Rams teammates Josh Harper and Jeffrey Telles will be on opposing teams next year, Harper with the Fresno State Bulldogs and Telles with the San Jose State Spartans.
Harper will attend Fresno State on a full athletic scholarship after he turned down an opportunity to play for University of California, Berkeley. Harper said he played his senior year for the Rams with the expectation that he would play for Cal. But he still had Fresno State, one of the colleges that reached out to him during his junior year, on his mind, and he reopened his recruitment options.
“When I opened it back up, the coaches impressed me a lot,” he said, adding that he also feels the Bulldogs have the San Joaquin Valley connection he wanted. “I drive around and see a lot of Fresno State flags.”
Harper added that the honors he collected while playing for the Tri-City Athletic League 2009 championship team — including being named the league’s most valuable player, the team’s most outstanding player and a Cal-Hi Sports’ All-State selection — are just a foot in the door as he prepares to join the Fresno State Bulldogs.
“I’ve got to go in and work for everything and earn my way,” he said.
Harper and his family moved to Tracy when he was in the eighth grade. He played football with the San Joaquin Junior Rams, and his parents wanted him to have the more rigorous academic environment of the private school, he said.
He will join the Bulldogs as a wide receiver — as a wideout for the St. Mary’s team, he led the league in yards receiving and collected 731 yards over the 10-game season. He plans to major in kinesiology at Fresno State.
Telles heads to San Jose State, where he will continue playing as a center and long-snapper for the Spartans’ special teams. Telles said he was aiming for a scholarship at a lower division school when he met one of the Spartan coaches at a rugby game and learned he could join the Division I Spartans as a walk-on player.
Even though he won’t have a scholarship, he said it’s an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“Everything just fell into place. It would be the best place for me to move to the next level,” he said.
Telles started playing football at age 10 with the Tracy Raiders and, after playing fullback for a year, found his role on the offensive line. He continued to develop his skills as a center, and in his senior year on the St. Mary’s team he was named the TCAL first team all-league center for 2009.
“I’ll try to learn how to do the best I can and keep working at getting better and better,” he said.
He became interested in St. Mary’s when he saw the Rams play the West High Wolf Pack in 2004. The Rams went on to win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship that year.
He also said he benefitted from the academic environment at the private school.
In addition football, he plans to major in kinesiology with an emphasis on athletic training.