Planning for college can be one of the most stressful events in the world. There are many factors to consider: if a certain school is too far from home, too expensive for your parents to pay for or if one will even get accepted into the university. These are common concerns that students take into consideration before deciding on where they will further their education.
For an athlete, the process may be a little more complex. Not only are athletes taking those questions into consideration, but they must base decisions on what is best for their athletic career. Lastly, will they actually play for the school they commit to?
The process of committing to a school for the next four years can be hard. One three-star recruit in particular, who wished to remain anonymous, held offers from Southern Mississippi, Tulane, Southeastern Louisiana and Western Kentucky.
“The full scholarships and partial scholarships I received were a true blessing,” the recruit said. “My parents are not the wealthiest people. It may seem a little arrogant, but I only looked into schools that offered me a full scholarship.”
On the top of the list for this recruit was financial assistance. Like many other students, the biggest factor for choosing the right school was being able to afford it. In this case, the recruit had no problem with financial help, as three of the five schools to offer him offered a full scholarship (Tulane and Western Kentucky were the only two to offer partial scholarships).
“I was not being arrogant but worrying about football and school, without worrying about how I would pay for it, played a major key in my decision,” he said.
The recruit narrowed his choices down to SELU, Southern Miss and Incarnate Word. Due to the quality of the scholarships, the recruit needed to examine the locations of the universities.
“I am from New Orleans, where I have had my share of distractions,” he said. “In order for me to really feel at home, I needed a place that had a fair population but not too many people to where I become distracted from my mission.”
Very rural areas and overpopulated areas are places the recruit wanted to shy away from.
“Southeastern would be a great place for me if I was just a student, but when I visited on game day, the students were not really in attendance for the game nor did much support show up to the game.” the recruit said.
He took his next visit to The University of Southern Mississippi.
“USM was one of the best (places) I visited,” he said. “The atmosphere on game day was indescribable. It was exactly what I was used to. High energy, very welcoming and high competition.”
Southern Miss had many aspects that seem to fit the approval of the recruit. Lastly, came the trip to San Antonio.
“Whether I was on the campus of (Incarnate Word) or just touring the city, it felt like a spaced-out New Orleans,” the recruit said. “Attendance at the game was outstanding. Everyone seemed to be big fans of the football team and really showed it when I visited.”
After taking his visit to Incarnate Word, he already knew the two destinations he would entertain.
Although the schools that offered gave him the financial assistance that he wanted, they just did not check off all the boxes that he was looking for.
“I narrowed my schools between USM and (Incarnate Word) due to the fact that they had what I needed,” the recruit said. “I could tell that all the coaches had a vision of what they needed to do to win”
The recruit changed his game plan when news broke that Todd Monken would be resigning from his position to become the offensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just 10 days before Signing Day. The next coach was Jay Hopson, who just got off the plane after spending four years at Alcorn State.
“You never know if a new coach will honor the scholarships that have already been offered. The risk in waiting to see if the coach will or won’t was too much to take in,” the recruit said. “Also, I didn’t know who the [expletive] this new coach was.”
The recruit made it clear that both teams were neck and neck before he committed to Incarnate Word.
“I had intentions of playing under Monken because I knew what he was about,” the recruit said. “After numerous conversations, I could tell the man was legit and was about winning. I could not get the truth out of a new coach in just a week.”
It was not the easiest of choices for the recruit, but Incarnate Word’s consistency seemed to be the deciding factor as the recruit made his commitment official on National Signing Day.
Although Hopson may very well be as successful, if not better than Monken, the ground that a new coach loses after he gains a job so close to signing day is insurmountable with some recruits.