While the full Signing Day experience was not in effect due to the coronavirus pandemic, a few Long Beach students were able to join the growing list of athletes in the Class of 2021 who’ve earned college scholarships. While a majority of the athletes signed during the early signing period last November, and were joined by a crop of early football signees in December, there were still some players who put pen to paper on Wednesday, part of the regular signing period for football.
Schools were unable to hold signing day celebrations on campus, but multiple athletic directors are working on plans for events during spring, whether virtually or in-person, if they can be done safely.
At Long Beach City College, sports have been shut down for almost 11 months, with teams unable to even condition together. Even still, sophomore safety Dallas Burke was able to secure a football scholarship to the University of Texas-El Paso.
“I didn’t stop believing and I kept focusing on my goals and what I needed to do to get better as a football player,” Burke said. “That’s really all I focused on was getting better and taking care of my schoolwork at Long Beach City College. I knew with the time I put in and the film I had that the call would come, and the call came. thank God for that for sure.”
Burke earned the scholarship based on film from his freshman season in 2019, when he had 42 tackles and three interceptions in 10 games played for the Vikings defense. Burke attended Los Alamitos High School, and was prepared for another season with LBCC before getting his offer from UTEP a few weeks ago. He arrived in El Paso on Sunday, and has just started working out with his new team.
He was actually in the process of moving to a different house in Long Beach when he received his offer from UTEP, and the school wanted him to join the program as soon as possible.
“I’ve moved twice in two weeks, so it’s been pretty crazy,” Burke said with a laugh. “When UTEP called me, the coach told me they were going to offer me a full scholarship and they wanted me there in 3-4 days. My first thought was, this is amazing, but with everything going on I needed some time to think about it with the move and some other family stuff going on. But I was mesmerized, because I woke up one morning and now I have a Division I offer. I’ve said ever since I was a little kid I’m going to play Division I football or baseball, so I realized I’ve got to do this. I’ve worked my whole life for this.”
His Vikings teammate, Shaq Le’Beauf, is also on campus with his new school out in Texas. The defensive end will play for Incarnate Word in San Antonio next season. Le’Beauf played in eight games for the Vikings during the 2019 season, recording 20 tackles on the season including a season-best six stops in LBCC’s bowl win over Southwestern College.
On the North Side, Jordan High’s Xavier Heard made his college decision at a Signing Day ceremony at Houghton Park. Heard was joined by his family, teammates, coaches and Jordan High administrators in a socially-distant celebration, where Heard announced he would be attending Lane College, a Division II school in Jackson, Tennessee.
“The process of getting to what school I wanted to go to was looking at how the coaches were connected with me and communicating with me,” Heard explained. “Lane’s coaches connected with me and made me feel like it’s going to be my second home. That’s really what influenced my decision.”
The 6-foot-3, 320-lb. offensive lineman is used to leading the way in the running game, but he’s hopeful that he can lead the way for his younger J-Town teammates as well.
“It means everything to me,” Heard said. “Going to play at the next level, it’s for more than just me. It opens up pathways for other people at Jordan to get their way out and go to the next level as well. I’m just excited to see what it’s all about and prove myself in college.”
With the newest additions to the 2021 signing class, the total combined value of the four-year athletic scholarships earned by Long Beach’s athletes is now more than $5.6 million.
Below is a running list of all the Long Beach signees so far in the Class of 2021. If we’re missing any names, please send us an email and let us know.
Peyton Watson (Basketball): UCLA
Jalen Pitre (Basketball): Pepperdine
Lily Buggs (Basketball): Cal State LA
Keyonta Lanier (Football): New Mexico
Bryun Parham (Football): San Jose State
Jacob Tuioti (Football): Army
Ella Van Fleet (Crew): UCLA
Jade McDonald (Track): Iowa
Kyle Johnson (Lacrosse): Illinois Institute of Technology
Kelsey Adams (Soccer): Pepperdine
Aasha McLyn (Soccer): Cal
Kira Ybarra (Soccer): University of San Francisco
Nathan Cheav (Volleyball): Hope University
Hailey Houston (Softball): Augustana
Ava Trachta (Softball): Worcester Polytechnic
Mikayla Nolte (Volleyball): CSU Monterey Bay
Riley White (Volleyball): New Mexico
Katharine Mumm (Volleyball): Menlo College
Maya Bryson (Track & Field): Dartmouth
Naomi Kilson (Track & Field): Baker University
Jordan Weimer (Track & Field): Baker University
Connie Herrera (Soccer): Sacred Heart University
Kendall Lundberg (Softball): Utah
Alejandra Mota (Softball): UC Davis
Diego Gutierrez (Baseball): CSUN
Ezavier Staples (Football): UCLA
Grace Fleming (Softball): University of Illinois at Chicago
Calyce Jones (Volleyball): Norfolk State
Dallas Burke (Football): UTEP
Shaq Le’Beauf (Football): Incarnate Word
Xavier Heard (Football): Lane College
Jaena Bell (Volleyball): Louisiana Tech