(Photo courtesy of Terrell Lloyd/San Jose State Athletics)
I've been playing quarterback my whole life, and I understand the tough dynamic of the position. Only one guy gets to play and he gets all the attention and all the accolades. Sometimes I was the starter, sometimes I was the backup, but in all those years we always managed to make it work. Except that year.
Things reached a boiling point in the next game, because when it came time to make a choice at quarterback, our coach didn't make one. Our team would switch quarterbacks after every series, each game, for the rest of the season. Regardless of how superior I played, that was how it would remain.
It worked...to a point. We advanced to the CIF semifinals, where we lost to Mater Dei. I held my own when I had a chance to play, and I finished the year with 17 touchdown and just two interceptions.
And 0 scholarship offers.
I finally had the team to myself my senior year, and I really started to turn the corner. Coach Lara was replaced by Antonio Pierce (Giants) as the head coach and TJ Houshmandzadeh (Bengals) as our receivers coach. I give God all the credit, but I finished that year with 41 touchdowns, 6 more rushing, and just four interceptions; breaking a number of school records. But still no scholarship offers.
Teams weren't coming out to see me, so I started to come out to see them. And each time I tried to make a visit, I ran into one roadblock after another.
I went to the Elite 11 Camp in Columbus, Ohio with a broken thumb on my throwing hand. With my hand wrapped and a long sleeve shirt, I killed it there, but I was still an unknown. There were just too many quarterbacks in the class of 2015, and all of us were chasing after the same thing. Then I drove more than three hours east, where I had a meeting scheduled with a perennial top 25 program. And when I got there, they had little interest in talking to me. I barely met with the coach, and didn't even get to throw.
(This was me at the Elite 11 Camp, trying to prove myself despite the thumb injury)
As I later found out, that was because future Heisman Award winner Lamar Jackson was making his visit the same day. Lamar didn't even end up attending that school, nor did he know I was visiting at the same time, but it was enough to prevent me from getting offered.
I then traveled to visit to one Ivy League school, where I was told that if I came and threw for the head coach, I would be offered a scholarship. This was it - the moment I had been looking for. Even though I was sick and my thumb was broken, this was my chance. I took the red-eye flight out east, and had a good throwing session. . .only to be told afterwards that they needed to see my ACT scores.
That's fine if you tell someone that before scheduling a visit, but you don't encourage someone to fly across the country to just drop that news on them. And even though I do well in the classroom, my scores weren't good enough for them.
But even at that point I still thought I could make an Ivy League roster. I had another head coach in that conference who had been messaging me on Twitter and texting me. This time I felt wanted. Then when I showed up at his campus to meet him in person, he didn't know who I was. He literally didn't remember me.
I then had one Mountain West school talk with me about meal plans, stipends, and the whole financial package, until a future top-10 NFL pick wanted to transfer there. Another MWC school told me they would offer me if one of their visits didn't commit that weekend, which of course he did.
It got to the point that TJ Houshmandzadeh told me that maybe I should take a look at junior college. I remember signing day when many of my teammates revealed which school’s scholarship offers they would be accepting. They all wore their future team’s gear - I was wearing a plain white tee shirt.
I say all this not to complain, but to show that sometimes God makes us wait for the things we want. And in doing so, hopefully it brings us closer to Him. Romans 8:28 says that "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him" - it just doesn't say how.
I would get that answer soon enough.