JT Daniels’ reclassification endorsed by quarterback guru Bob Johnson

The best decision for JT Daniels.

That’s how former Mission Viejo football coach and private quarterback guru Bob Johnson views the decision by the Mater Dei junior signal caller to reclassify for the class of 2018 and enroll early at USC.

“He’s ready,” Johnson said Friday, several hours after Daniels’ announcement. “That’s a wise decision for him because of the credentials he has.”

But Johnson, who tutored multiple USC quarterbacks, including his son, Rob, said Daniels isn’t ready to start for the Trojans, who are currently led by Sam Darnold. Johnson believes the soon-to-be 18-year-old is ready to learn the collegiate game, and believes one season as an understudy would serve him best.

“He’s not going to learn anything more in high school,” Johnson said of Daniels, a three-year starter at Mater Dei.

Johnson knows what it takes to be a quarterback at USC. Besides his son, Rob, he coached former Trojan starters Mark Sanchez (Mission Viejo), Carson Palmer (Santa Margarita) and Cody Kessler.

Johnson saw Daniels (6-2, 210) play a lot this past season. In preparation for Mission Viejo’s clash against Mater Dei in the CIF-SS Division 1 semifinals, Johnson said he “watch a ton of film” on Daniels.

The future Gatorade National Player of the Year completed 10 of 18 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns and also broke a 52-yard touchdown run in the Monarchs’ 49-21 victory, which ended Johnson’s legendary career.

“He’s really good,” Johnson said.

Daniels faces a rigorous academic road to reach USC but is expected to sign with the Trojans in February, shortly after his birthday.

“He’s going to have a lot of different things happen to him (at USC),” Johnson said. “To challenge himself is pretty nice. … He’s showing some guts.”

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Mater Dei builds confidence in impressive victory against Bishop Gorman

  • Mater Dei’s Amon-Ra St. Brown, right, celebrates with teammate Nikko Remigio after Remigio caught a pass for a touchdown in the second quarter against Bishop Gorman in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Mater Dei’s Amon-Ra St. Brown, right, celebrates with teammate Nikko Remigio after Remigio caught a pass for a touchdown in the second quarter against Bishop Gorman in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Bishop Gorman’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson, left, is sacked by Mater Dei’s Keyon Ware-Hudson in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Bishop Gorman’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson, left, is sacked by Mater Dei’s Keyon Ware-Hudson in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Mater Dei’s Shakobe Harper, right, breaks out into the open for a big gain as Bishop Gorman defenders give chase in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Mater Dei’s Shakobe Harper, right, breaks out into the open for a big gain as Bishop Gorman defenders give chase in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Mater Dei fans get their cheers started early before the game against Bishop Gorman begins in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Mater Dei fans get their cheers started early before the game against Bishop Gorman begins in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Mater Dei’s Nikko Remigio pulls in a pass for a first down near the end zone to set up a Monarch touchdown against Bishop Gorman in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Mater Dei’s Nikko Remigio pulls in a pass for a first down near the end zone to set up a Monarch touchdown against Bishop Gorman in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Mater Dei’s Nikko Remigio makes the catch for touchdown as the second half begins against Bishop Gorman in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Mater Dei’s Nikko Remigio makes the catch for touchdown as the second half begins against Bishop Gorman in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Mater Dei’s Darion Green-Warren, center right, celebrates with Solomon Tuliaupupu, center left, after intercepting the ball for a touchdown against Bishop Gorman in the third quarter in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Mater Dei’s Darion Green-Warren, center right, celebrates with Solomon Tuliaupupu, center left, after intercepting the ball for a touchdown against Bishop Gorman in the third quarter in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Bishop Gorman’s quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, right, is sacked by Mater Dei’s Nathan Logoleo, center, and Masefield Funa, left, in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Bishop Gorman’s quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, right, is sacked by Mater Dei’s Nathan Logoleo, center, and Masefield Funa, left, in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Mater Dei fans cheer their team during the game against Bishop Gorman in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Mater Dei fans cheer their team during the game against Bishop Gorman in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Mater Dei’s Bru McCoy catches a pass deep in Bishop Gorman territory to set up another Monarch touchdown in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Mater Dei’s Bru McCoy catches a pass deep in Bishop Gorman territory to set up another Monarch touchdown in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Mater Dei’s JT Daniels fires a pass against Bishop Gorman in the first quarter in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Mater Dei’s JT Daniels fires a pass against Bishop Gorman in the first quarter in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Mater Dei fans get warmed up before the start of the game against Bishop Gorman in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Mater Dei fans get warmed up before the start of the game against Bishop Gorman in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Mater Dei’s Shakobe Harper, right, celebrates with teammate Isaiah Alonzo after Harper ran the ball into the end zone for the score against Bishop Gorman late in the fourth quarter in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Mater Dei’s Shakobe Harper, right, celebrates with teammate Isaiah Alonzo after Harper ran the ball into the end zone for the score against Bishop Gorman late in the fourth quarter in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Mater Dei cheerleaders stand as the National Anthem is played before the start of the game against Bishop Gorman in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Mater Dei cheerleaders stand as the National Anthem is played before the start of the game against Bishop Gorman in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Mater Dei’s Mason Kolinchak (77) celebrates with a teammate after the Monarchs won their game against Bishop Gorman in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Mater Dei’s Mason Kolinchak (77) celebrates with a teammate after the Monarchs won their game against Bishop Gorman in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Mater Dei’s Andrew Faoliu, left, pursues Bishop Gorman’s quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. Thompson-Robinson was sacked. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Mater Dei’s Andrew Faoliu, left, pursues Bishop Gorman’s quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson in Santa Ana on Friday, September 1, 2017. Thompson-Robinson was sacked. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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SANTA ANA – As Mater Dei’s football team gathered around Coach Bruce Rollinson late Friday night for an impromptu photograph, assistant coach Scot Prohaska cautioned the Monarchs not to flash any No. 1 signs with their fingers.

