East St. Louis (Ill.) class of 2015 running back Natereace Strong missed a large portion of his sophomore season with a knee injury, but that has not stopped colleges from extending early offers.
In the last six weeks, the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Strong has collected offers from Florida State, Kansas, Michigan State, Missouri and Ohio State.
"I was really shocked," Strong said of the offers. "I told Coach, 'I didn't realize I was that good to play a half of a season and still get good offers like that.' I just thank God, stay humble and stay focused."
The most recent offer came from the ACC's Florida State Seminoles, and caught the attention of the Illinois back.
"That is a big offer and a good school," Strong said. "I watch a lot of college football, so I know they are big. I like Florida State and that is up my alley."
Among his other offers, Strong took specific notice of the one that came in from Ohio State.
"I like their program," Strong said. "I like how [Urban Meyer] coaches and they play team ball. They care about each other and it's like a brotherhood. When you build a family around your football team, that means your team is going to play hard. That's what I like about Ohio State."
Other schools that are showing early interest in Strong are Georgia, Colorado State, Arkansas, Penn State and Notre Dame. He expects to visit some schools over the summer, but the only trip he is sure of is one to Missouri with several of his East St. Louis teammates.
Strong suffered a sprained meniscus midway through his sophomore season, but made it back for playoffs and rushed for over 300 yards combined in the two games after returning.
Strong has further showed no ill effects from the injury this off-season on the track, where he ran a personal best of 10.63 in 100 meters. He completed his track season by taking second in the state 100 meter finals.
"For a sophomore, that's pretty good," Strong noted. "But my junior and senior year I am winning state, hands down."