Eleven student-athletes from Santa Margarita Catholic High School signed letters of intent or celebrated their commitment to attend colleges nationwide for their sport. These student-athletes join 33 other SMCHS student-athletes who committed to play at the collegiate level earlier this year. Feb. 7 marks the start of the regular NCAA signing period for football with other top student-athletes also announcing their commitments for their respective sports.
“Today’s celebration culminates a lot of hard work put in by a lot of people – first and foremost a dynamic group of student-athletes,” said Mike Hiserman, Associate Director of College Relations at Santa Margarita. “But it’s also a time for their families, coaches, trainers, counselors and other people who have supported them to pause and enjoy the accomplishment. Santa Margarita’s leadership should be proud. They do everything possible to support every student-athlete on campus.”
Hiserman works with Santa Margarita's student-athletes as a college-fit advisor.
SMCHS congratulates the following student-athletes:
Gage Burnett of Ladera Ranch has committed to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo for football. Gage was a four-year starter in the Trinity League, his first two at Servite High School and as a junior and senior at Santa Margarita. Gage was chosen to receive the Gauntlet Award by Santa Margarita's football senior class of 2023, leading to him being chosen as a team captain this past season. He responded by recording 79 tackles last fall, earning co-defensive MVP of the team. A second-team All-Trinity League choice as a junior, he was a first-team selection as a senior. A leader on and off the field, he helped organize the Eagle Football Team’s Toys 4 Tots toy drive for the past two years, and has also helped organize food drives benefiting Caterina's Club and Catholic Charities. Gage also has competed for the Eagles’ Track & Field team. A 3.65 student, he plans to study Business and Entrepreneurship at Cal Poly.
Ruby Casey of Orange has committed to Miami University of Ohio for soccer. Ruby is a three-year varsity soccer player for the Eagles. She is a starting defender and received the Coaches’ MVP Award for her contribution to last year’s memorable, Triple-Crown season during which the Eagles won Trinity League, CIF Division I and Southern California Regional championships. She also competes for Slammers HB Koge ECNL, the top girls’ club in the nation. Off the pitch, Ruby loves off-roading, horseback riding and boating off the Newport Coast. She serves Santa Margarita in Peer Ministry and volunteers at the Shea Equestrian Center, where she works with children with disabilities in their equine therapy program. Ruby is a four-year scholar-athlete who carries a 3.81 grade-point average and plans to major in Media and Communications at Miami, Ohio.
Jayden Dose of Ladera Ranch has committed to North Central College for football. Jayden was a mainstay on the Eagles defensive line the past two seasons, earning Honorable Mention All-Trinity League as both a junior and senior. An avid lifter, he received the Eagle Dawg Award this past season, a reward for his work ethic in the weight room where he squat lifts nearly 500 pounds. A multiple-sport talent, Jayden wrestled for the Eagles as a sophomore and junior, and this spring plans to throw the shot put and discus for Santa Margarita's track and field team. He is joining a North Central program that has gone a combined 29-1 the past two seasons, winning the NCAA Division 3 national championship in 2022 and losing the 2023 title game by a score of 38-37. Jayden is a scholar-athlete with a 3.80 grade-point average who enjoys skiing and thinks he might like to live in the mountains someday.
Joe Hagen of San Clemente has committed to Trinity University, Texas, for baseball.
Joe is a left-handed hitting/right-handed throwing first baseman, outfielder and pitcher for the South Orange County-based BPA club organization. He attended San Clemente High for two years before transferring to Santa Margarita. With BPA, he has traveled throughout the country for tournaments, earning four all-tournament team honors and helping his club win a World Wood Bat Assn. national championship. A 4.17 student, Joe works with the non-profit Boundless Athletics organization, helping children with special needs play baseball. He also works with Family Assistance Ministries, another non-profit.
Ramon Jiang of Irvine has committed to the United States Military Academy, West Point for swimming. Ramon will graduate from Santa Margarita as one of the most successful swimmers in school history. In his first three years on the Eagles’ varsity, Ramon qualified for the CIF State championships in four individual events and won three CIF titles as part of relay teams – two in the 200 medley relay and another in the 200 freestyle relay. Ramon has been a member of three consecutive Trinity League championship teams, three consecutive CIF Division 1 championship teams, and contributed mightily to Santa Margarita’s state championship in 2023. As a sophomore, Ramon established a school record in the 100 backstroke and he will be honored as a National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association Academic All-American this year. A team captain, Ramon has carried a 4.08 grade-point average at SM.
