Gavin Vallez and Jonathan Singleton first met when they were 5 years old playing in the Morgan Hill youth baseball league. Thirteen years later, they sat side by side inside the Live Oak High gym to sign their letter of intents to play sports at four-year programs. Vallez will play baseball at Menlo College, while Singleton will play football—and possibly baseball—at Carleton College in Minnesota.
“It’s just awesome being able to grow up playing the same sport, coming to the same high school and both of us just working hard to get to this spot,” Vallez said.
In addition to baseball, Singleton and Vallez played together on the Morgan Hill Raiders Pop Warner football team. However, it wasn’t until the two were teammates on Live Oak’s junior varsity football team as freshmen when the they became close friends.
“The time we spent on the football team really brought us together and strengthened our friendship,” Vallez said. “He’s been a great friend and challenges me as an athlete and academically. We’re similar in that we both have a strong drive to excel in both the classroom and our respective (playing) fields.”
The signing event took place April 17 and was a storybook scene for the Live Oak seniors who had to be patient in the recruiting process and wait for the ideal fit. For Singleton, it was Carleton, a Division III program. Singleton, who was in communication with Carleton offensive coordinator Brett Bartolone throughout the recruiting process, took his visit in February and fell in love with the campus and the team.
Previous to that, Singleton was perhaps a bit lukewarm toward Carleton, which first contacted him toward the end of the high school season.
“It’s a far place to go, but it’s great,” he said. “When I took my trip out there, I loved the campus and felt at home. The players were very welcoming, and I just decided this was the place for me. It’s a great opportunity for football, but also I want to get a great education to set me up for life after football.”
Singleton and Vallez are excellent students, with Vallez taking four Advanced Placement classes in his senior year. They’re known for their leadership skills, Singleton the do-everything quarterback and Vallez the communicating catcher. The similarities between the two are striking, and their story has the potential for a truly epic finish if the Live Oak baseball team can win a league championship for make a deep run in the Central Coast Section playoffs.
Singleton, who is known for being a game-changing quarterback, happens to be a terrific baseball player as well. Even though Singleton hasn’t talked with Carleton yet about possibly playing two sports there, he’s optimistic he’ll be able to give it a go.
“They told me they were OK with football players playing another sport, and they actually push you to play two sports,” he said.
For Vallez, heading to nearby Menlo College—it’s only a 40-minute drive from Morgan Hill—is a dream come true. Menlo was the only college willing to give Vallez a guaranteed spot on the team, which was too good to pass up. Vallez was proactive in the recruiting process, participating in a showcase at Hartnell College in October. Even though Vallez knew he hadn’t put his best foot forward at the event, he still introduced himself to Menlo College assistant coach Nick White.
“That showcase day was not my greatest showing,” Vallez said. “When I went up to him, I was a little uncertain to the response I would get because it wasn’t my best day. I’m very glad I took that walk over in the last meeting of camp to talk to him.”
Upon the advice of his parents, Vallez sent a follow-up email to White, thanking him for his time. White responded within the next day or two, and from there the communication kept going. When White texted Vallez to talk about Menlo’s offer, the Live Oak senior stepped out of his AP math class to soak in the moment.
“Once he called and I got the offer, I was speechless,” Vallez said. “I’m always going to remember that moment.”
In conversations with White, Vallez said Menlo liked his demeanor and defensive abilities behind the dish. Indeed, defense is Vallez’s calling card, along with his ability to take control of the infield and make sure everyone is in the right position for every kind of situation.
“I’m going to continue to hustle, play hard and be that defensive player I am on the field,” he said. “I’m really exited to display that when I get to Menlo. I was told straight-up I would be needed for my defense.”
On the football field, Singleton was an absolute tour de force. Anyone who watched a Live Oak game saw Singleton bring it every time he took the field. Blending athleticism, speed and game awareness, Singleton was a threat to pass for a touchdown or run for a TD on any given play. It’s safe to say Carleton has to feel it hit a goldmine in landing Singleton in their program.
“I’m excited to see what he’s going to do at Carleton,” Vallez said. “He is the best quarterback I’ve ever seen play in person at this level, and I know he’ll be successful in college as well.”
Singleton had some nice exchanges with Bartolone, Carleton’s third-year offensive coordinator.
“He liked how I was a dual threat and could make an instant impact,” Singleton said.
Singleton admires Vallez for how he comports himself and approaches everything in life.
“He’s always been there for me and is so hard working,” Singleton said. “He looks at adversity and pushes through it. He works hard to get wherever he needs to go and won’t stop until he gets it.”