Three former California high school football stars were selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft on Thursday night.
Offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker was selected 14th overall by the New York Jets. He attended Bishop O’Dowd High School and then USC. Defensive lineman Jaelan Phillips was picked 18th overall by the Miami Dolphins. He’s a Redlands East Valley grad. Phillips went on to attend UCLA before transferring to the University of Miami. Finally, running back Najee Harris was taken 24th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He graduated from Antioch High School and then played college football at the University of Alabama.
Alijah Vera-Tucker – New York Jets
Vera-Tucker, a four star high school prospect, helped lead Bishop O’Dowd to a 2016 Class 5-AA CIF state title. At USC, he started 19 games and was named a 2020 first team All-Pac 12 player.
Jaelan Phillips – Miami Dolphins
Phillips was a five star prospect coming out of Redlands East Valley. In high school as a senior, he was credited with 142 tackles and 21 sacks, which earned him the All-CIF Div. II Co-Defensive Player of the Year award. As a sophomore, he helped lead Redlands East Valley to a CIF Division 2 state championship.
In college, Phillips played two seasons at UCLA before retiring from football. He ultimately had a change of heart and then transferred to Miami. Last season, he led the Hurricanes with 15.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks.
Najee Harris – Pittsburgh Steelers
Harris was named Cal-Hi Sports’ 2015 Mr. Football State Player of the Year after rushing for 2,744 yards and 36 touchdowns during his junior season. He finished his Alabama career with 3,843 rushing yards and 57 total TDs, which are both school records.