Travis Nethercutt is a 6’3″ 242 pound 12th grade football player from little Osceola, Indiana. When he and his family originally started the recruiting process, they were thinking about the high levels of college sports.
“We were looking D1 and D2,” his Dad Glen told me. “We were adamant about it. We had no idea about NAIA could offer so many things. We didn’t know anything about NAIA. We were looking seriously at D1’s like Northern Illinois and Western Michigan and D2’s like St. Joseph. Dayton was in the mix. We visited around but when we got to Marian University that was where he fit in.” Marian University is in Indianapolis. The Knights won the NAIA national championship in 2012 with a 12-1 record. “A lot of people have no idea of the kind of talent that is at places like Marian,” said Glen.
In looking at their roster, their offensive line has players 6’5″ 300 and 6’4″ 270 and these guys can play. Their quarterback, Adam Wiese, was named all-conference twice in high school at Perry Meridian in Indianapolis and was all-state honorable mention. He was MVP of the North/South All-Star Game in Indiana as a 12th grader. Defensive back John Keevers, who made 18 tackles in the national championship game, was all-county and all-state at Roncalli High in Indianapolis.
To say that their players could go way up the road and tear it up at Michigan and Michigan State is not true as those schools have players that usually at another level physically, but a huge misunderstanding many families have is not realizing the kind of talent and competitive players are at places like NAIA powers Marian and St. Francis in a sport such as football. As I have often said, if you take a typical normal sized high school in most parts of America, 85% of their athletes would have a hard time getting significant playing time at top NAIA programs, yet many think they project to play at a higher level. That is why it is critical to get a realistic evaluation from an objective third party. Glen told me over and over how NCSA not only gave Travis exposure, but guided them on the right camps and combines to go and what steps to take along the way.
The Nethercuts found that NAIA programs often have significant athletic scholarship money. Every program is different and the scholarship for each athlete is different, but in their case Travis will get a significant part of the $39,000 a year costs covered in athletic scholarship money alone. “What a blessing that is to us and a load off our minds,” said Glen. “Travis (who has a 3.8 cumulative GPA at Penn High, a top academic high school) is going to focus on Business there and they have a job placement rate close to 90%. He will get an internship his junior year and with Marian being right there in a city like Indianapolis he will have connections. We also liked that the campus is in its own providence, so to speak. It’s right there at the big city of Indy but the campus is in this tranquil, wooded setting. Our son is from little Osceola in the northern part of the state and in his case he was a little intimidated when we visited large schools. He is more of a family guy. We liked that the staff here was so approachable, and when we watched the team play we were so impressed with their execution on plays and their grasp of fundamentals. Another big thing was their athletic director Steve Downing has been so approachable. There is a guy who was a basketball star and Indiana and won a NBA title with the Celtics, and he is right there for us. Sometimes in bigger schools it’s harder to have that relationship with the A.D.”
I asked Mr. Nethercutt if there was anything else they learned through the recruiting process. “We really got a lot out of going to the right camps,” he said. “Combines can get you on the radar if you are in the top percent, but what we liked about camps is there is more time to be seen.”
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Motivational speaker Charlie Adams is the author of four books on peak performance and attitude. He was a sports anchor for a quarter of a century at television stations across America, and witnessed many families struggle in the recruiting process. He started educating them with articles and talks in 2000 and often speaks for NCSA at events. As a motivational speaker, he constantly hears company leaders tell him they look to hire former college athletes because of their ability to manage their time, their competitive nature, team focus, ability to set and reach goals and that they have already been yelled at by their college coaches!