Turlock High graduate Danny Velasquez finally had one of his goals and dreams come to fruition recently after the former Bulldog standout received a full-ride Division-I scholarship to Portland State.
The former Bulldog star earned this after he attended and played ball at Modesto Junior College this past fall as a true freshman—something that is uncommon.
“I was super excited and thought about it and everything and wanted to make sure it was the right spot. I was thinking of staying another year but I had to get out of here at this point,” said Velasquez. “Really, I was willing to put in the work and it showed getting this offer.”
“I always saw him as a D-I kid and we told him we wanted him there early on. He is really raw with QB ability, but his ability to make plays down field, anyone can see it,” said MJC offensive coordinator Zach Hollis.
His path to get to a D-I school, however, wasn’t an easy one. When Velasquez ended his prestigious career at Turlock High just a year ago, the offers from D-I schools just were not there.
“Always some doubts… but I always just take it and rolled with it and did something every day,” said Velasquez. “Last year at this point I was excited but worried at the same time, so many different things that could go right or wrong.”
Velasquez came onto the Pirates squad expecting to play at the wide receiver position since the MJC was boasting a few experienced quarterbacks.
An injury sustained by the Pirates’ quarterback on the first game of the year against San Mateo back on Sept. 2, 2017, changed the plan for Velasquez. Much like his high school days, he took the ball and took over the game.
In 11 games played, Velasquez did it all. On the ground he rushed for 81- yards on 125 carries for the year and scored 10 touchdowns.
Through the air, Velasquez was also effective. He completed 50.6 percent of his passes, tossing for 1,960 yards to go with his 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
“Danny’s ability to make plays at open field so dynamic and he was a real threat,” said Hollis, “something we didn’t have all the time. He really was the difference maker regardless of where we played him.”
As a starter he went 6-4 for the year and had some incredible games that made other D-I schools aware of his potential.
“A lot of stuff Danny did in high school are similar zone reads and we built the offense around. He competed at the highest level,” said Hollis. “Almost a 4.0 GPA student and worked so hard off the field, when it all comes together, for a guy like Danny… it’s deserving. One thing about Danny is if he gets his chance he will do it and will take care of business.”
In his first start against American River back on Sept. 9, Velasquez tossed for 223 yards and three touchdowns while he rushed for 119 yards and scored twice on the ground.
All of his success led to an opportunity for Velasquez to take his abilities and compete at the next level in college. He received interest from schools such as University of Troy and Middle Tennessee University—two well-known D-I college programs.
None, however, made the offer or showed the interest that Portland State was showing.
“Danny played against the best talent at JC, it was evident week in and week out he was one of the best. Portland State got a steal with Danny. He makes plays and does it every week,” said Hollis.
Velasquez is a two-time Central California Conference Most Valuable Player from 2015-16. He was also named the MVP of the Lions All-Star game last year after he was responsible for four touchdowns in a second-half rally.
Velasquez, along with former Pitman standout Devan Bass, were named the co-Players of the Year for the Journal’s 2016-17 fall season.
He was also essential in the Bulldogs winning the CCC title in the fall of 2016 after they went 9-3 overall and a perfect 6-0 in league play. This was the first CCC title for Turlock since 2003. Since then, they won back-to-back CCC honors.
Velasquez plans to major in history at Portland State and eventually wants to become a football coach.
The official signing day for Velasquez is scheduled to take place from at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Red Brick Bar and Grill.
“My parents don’t have to worry about anything coming out of their pockets, that is the good thing. The fact was they are going to give me a chance to compete for the starting spot,” Velasquez added. “As of right now I am going to go in there and compete and I expect to come in and start but we will see where it takes me.”