Many of the top juniors in the country have already made their commitments to major Division-I programs, but a few still remain without a verbal to any school. TopDrawerSoccer.com tracked down a handful of blue-chip prospects for an update on the college recruiting process.
Paul Arriola, Forward, Arsenal FC USA
Graduation year: 2013
Top 100 rank: #4
Potential Schools: UCLA, Cal, Maryland, Akron, Louisville, and Wake Forest
Paul Arriola is No. 4 in our top 100 for 2013, but the three players above him are all already professionals. So Arriola finds himself with the title as the top ranked junior prospect eligible for college soccer, but he is not letting that title force him into making a commitment.
“Yes, I do feel a little bit of pressure [to commit] because it is possibly the next step in my life.” Arriola told TopDrawerSoccer.com over email. “I'm really taking my time and seeing all my options in order to make the right decision.”
Arriola leads Arsenal FC Academy U16 in scoring with 12 goals in 11 games this season, as his combination of speed and technique have proven too difficult for many defenses to contain in the U.S. Soccer Federation Development Academy.
The swift striker revealed that there are six schools currently in his list of potential destinations.
“Cal, UCLA, and Maryland are some of my top schools,” Arriola said. “But I am also in contact with Akron, Louisville, and Wake Forest and anything is possible right now.”
Out of the list, Arriola has only visited UCLA.
“I loved UCLA,” Arriola said. “It's a beautiful campus, wonderful area, and the coaches and players are all amazing and were very welcoming on my visit.
“I am yet to visit Maryland and Cal, but I have only heard positive things from others who go to those colleges as well as my teammates who have visited them.”
Arriola’s teammates have helped him on this decision, as many of his Residency Program friends have already made their college decisions and advised the star recruit.
“Many of my teammates from residency are attending UCLA, Maryland, Akron and many other Division I schools,” Arriola said. “I'd love to be able to have the privilege to play with many of them again, and it does help a lot to hear from my old teammates encouraging me to attend that specific university.”
The forward who has appeared recently with the U18 Men’s National Team explained the two major components he is looking from his college experience.
“The main factor for me is the campus and the coaching staff,” Arriola said. “I want to go to a college where I really fit in and one that fits my personality.”
Arriola is also aware that his family has a preference, but he is not letting it affect his decision.
“Of course my family would love for me to stay close to San Diego in order to visit, but at the end of the day I have to do what feels right for myself and which college will make me better, not only as a soccer player, but as a person as well.”
Even though there are colleges fighting for his commitment, there is still a possibility that Arriola bypasses that route altogether.
“I do have aspirations to become a pro,” Arriola added. “Hopefully I will be going on trials down in Mexico soon, possibly with Club Tijuana, America, and Tigres.
“It would be a dream come true to become a professional at a young age but college is definitely a high option and can't wait to commit to whichever college may fit me the best.”
Javier ClavijoJavier Clavijo, Defender, Weston FCGraduation year
: 2013Top 100 rank: #17Potential schools:
Clemson, UCF, Georgetown, Cornell, Wake Forest, Princeton and Richmond
A versatile right-footed player with experience as a center back and defensive midfielder, Clavijo is a standout for Weston FC. He's also attracting attention from a number of top programs as he makes his decision on where to play college soccer.
"I have received interest from schools all over the country, and from all three divisions," Clavijo told TopDrawerSoccer.com.
Having already made a pair of visits to Wake Forest and Clemson, Clavijo is also planning on stopping in on nearby Central Florida in the near future. He said that academics, athletics and chemistry are three of the more important factors he's considering as he continues on the path of deciding where to head next.Jason Romero, Forward, De Anza ForceGraduation year:
2013Top 100 rank: #58Potential schools:
UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Wake Forest, University of Cincinnati, Chico State, San Jose State, and St. Mary’s.
With 11 goals to his name, Jason Romero is the leading scorer for the De Anza Force U16 Academy while only starting nine games this season. Due to injuries, Romero has been slowed in his first season in the Development Academy, but still managed to catch the eye of some of the top schools across the nation.
“As of right now my top 3 schools are UC Santa Barbara, Cincinnati and Wake Forest,” Romero told TopDrawerSoccer.com “Those are the schools I’ve been contacting the most.”
The talented forward added that he wants to join a program with a winning record that is on the cusp of winning the title.
“The most important factors for me are the type of environment at the school, a program that loves to win, and one that is looking to make a run for a national championship,” Romero said. “Also, I want to have a coach that can have me playing at the highest level of soccer.”View all 2013 commitments
J.R. Eskilson is a staff reporter at TopDrawerSoccer.com. Follow him on or send him an email.
Travis Clark is a staff reporter at TopDrawerSoccer.com. Follow him on or send him an email.