Story and photo by Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
Five College of the Canyons football players inked National Letters of Intent during the NCAA's early signing period on Wednesday, becoming the first student-athletes from the Cougars' 2019 conference championship team to move on to four-year programs.
Canyons offensive tackle Kilian Zierer was the first to sign, committing to the Auburn University Tigers on Wednesday morning all the way from his hometown of Höhenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn, Germany. COC center Jordan Palmer, defensive tackle Jack Schultz, safety Tre Vallar and linebacker Tyler Richardson each signed their NLIs during a brief afternoon ceremony in front of the Athletic Department's Hall of Fame wall.
Zierer is a two-time Southern California Football Association (SCFA) All-National Division, Northern League selection. Prior to the 2019 campaign he was named to the College Football America Yearbook Junior College Preseason Starting Lineup, one of just 10 players from California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) programs to be included in the preseason designation. One of the top tackle prospects in the nation, Zierer originally committed to Auburn over the summer before officially signing on Wednesday. He is the third Cougar to transfer to a Southeastern Conference (SEC) school since 2017, following in the footsteps of defensive end Dorian Gerald (University of Arkansas) and offensive lineman Carlton Lorenz (Vanderbilt University).
Palmer will enroll at Middle Tennessee State University, an NCAA Division I program in Murfreesboro, TN. The Blue Raiders compete in Conference USA. Ranked as the No. 2 JUCO center in the nation, Palmer was a unanimous selection to the National Division, Northern League First-Team in 2019. A two-sport athlete at COC, Palmer was also named the Western State Conference (WSC) co-Field Athlete of the Year last spring after winning conference and regional titles, and finishing runner-up at the state championships, in the shot put. Palmer is the second Cougar to sign with MTSU in as many years, with the Blue Raiders able to land former COC wide receiver Jarrin Pierce during the 2018 early signing period.
Schultz is headed to Abilene Christian University, an NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) program located in Abilene, Texas. The Wildcats are part of the Southland Conference. One of the Cougars' four captains in 2019, Schultz finished the season with 39 total tackles, 4.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss to earn National Division, Northern League Second-Team honors.
Richardson and Vallar are both heading to Wagner College, an NCAA Division I FCS program in Staten Island, New York. The Seahawks are members of the Northeast Conference. Vallar, also one of the Cougars' team captains, finished the season with 25 total tackles. Richardson ranked third on COC with 53 total takedowns, two forced fumbles and five tackles for loss.
Canyons (9-3, 4-1) shared the 2019 National Division, Northern League championship with Ventura College (8-3, 4-1) and Long Beach City College (7-3, 4-1) before moving on to host Saddleback College in the first round of the Southern California Regional Playoffs.
After defeating Saddleback 58-53 in the opening round of the postseason the Cougars fell to eventual state champion Riverside City College in the Southern California Championship Game.
Wednesday's signings brings the number of COC football players that have moved on to four-year schools during head coach Ted Iacenda's tenure to 104, dating back to the 2013 season.
Stay up to date on all this season's action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.