Jacob and I started our Journey around eighth grade. He played football a few years when we lived in Florida but never really took to it at a very young age. Soccer was his sport for most of his childhood and has played through high school. But in eighth grade things started to turn towards football once we had moved to Tennessee and he started playing in middle school. A passion started to develop and we began discussions about college. At that age however, you still have 4 more years to go, kids are really just starting to develop. Not sure how big, fast and strong they will end up. Have they peaked? Will they have the same success at the Varsity level in high school? For most kids at that age, there are a great deal of unknowns.
We really began in earnest around February of his Sophomore year. At that point he had played sparingly on Varsity at QB so we didn't have a lot of film to share. Generally college coaches want to see Varsity film. But we did begin creating our plan and began an off season training program with National Playmakers Academy (NPA) here in the Middle Tennessee Area. Jacob was starting to get bigger and stronger but from a height perspective he had slowed down and topped out at 5'11. Pretty good height for a lot of skill positions but definitely on the short side for a QB. So that became our first challenge.
Over the next few months Jacob continued with his off season training and we attended a handful of college camps over the summer leading into his Senior year. During that same time period, I began researching what I could help with as his parent. Using hudl to edit his film the most effective way, emailing coaches, the importance of twitter, tracking down the college coaches that recruit our area, asking people we trusted what is a realistic level for him football wise.
Overwhelmingly, the feedback we received was he would end up at the Division 1 (FCS) level with a chance to possibly move up to the Group of 5 (G5) level in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) or move down to Division 2. Early on that is exactly what happened. We took unofficial visits to The Citadel, The Naval Academy and Davidson his Sophomore and Junior Season. He had a good Junior season and then around March of that year things started to pick up. We sent out his film and received quite a few responses from schools at the levels I mentioned above. Coaches started following him on Twitter and initiating conversations through Direct Message (DM). We began to attend Junior days that spring and coaches began stopping by the school during the spring evaluation period to meet his coaches.
Going into the summer we had started to narrow down the schools that truly had interest in him and planned our summer schedule. We made a list and divided it into 3 sections. The first was one or two schools that would be considered long shots. Dream programs so to speak. The second was schools where we truly felt there was a good fit based on our plan and he had received interest. The third section was schools that we felt he definitely had a good shot of getting an opportunity. So off we went......
We attended camps at basically every level of college football. NAIA, D3, FCS and FBS. We targeted a few of the FBS camps because they typically allow coaches from schools they don't compete with recruiting wise to attend. Great opportunity to get in front of multiple schools at one camp. Plus, this was our last opportunity to perform in front of colleges before his Senior year so it was crucial to be realistic in the places we chose (outside the long shot school). During the season we took more unofficial visits to Furman, Wofford, Centre and Berry which were all schools that he was still in contact with or had received an offer.
As he wrapped up his Senior season, things had not fallen into place exactly how we thought. The interest had waned from the FCS schools for various reasons. Coaching changes, transfers in, schools getting the guy they had ranked above my son. It's just part of "The Process". He ended up with 5 offers all from great schools with great programs. Two D3 schools, Two NAIA schools and One Preferred Walk On (PWO) from an FBS School.
After a great deal of up and downs throughout our journey, after visits with each of the schools we had offers from and multiple conversations, he made the decision to attend Virginia Tech as a Preferred Walk on and will begin school and working out with the team this summer. We could not be more excited for the opportunity he has at VT or more proud of how he handled his recruiting journey. VT meets almost every item we had on our initial plan; Great Academics, High Level of Football and not more than six hours driving distance from the family. Very much looking forward to what the future has in store for him as a Hokie!