As of last week, Garrett Owens was considering playing a waiting game, biding his time to see what types of college opportunities could avail themselves to him as the course of this upcoming football season progressed.
By Tuesday night, he didn’t want to wait any longer. After talking the decision over with his family, Owens verbally committed to Air Force on Wednesday morning.
Owens, a placekicker entering his senior year at Arroyo Grande High, also had a scholarship offer from Cal Poly.
He likely would’ve gathered more from Football Bowl Subdivision teams after this season, as most programs typically look to secure commitments from recruits at higher-priority positions on the depth chart before heavily addressing special teams players. But after mulling over an offer from the Falcons, Owens felt he’d found the right fit. This past weekend, he made an unofficial visit to the facility in Colorado Springs, Colo., and liked what he saw.
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“I had a great relationship with all the coaches,” Owens said. “And the campus in itself is just amazing.”
Owens, who has a 4.4 grade-point average, spoke highly of the post-playing career opportunities he’ll likely be provided from going to the academy.
“Beyond football, beyond the academy, it really sets me up for later in life,” he said.
After his junior season, Owens was named a second-team All-American among juniors by ESPN RISE. The honor came after a season in which he made 11 field goals, including a 52-yarder in the CIF-Southern Section Western Division title game, a 35-10 loss to nationally ranked Serra in Gardena, and also compiled 63 touchbacks on kickoffs, the most in the state and third-most in the nation, according to MaxPreps.com.
Former UCLA kicker Chris Sailer, who has become perhaps college football’s nationally leading special-teams talent evaluator in recent years, rates Owens as the seventh-best kicking prospect in the country for this class.
The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Owens was also a standout at receiver, defensive back and punt returner as a junior when he caught 21 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns, made 77 tackles and intercepted two passes that he returned for 30 yards.
“He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve been around,” Arroyo Grande coach Tom Goossen said. “You talk about someone who has really maximized every bit of talent that he has, this young man has been able to accomplish that.
“A lot of players who have talent can tend to just go off talent and be satisfied. He has talent, but I admire the amount of work he’s put into making himself the best he can be.”
Air Force finished 9-4 in 2010 and defeated Georgia Tech 14-7 in the Independence Bowl. The Falcons ranked 28th in the FBS in total offense.
“I really liked the fact that they score a lot of points,” Owens said, “so their kickers get to be on the field a lot, and the team is going to be pretty good in upcoming years.”
Owens is the second Eagles player to give an early, nonbinding verbal commitment to a Division I program in recent months, joining senior quarterback Brent VanderVeen, who accepted an offer from Oregon State. They’ll likely be joined by two teammates at that level, outside linebacker/safety Seth Jacobs and offensive tackle Garrett Weinreich, each of whom has offers from several Pac-12 schools.
National Signing Day is Feb. 1. Rather than traditional scholarship letters of intent that are the standard at civilian universities, recruits at Air Force, Army and Navy often celebrate their commitments by signing ceremonial certificates of intent. Because of a privacy law, names of recruits at Air Force, Army and Navy aren’t publicly declared until they arrive on campus in the summer.