By Mason Nesbitt, Sports Editor (The Signal, Santa Clarita)
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. - It must’ve felt like a scene out of the Ben Stiller movie “Night at the Museum” Sunday when members of the College of the Canyons football program enjoyed a meet and greet with some of college football’s living legends.
Over the weekend, Nissan filmed a commercial on COC’s Valencia campus, displacing football practice for a few days.
On Sunday, Cougars coach Ted Iacenda and four players were invited to a luncheon and tour of the set.
The highlight came when they entered a tent staged to look like a locker room and stocked with star power.
Heisman Trophy winners Marcus Allen, Doug Flutie, Tony Dorsett, Herschel Walker, Eddie George, Steve Spurrier and Desmond Howard welcomed the Cougar contingency.
“We talked it up for probably 15 minutes on that little set. It was awesome,” Iacenda said, later adding, “I talked to Doug Flutie quite a bit. He took a selfie with me. We said hello to all the guys and talked extensively to Herschel Walker.”
COC receiver and Valencia High grad Nick Jones, who returned to the program this offseason after a one-year hiatus, called the experience “surreal” and “insane.”
He said he talked to Walker, who played at the University of Georgia and with four NFL teams, about the running back’s subsequent career in MMA.
“You see them on TV and it’s normal,” Jones said. “You see them in real life, and it’s like, ‘Wow I’m actually shaking hands with Flutie and George. These guys are the best of what you’re trying to be.”
Jones, as far as the California Community College Athletic Association was concerned, was the best wide receiver in California in 2015, leading the state in receiving yards per game (124).
He worked full-time last fall as he charted his future, ultimately returning to COC for another year.
However, he won’t be the Cougars’ biggest star when they open this fall. After a 12-sack freshman campaign, defensive end Dorian Gerald committed to the University of Tennessee this summer.
Gerald was another one of the four lucky Cougars on Sunday, along with Saugus High grad Austin Davenport and tight end Hunter Schuessler.
Originally, the plan was for a sand volleyball tournament the team played Thursday, using a medicine ball instead of a normal orb, to determine who got to attend Sunday’s event.
Jones’ quartet won, but three guys couldn’t go. So Gerald, Davenport and Schuessler stepped in.
Davenport wasn’t sure what to expect.
He was pleasantly surprised.
“Seeing these guys and meeting them and seeing how nice they were (was cool),” he said. “They were just regular guys.”