Keegan McGann of Ladera Ranch has committed to the University of California Irvine for Water Polo. Keegan is a four-year member of the Eagles varsity and this past season led the team to its best-ever CIF finish, after which he was chosen first-team All-Trinity League, first-team All-CIF and Santa Margarita's team MVP. Well-known throughout the sport for his talent, Keegan has also participated in invitation-only regional and Youth Academy training programs put on by USA Water Polo. A four-year scholar-athlete and academic All-American, Keegan has maintained a 4.45 grade-point average while serving as a Santa Margarita student ambassador and participating with the school's chapter of the National Honor Society. Away from the pool and his studies, Keegan enjoys surfing, skiing and playing basketball.
Sydney Osborn of Dana Point has committed to the University of Arizona for soccer. Sydney is a three-year varsity athlete, starting her career at JSerra Catholic before transferring to Santa Margarita and making an immediate impact. Shifting from wing to center forward for the Eagles, she received All-Trinity League honorable mention for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons. As a junior, she helped Santa Margarita win a Triple Crown – titles in the Trinity League and CIF Division I as well as a Southern California Regional championship. Sydney also plays on the front line for Slammers FC ECNL, one of the nation’s top 5 club teams. A 3.18 student, Sydney serves her community as the head of marketing and fundraising for Big Dreams Charity, a non-profit organization. She also volunteers at Little Red Dog and Surfrider, and is an intern for Kingsbridge Technology in data entry and marketing. She plans to study business and marketing.
Noah Sulick of Trabuco Canyon has committed to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for football. Noah was a three-year varsity starting linebacker for the Eagles. As a junior, Noah earned second-team All Trinity League, and served on the team’s leadership council. In his senior year, Noah earned first-team All-Trinity League and All-CIF-Southern Section honors, as well as earning recognition as Santa Margarita’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year and serving as a team captain. In the 2023 season, Noah’s 105 tackles led the Trinity League, and he finished his career as an Eagle among the top 15 tacklers in school history. A scholar-athlete, Noah is a member of the National Arts Honor Society for his involvement in Men’s Choir. He is also in Peer Ministry and enjoys leading retreats and volunteering with youth sports’ camps. Off the field and away from school, Noah enjoys playing golf, working at Hanna’s Restaurant, and spending time with his friends at the beach.
LeVar Talley of Rancho Mission Viejo has committed to the University of Nevada, Reno for football
LeVar was a four-year member of the Eagles varsity and started on the defensive line in every game during his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. He was an All-Trinity League selection for each of those seasons, earning second-team as a sophomore and being chosen to the first team as both a junior and senior. His prowess on defense resulted in recognition on a slew of top prospect and awards lists, but his impact also extended well beyond the field. LeVar’s leadership qualities resulted in his becoming a two-year team captain and a three-year member of the football team’s leadership council as he sought to foster a culture of unity and excellence. A 3.30 student, LeVar has also served for two years as a student representative to Santa Margarita’s Administrative Board.
Daniel Verdolaga of Irvine has committed to the United States Military Academy, West Point for swimming.
Daniel is the greatest butterflier in school history. Last year, he established a record in the 100-yard butterfly that had been held by U.S. National team member Grant Shoults. Daniel’s record-shattering time of 47.23 seconds made him a high school All-American, a distinction he also earned in the 200 individual medley in 2023. Daniel swam a leg on the 200-medley and 200-freestyle relay teams last spring that not only set school records but were the fastest times in Orange County history. Daniel has qualified for the state championships in four events the past two years and has earned six swims in CIF-Southern Section championship events in the past three years. A 4.47 student, Daniel was voted a team captain this spring by his peers.
Jerry Yan of Lake Forest has committed to Columbia University for swimming. Jerry will go down in Santa Margarita swimming history as one of the best butterfly/backstroke swimmers to wear the Eagles uniform. Jerry enjoyed a spectacular 2023 season with lifetime bests in the 100 butterfly and 100 back, qualifying for the state championships in both events. Jerry also earned All-American recognition in these same two individual events last year, adding to the All-American award in the 100 fly he had earned as a sophomore. Jerry has contributed to three consecutive Trinity League championship teams, three CIF-Southern Section Division 1 championships and a 2023 state title. A 4.59 student, Jerry is also a four-year scholar-athlete and will be named a NISCA Academic All-American this year.