Turlock defensive end Devin Bradley celebrates a stop by the Bulldogs' defense during a season-opening win over Freedom of Oakley on Aug. 23, 2019. The Bulldogs return home to face another Bulldog this Thursday -- Tracy High, its annual Dogbone rival. (Samantha Schmidt)

Top football prospect leaving California for a perennial Utah state champion

James Burns
-

Football prospect Xavier Carlton will transfer from Modesto Christian to a perennial private-school power in Utah, near his parents’ hometown.

A four-star prospect at defensive end, Carlton will enroll at Juan Diego Catholic School in Draper, Utah, according to his mother Lorraine Carlton.

Xavier Carlton blossomed into a top defensive end recruit in three years at Modesto Christian. He leaves a four-star prospect with at least 23 Division I offers.

Lorraine Carlton has accepted a promotion that requires her to relocate to Salt Lake City. She said the family considered leaving Xavier behind to complete his senior year at Modesto Christian, but ultimately decided to keep the family together as they settle into a new community.

“We’re a family unit,” she said. “I’m not going to leave my son out here to live with friends. We’re a family unit and the plan is to move back to Salt Lake City.”

In nearly three years at Modesto Christian, Carlton blossomed into one of the state’s top football recruits. He has been offered by at least 23 Division I universities, including USC and UCLA, Cal and Stanford, Notre Dame, Michigan, Texas and Oklahoma, according to 247Sports.com. Carlton has yet to verbal and won’t announce his commitment until after his senior season, his mother said.

His focus, she added, is to acclimate quickly to a new community, new school and new program, and then continue his evolution as one of the country's most intriguing two-way prospects.

At Modesto Christian, the 6-foot-7, 250-pound Carlton was the Trans-Valley League’s Outstanding Defensive Lineman. He also beat Escalon with a touchdown catch between defenders while laying on his back in the end zone. In two seasons at the varsity level, Carlton had 24 receptions for 372 yards and six touchdowns.

“Now he’ll have to acclimate to a new school and new program,” Lorraine said. “You want the schools that have been interested in you to stay interested in you. He won't make any decisions until after his senior season.”

Lorraine said her son has handled news of the move with the same maturity that helped him weather the sudden death of Modesto Christian assistant coach Jeff Martin and the resignation of head coach Mike Parsons.

Carlton was present when the school introduced new coach Ryan Green and expressed excitement in working with the former professional tight end.

"It's unfortunate that we are losing not only a really good football player but more importantly a great kid and a great family from our program," Green said in a text message to FrontRowPreps.com. "It's been a true pleasure working with Xavier over the last few months and getting to know him as a person. He's been a big part of our program for the last three years and has brought a lot of publicity to the program, as well as set a great example for the other players."

Carlton will reportedly join a program that won three consecutive Utah state championships from 2015 to 2017 and had eight players named to the all-Utah 3A state, including three to the first team. Juan Diego coach John Colosimo has guided the Soaring Eagle to eight state titles.

“Since he’s been at MC, he’s had quite a few life lessons,” said Lorraine, who wanted to thank football coaches Green and Parsons, as well as Modesto Christian superintendent Dr. Jonathan Burton and school staff. “Life throws you curve balls, and he’s had his curve balls — when coach Mac (Martin) passed away and then coach Parsons stepping down. This is teaching him resiliency. It’s all about how you adapt to change and take advantage of every opportunity.”

“We’re bummed about leaving the area, but we’re excited about the new opportunity that has been put in front of us."

Green said Modesto Christian will rally after the sudden departure of a star.

"We hate to lose such a key player, but in life these things happen and you have to learn how to move forward," the first-year coach wrote. "At the end of the day, we support Xavier and his family and doing what they need to do. But as a team, we'll have to pick up that slack and move forward. And that'll be our focus moving forward."

Follow James Burns on Twitter @jburns1980, or email him at frontrowpreps@gmail.com.