce and at Ramona High. He has not yet chosen a college major.
Texas Wesleyan is in Fort Worth.
“I’m super excited to go play golf there,” Harvey said.
Harvey’s second choice was Cal Lutheran.
“I wanted to go to Texas,” said Harvey, who has family in Plano.
Harvey is a lifelong Ramona resident. She attended James Dukes Elementary School before her years at Olive Peirce and at Ramona High. She intends to become a math major and is contemplating a teaching career.
“Today’s an exciting day, and I’m looking forward to going to San Diego State,” Miller said.
Miller, an offensive lineman, was also considering Oregon, Wisconsin, Purdue, and Oregon State but opted to play for the Aztecs.
“Best fit for me,” he said.
San Diego State will have four senior offensive linemen in 2012, none in 2013, and two in 2014. Those two 2014 seniors are junior college transfers who were among the six offensive linemen the Aztecs signed to letters of intent.
“There was a real void in there in the offensive line,” said SDSU Head Coach Rocky Long.
The two junior college transfers will likely play for the Aztecs in 2012 while Miller and the other three true freshmen are expected to redshirt.
“We’re going to have a good four years,” Miller said.
Miller is a lifelong Ramona resident who attended Hanson Lane Elementary School prior to his seven years in middle school and high school. He plans to pursue a criminal justice major.
“I thank my family and my friends for the support,” Whelehon said of her scholarship.
Whelehon expects to be an outfielder at Southern Arkansas University, which is in the town of Magnolia.
“I like the small-town feel of Magnolia, and it was just a really good opportunity so I took it,” she said of choosing Southern Arkansas.
Whelehon was also considering Notre Dame de Namur and Lewis and Clark College.
Whelehon moved from Santee to Ramona in 1998 and attended James Dukes Elementary School prior to her middle school and secondary education. She played on Ramona High School’s basketball team. Whelehon intends to major in exercise science and hopes to become a physical therapist.
“I’m just excited to get out and go play at Arizona,” said Willeford. “I visited a lot of schools, and it just fit me the best.”
Cal State Long Beach was Willeford’s second choice.
Willeford was a second baseman on Ramona’s varsity team as a freshman in 2009 and played shortstop in 2010 and 2011. He has been named a Louisville Slugger pre-season All-American for 2012.
“That was pretty great,” he said of his All-American recognition.
His high school performance creates a chance that he will be selected in the professional draft, in which case he will forego collegiate baseball if he receives a suitable offer. If he plays for Arizona, he will likely be either a shortstop or a second baseman.
Willeford is a lifelong Ramona resident. He attended Barnett Elementary School before studying at Olive Peirce Middle School and Ramona High School.
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