The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.

After spending three years at University of Washington, defensive tackle Noa Ngalu was looking for a change of scenery a little closer to home.

Noa Ngalu

Noa Ngalu

Ngalu — who entered the transfer portal in May — landed at College of San Mateo, where he is on the football roster as a transfer sophomore. The 6-1, 275-pound nose tackle is expected to get regular reps when the Bulldogs open the season at home Saturday against Sierra College. Kickoff at College Heights Stadium is scheduled for 1 p.m.

“He has a lot of upside, a lot of opportunity,” CSM head coach Tim Tulloch said. “He’s fresh here and gets an opportunity to get back on the field. So, we’re excited about him.”

A 2019 graduate of Menlo-Atherton, Ngalu was part of a dominant defensive duo. Along with linebacker Daniel Heimuli, Ngalu helped the Bears to the 2018 CIF Division 3-AA state championship. Both Heimuli and Ngalu signed to play at Washington, where the rollercoaster ride of the COVID era saw each play their respective freshman seasons in 2021.

Heimuli cracked the starting lineup for the Huskies last season, logging two starts, including an eight-tackle performance in a win over University of Arizona. Ngalu appeared in two games as a reserve against Arizona and Arizona State.

This will mark the first time in eight years Ngalu and Heimuli — both natives of East Palo Alto — will not be playing for the same team.

“He’s definitely earned opportunity to play this Saturday,” Tulloch said.

The 2019 Daily Journal Boys’ Athlete of the Year, Ngalu was a standout thrower in track and field as well as a dominant lineman on the gridiron. As a defensive tackle, he led M-A with seven sacks as a senior and second with 14 tackles for a loss.

Ngalu is not the only resurgent M-A alumnus on the CSM roster. Raymond Price III is one of four quarterbacks in the mix for the Bulldogs. Ngalu and Price didn’t play at M-A together. Price transferred to M-A as a sophomore in 2019 following a sophomore season at Sacred Heart Prep.

While at SHP, Price was the Gators’ starting varsity quarterback, and helped the team to the Central Coast Section Division III championship game, where they dropped a heartbreaker 35-34 to Aptos. After transferring to M-A, Price saw limited reps under center playing behind quarterback Matt MacLeod, who went on to earn 2021 Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division Offensive Player of the Year.

Price is one of four quarterbacks who took reps last Thursday in CSM’s scrimmage against Feather River College at Elk Grove High School. All for QBs are freshmen, including Anthony Grigsby (Cosumnes Oaks), Richie Watts (Rocklin) and Jerry Johnson (Pittsburg).

“Each quarterback started in a different segment … so we looked at them all in a first-rotation look,” Tulloch said.