While there were committed student-athletes among the 40 football players assembled at Soldier Field on Tuesday night, Randy Taylor, director of football recruiting at NCSA Athletic Recruiting, wanted all of the Chicagoland Future Stars to act their best under the watchful eyes of the college coaches at the 2014 Future Stars Banquet. “When you get up here to accept your awards,” Randy, who built several nationally ranked classes and was named the nation’s top recruiting coordinator by ESPN.com, said, “bow your necks and look like players because this is the eyeball test. We are here for the college coaches.”
Among the coaches was the University of Minnesota’s Jerry Kill, the Big Ten’s coach of the year, who delivered the keynote speech. Coach Kill congratulated the Future Stars, but told them to remember that their football–and their recruiting journey–was just beginning. “When chasing your dream, where do you go? You need to enjoy your night; you need to enjoy your life,” Coach Kill said. “Thank your parents and thank your coaches.”
Coach Kill emphasized the value of hard work, both on and off the field. “Hey, it’s important to love football,” he said, only moments after declaring that football is the greatest sport that has ever been invented. “But you cannot chase [your dreams] without education. Because someday it’s going to come to an end.” If you want to play at a university, you’re going to have to go to school. And you have to start early. Don’t mess up your freshman year. Don’t mess up your sophomore year.
Coach Kill also encouraged the Future Stars to take care of their bodies, to keep a positive attitude and to always make good choices. “What are you going to do when you go to that party with your fellas? There’s a lot of things going there outside the framework. And if you jump in there in that crowd, in that situation, you made a choice, and it might cost you your scholarship. What you post on that social networking, it could cost you your scholarship. Of course your coaches are watching, because it could cost them their jobs. There are other players who aren’t here tonight who would take you down in a minute,” he said.
What you post on social networks could cost you your scholarship.
And to round it off, Coach Kill told the stars one of the most important lessons any student-athlete could hear for their recruiting journey: if they feel in their gut that the school doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit. “All universities are good universities,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. There are all good coaches. You need to decide which is the right one. Go in there, count to ten, and if it doesn’t feel right, get out.”
— Athletic Recruiting (@ncsa) December 10, 2014
Notre Dame commit Trevor Ruhland received the Johnny Lattner Player of the Year Award.
The award for Coach of the Year went to Troy McAllister at Wendell Phillips Academy.
And the Athleadership Award, which recognizes an individual who has inspired themselves and others through sports, went to D’Angelo Dereef, who coaches at Al Raby.
“It’s not just a duty but an intense obligation for you to pay it forward and give it back,” Chris Krause, founder and CEO of NCSA Athletic Recruiting, said.
Dereef expressed his gratitude to neighboring team’s coaches, with whose teams his players have been able to practice or play 7-on-7’s. Al Raby, like many urban schools, doesn’t have a home field.
But Dereef remains convinced that his students have just as good a chance as others. “If you have good kids, with good grades, and they are good young men, they can go and get Division I scholarships anywhere in America. It doesn’t matter what you’ve got, as long as your coaches work hard.”
See Coach Kill, Coach McAllister, Coach Dereef and more highlights from the event in the video below.
While the Future Stars banquet assisted the Chicagoland elite, we are here to help anyone who is interested in playing football in college. We can answer any questions you may have about your personal journey.