Scottsdale-area football players participate in early signing

Grant Mileski (left), Isaiah Mursalet (center) and Justin Segura (right) pose for a photo with their coaches after signing letters of intent to play at New Mexico State. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

The NCAA has introduced a new wrinkle into the annual National Signing Day by allowing high school football players to sign their letters of intent to play at Division I schools early — and several Scottsdale-area athletes took advantage.

Student-athletes from Desert Mountain, Horizon and Saguaro high schools as well as Notre Dame Preparatory benefited from the NCAA’s newly-established early signing period, inking their letters of intent to play at a host of Division I schools.

The NCAA voted in April to change the Division I recruiting schedule to allow for an early signing period to run from Dec. 20-22, according to a release on ncaa.org. This was the first year of its implementation.

Typically, student-athletes sign their letters of intent in February on National Signing Day.

Narveson to Iowa State

From the warmth to the cold, Desert Mountain kicker Brayden Narveson will take his talents to Ames, Iowa to play for the Iowa State Cyclones.

Narveson signed his letter in front of family, friends and coaches Wednesday, Dec. 20 in the gym at Desert Mountain High School.

After signing his letter, Narveson said the feeling was surreal.

“My heart’s racing, it’s exciting,” he said after signing his letter. “I only started playing halfway into my sophomore year and didn’t ever think this was going to be the outcome. I’m certainly exhilarated that it is.”

The Cyclones get a kicker who had a good chunk of his kickoffs be touchbacks which Head Coach David Sedmak called “invaluable.”

Narveson was also responsible for 70 of the team’s 298 total points this season. He connected on 40 of 43 points after touchdown and 10 field goals with his longest being 58 yards, according to maxpreps.com.

Coach Sedmak said a lot of a kicker’s preparation and practice is done away from the rest of the team. During those times, he said Narveson was taking full advantage of practicing and instruction.

“He’s worked as hard, if not harder, than anybody on the team at that,” he said in a Dec. 20 interview.

“The different kicking services and kicking coaches he’s worked with have helped him tremendously. That’s how the Iowa State connection came about because he was rated so highly with (his coaches) and they had connections at Iowa State.”

Narveson will graduate high school early and head to Ames, Iowa in January, Coach Sedmak said.

As for goals, Narveson said he has aspirations of making it to the NFL someday but wants to focus on being a good teammate while at Iowa State.

Even though Narveson is going far away from home, Loretta Narveson, Brayden’s mother, said she is excited for him but the official signing was a “bittersweet” experience for her.

“Obviously we’ll miss him but it’s a really good fit for him,” Ms. Narveson said in a Dec. 20 interview. “It’s what he wants and that’s what I want, for my kids to be happy.”


New Mexico State inks Horizon trio

Not only did Grant Mileski, Isaiah Mursalet and Justin Segura sign their letters of intent Wednesday, Dec. 20, but they all signed with the same school.

All three are heading to New Mexico State to continue their football careers after signing their letters of intent Wednesday, Dec. 20 at Horizon High School.

“(NMSU) is getting three damn good football players that I think could have played at a lot of different places in the country,” Horizon Head Coach Ty Wisdom said in a Dec. 20 interview.

With the trio going together to Las Cruces, N.M., Coach Wisdom said he thinks it will help them in the transition process.

Mursalet said having two of his teammates transitioning with him is reassuring.

“You move on from high school but you’re also moving on with two of your best friends and you’re playing at the same division and same school,” he said after the signing.

Along with help in transitioning, Segura said he’s just excited to continue playing with his friends.

“How rare is that when you get your friends going with you to the same college to play ball?” Segura said after the signing. “I’m glad we signed together.”

Segura is heading to the Aggies as a defensive lineman, despite playing both ways. Mileski is going as a tight end while Mursalet will play on the offensive line.

Segura had 45 tackles, nine of which were for a loss, during his senior season. He also played alongside Mursalet on the offensive line which helped the team post an average of 218.5 rushing yards per game and 29 total touchdowns.

Mileski played tight end for the Huskies and reeled in 383 yards on 28 receptions and one touchdown.

While the players expressed excitement for making the jump to the next level, Mileski said he is going to miss Horizon.

“There’s always a special place for Horizon in my heart,” he said after the signing. “I’ll never forget it.”

And Horizon will miss their leadership both on and off the field, Coach Wisdom said.

At the signing, Coach Wisdom had several of his underclassmen attend. He said he did that so they could see the final stages of the process these three went through to get to Division I.

He said he also wanted to show that players can reach the next level while playing at Horizon as opposed to going to other schools.

Coach Wisdom said it’s “the biggest myth and farce” he’s heard when student-athletes want to transfer to another school because they think they’ll get better offers.

He said this trio showed many of the underclassmen that you can be successful without transferring schools.

“If you’re good enough, they’re going to find you,” he said.

Other signees

Saguaro’s Josiah Bradley and Giovanni Miranda both signed letters of intent Wednesday, Dec. 20 to play football at the University of Nevada, Reno. The Wolfpack signed both players as linebackers.

Both helped Saguaro claim a piece of Arizona history as the Sabercats won their fifth consecutive state championship.

Bradley was a two-way player as he doubled as a running back where he racked up a team-high 753 rushing yards on 92 carries with 11 touchdowns during his senior year including the postseason.

He also recorded 35 tackles, four interceptions and three fumbles recovered.

Miranda also played both ways as a tight end and linebacker. As a tight end, he reeled in 163 yards on nine catches during his senior year.

Defensively, he tallied 37 tackles, eight of which were for a loss, made two interceptions and recovered a fumble.

Notre Dame Prep’s Slater Zellers signed with the University of California, Berkeley also on Wednesday, Dec. 20.

Zellers will play as a long snapper for the Bears, as he did at Notre Dame Prep, helping them to their first state championship appearance in nine years.

“I am proud of Slater,” NDP Head Coach George Prelock said in a Dec. 19 email response to questions. “He has worked extremely hard to make his dream come true.”

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at jmartinez@newszap.com or at 623-445-2738

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