Not every aspiring college football player has multiple stars beside his name and recruiters lined up at the front door. But that doesn’t mean they’re not tremendous players and deserving scholarship recipients.
Grayson defensive end Joseph Champaign is such a football player. While he’s a dominating force on the Rams’ vaunted defense, the 6-foot-1, 250-pound senior doesn’t have a firm Division I offer and, at the moment, has no official visits planned.
“I’ve been in contact with a lot of schools and I’ve gotten some phone calls,” Champaign said. “But I haven’t made a decision anywhere. I’m still open. I’m still looking.”
But that doesn’t mean Champaign and his family are resting on their laurels and waiting for something to come their way. They’re tackling the situation proactively.
Champaign’s father, Craig Champaign, with the help of a neighbor produced a video of Joseph’s junior season highlights (see above) and sent it to more than 100 schools from coast-to-coast. He’s currently in the midst of updating a video with senior highlights — of which there are plenty — and sending back out to a more focused group of prospective schools.
“From those 100 schools we got feedback from about 25 of them,” Craig Champaign said. “So what we’ll probably do this time is really focus more on the schools that showed a lot of interest and schools that didn’t show interest that he’d be interesting in hearing from. So we’ll probably send stuff out to about 35 or 40 this time and keep it this side of the Mississippi this time.”
The Champaigns took trips to BYU and Stanford this summer, