By Steve Slaton
When telling a story, it should start from the beginning – so that is where I’ll start my story. I remember like it was yesterday picking the college where I would be for the next 3 to 4 years of my life. My choice was Maryland, not too far from home, so my friends and family could come to watch me play. I committed fairly early into my senior year, because I didn’t want to drag the whole process along. I took visits to Maryland, North Carolina and West Virginia and loved every school for different reasons. North Carolina is one of the most beautiful campuses I have ever visited, West Virginia was the most family-orientated group I had been around. Maryland seemed like the an up and coming program.
Every program has its specific recruiters for a certain area. I can only remember two – Bill Kirelawich from West Virginia, he was a defensive line coach who I believe is now retired; and James Franklin, who was at Maryland but now is the head coach at Penn State. My recruiter from West Virginia is a guy you could never forget, I can still hear his voice rumbling down the hallway. Mind you, I went to a Catholic private school and his vocab was laced with some profanity. But I still remember committing to Maryland with Bill still telling me he was going to get me to West Virginia. He called me once a week for months. That was one of the rules of the NCAA.
I was locked into Maryland until I got a call from a local Maryland reporter. My world was rocked after that phone call. He asked about my scholarship status. Asked if I knew that my scholarship was revoked. So I jumped on the phone to call my Maryland recruiter James Franklin, and it seemed like weeks went by before I was able to get hold of him. When I finally did the answer I received about my scholarship status was “If they have an extra one leftover on signing day, I would be able to sign.” At that moment I took back my verbal commitment and dove back into the world of looking for the next best place for me to spend my college football years. At this time most of the schools that had interest in me had already filled their specific needs. The scholarships I was offered were based on me being strictly switching to a defensive player and not a running back. There was one school and one recruiter who I was still in touch with who believed in me to play running back – West Virginia. Part two coming soon….