Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas always produces elite level prospects, and running back Victor Belen knew he had to go the extra mile to stand out to his coaches and earn playing time. The 5-11, 180-pound Belen went that extra mile as a junior, and is now starring for Gaels this fall.
"Last year I had to bust my tail on special teams and help my team out any way I could. My coach saw that film of me busting my tail last year and gave me a chance. I took advantage of it and got the starting spot.
Belen has certainly made the most of his chances as a senior. Through five games, four of which he only saw action in the first half because of lopsided scores, Belen has rushed 54 times, but gained 606 yards and scored 10 touchdowns for an 11.2 yard per carry average. He also has caught five passes out of the backfield for 112 yards.
Belen's outstanding senior season has already brought a couple player of the week accolades, but he is quick to deflect credit to his teammates for the Gaels' 5-0 start to the season.
"It's just a great team. Since my freshman year we knew this would be the most athletic class we've had," Belen said. "The kids we have are just amazing and they all have heart. You would never expect the biggest athletes to be the most humble people and the hardest workers. We really do have the best kids in the nation."
A strong start to his senior campaign has caught the attention of several college coaching staffs, but Belen's recruitment actually started after he was noticed at a few summer camps and combines.
"I was pretty much unknown until the summer when I started going to combines," Belen said. "Through the combines I got a couple letters, and then I started taking a couple college visits to places like San Diego State, the University of San Diego, Cal Lutheran and a couple other schools.
"The University of San Diego are the people most interested in me. They were interested before the season even started, so they realized the potential I had even before they saw me on the field. I went to their camp, then I got a call two months later and they said, 'You're our No. 1 recruit at running back.'"
San Diego and Northern Arizona became the first two schools to extend Belen a scholarship offer, but the recruiting interest has continued to grow and he is receiving interest from schools as far away as the midwest and southeastern parts of the country.
"From the last three games, I have received phone calls from schools like Arizona State, Eastern Michigan, Tennessee and UNLV," Belen reported. "I've gotten a couple letters, a couple phone calls and they keep piling up. My dad does most of the talking because I'm usually busy at practice. They mostly just say they are interested and want to see highlight film."
Several of the college coaches Belen has spoken to have encouraged him to submit his NCAA Clearinghouse forms so he can take official visits.
This summer, Belen posted a 4.53 40-yard dash, a 4.1 shuttle, a 36-inch vertical leap and 14 repetitions of 185 pounds on the bench press.