football

Academics still can play role in recruiting

Ejlevenberry 200 levenberry
ShamireDeVineplanstospendhiscollegeyearshelpingGeorgiaTechretainitscustomarystatusasoneofthenation'stoprushingattacks.
ButtheRivals250offensivetacklefromEastPoint(Ga.)TriCitieswasmoreimpressedwithGeorgiaTech'spositioninadifferentsetofrankings.
DeVine,theNo.19offensivetackleandNo.162overallprospectinthe2013class,wantstomajorincomputerengineering.GeorgiaTech'scomputerengineeringdepartmentwasratedsixthnationallybyUSNewsandWorldReportin2011,butDevinesaidhewassurfingtheInternetrecentlyandfoundaservicethatrankedtheYellowJacketsafewspotshigher.
"GeorgiaTechwasNo.3intheentirenationforcomputerengineering,"DeVinesaidafterannouncinghisverbalcommitmentlastweek."Theothertwo[schoolsaheadofGeorgiaTech]didn'tevenhaveafootballteam."
DeVineisn'tthetypicalrecruit.
Buthisstoryisn'tasuniqueasyoumightthink.
Whilemostrecruitscitefootball-relatedreasonsfirstwhentheyexplaintheircollegechoices,afewprospectswillpickaschoolmainlybecauseofitsexcellenceinagivenfieldofstudy.Inturn,someschoolsdogetarecruitingbenefitfromtheirhighrankinginaparticularacademicdepartment.
"Theoneswhodomentionitarethesortofkidswhoarefocusedonacademicsasmuchasfootball,whichisn'tahighpercentageofprospects,"Rivals.comnationalrecruitinganalystMikeFarrellsaid."Mosttalkaboutthefacilities,winning,thedepthchart,theNFL.Theoneswhodotalkaboutacademicsandmentionspecificmajorsatspecificschools,thosearetheoneswhoaregoingtobeacademicallyinclined."
Ofcourse,thoseacademicallyinclinedkidsoftencanbecomeoutstandingfootballplayersaswell.
Forexample,NdamukongSuhwasaRivals100defensivetacklewithakeeninterestinengineeringwhenhewaspickingschoolsaspartoftheClassof2005.Suh,thesonofateacherandengineer,gotaone-on-onevisitwiththedeanofNebraska'sengineeringschoolaspartofhisrecruitingtrip.Ratherthanmerelysitandlistentothedeanwhiledaydreamingaboutfootball,Suhpulledoutalistofquestionsandspenthissessionaskingthedeanaboutvariousaspectsoftheengineeringschool.
Themeetingapparentlyhadanimpact.
NotonlydidSuhcaphisNebraskacareerbyfinishingfourthinthe2009HeismanTrophyballoting,healsograduatedwithadegreeinconstructionmanagementfromNebraska'sengineeringschool.Afterturningpro,theDetroitLionsfirst-rounddraftpickdonated$2.6milliontoNebraska-$2millionfortheathleticdepartment'sstrengthandconditioningprogramand$600,000tothecollegeofengineering.
Oneofthemostnotableexamplesofa2013prospectchoosingaschoolbasedonaparticularacademicstrengthcomesfromWoodbridge(Va.)C.D.HyltonlinebackerE.J.Levenberry,thenation'sNo.15overallprospect.
LevenberrywastornbetweenFloridaStateandMichigan.Hebelievesbothprogramshavebrightfutures.Sohisdecisioncamedowntosomethingotherthanfootball.
Wheneverhe'sdoneplayingfootball,LevenberrywantstobecomeafederalagentwiththeFBIorU.S.Marshals.Hemadehiscollegechoicebasedonwhichschoolwouldpreparehimbetterforthatcareer.
"Justlikeinfootball,Iliketohelpmyteammatesbecomesuccessful,Iliketohelpotherpeople,"Levenberrysaid."Helpingfindcyberbulliesorfindingsexualpredatorsoflittlekids,Imightbehelpingsomeoneandtheirfamily.That'ssomethingthatwouldmakemefeelgreat."
