When Bryce Young committed to the University of Alabama, fans of the Crimson Tide rejoiced. Young was a talented dual-threat quarterback from sunny, southern California. Not only was he the top player at his position and the best player from the state of California, but he was the second-best player in the entire country. His high school coach, Bruce Rollinson, even said that he could be the best quarterback that he’s ever coached.

"I've had so many great ones," Rollinson said, as noted in an ESPN article, "but arguably he could be the greatest we've had."

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This means even more when you factor in the fact that Young took over immediately after J.T. Daniels left high school early to enroll at USC. Daniels later left the Trojans and came south where he now is slated to start for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Yeah, Young and Daniels, the two starting quarterbacks for the highest-rated SEC schools going into the 2021 season, both attended the same high school – Mater Dei High School in Orange County, California.

Photo Courtesy of USA Today HS Sports

Mater Dei opened its doors in 1950 and has been a powerhouse in athletics ever since. Olympians have attended the school. NBA players, MLB players, and many NFL players dot the school’s athletic history. The school has even produced two Heisman winners.

Rollinson, a Mater Dei alumnus himself, has coached the Monarchs for over 30 years now. During his tenure, Rollinson has compiled a record of 317-86-2 and has won “seven CIF [California Interscholastic Federation] Championships, three State Titles, and capturing the National Championship in 1994 and 1996, 2017 and 2018,” according to his profile on Mater Dei’s website. Currently, over 25 Rollinson-coached players are in the NCAA.

How crazy is that?

Trust me — it gets crazier.

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Have you ever heard of Matt Leinart? This Mater Dei alumnus, coached by Rollinson, took his talents to USC and led the Trojans to the 2004 BCS National Championship. He won honors, such as the Manning Award, the Johnny Unitas Award, the Walter Camp Award and even the 2004 Heisman Trophy. Leinart played on the famous Reggie-Bush-Trojans team, which translated to being named a “First-Team All-American” in 2004 and 2005. Leinart was drafted tenth overall in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. He also spent time with the Texans, Raiders and Bills.

Mater Dei’s legacy of quarterbacks doesn’t stop there, though.

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Matt Barkley, also a USC Trojan, graduated from Mater Dei in 2009. Continuing the Monarch-to-Trojan legacy, Barkley led USC to a record of 34-17 over his four years as a starter. He even tallied over 12,000 passing yards, 48 touchdowns, and a completion percentage of 64%. Barkley was drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 draft by Philadelphia and has also spent time with the Cardinals, the Bears, the 49ers, the Bengals, and the Bills. He is currently on the Titans.

The late Colt Brennan, the quarterback at Hawaii from 2005 to 2007, was a Heisman finalist in 2007. Brennan attended Mater Dei and was the backup to Matt Barkley. Brennan was also drafted into the NFL.

Todd Marinovich, the subject of ESPN’s 30 for 30 entitled “The Marinovich Project”, follows the ‘80s Mater Dei quarterback and his journey from becoming the first freshman to start at MD to playing at USC and his professional football career.

The pipeline of Mater Dei to the NCAA and NFL has been well-established for years now. Bryce Young and J.T. Daniels are just the latest in a long line of the Monarchs’ quarterbacks to make waves in college football. This means that a match-up between the Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs would be a massive showdown between two of this southern California's best recent talent on an SEC scale.

There is no denying that both Young, the future of an Alabama team that has the chance of winning a national championship as a freshman, and Daniels, a quarterback with NFL potential, come from a high school with a long legacy of quarterback stardom. Fans of the Tide in Alabama and the rest of the south might not have heard of this Catholic school in Santa Ana, California, but with the consistent talent that has been creeping east from Pac-12 country, ‘Bama fans need to take notice.

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