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Nevada Bound - Combs Signs With UNR
7-13 Combs Sign 1
Oakdale High graduate and Modesto Junior College star Devin Combs signed a full ride scholarship to play football at the University of Nevada, Reno early this month. - photo by IKE DODSON/THE LEADER
Oakdale High graduate Devin Combs is feeling awfully blue.
This week as he packs his suitcases for college, Combs has to leave behind his Oakdale Mustang apparel and any other crimson attire.
Red is the primary color for the Las Vegas Rebels, and as a member of the University of Nevada, Reno Wolf Pack, Combs can no longer sport the hues of the football team’s hated rivals.
“I was a big red guy, but now I can’t have any red in the wardrobe,” Combs said on Sunday. “I have to go buy a lot more blue now.”
A change of outfits may be an inconvenience for Combs, but since it comes with a four-year, full-ride scholarship to program ranked No. 11 in the NCAA last year, he can probably overcome a few trips to the fitting room.
Combs signed with UNR early this month, and will depart for the Reno campus on Saturday to begin the next step of his education and football career.
The standout quarterback led Oakdale to a Sac-Joaquin Section title in 2007, took two years off, and then led Modesto Junior College to an 8-3 season and Graffiti Bowl Title in the Fall of 2010.
His community college career culminated with a masterful command of the Pirates’ no-huddle offense. Between passes and rushes, Combs’ easily surpassed the 2,500-yard mark with 25 touchdowns last season.
The efforts drew the attention of Nevada, who had already recruited Combs as an Oakdale High senior in 2007-08. When Nevada made their offer, Combs didn’t hesitate.
“I knew if Nevada came forward with an offer that I would take it,” Combs said. “I like the offense, like the school and all their coaches.”
Combs isn’t the first local quarterback to join forces with the Wolf Pack. Former Valley Oak League and Central California Conference star Colin Kaepernick of Pitman High in Turlock was a four-year starter for Nevada from 2007-2010, and last year led the Wolf Pack to a No. 11 NCAA ranking and 13-1 season.
Keapernick finished eighth in Heisman Trophy votes and nabbed the Western Athletic Conference Joe Kearney Award at the end of the year. He was drafted in the second round of the NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers.
The local quarterback is littered across the Nevada record books, and has left some big shoes for Combs to fill.
“It didn’t play into my decision to sign, but it is pretty neat that a local guy had one of the best careers in college football with Nevada,” Combs said.
Combs has only a year of eligibility off the table, and expects to red shirt his initial season before three year’s of action with the Wolf Pack from 2012-2014.
Nevada has the pleasure of grooming the 2010 Valley Conference player of the year who was named offensive MVP for MJC and claimed All NorCal honors with the Pirates last Fall.
The Oakdale product showed no signs of rust two years after 259 total yards and three touchdowns led Oakdale to a 34-27 victory over Whitney for the Division IV SJS title at UOP in 2007. Combs combined for nearly 2,700 yards and 31 touchdowns as an OHS senior.
And those were just his on-the-field accolades.
“I am really impressed with Dev, and it really has nothing to do with football,” Oakdale coach Trent Merzon said Sunday. “He is a great leader and a special kid.
“I am just so proud of him and so happy that he is playing close enough that we can drive out there and watch him play which we will do.”
Merzon said he expects Combs to have a stellar career at Nevada, and credited Combs’ toughness and perseverance to the reasons for his success to date.
Combs credits the progression of his career to coach Merzon and coach Tim Meyer, who spent countless hours training and discussing Comb’s skills since he was in eighth grade.
“I still feel like we are very much a team,” Combs said. “Both coach Merzon and Meyer would help me work on all the extra stuff, and even now they help me with my recruiting and talk about my games with me.”
And while Combs may not be able to sport the Mustang colors these days, he knows he will always have a special place in his heart for his coaches, teammates and all future Oakdale athletes.
“I think the special thing I learned is that when you believe in yourself it makes a big difference,” Combs said, “When you know what you are working for, you have to believe that you will get there. That allows you to keep going and usually things end up working out.”