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Uppendahl highly sought after in collegiate ranks

Michael Traum

Playing at the next level. It’s what many high school athletes aspire to throughout their prep careers. For a number of football players at South Tahoe High, that collegiate dream may become reality next fall.

Leading the list from the Vikings’ 1997 playoff team is quarterback Bret Uppendahl. The 6-3, 185-pound senior has garnered substantial interest from four Ivy League schools and hopes to make a collegiate decision within a couple of weeks.

Not bad for a kid who has played the position for just two years, according to Viking head coach Tim Jaureguito.

“His stats were best in the state one year and best in Northern Nevada the next year. The most important thing you see in Bret is there’s a lot of untapped potential there,” Jaureguito said.

Brown, Pennsylvania, Harvard and Columbia have all heavily recruited “Uppy,” who has an official visit scheduled at Penn in late January. The senior has indicated a strong desire to play college football and hopes that monetary concerns revolving around tuition at an Ivy League school won’t hamper his ability to attend. Because the institutions are not Division I, typical scholarships are not offered. The approximately $30,000 a year tuition would only be subsidized by about half with financial aid.

“I would go to a junior college, but I don’t want to sacrifice academics,” said Uppendahl, who owns a 4.14 GPA and is awaiting word on academic acceptance from U.C. San Diego and UCLA. “Something might not work out. (The Ivy League schools) like my size and ability to audible. They all say they want me, but every college narrows down their picks. We’ll see what happens.”

While making the football team at a school such as UCLA is considered a longshot by Jaureguito, the quarterback has other options available. The coach said Uppendahl has a viable walk-on offer from Nevada. The coaches there know his style and Uppendahl had displayed a solid understanding of the offense, which is very similar to South Tahoe’s, Jaureguito said.

“I’d like to see him walk on at UNR. He knows the system and can work it. I think UNR is in a quandary right now. They have one junior college transfer and another kid from Arizona who I don’t think they’re that happy with. I honesty believe if Bret walked on, he’d be their starting quarterback for three years after one redshirt year,” Jaureguito said.

Uppendahl’s primary concern is finding a school where he can effectively combine his academic and athletic pursuits.

“To get a good education and play football for four years would be the perfect ending to my career. Even if I got to a school where I don’t play football, I’ll play on an intramural team. I enjoy what’s happening, but I’m not nervous because there’s nothing more I can do,” he said.

Another Viking who’ll definitely play college football is defensive back Jason Bergman. The 5-7, 150-pound safety plans to sign a letter of intent with Huron University, a Division II NAIA school in South Dakota.

“I’m really excited and plan to attend some of the spring practices,” said Bergman, a fearless player whose size was the only detracting factor in playing at a “larger” school. “If the opposition thinks I’m too small, the only way I can prove them wrong is to do it. I’m getting the chance to play college football, which is all I wanted, so it must mean that my size doesn’t matter much.”

Jaureguito agreed, noting that his safety’s solid ability to defend the pass mixed with an uncanny proclivity to make tackles at the line of scrimmage makes him a viable candidate for playing time.

“I think it’s a great division for Jason to play in. He’ll surprise some people when he gets there and he’s got a good shot of playing, even if it’s on special teams as a freshman. Eventually, with his talent, he’ll be good strong safety,” Jaureguito said.

Another player who gained a lot of national attention during his junior season and part of his senior year is Viking running back Bryan Bough. Oregon, Oregon State and California all sent interest letters. But injuries during his senior campaign have left the 5-10, 185-pounder with little chance of earning a scholarship prior to his freshman year.

Still, Jaureguito said Bough’s natural ability should get him an opportunity to walk on, most likely at UNR. But no matter where he attends, the coach said Bough’s collegiate future depends ultimately on his determination.

“I think Bryan has a lot of potential. His biggest test is coming now, from a standpoint that he’s more or less been looked over. He’s capable of walking on, it’s a matter of whether he’ll do it or not. It’s about internal motivation,” said Jaureguito, who think’s Bough’s best chance will come as a walk-on at a four-year school as opposed to a junior college. “If he goes to a JC, in my mind he’d be wasting his time. He needs to go to a four-year school and redshirt his first year to get bigger, stronger and faster. He’s already got 4.5 speed. He’s got a great chance to start as a redshirt freshman in the right program.”

Bough knows that, after a partially disappointing conclusion to his prep career, the challenge has just now begun.

“Hopefully schools will be interested in giving me a shot to sign later if that’s what it takes. I’m 100 percent know, so (the injuries) are more of a frustration than anything,” said Bough, who indicated he’d play defensive back if needed. “Most of the calls have been from running backs coaches. But it doesn’t make a difference. I just want to get a chance.”

Other South Tahoe seniors with collegiate interest include: Lineman Seth Martin has made a trip to Occidental College and the school is looking at him as a offensive tackle; lineman Brad Cimino has received interest from NAIA power Linfield College; and Ian Xavier has been talking with Santa Rosa Junior College.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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