The East Los Angeles College football team comes together in their final huddle of the 2015-16 season.
The East Los Angeles College football team comes together in their final huddle of the 2015-16 season.

ELAC football transfers four more Huskies

MONTEREY PARK, CA — Four East Los Angeles College former football players share the potential for playing their best on a sports team and going on to further their educations at 4-year universities where they will pursue their academic interests and continue their student-athlete careers.

Each of the students came from different backgrounds and challenges, but all share the will to succeed and the environment to make it happen for them.

Jose Aguero and Israel Lorenzo are both criminology majors, Adrian Rodriguez is a kinesiology major and Gregory Zuniga (Millikan HS), a pre-med biology major.

Each of them are ELAC Scholar student-athletes. Acknowledged at this year’s 16th Annual Scholar Athlete Awards event were Aguero for Outstanding Academic Achievement, Lorenzo and Rodriguez for Academic Achievement Awards. Zuniga was an Academic Achievement Award recipient last year.

They are transferring to NCAA Division I, Div. II, Div. III and NAIA football programs.

Jose Aguero (Schurr High School) chose to further his studies and play football at the University of La Verne over other offers. La Verne football offered him the position of strong safety.

“The University of La Verne is a great football program and people told me that they are a family-based there,” said Aguero. He said his family and ELAC coaches have played a huge role in his decision.

Aguero played football for two seasons at ELAC. He was named to the 2015-26 Southern California Football Association American Division Second Team Defense Team.

In nine games last season, Aguero had 33 unassisted tackles and 24 assisted, for a 6.3 average tackles per game.    

“Aguero was a leader in and off the field and absolutely loved the game. He played with passion and heart on every play,” said 2015-16 ELAC Assistant Coach / Football Defense Coordinator Rob Hartenfels.

“Football wise, he was the most athletic of the bunch … (he had) the ability to play both the run and pass. At the end of the season, he dropped down to play linebacker to show versatility,” said Hartenfels.

Aguero reflected on ELAC football and academic programs, and said, “I learned in an academic perspective, that if you put your mind and effort to it, you can achieve a lot.” “Football gave me the drive to pursue a dream. As an (ELAC) player, the brotherhood is amazing in football,” said Aguero.

La Verne was 8-2 last season, won their conference at 7-0 and advanced to the NCAA Division III Football National Championships First Round.

Israel Lorenzo (Schurr HS) played Husky football for two seasons. He will transfer to Tarleton State University of Stephenville, Texas.

“Tarleton State University recruited Lorenzo very, very heavily,” said current ELAC Assistant Football Coach Tyrone Carter.  “He had other offers, but chose them (Tarleton) because they offered him a (football) scholarship,” Carter was Lorenzo’s offense line coach last season.

“He was a hard worker, a great student and was quiet and steady,” said Carter. “On the football field, he gave everything we asked of him. He played multiple positions.”

Tarleton State is a NCAA Division II member of the Texas A&M University System. Lorenzo joins a 100+-member football team that plays an 11-game rigorous schedule.

Adrian Rodriguez (El Rancho HS) graduated from ELAC earlier this month and will continue his education and student-athlete career at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas.

He had nine offers to play football at the next level. “I chose Tabor because the school and the coaching staff are same as ELAC’s—it felt like home and that I belonged there. I also felt welcomed. They made me feel like they needed me and wanted me on their team,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, received both academic and football scholarships from Tabor. He will be a member of the 2016-17 Tabor College football team as a strong and free safety.

In 10 games this past season for ELAC, Rodriguez had 33 unassisted tackles, 24 assisted for an average of 5.4 tackles per game and one quarterback sack (12-yard loss).     

“Rodriguez was a great leader on and off the field,” said Hartenfels. “He showed younger guys what it meant to be a football player—from his work ethic, especially in the weight room. On the field, he had great straight line-step and was our hybrid type safety, in the box.”

“He came on very well later, after fighting on some tough in injuries and showing his mental and physical toughness,” said Hartenfels.   

Rodriguez began his post high school studies at Fullerton College also to be a member of the Hornet football team. While there, he was to play offense, but received an offer to play strong safety at ELAC.

“I checked out ELAC and the football team. I switched schools because ELAC felt like family than anything else,” said Rodriguez. “Both ELAC (head) coaches pushed me to the limit. I learned so much from them and am where I am (Tabor College) because of both of them.”

Rodriguez’s major has an emphasis in strength and conditioning “I plan to train at the college level, eventually working with and developing with teams, but know I have to start small and work way up,” said Rodriguez. “Coach Eric Marty said ‘Embrace the grind. It’s what makes the struggles and dreams worth it.’”

Tabor is a member of the NAIA, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Tabor College finished 11-2 last season and advanced to the NAIA Football Championship Series Quarterfinal Round.

Gregory Zuniga (Millikan HS), who graduated from ELAC in June, received a full academic scholarship from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He is a football-preferred walk-on going to the University of Hawaii with intent taking someone’s scholarship.

“If I out-perform someone, I will get their scholarship; otherwise I will join the team the following season,” said Zuniga.  “I was going to commit last year but Norm Chow and his coaching staff got fired.”

Zuniga will be earning a Bachelor of Science.

“My goals are to graduate with a BS while taking the sport as far as I can,” said Zuniga. “I will continue my education to medical school to become an orthopedic surgeon.”

As a sophomore, Zuniga played wide receiver for the Huskies. In six games in 2014, he caught 15 receptions for 156 yards, an average of 26 yards-per-game, 10.4 yards-per-reception and scored one touchdown.

As a freshman, Zuniga played for Long Beach City College to stay near his home, but Long Beach got a new head coach who brought a new coaching staff, “so I decided to take my talents elsewhere,” said Zuniga. “My trainer told me about ELAC. I came out and it was cool. I decided to finish my (JC) football and studies here at ELAC.”

The University of Hawaii plays NCAA Division I sports. Its football home games are played in Aloha Stadium. If Zuniga earns a spot on the squad, he will join the Rainbows on road trips to California, Oct. 8 at San Jose State, Nov. 5 at San Diego State, and Nov. 11 at Fresno State.

 

story submitted by Tadzio Garcia