By Ray Hamill — A recent tradition of former Humboldt-Del Norte League players thriving along the offensive line in the Division-I collegiate game looks likely to continue for now.
Players like Jake Hanson, a four-year starter at Oregon who is expected to be drafted next month, have set a high standard these past few years, and he’s not alone.
Former McKinleyville players Bryce Petersen and Kyle Spalding have been consistent starters for Division-I programs for the past three years, while younger players like Eureka’s Izaak Gutierrez and Miles Meynell are continuing the tradition, having each signed on to play at the D-I level this year.
Meynell, who will graduate this spring, is taking his game to UC Davis, a school he’s long had his eye on, both academically and athletically.
“Ever since I was young I wanted to go to Davis,” he said at his recent letter signing ceremony. “It’s just a lifelong desire to go there.”
Gutierrez recently took his game to the University of New Mexico, where he is expected to immediately contend for a starting spot.
The 2018 Eureka graduate enjoyed an outstanding freshman season playing center for Butte College in the fall, where he was named all-state.
“I think I’m ready,” he told Humboldt Sports after making the switch. “It’s going to be a good challenge.”
He is expected to play either center or guard this fall.
Hanson, meanwhile, has set the recent standard for the H-DNL, starting four years at center for one of the top college programs in the nation, and not allowing a sack for the first three.
He is expected to be drafted by an NFL team next month, and according to most projections will be taken somewhere between the fourth and sixth rounds.
That’s an impressive achievement for an H-DNL player.
Spalding and Petersen each also have helped set the tone for future local linemen, as they each head into their senior seasons this coming fall.
Spalding was originally brought to San Diego State as a tight end, but switched to offensive line and won the starting left tackle spot a year ago.
He thrived in the new position, helping the Aztecs to a 10-3 record, and is penciled in as the returning starter for his senior year.
Petersen has started all 24 games for the Akron Zips since transferring as a sophomore, including 22 at center and two at left guard.
The Zips struggled to an 0-12 season, but Petersen continued to shine and is also penciled in as the starter for 2020.