Every year thousands of high school student-athletes from various sports get recruited and receive offers from colleges across the country. They go on to have meetings with college coaches, go on campus visits and practice alongside college players all in hopes to make it to the next level once they graduate.
Recruiting has and always will be an important step when it comes to building a college roster and our local athletes and coaches have been doing their best in these troubling times of COVID-19.
Bradley-Bourbonnais punter and kicker Collyn Hopkins has worked his way into national spotlight over the past season as he gets ready for his senior year. He is currently ranked as the third-best punter and seventh-best kicker in the country, according to kornbluekicking.com, and he has already been bombarded with college visits and offers, including Big Ten schools such as Iowa, Illinois and Northwestern.
“Leading into spring as my ranking started to get higher I was seeing a lot of attention from a lot of big schools,” Hopkins said. “I had plans to attend many college camps that were all cancelled out of nowhere. This made it very difficult for recruiting.”
Once those cancelations became more frequent, Hopkins said the recruiting trail started to cool off, but has recently turned back up.
“I lost contact with a lot of coaches and recruitment slowed down quite a bit,” he said. “Over the last month, as coaches started recruiting more again and getting back on campus, along with my ranking continuing to rise, the contacts started to become steady again. to the point that I typically have three-to-four calls with coaches and a lot of text messages throughout each week.”
Kankakee senior boys basketball player AJ Storr has also started gaining some recognition after helping lead the Kays to another regional title this past season. He currently is playing AAU ball with the Illinois Hoop Stars as he tries to get more exposure.
“My AAU team has helped me a lot for recruitment because my AAU coach has a lot of connections and got a lot of kids in college last year,” Storr said. “I’ve played with this team since last year, so I know a lot of college hoopers, and I’ve been talking to college coaches.”
One big difference Storr has noticed in this year’s recruitment process is that college coaches are taking a closer look at their potential future players since they have more time on their hands because of COVID-19.
“Recruitment is different now because coaches are starting to watch the full games during COVID-19,” Storr said. “Last year they would usually come watch a quarter or a half but now they’re watching the full games, so you’ve got to play hard throughout.”
As of now, Storr has one offer on the table from Chicago State University.
Bradley-Bourbonnais football player and 2019 graduate Dylan Regnier on the other hand is already committed. This past February he officially committed to Aurora University on a football scholarship. Regnier’s decision was about as easy as it gets after he fell in love with the campus and team culture.
However, even though he had his eyes locked in on Aurora, he too saw the difficulties in staying in contact with coaches.
“The most difficult thing was trying to stay in contact with them because they were busy and I was busy with wrestling…,” Regnier said. “And then COVID-19 hit and then the coaches had to watch what they did, but at the same time there wasn’t anything major except not being able to see the dorms and stuff that were locked up due to winter break.”
The recruitment process didn’t go as smooth for Dylan’s brother, Lucas, who has recently committed to Concordia University Wisconsin, where he will wrestle next fall.
“It was really tough figuring out what college to go to without being able to go to counseling and stuff, but I figured it with my family and counselor over email and text,” Lucas said. “Honestly it was the best way it could happen because everything fell in place.”
Kankakee Community College athletic director head baseball coach Todd Post has also noticed the recruiting shift in that everything is now based on virtual contact, whether that being talking over the phone or looking at player’s tape.
“Recruiting is definitely a different scenario; we are recruiting a lot of players through video and talking to guys over the phone versus seeing them in person,” Post said. “So, that’s been different, but once again we made the adjustments and we are going to put a complete team on the field.”
Being that he is the coach for a two-year junior college in KCC, Post has also had to deal with trying to find his second-year players a four-year university, which a dozen of last year’s sophomores have done.
“We still are scheduled to play in some junior college showcases this fall, so they will get an opportunity to be seen,” Post said. “We were fortunate last year that we did have players sign early and were seen in showcases and summer leagues, so our sophomores have been seen and signed with some very sold four-year schools.”