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Prep football: Manfro will be a Bruin

Valencia running back commits to UCLA

Posted: January 23, 2011 7:48 p.m.
Updated: January 24, 2011 4:55 a.m.

Valencia High School running back Steven Manfro (33) committed to UCLA on Sunday. Manfro owns the Santa Clarita Valley’s single-season and single-game rushing records.

 

Steven Manfro put together one of the greatest prep football careers in Santa Clarita Valley history.

All his records and highlights and success, however, didn’t lead to a whole lot of recruiting attention.

He could have used it as a chip on his shoulder. He could have used the perceived slight as motivation.

He doesn’t have that problem now.

“I’m not worrying about it anymore,” Manfro said, “because I’m going to UCLA.”

Valencia’s star running back announced his decision to become a Bruin on Sunday after being offered the same day.

Manfro took his official visit to UCLA’s campus this weekend, and the senior wasted no time in committing to his dream school.

“It’s been my favorite school ever since I moved out to California,” he said. “They just have a lot to offer. Coaches, players, facilities, academics.”

Manfro said that UCLA had expressed interest in him for a few months now, but the official offer didn’t come until Sunday.

The Bruins finished 4-8 this past season, going just 1-6 over their last seven games. It’s the second losing season in three years for head coach Rick Neuheisel, who went 4-8 his first year at the helm in 2008 before leading UCLA to a 7-6 record and a victory in the EagleBank Bowl in 2009.

“I think it’s been an interesting process for (Manfro),” said Valencia head coach Larry Muir. “It’s a great opportunity for him. Coach Neuheisel saw a lot he liked and obviously there’s a lot to like.”

UCLA shook up its offensive coaching staff this past weekend by hiring former San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Johnson for the same position at the school.

Another assistant, running backs coach Wayne Moses, visited Manfro this weekend.

“It definitely had a big impact,” Manfro said. “He came by and showed interest in me. He’s a great guy, too. He’s a great running backs coach, too.”

Fitting, since Manfro is definitely a great running back.

While at Valencia, Manfro set the Santa Clarita Valley’s single-season rushing record with 2,553 yards in 2010, and he also set the single-game rushing record with a 420-yard performance against West Ranch on Oct. 15.

He scored 41 touchdowns this past season, two shy of tying former Canyon star J.J. DiLuigi’s single-season SCV 11-man football record of 43.

Manfro also proved to be threatening as a receiver and punt returner, and his versatile skill set will likely come in handy at UCLA.

“I will tell you that Steven Manfro will make an impact at UCLA because he’s so diversified,” Muir said.

Manfro, whose only other scholarship offer came from the University of Wyoming, doesn’t care where he lines up.

“I’m just going to come into the program and compete for a spot,” he said. “I’m going to be a new guy. It’s going to be hard to get into lineup.”

It’s difficult to ignore the similarities between Manfro and former Valencia star running back Manuel White, who also attended UCLA after setting the SCV’s single-season rushing record in 1999.

The Bruins haven’t won the Rose Bowl since January of 1986 or even played in the game since January of 1999.

Manfro hopes to change that.

“I think he will definitely have an impact at UCLA,” Muir said.

Signal sports editor Cary Osborne contributed to this story.

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