Former TUHS 3-year star quarterback chooses Tigers after visit to USC


Sometimes things have a strange way of working out.
Dalton Botts will tell you that.
After guiding Taft High to a Valley football championship in 2008, he went to Bakersfield College but didn’t get a chance to play quarterback, so he shopped around when the season ended and transferred to Moorpark College.
But even before he takes that first snap as the Raider starter in the Sept. 4 season opener at Ventura College, he knows he will be playing at the next level.
Botts committed Sunday to accept a full ride scholarship to play at LSU – one of the premier college football programs in the country.
Botts and his parents – Travis and Andrea – spent the weekend in Baton Rouge, and before they headed back to Taft a deal was struck.
“Coach (Les) Miles told me I’d be a perfect fit for their program, and asked me if I wanted to be a part it,” Botts said early Monday from his apartment in Moorpark.  “I said, ‘yes sir, I want to be an LSU Tiger.’”
He was impressed with the university and the town – except for the humidity.
“People there are very friendly.  I liked it a lot.  The only drawback is the humidity.”
He said after dessert at the Miles home Saturday night, he played basketball in the back yard with his team host – senior punter Derek Helton – and Miles’ 14-year-old son.
“After taking my first shot I was already sweating,” he said.  “That will take some getting used to.”
Although he’ll be heading for Baton Rouge as Helton’s replacement, Miles is already designing a few special plays to take advantage of Botts’ running and passing abilities.
“He has something planned for me.  They are very big on special teams.  They want a punter who can handle the ball, run and throw.  They’re planning to develop some trick plays around me.”
It was, in fact, his ability to kick the ball that turned his fortunes around.
During spring drills at Moorpark, Botts decided to attend a camp for punters since he also would be handling those chores for the Raiders.
That led to a competition in Las Vegas where he had the longest punt and the best hang time, an accomplishment that earned him a No. 1 national ranking by kicking guru Chris Sailer, who runs instructional camps and has a highly respected rating/recruiting service.
Botts said he is convinced Sailer’s No. 1 ranking opened the doors to big time college football.
“That was big.  He is well respected and is known all over the nation.”
The only prospect Sailer would recommend to LSU punting coach Joe Robinson was Botts.
“They called Sailer and told him they wanted a punter with some experience, a JC transfer, someone who already knew what it was about,” he said.
Sailer thought Botts would be a good fit for the Tigers.
So did Botts.
Oh yeah, there was one other major university vying for his talent – USC.
Botts visited with new Trojan boss Lane Kiffen last week – the same day the university announced a shakeup by replacing athletic director Mike Garratt with former Trojan star quarterback Pat Haden and stripping away all evidence that Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo – the two players who put SC in the NCAA crosshairs – were ever there.
“It was pretty crazy down there,” he said.
Botts said USC offered him a scholarship, but the sanctions levied on the Trojan football program are troublesome.
“For me, the part that sucks is not being able to go to a bowl game,” he said.
(Part of USC’s punishment is a two-year bowl ban.)
Botts will officially sign a national letter of intent to play at LSU next February.
He’ll stay at Moorpark through the spring to finish requirements for an Associate Degree, and then head back to Baton Rouge.
“As soon as classes are over, I’ll go to LSU” – and start getting accustomed to the humidity.