National signing day for high school football players is a little more than two weeks away. Beginning Feb. 3, the NCAA permits players to sign binding letters of intent to accept scholarships from its member schools. That day often represents the end of an arduous process for players and their families.
Leading up to signing day, The Augusta Chronicle will speak with a prospect from four area counties, examining the process from these different viewpoints.
Lakeside senior Khadi Tshishiku plans to play football for Harvard. Last week, the defensive back discussed the particulars that come with playing football in the Ivy League for the second part of this series.
Q: First, could you give us a little insight on what the process is for being admitted to Harvard?
A: Harvard is allowed to accept 30 football players a year. The admissions committee meets to identify people they think can make it through all four years without failing. I fit (their requirements), so a lady who interviewed me over the summer told me I had been accepted. They sent me what's called a "likely letter," which basically tells you (that) you are accepted to the school, but it won't be official until April 1. You don't sign a letter of intent, you just do what the likely letter says: maintain your grades and stay out of trouble. When April 1 comes around, if you've kept up with everything, it becomes official. ... I took my official visit in December, and they asked me if I wanted to commit. Once I did, they sent the likely letter. The recruiting coach, coach (Tony) Reno, is going to send me some videos, so I can start learning formations. I will also be on a strength program soon.
Q: Harvard obviously taps some of the brightest, most driven youths in our country. What parts of your background do you think developed you into this kind of person?
A: My parents are always on me about getting my work done. My brother went here, he graduated in 2006, and was third in his class. He always got good grades, and my parents expect me to live up to that. Both of my parents are graduates of college; my mom teaches math at North Augusta (High School), and my dad is an engineer at SRS.
Q: Ivy League schools by rule cannot grant athletic scholarships. How are you different from, say, someone who walks on to the football team?
A: They usually only have one or two walk-ons a year. It's very few. ... I'm on the team, and coach Reno said was up to me how much playing time I get next year. If I work hard and prove myself, things look good for me.
Q: Considering the possibilities Harvard offers, did you even for a second consider going anywhere else to play football. What was your backup plan?
A: I've actually applied to Clemson, Georgia Tech and Duke -- all good engineering schools. My mom wants me to have a backup plan, so that would be it. As far as football goes, (Lakeside) coach (Jody) Grooms has always been in contact with schools like Valdosta State and Gardner-Webb.
Q: How did you balance academics while at the some time excelling in sports? For instance, did you ever not consider playing football, because Lakeside didn't exactly have the strongest of teams when you first entered high school?
A: In seventh grade, I was debating whether to play or not, Some of my friends talked me into it. Once I got to high school, my freshman year, it was fun, and I was with my friends. I cared about winning and losing, but that wasn't the biggest part of it. It is a lot more fun when you win (laughing). ... Sometimes (school and sports) can be a lot to juggle, but I feel like there's always time to do stuff. If you're dedicated, you can do it.
Q: Fair or not, when people hear someone your age is going to Harvard, they automatically portend great things for that person. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: I hope to be able to play (football) past college, but the chances of that of course are very slim.
I plan to major in engineering, so I'll probably be somewhere doing engineering stuff. I don't think down the road too far, because I want to try to live life now.
Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Signing Day is Feb. 3
|ATH||B.J. Bostic||Jefferson County||5-11/170||Georgia Tech*|
*Is already enrolled in college this semester
REPORT A COMMITMENT
Know of a area player that has made a commitment, contact Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or email@example.com.