May 9, 2014

Patience pays off for MC football players Marion, Tongamoa

Instead of signing early with smaller schools, Merced College football players Travis Marion and Sione Tongamoa earned themselves Division 1 scholarships with work in the classroom.

Travis Marion focused all of his energy on school.

Rather than worry about the scholarship offers that hadn’t come yet, the Merced College sophomore wide receiver took care of the things he could control, making himself as desirable a prospect in the classroom as he was on the field.

He said it was a test of his faith and patience, but in the end, the trying process was more than worth it.

Marion’s efforts to get himself Division 1 eligible paid dividends when South East Louisiana came calling in April. Marion jumped at the chance to play for the Football Championship Subdivision school in the fall.

“It was a process,” Marion said. “I had to be patient, which wasn’t always easy. I just knew I had to stay positive.

“I put a lot of faith in coach (Bob) Casey. He’s kept his words on a lot of things since I came to Merced, and I knew if he said it would happen, it would happen.”

Marion is one of two Blue Devils who rolled the dice on letting the initial recruiting period pass to give them an opportunity to play Division 1 football. The patient approach worked for defensive tackle Sione Tongamoa as well. The sophomore is visiting the University of Cincinnati this weekend and then will choose between Cincinnati and Northern Illinois.

Once Tongomoa puts pen to paper, it will give Merced eight players moving on to Division 1 in the last four years. It also means 12 out of 16 departing Merced sophomores will be playing Division 1 ball this fall.

“I always tell the guys that if they can stay patient, a great situation will come along,” Casey said. “It’s a lot to ask when they see their friends and teammates going off to school.

“Both Travis and Sione could have signed with Division 2 schools during the earlier signing periods, but they had Division 1 ability. They took care of business in the classroom and they got rewarded for it.”

Tongamoa was third on the Blue Devils with 70 tackles, 16 of which were for losses, and second with eight sacks.

The 6-foot-4 Marion used his combination of size and speed to become the Blue Devils’ deep threat. He was second on the team with 39 catches and led MC with 997 receiving yards and six touchdowns. His 124.6 yards per game ranked third in the state and his 25.6 yards per catch ranked No. 1.

He joins a South East Louisiana squad that was 11-3 a year ago and lost in the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs.

“The whole thing is surreal,” Marion said. “I never believed I was deserving of a second chance after I messed around in high school. But I’m grateful for it. All I can say is dreams really do come true.”

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