MichiganhasabetteroverallacademicreputationthanFloridaState.The2012U.S.NewsrankingsratedMichigan28thandFloridaState101stamongnationaluniversities.ButFloridaStatedoeshavearenownedcriminologydepartment.Infact,FloridaState'scriminologydepartmentwasrankedNo.1forfacultyresearchlastyearinanarticlebytheJournalofCriminalJusticeEducation.
ThestrengthofthatdepartmentledLevenberrytoFloridaState.
"ThatbasicallywasthedecidingfactorbecauseMichiganandFloridaStateweresoclose,"Levenberrysaid."Theywerebasicallyidenticalforme.TheonlywayIcouldchooseaschoolwasbywhatwouldbebestformyfuture.FloridaStatehadcriminology.That'swhatIwanttodo.Theyhadthemajorintheexactfield[computerforensics]thatIwanttoworkin."
FloridaStateisn'ttheonlyfootballprogramtogetarecruitingbenefitfromitsqualitycriminaljusticedepartment.CincinnatiandMarylandalsohavegainedanedgefromtheirstrengthinthatparticularfield.
AbouthalfoftheplayersonCincinnati'srosterarestudyingcriminaljustice.MarylandplayersmajoringincriminaljusticeincludestartingoffensivetackleJustinGilbertandstartinglinebackerDemetriusHartsfield.WesleyJeffersonisaformerfive-starrecruitwhorecorded110tacklesasastartinglinebackerforMarylandin2006beforeleavingwithayearofeligibilityremainingtobeginacareerasastatetrooper.
Jeffersonclearlyfolloweduponhisinterestincriminaljustice.
Whatabouttheotherrecruitswhociteaparticularfieldofstudyasareasonforpickingaschool?
Farrellcitescriminaljusticeasafieldofstudythatcanofferarecruitingbenefitbecauseprospectsrealisticallycanbalancethatmajorwiththedemandsthatcomefromplayingbig-timecollegefootball.Henotedthattimeconstraintsmakeitmuchtougherforafootballplayertostudyengineering,pre-medoranyoftheothermostnotoriouslydemandingmajors.
"Tryingto[studyto]beadoctorwhilealsoplayingfootball,it'svirtuallyimpossibletodobothreallywell,"Farrellsaid."Business,criminaljustice,thingslikethat,youcandoifyoufocus.Butengineeringandallthoseotherstudiestakesomuchtime,it'sreallyjustnotrealistic.Collegeswon'tsaythis,buttheywantyoufocusedonfootball.Theywantyoufocusedonspringpracticeandweightliftingintheoffseasonandallthosethings.Ifyou'reinamajorthattakesupallofyourtime-andsomeofthosemajorslikeengineeringandkinesiologyarevery,verytimeconsuming-it'sjustsohardtodoboth."
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ClickHeretoviewthisLink.Somerecruitsmightdisputethattheory.
Rivals100linebackerDougRandolphofRichmond(Va.)WoodberryForestcomesfromafamilyofdoctors.Hisfatherandolderbrotherareradiationoncologists.Hismotherisadentistandhissisterisanophthalmologist.
Randolph,whohasverballycommittedtoStanford,doesn'tplantocontinuethefamilytradition.HeintendstostudybusinessatStanford.Buthischoicewasn'tbasedonanyworriesaboutwhetherhecouldbalancefootballandapre-medcourseload.
"Myinterestswerejustelsewhere,"Randolphsaid."ComingfromWoodberry,Ihaveprettygoodtimemanagementskills,especiallywithsports,sothat'sreallynotafactorforme.Thatplayednopart.IfIreallywantedit,I'msureIcouldmakeithappen."
DeVinealsobelieveshecanhandlethechallengesthatawaithimincollege.Hehasmanagedtobalanceathleticsandacademicsinhighschool.Hethinkshe'llbeabletodothesameatGeorgiaTech.
HesavorstheopportunitytostudycomputerengineeringsomuchthathesaidGeorgiaTech'sstrengthinthatfieldplayedacriticalroleinhiscollegedecision.
"Itwasabigfactor,"DeVinesaid.
Toatleastafewprospects,academicsremainsthebiggestfactor.
SteveMegargeeisthenationalcollegecolumnistforRivals.com.Hecanbereachedatsmegargee@rivals.com,andyoucanclickheretofollowhimonTwitter.
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