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To Victor James, it’s pretty simple.
The owner of Proving Ground Sports Performance in Pleasanton pointed to the bottom of a zoom call last week and looked right at College of San Mateo quarterback Luke Bottari, whose career is filled with wins on top of wins, which are then on top of more wins.
“I think his passion is going to tell you his future,” James said. “The guy – wherever he goes, he wins. You want a winner, you’re looking at the bottom of the screen here. It’s not really complicated in my eyes. You’re going to get a guy that whatever he sets his mind to is going to get done, whatever he aspires he’s going to get done.”
Simply put, Bottari is the definition of a winner.
And then some.
As a star quarterback at Serra High School, Bottari did not miss a beat. During his junior year, Bottari helped guide the program to a CIF Division 2-AA state crown in 2017, and during that campaign he broke single-season school records for passing yards (2,770), pass attempts (281) and completions (203).
“That was one of the best experiences of my life for sure,” Bottari said. “I don’t know what the percentages of high school teams that end with a loss, and to end with a ‘W’ at the end of the year and to know you’re done, knowing you’re done kind of sucks, but you reach the top of the mountain and you’ve gone as far as you can go.”
What Bottari did as a high schooler will be in Serra lore forever after his history-making days in a Padre uniform.
A three-year varsity quarterback, Bottari added on to his single-season records by breaking program records for career passing yards (5,791) pass attempts (642), completions (434) and touchdowns (57) – all of which are more than Tom Brady during his days at Serra.
“He’s unflappable,” James said. “There’s not really any scenario that you could put him in that’s going to shake him. He’s got confidence in his game, he’s extremely intelligent, so he knows in any given scenario what he’s supposed to do to execute and put his team in the right situation.
“And then on top of that he’s very accurate. He’s not going to miss very often. When you put those things together, a guy that’s coachable, intelligent, going to put the team in the right situation and always has a demeanor that can’t be shaken, positive attitude to work every day. Going to see a lot of ‘Ws.’”
Despite all of the winning and success, the opportunities to play at a Division I university just weren’t there for the 5-11 quarterback.
So, Bottari stayed close to home and went to the College of San Mateo, where he has won once again and delivered crucial plays left and right – some of which were seen in Netflix’s “Last Chance U” when CSM faced Laney College.
“Honestly, I think it’s all just my height for sure,” Bottari said. “On the shorter side of quarterback, but it doesn’t really mean anything. Shorter quarterbacks are becoming more and more popular in today’s game, especially in the NFL, so just the time will come when I get my opportunity. I just got to take advantage of it.”
Bottari has taken advantage of it and is an example of height not making much – or any – of a difference when it comes to the quarterback position, just like some NFL names in 2019 No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray (5-10) and Super Bowl winning quarterbacks like Russell Wilson (5-11) and Drew Brees (6-0).
He made the winning ways continue at CSM, throwing for 2,192 yards, 18 touchdowns and just six interceptions during his freshman campaign, leading the team to a Northern California title and a runner-up finish at state.
“I’m never really satisfied with anything that I do in my game or in life in general, so I think just not getting the offers I wanted out of high school or whatever you want to call it just made me even hungrier to be like, ‘Alright, I’m going to go to junior college and I’m going to ball out, go win as much as I can,’” Bottari said. “It’s really just my mindset and never being satisfied and being a leader and a winner for sure.”
Now the offers to play college ball are coming.
Bottari currently holds two offers – one from Eastern New Mexico, a Division II school, and the other from the University of San Diego out of the FCS.
Regardless of the lack of offers early on, Bottari is glad to be where he is today – a consistent winner and leader at every single stop.
“I’m a winner,” Bottari said. “I continue to win and win and just not getting the opportunity that I wanted creates a chip on my shoulder, but honestly along with that I wouldn’t want my journey to go any other way than it did because all the stuff that I’ve been through with recruiting and being denied and all that stuff, I think it’s made me a better player to be honest, just continuing to prove people wrong and prove myself right.”
With a big offseason – Bottari said he is on a strict diet and eats six meals a day, along with gaining 15 pounds – Bottari is eager to win again in his hometown.
And add a second championship ring to his arsenal.
“To have two in my career – that would be great,” Bottari said. “It is a personal thing, but also we came up short last year and I feel like I have unfinished business at CSM. One of the reasons why I’m choosing to go back, so I think just if we can win it this year, being able to win it for all the guys that we couldn’t last year and the guys that are returning this year if we can come together and end with a ‘W’ would be something special for sure.”
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