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July 23, 2014

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PREP FOOTBALL:

Recruiting frenzy kicks off for pair of Gorman defenders

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Kyle B. Hansen

Clark running back Quincy Hatcher tries to dodge Gorman defenders Alex Turner (5) and Evan Palelei (55) on Oct. 3. Turner and Palelei are two of the most sought after defensive recruits for the class of 2010.

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Bishop Gorman junior defensive end Alex Turner poses for a photo prior to the 2008 season.

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Bishop Gorman assistant football coach Lonnie Palelei, left, stands with son Evan, a junior linebacker for the Gaels. Lonnie Palelei, who played eight years in the NFL, has helped coach at Gorman since 2002.

Bishop Gorman juniors Alex Turner and Evan Palelei watched the school's national signing day ceremony on Feb. 4 with particular interest.

That's because, a year from now, they expect to be inking their own letters of intent with a major Division I university.

Turner, a defensive end, and Palelei, an outside linebacker, are already amongst the most sought after recruits from Southern Nevada for the 2010 recruiting class.

Both said weeding through all the letters and phone calls from prospective schools has been both stressful and enjoyable.

"It's a really exciting time in my life," Turner said. "I'm taking it slow and taking my time. My parents are really on me to make sure I'm ready."

Turner has been starting at defensive end for the Gaels since he was a freshman. As a sophomore, he registered 44 tackles and 11 sacks to help Gorman won the state championship. This season, he tallied 56 tackles and five sacks.

Turner has already received scholarship offers from Oregon, UCLA and Utah. He is also being recruited by Nebraska and Cal. Turner said he gets as many as 15 letters from colleges per week.

"Instead of being overwhelmed by all the universities, I just look at everything and take it one step at a time," he said. "I'm just really excited schools are interested in me playing for their university."

Turner, who is 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, said he looked forward to an increased leadership role in his final high school season and follow in the footsteps of fellow Gorman defensive end Justin Chaisson. Chaisson signed with Oklahoma and started opposite Turner at defensive end the last three seasons.

"Ever since I came here, I really considered Justin a big brother," Turner said. "A lot of my success I credit to him. He's been a really good mentor to me on and off the field. It's sad to see him go."

Like Turner, Palelei has had a significant role with the Gaels since he was a freshman. During the last two seasons, he has started at outside linebacker. As a sophomore, he scooped up a fumble and returned it for a touchdown in the state championship game. As a junior he recorded 43 tackles and two sacks.

Palelei currently has official offers from Stanford, Colorado and UNLV. He is also being recruited by UCLA, Notre Dame, Cal and Florida.

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Palelei said he receives anywhere from four to 20 letters in one week.

"It's nice to know they recognize me enough to send me all that stuff," Palelei said. "Some are inspirational letters, words of wisdom and some just say good luck next season. One I just got from Florida said they're looking forward to recruiting me. Some schools send me weekly updates on their program. Colorado sent me stuff about their schedule."

Palelei has had many conversations with college coaches, some in person and many on the phone.

"They usually just tell me to keep working hard," he said. "They say not to let my grades slip and don't let anything else get in the way."

Before he sets his sights on a college, Palelei added he was eager to win a second state championship for Bishop Gorman.

"That's my No. 1 concern right now," he said.

Christopher Drexel can be reached at 990-8929 or [email protected].

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