Playing in their Dreams

Andrew Choi, Sports Editor

Many high school athletes dream of playing in college, but only a small percentage of players, though, are able to achieve that goal. In 2012, the Diamond Bar football team sent kicker Brian Drulias and wide receiver George Katrib to Northern Arizona University and USC, respectively, as walk-ons.

When Drulias was in high school, he was one of the best kickers of the area. The kicker was named All-Hacienda League in 2010 and 2011 and All-San Gabriel Valley at punter in 2011. He averaged 52 yards per punt and scored 97 points in his senior year. His longest field goal at DBHS was 48 yards. In 2010, Drulias experienced a moment he would never forget. He kicked the game winning field goal against Chino High School as a sophomore. However, as his high school career neared its end, Drulias knew he had to work even harder just to get playing time.

“The main difference between the competition level between high school and college is that every person who plays college football was once the best player on his high school team. One challenge that I had to overcome at NAU was that I had to come to the realization that I wasn’t the number one kicker anymore like in high school. I had to work my way up and pay my dues in order to be able to play for this team,” Drulias said via email.

In the beginning of the 2014 season, Drulias, who is currently a redshirt sophomore, was given the opportunity to kick the opening kickoff of the season against San Diego State in Qualcomm Stadium.

“It was one of my greatest moments on the field while playing for NAU,” Drulias commented via email.

Katrib had a high school career filled with achievements. In 2011, the former Brahma made the All-CIF Southeast Division First team, All-San Gabriel Valley First team and All-Hacienda League first team as a wide receiver and defensive back. In 2010, the wide receiver had 63 receptions for 984 yards and eleven touchdowns and 67 tackles and five interceptions on defense. In his senior year, Katrib had 58 receptions for 931 yards and 11 touchdowns while also having 93 tackles and three sacks on defense.

“I love it here at USC. It was the best decision I have made. I made a lot of new friends and this is such a great opportunity,” Katrib replied when he was asked on his experience of being a Trojan.

When Katrib walked-on at USC, he knew it was going to be tough since the Trojans were known for receiving many talented recruits from all over the nation.

“Going in as walk-on was a challenge. The players were bigger and stronger. I had a chip on my shoulder just to prove that I was good enough to be on the team. It was challenging at first competing with them, but it helped me get a lot better as a player,” Katrib said.

In 2013, Katrib mainly contributed to the special teams, but had 11 tackles by the end of the season.

Prior to the season, the Trojan received news that many high school athletes dream of. He was offered a football scholarship by USC Head Coach Steve Sarkisian, head coach of USC. Katrib is no longer a walk-on and is now a collegiate athlete playing on a scholarship.

“After Spring football ended, Coach Sark called me in his office and told me personally that I received a scholarship. I was excited and speechless because I knew my hard work finally paid off. It was such a great moment when Coach Sark announced the news to the whole team,” Katrib stated.

Unlike many other collegiate athletes, Katrib had to deal with a lot of coaching changes. Last year, the USC Trojans had four head coaches.

“We were a good experienced team that went through a lot of adversity. The team definitely got closer as a unit and it helped us in the future. All the guys that were on the team were really close,” Katrib said.

Both Drulias and Katrib are the epitomes of high school athletes achieving their dream of playing in college. When both were asked if they had any advice for future Brahmas trying to play on the collegiate level, both offered the same motif of never giving up.

“Work hard and keep your options open. Just because one window closes, it doesn’t mean another one can’t open for you,” Drulias commented.

“It’s the best never to give up. Always believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else would. Opportunities will come and seize the chance,” Katrib said.