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Local standouts ponder career paths as colleges come calling on signing day

Had Steve Hanlin not suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee at a football camp last summer, he might be signing a national letter of intent with the University of Oregon.

Instead, the North Medford High defensive end will sign with the Portland State Vikings.

Hanlin is one of only two players from the Southern Oregon Conference expected to hook up with NCAA, Division I schools today ' the first day high school players from around the country can sign letters of intent.

The other is Grants Pass High wide receiver Kory Mahr, who will attach his name to a Northern Arizona University contract.

Boomer Marshall, the South Medford High quarterback who shattered single game and career passing records while leading the Panthers to the SOC championship and a berth in the Class 4A state quarterfinals last fall, wasn't expected to be offered a scholarship by any Division I school today.

Marshall has been heavily recruited by Southern Oregon University and has been asked to walk on at several Pac-10 Conference schools, but he said Tuesday he won't commit to any program for at least a couple weeks.

I'm not going to make a decision just yet, said Marshall, who passed for 3,446 yards and 36 touchdowns last season. I've been in contact with three or four (Division I) schools, and there's still a chance (one of them will offer a scholarship).

The 6-foot-3, 222-pound Marshall, whose lack of foot speed has scared away Division I coaches, admitted he's frustrated, especially after Washington State was set to sign Sheldon High quarterback Alex Brink a scholarship today.

Brink also lacks foot speed and was being shunned by Division I schools through the end of last year, but recently got offers from Boise State and WSU after leading the Irish of Eugene to the Class 4A state title.

It's tough seeing this process play out because I know I can play at that level, Marshall said. I think my (passing) numbers speak for themselves, and I've always been on a winning team.

Hanlin, meanwhile, will head to Portland State on a full ride. He tore his ACL at a football camp at Oregon last summer but braced up his knee and played his senior season for the Black Tornado.

Hanlin underwent surgery on Dec. 17.

It (the injury) definitely cut down my speed quite a bit, Hanlin said.

Hanlin will be what's called a grayshirt for Portland State, meaning the school will put him on scholarship for 5&

189; years. However, he can't enroll as a full-time student until the second semester of his freshman year.

Hanlin would then be eligible to redshirt in the fall of 2004 and still have four years of eligibility remaining.

They want my knee to get healthy, and they want me to get stronger and put on weight, said the 6-5, 200-pound Hanlin.

Hanlin visited Portland State and Northern Arizona and was offered a scholarship by both schools. But PSU's offer was better, he said, adding that he really liked the coaching staff and the facilities at the Portland school.

Mahr said much the same about Northern Arizona, which is based in the high desert town of Flagstaff.

Portland State and Northern Arizona are both members of the Big Sky Conference, and both football teams finished with 6-5 records last season.

It's a really nice campus and it just seemed like a good fit for me, said Mahr, a 6-6, 200-pounder who caught 40 passes for 700 yards and six touchdowns in helping Grants Pass to a 6-4 record last season. And the coaches were great. They told me exactly where I stood from the beginning (of the recruiting process).

The Northern Arizona coach who recruited Mahr was offensive coordinator Charlie Hall, a former assistant at Ashland High who is believed to be in the running to succeed Jim Nagel as head coach of the Grizzlies.

They throw the ball quite a bit, Mahr said of Northern Arizona. They've got an All-American receiver (Clarence Moore) coming back, but hopefully I can find my way into the rotation.

Reach reporter Don Hunt at 776-4469, or e-mail