Saturday, Jan. 31, 2009 | midnight
For most of the valley's top high school football players, signing a scholarship offer from a Division I program will make Wednesday a day to remember forever.
But for one local star, National Signing Day will be one to forget.
Despite rushing for more than 1,600 yards and 23 touchdowns this year while attracting attention from the likes of Oklahoma, Florida and West Virginia, Las Vegas High senior Reggie Bullock will not be heading to the top ranks of the NCAA next year due to academic problems.
"I shouldn't have put myself in this situation," Bullock said. "I'm trying to stay positive and not think negatively. It's frustrating, but I'm trying to keep my mind focused and train harder. I know I have to open my eyes and take a better look at myself."
After rushing for more than 1,000 yards in his sophomore and junior seasons at Western, Bullock transferred to Las Vegas for his final year. Prior to the start of his senior season, Rivals.com ranked Bullock as the 44th best all-purpose running back in the nation and assigned him three stars out of a five star rating.
The 5-foot-9, 160-pound running back and defensive back lived up to the hype as he helped lead Las Vegas to the 4A state semifinals, where the Wildcats fell to Palo Verde, 42-21. Bullock accounted for 116 total yards and one touchdown in that contest.
Bullock's on-field success proved insignificant, however, as he failed to meet the minimum NCAA Clearinghouse requirements and will most likely head to a junior college to improve his grades while still playing a high level of football.
For Division I schools, the NCAA mandates 16 core courses that a student must complete in high school, along with a sliding scale to measure SAT scores and grade point average. A student with a 2.0 GPA must score at least 1010 on the verbal and math sections of the SAT, while a 3.0 student only needs a 620.
"Reality has hit him in the face here," Las Vegas coach Chris Faircloth said.
Bullock is still holding out hope that he can make up the necessary classes to become Division I-eligible.
"I'm really confused right now," Bullock admitted. "Some people tell me I can still become eligible and some people tell me I can't. I just know I need to focus on school right now and maybe I do still have a chance."
If Bullock does pursue the junior college route, he said his top choice right now is Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. Coffeyville has produced many stars that went on to the NFL, including Brandon Jacobs, Keith Traylor, Leonard Little and Devin Thomas.
Although Bullock, who boasts a 4.5-second 40-yard dash and a 30-inch vertical, said he is willing to move to defensive back or slot receiver, Coffeyville would provide him an opportunity to stay at running back.
No matter what position he ends up playing, Faircloth said he would not be surprised to watch Bullock on national television on Saturdays in the near future.
"He's a big time football player," Faircloth said. "I have no doubt he will make the most of his time at the junior college level and move on to a Top 10 program. He will have a lot of options in front of him."
Steve Silver can be reached at 948-7822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.