My Athletes Wanted Story
University of Central Florida
I have always had a love for sports, throughout my childhood I played soccer, baseball and basketball. It wasn’t until middle school that I found my love for football; however I only played for my middle school team which was not very competitive. Everyone said I would be a great football player because of my height and quick feet as long as I could put a little weight on my frame. However I kept growing and never put any weight on my frame not to mention I couldn’t find that “aggression” that a lineman should have. When I was a freshman in high school I was 6’2 and barley made the freshmen B team. I played basketball in the off season, lifted weights, attended Don Beebe’s speed camps as well as college football camps. I worked hard throughout high school, and finally made varsity football my junior year. But beyond a few questioners and form letters I was receiving little to no attention from college coaches. I was not being recruited because I was undersized, and I did not know how to play the game of recruiting. I was not being proactive I believed that coaches would come find me. I thought it was my high school jobs coach to promote me in addition to going to camps I thought coaches would notice me. At the end of my junior year my father’s friend Tom Thayer suggested I join NCSA, they were very helpful. NCSA created a highlight video for me in addition they helped me send my information out to college coaches. By senior year I had received more attention but I was still not being heavily recruited, and by the end of my senior season I had not received any offers.
After another loss in the first round of the play offs I began to worry that maybe I was never going to live my dream of playing college football. That is when my highlight film ended up on the desk of three coaches who could see past the skinny lineman and see the potential of a future NFL player. University of Central Florida, Texas Christian University and Western Michigan, began calling my house a couple days a week and inviting me on official visits. My first visit was to UCF, who thrilled me with their brand new campus, top of the line dorm rooms, state of the art facilities and the beginning of a brand new on campus stadium that could seat 70,000. I left feeling like UCF was my school however upon my mother’s urging I chose to visit TCU as well. TCU was a school with a little more history, tradition, a nationally recognized academic reputation, and all around safer choice for me. While I liked Western Michigan at this point is was definitely between TCU and UCF. On the night of February 1st I still had not made a decision, and I would be signing my NLI the next day. My phone was ringing off the hook from coaches calling to see if I had made any decisions, eventually we had to turn the phone off while I made my decision. I talked it over with my parents for a very long time, finally coming to the decision that I would be a Knight and play under Coach George O’Leary in sunny Orlando. The thrill of being apart of history, and building tradition instead of already being apart of it was too much to resist. I wanted to be a part of the team that would pull a school out of the longest losing streak in the nation to conference champions and bowl games. Which is exactly what we did my freshmen year.
Signing my National Letter of Intent was one of the greatest days of my life. I went on to start as a freshmen left tackle and broke the NCAA record of the most starts in college football. I played every game of my career with 51 starts, never becoming ineligible or injured. Coming out of college I was a free agent and played on several different teams before catching on with the Vikings. I have now played three seasons in the NFL and every day I cannot believe this dream that I am living. Looking back on the boy who barely made his high school football team, a teenager who almost did not receive a college scholarship, it’s hard to imagine that I am playing at the highest level possible. The best advice I can give athletes is about the recruiting process. No one is going to get you recruited, it’s on your shoulders, if you want to play at the college level give the same amount of effort to the recruiting game as you are giving to your sport. College coaches will not come find you; you must find them and make them remember you. Lastly the best advice I could give to all aspiring athletes is never give up on your dreams, with hard work and persistence anything is possible.