“We got work to do,” he warned.

And to a player, Mater Dei followed those instructions and smoothly kept their impressive, 35-21, victory against Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas in perspective.

Yes, the Monarchs jumped for high-fives after the final seconds ticked away at Santa Ana Stadium, which attracted almost 10,000 spectators for a showdown between the top-two ranked teams in the nation.

And standout receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who didn’t play because of a finger injury, led the cheering all night but Mater Dei certainly didn’t go overboard despite snapping Bishop Gorman’s 55-game winning streak.

The top-ranked Monarchs posed with Rollinson because he was honored as the Los Angeles Rams’ High School Coach of the Week.

“It’s a preseason game, brother,” the coach said. “I still got that Trinity League looking me down a barrel but it’s a great win for the program. It’s a great win for these kids. I’m really pleased for the seniors.”

While Mater Dei remained focused on capturing the Trinity League and a CIF-SS Division 1 title — the latter of which it hasn’t accomplished since 1999 — the game did change the Monarchs’ opinion of themselves in one key area.

The Monarchs’ secondary, which doesn’t return a starter from last season, more than held its own against the No. 2-ranked team in the nation. The unit traded blows with UCLA committed quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and the top tight end in the West, Brevin Jordan.

Mater Dei intercepted Thompson-Robinson twice.

Sophomore cornerback Darion Green returned an interception early in the third quarter for a touchdown that gave the Monarchs a seemingly-commanding 28-7 lead. Senior cornerback Stephon Robins grabbed his second interception in as many game in the fourth quarter.

Sophomore Zion Alefosio collected a third interception off a botched fake punt and was the Monarchs’ selection to cover Jordan in crunch time. Junior safety William Nimmo and junior outside linebacker Mase Funa also helped keep track of Jordan, Robins noted.

Sophomore Elias Ricks also defended well in the Mater Dei secondary, often drawing speedy Jalen Nailor.

“I’ve never seen our DBs play this good before – it’s crazy,” Robins said. “Going into the season, everybody said, ‘Mater Dei is good but their DBs are too young. We’ll be able to pass on them.’ … I think we can play against anyone.”

And with that, it was clear: Mater Dei’s youthful secondary left Santa Ana Stadium feeling more self-assured for the journey ahead.

“This is a great confidence booster,” Rollinson said. “That’s a good football team (at Bishop Gorman).”

Running back Shakobe Harper ran for two touchdowns but also praised the Monarchs’ defense. “We improved a lot defensively,” he said.

But the work continues for Mater Dei, which plays host to La Mirada (0-2) next Friday before taking on nationally-ranked Bergen Catholic of New Jersey at Mission Viejo on Sept. 16.

“We have a whole season in front of us,” Mater Dei two-way standout Bru McCoy said. “We’re only two weeks into it. We need to stay in the mindset of working hard. There’s nothing to settle for. There’s still a lot to work on.”

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Mater Dei offensive guard Chris Murray stays hot, lands Notre Dame offer

Mater Dei offensive guard Chris Murray (6-3, 290) is one of Orange County’s hottest football recruits.

The senior announced Sunday that he has been offered by Notre Dame.

Blessed to say that I have received an offer from the UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME!!! ☘️ #GoIrish ☘️ pic.twitter.com/L2eNzeSazh

— Chris Murray (@chris1murray) August 7, 2017

Murray’s offer arrives after Stanford recently extended him a scholarship.

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