SAN MARCOS (8-06-2018) -- Palomar's new-look football team, with what could be one of its best recruiting classes ever, opened drills on Monday for its 2018 opener on Sept. 1 at Moorpark College.
Coach Joe Early's squad is practicing the first three days of the week in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts, with the first contact day slated for Thursday.
Three highly-regarded quarterbacks are projected to battle for the starting job after the graduation loss of Matt Romero, last year's starter who led the nation in touchdown passes for much of the season and landed a scholarship to New Mexico State. The Aggies were fifth in the nation in NCAA Division I FCS in passing yards per game in 2017 behind only Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Washington State and UCLA.
The QBs expected to battle for the starting job are:
-- Rodney Thompson (St. Augustine High School / Northern Arizona State University transfer), a two-time first-team All-CIF San Diego Section selection for the Saints.
-- Adam Carr (Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High School / University of Wyoming), who was recruited by the Cowboys to back up Josh Allen, a California community college transfer (from Reedley College in Northern California). Allen was the fifth selection in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft and is now with the Buffalo Bills. Carr left Wyoming before the 2017 season when the Cowboys changed quarterback coaches and the new coach brought in a different backup quarterback. Carr transferred to Golden West College but arrived late and red-shirted for the Rustlers.
-- Connor Curry (Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, LA / NCAA Division II Ouchita Bapist University transfer) who was MVP in the 2016 Lousiana State 5A championship game and played in the BlueGrey All-American National High School All-Star Game.
Thompson, Carr and Curry took snaps on Monday along with Shea Morales from Carlsbad High School. Their biggest target, both literally and figuretively, is expected to be Logan Gamble, a 6-foot-6, 220-pounder who runs a 4.5 in the 40 and transferred from Cal Berkeley. He redshirted for the Golden Bears last fall after a senior season at St. Anthony High in Long Beach where he was the 2016 CIF Southern Section Offensive Player of the Year and was a first-team all-state selection.
Gamble joins Devin Nilson, who caught 43 passes in 10 games for the Comets in 2017, in the receivers corps.
The Comets lost most of their 2017 team but hit a recruiting gold mine not only at quarterback but also on the offensive line, where they appear bigger, stronger, more athletic and deeper than any previous team in Palomar history, at running back, at receiver and also on defense. But they must replace Australian Tyson Dyer, perhaps the best punter in community college football a year ago, who received a scholarship after his freshman season to the University of New Mexico.
The running back corps includes Shevell Sterling, a second-team All-CIF San Diego Section selection who rushed for 21 touchdowns last season at Grossmont High School under onetime Palomar backup quarterback and Foothillers head coach Tom Karlo, De'vion Sneed from traditional state and national power Vista Murrieta High School and Poway High product Jared Adelman, who rushed for 31 touchdowns as a senior in 2016, is a threat catching the ball, also starred defensively and on special teams and with a 4.4 time in the 40 could be the most versatile all-around player on the squad.
Palomar has slated its annual intrasquad scrimmage with officials for Saturday, Aug. 18 and will scrimmage at Riverside City College on Thursday, Aug. 23. After the Comets' 6 p.m. opener at Moorpark on Sept. 1, they'll play their home opener against Southwestern at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8, at Chick Embrey Field at Escondido High School's Wilson Stadium.
The 2018 Comets move into the Southern California Football Association's National Division Central League where they are joined by defending California State Champion and J.C. Grid-Wire National Champion Fullerton College, Mt. SAC, Cerritos, El Camino and San Diego Mesa, which moves up from the non-playoff tier American Division. The Southern Division, out of which Palomar was a bowl team a year ago, will be made up of Riverside City College, Saddleback, Grossmont, Golden West, Orange Coast and Southwestern which moves up from the non-playoff American Division.