Looking around the box of cones, senior Carl Young decides who the fastest player is to pick off. Once he picks off the fastest player, the other three seem like a piece of cake. The quickest athlete has the most moves according to Young. He moves in a counterclockwise circle with his plan in his mind: look around the entire time to find the opportunity to grab somebody. His head on a swivel, Young lunges at the second guy. Two guys down, two to go. He turns his head to the final two and judges which is easier to pick off. The last two are the easiest ones. Ten seconds flat.
Young learned this play at University of Pennsylvania and others similar at multiple football camps this summer at top tier schools like Princeton, University of Chicago and Washington University. All this was with the hopes that football will give him an upper hand in getting into prestigious schools, so he can pursue his dream of a career in engineering and finance.
As high school progressed, Young never considered playing at the collegiate level, but the more he researched the possibility, he saw that it could help him get into highly selective schools.
“These schools want more than just athletes,” Young said. “They want good students who can balance everything and I think I am able to do that.”
Young is reaching out to coaches with the help of his consulting agent, Brad Kroh. Kroh works nationwide to help students like Young who are looking for elite schools that will allow them to pursue more than just sports. When Kroh meets with an athlete, the parents and the athlete must have the same goal in mind: for the student to play collegiate football.
Kroh takes the proactive approach by reaching out to coaches, which is different from what most consulting agents do. A majority of agents wait until Young is approached by scouts to set up meetings and campus visits, but Kroh instead will go out and find academically aligned colleges that match Young’s academic capability. Young attended camps and campus visits to see if the campus and football program is the right fit for him. Young knows that these schools may not accept him solely based on academics.
“What will happen is that the coach will sit in with the admissions board and vouch for someone like Carl,” Kroh said. “Depending on the certains school they may lower their standards for athletes to get in.”
Being an athlete gives that particular student an upperhand in the admissions process, but the athletes still have to have to maintain a high GPA, for example, the University of Chicago’s average GPA is a 4.16. Young has always maintained his grades while also improving his athletic skill set. After each football game Young would ask his dad “what did you see?” Young’s father, Tim, would help his son get better by letting Young know that he didn’t make that block there or that he needs to go straight up the middle instead.
“Carl is one of those kids who may fall between the cracks,” Kroh said. “He isn’t quite big enough physically for the big schools like KU and Mizzou, but academically he is higher than that, so we try to find a school that meets in the middle.”
Young’s mom, Eun and Tim decided that the best thing for Young to do was figure out what he wants to do for his first career. When Young figured out that he wanted to major in engineering, Kroh helped speed up the process by finding schools based on Young’s list of wants. Tim or Eun attended each camp to support Young through his college process.
“Carl basically just took this into his own hands with Kroh, we are just there to give him help when he needs it through this process,” Tim said. “Every kid is a little different, their bend is totally different and we are just trying to help Carl maximize his experience with this and give him the most leverage.”
Playing any collegiate sport, no matter the division, is hard work and takes up time according to head football coach Dustin Delaney. The athlete must know all of the requirements going into it. Delaney helps to prepare his players for collegiate football as best as he can.
“I try to set them up with knowing what it will be like so they aren’t just thrown in there,” Delaney said. “Carl has gotten a lot stronger over the years because our weights program is very similar to collegiate level programs. I make sure all of them know that it is like a job.”
A job that Young has been doing for years, and a job that he feels will make all the hard work worth it someday.
“If you want to be good at something you have to put in the work, you have to put in the time, you gotta do everything that it takes to get there,” Young said. “It’s not just you’ve got some talent you’re gonna be great, it’s you got some talent but you’re not there yet.”