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Jeremy Galten didn’t have much choice if he wanted to play college football after graduating from Hillsdale High. It was an NCAA Division III school or College of San Mateo.

After two years at CSM, it became obvious to everybody the all-state offensive lineman scored high on the decision-making process.

Galten received, and accepted, a scholarship offer from the University of Southern California, where he will begin classes this semester in preparation for spring practice and beyond.

“It all happened at the end of the season,” said the 6-foot-5, 280-pound Galten. “They came by one day, watched films and said they liked me.”

Galten thinks he just got lucky. Most scouts were interested in CSM wide receiver Rahsaan Vaughn, who eventually signed with Oregon.

Not so, says CSM coach Bret Pollack.

Galten himself “had a lot to do with it,” the former Hillsdale tight end said. “He came in as a good athlete. He did a good job in the classroom and in building size. He was enrolled (at CSM) the spring of his senior year in high school to be eligible for spring practice. A lot of good players do that. They start to get better right away.”

Even without all the attention Vaughn generated, Galten caught the eye of several schools, including Oregon, Arizona and USC. San Jose State was one of the first schools to take notice and he also received a lot of interest from schools as far away as Florida International.

“CSM is the reason I am where I’m at,” Galten said. “If I had tried to walk-on somewhere else I would not have had the skills and work ethic necessary. CSM prepared me for the next level as a player and as a man.”It helps, of course, that Galten was willing to put in the necessary work.

“He started working with Jesse Lindenstein, who is our strength coach and is also the strength coach for Menlo School,” Pollack said. “He made tremendous improvement in both strength and conditioning. He started as a freshman and played at a high level.

“When you have some success, there are some who rest on their laurels,” Pollack added. “Not Jeremy. He’s one of those players who stayed hungry and made even more strides from year one to year two.”

A left guard at CSM, Galten said he’s been told he could play either guard or tackle at USC. The Trojans would like to see him pump up to at least 300 pounds.

“He was our best one-on-one blocker,” Pollack said. “At the next level there will be different schemes, of course, but here’s a guy who did not allow a sack and completely controlled and dominated the man on him.”

The Trojans graduate one starter on the offensive line, and also signed City College of San Francisco lineman David Garness, who had previously tried to walk on at Hawaii.

“It was very apparent that we had depth issues and that we should not wait until the fall,” USC coach Lane Kiffin told the Los Angeles Times. “We think we helped ourselves.”

The Trojans finished 8-5 last year and quarterback Matt Barkley returns for his junior year.

Galten increased his chances as a Division I prospect because of his diligence in the weight room, the classroom and because he soaked in knowledge from a variety of sources, including former head coach Larry Owens.

“I think it’s one of the best staffs in the country,” Galten said. “It’s important to them to want you to be a better player.”

With academic achievement becoming an important factor in NCAA eligibility and scholarship availability, Galten took advantage of programs developed by Pollack and defensive coordinator/life skills coach Tim Tulloch.

“We run a year-round leadership program with guest speakers and address issues,” Pollack said. “We have programs on domestic violence, alcohol abuse, drug abuse and team building. We run this program like a Division I program because colleges are looking for a higher quality JC recruit.”

There are many examples of success on the CSM coaching staff, most notably quarterbacks coach Randy Gomez. The undersized signal-caller (he’s 5-9) spent two years at CSM honing his craft before transferring to Utah, where he was the starting quarterback and also caught for the baseball team.

Gomez later played professionally in the San Francisco Giants organization and eventually made a brief appearance in the major leagues.

“It’s rewarding to see young men come from somewhere and make great strides,” Pollack said. “The inherent responsibility of the JC coach is to set the structure for success and for guys like Jeremy to go for it. Having Randy on the staff and his success story can only raise expectations. It’s as though anybody can do it.”