Protect Your Dream
By Brandon Pechloff
I knew since I was six what I wanted. I wanted to play college football as a quarterback. My parents and I chose my high school based on it’s strong football program and the probability to start as quarterback as a junior. The coaches were aware of my goals before I registered. I was the quarterback of my Freshmen and Sophomore teams and back up Varsity quarterback in my Sophomore and Junior year. In April of my Sophomore year I had a profile on Rivals, I thought I was all that. I heard about NCSA in May of my Sophomore year. At that time I had a lot of colleges interested in me. My parents and I decided that based on the early interest I did not need to join NCSA.
By the end of my Sophomore year I was on Rivals, Scout and Espn. We read every book and article on how to get recruited and followed every guideline. I was voted the NUC National Ultimate 100 MVP QB in the summer before I was a junior. Before my Junior season I had over 65 D-1 schools interested in me. I filled out every questionnaire and responded to every email. I had a professional looking profile that had my picture and all my information for the coaches.
I did everything that was requested of me prior to my Junior year by my coaches. I gained 70 pounds, I increased my speed, and my strength. I competed on a national basis and won. I had every reason to believe that I would be the starting quarterback through-out the summer practices. I found out that I was not the starter at practice one day when the other quarterback (a returning senior) was being interviewed by the press. I did not start one game as a Junior, our team went 11-1, and I went in occasionally when the outcome of the game was already determined.
I was chosen to go to the US Army All American Combine without playing my Junior season and I was one of the 70 quarterbacks in attendance that was honorably mentioned for my performance. NCSA was present at the combine and did a presentation. After returning home my parents and I decided to join NCSA in February of my Junior year. Thanks to NCSA, sending out my highlight video and profile link, I once again had a lot of schools interested. I went to 10 Junior days, 12 spring camps and 11 Senior one day camps in 5 states (I chose only schools that came to my school and called me requesting I come because they were very interested). I always made sure that the coaches knew I had not started in my Junior year. They all said they were still interested. I competed nationally again. I won the NUC Midwest Ultimate 100 QB MVP and was third place in the National competition in Oklahoma.
I was not worried, I was communicating with many colleges who said they were just waiting for my senior season. I set goals for myself and exceeded them all. I lead my team to victory winning the 5A State Championship against the most decorated school in Illinois history, Joliet Catholic. I was the MVP in the championship game, voted All State, 1st team, All Conference, 1st team, All Area Team, All Area MVP, I tied a state record for the longest TD – 99 yards from scrimmage and I am 7th on the State list for most TD’s in one season – 43. I passed for 3,200 yards and 43 TD’s, completing 60% of my attempts. In addition, I set a number of school passing records.
NCSA sent out my senior highlight videos and profile again. My numbers were as good as or better than the top quarterbacks in the nation holding D-1 scholarship offers. I am 6 feet, 7 inches and had proven that I was passionate about football and that I was able to win a State Championship. I showed when others would have given up I kept trying, I never gave up my dream. I was ready to choose my future college; I was ready for the visits and the calls.
No D-1 schools called or came by, no offers were made. I started to get endless calls from D-11, D-111 and JUCO colleges. What was never made clear by the D-1 colleges is that they make all of their QB choices with the Junior class, without exception. If someone de-commits they just offer to a QB who had gotten an offer to a different school in their Junior year. No matter what I did in my senior season it didn’t appear to matter, I had not started as a junior.
My story does have a good ending. My dad called NCSA on January 14th , several weeks before national signing day, asking that my video and profile link be sent out one last time to colleges that were having trouble with the quarterback position. On January 15th Western Carolina University a D-1AA school out of North Carolina called. I had an offer by Tuesday the 19th and was flying for an official visit on the 22nd. I loved my visit, the athletes, college and coaches. I verbally committed on Monday, January 25th. On signing day I was at my high school with my parents signing my official commitment papers.
NCSA was always very clear that a student/athlete had to keep their options open, never to say no just because it was not the college of your dreams. Thanks to my parents and NCSA, I will begin the next step of my dream, to play college football. I have a chance to compete for starting quarterback at a college that wants me and needs me. I did not get what I had always thought I wanted, but perhaps I have gotten what I need. The rest is up to me.
In conclusion, my advice to prospective student/athletes would be to choose partners that can help like NCSA. Compete whenever you can at combines and senior one day camps. This will give you the confidence to do your job on the field when your season starts. Involve your parents; they are your biggest fans. Make sure your coaches know your goals and be very clear about how they will be involved. No matter what, “protect your dream and continue working hard”. The road to your dream may take a lot of turns and twists, yet if it is your dream, you say when it is over not others.