On Wednesday afternoon, a scorer’s table sat underneath one of the basketball hoops inside the Arroyo Grande High gym. Beginning at one end was quarterback Brent VanderVeen, kicker Garrett Owens and lineman Garrett Weinreich — all in Oregon State gear. They dressed up in similar attire for National Signing Day, the first day high school seniors can officially ink with their future college teams.
It could have been a different picture.
Owens was arguably the story of the day, which also included the public signings of swimmers Amelia Schachter to Tulane and Sonny Fiero to Cal Poly. Since last August, Owens was destined to play at Air Force.
But he changed his mind Tuesday night, when he de-committed from the Falcons and joined Oregon State on a grayshirt scholarship opportunity. He will sit out in the fall and enroll at the college in January 2013, though there might be the possibility of playing sooner if a roster spot opens up.
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Owens, VanderVeen and Weinreich made the Oregon State connection official by signing their National Letters of Intent to play for the Beavers in front of family, friends, school officials and other supporters, as well as a contingent of media.
“The past four days, I had no idea what I wanted to do,” Owens said. “I sat down with my parents and talked to my close family members and figured out what I wanted to do and I kind of felt like Oregon State was my best fit.”
It was a last-minute surprise for those who follow college football recruiting. Owens had given a verbal commitment to Air Force prior to the 2011 high school season, which resulted in Arroyo Grande capturing the school’s first CIF-Southern Section division title since 1998. But as signing day approached, Owens had some doubts.
Last weekend, he took an official visit to Cal, hoping to play for a Pac-12 school. But the Golden Bears didn’t want Owens. So he then began thinking about Oregon State, which had made a scholarship offer three weeks ago.
Owens, VanderVeen and Weinreich all visited Oregon State in the fall during Arroyo Grande’s bye week — though the 6-foot-5, 210-pound VanderVeen had committed to the Beavers last summer and Owens did the same with Air Force last August. As for the 6-foot-6, 285-pound Weinreich, he returned home as a future Oregon State lineman.
Even though he was known as a 5-foot-8, 160-pound Air Force-bound kicker throughout a memorable high school season, Owens wasn’t sure about his future. His teammates sensed it, too.
“I don’t think he was 100 percent going in there,” said VanderVeen, who is the lone quarterback in this year’s Oregon State recruiting class. “I don’t think that’d have been good, going in there not 100 percent.”
But that doubt turned into relief Tuesday night, when news spread about Owens’ switch to Oregon State, which signed 24 recruits by Wednesday afternoon. He will be coached by specials team coordinator Bruce Read, a former NFL assistant coach who can develop kickers into pro prospects.
“I didn’t think he was gonna go to Air Force,” Weinreich said. “I didn’t think he was going to Oregon State either, but he did.”
With Owens, VanderVeen and Weinreich all set to attend the same college, it made life easier for Arroyo Grande supporters.
“It’ll be nice on a Saturday to tune to one game and possibly two with (Oklahoma State-bound linebacker Seth Jacobs) rather than go with four different stations,” Arroyo Grande coach Tom Goossen said. “So it’s a terrific thing. I think it goes to the closeness of this team and what they mean to each other that they’ve all chosen to attend Oregon State.”