Written by Rodney Williams – Rockdale HS Class of 2016
edited by David Ewalt
Being a student-athlete comes with a lot of responsibilities. Going to school, training, and having to give up personal time are all sacrifices you must make. You have to be dedicated to this lifestyle. If not, it will eat you up.
To be honest, I did not know I would make it to this point. The grind was nonstop. I was told everyday I wouldn’t do this or be that. That is what kept me going. You have to have that drive, to motivate yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. If you want to make it, then go out and do work, nothing will be handed to you.
I went from not playing a down in middle school, to playing varsity ball, with the blessing of signing a scholarship to attend Shorter University. During the process, I was so focused on chasing the football dream, that I lost sight of how important my education was.
Grades are key, and they will determine where you can play ball the next four years. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT play around with grades. They are more important than your play on the field! I had schools tell me “You can play ball, but your grades and test scores are not where we need them.” Do not let that be your situation. Study for the ACT and SAT like you are learning a new playbook. You need test scores to qualify for the NCAA, as well as, meeting college requirements. Your college football career stops at academics.
So now your grades are on-point, but do you have the exposure? Some people say camps are a waste of money, so just answer this for me. Would you rather keep the 40 dollars spent at a camp or become recognized and possibly earn a college scholarship?
Many people and coaches say, “if you’re good enough, they’ll find you.” There are 1.1 million kids in the nation playing high school football at over 14,000 schools. On top of that, only a small percentage will play at the college level. The cream doesn’t always rise to the top, and NFL draft proves that every year.
So with all that being said, set realistic goals, there is a fit out there for everyone. The process is fun, it’s suppose to be, but remember while having fun it’s also a business. Don’t forget what got you to this point and stay focused. Not every player will be able to play at the Division I level, even though that’s all our dream. The key is to get a free education or at least some form of financial assistance.
Once again, be sure to find a FIT. There is nothing wrong with a Division II, Division III, NAIA, or even a junior college. The key is to just make it to that next level, and start working towards a diploma, while becoming better at football everyday. Do not get caught up on divisions, and work toward your goals.
When colleges start showing interest and scholarships start showing up; go on visits and break down the differences between each school. Choosing a college is a life-changing decision. Break down your top choices – examine pros and cons for each school. Once a decision has been made and it feels like home, then congratulations and commit!
My final closing comment is this. There will be obstacles, doubters, mistakes, but with hard work there are no limits.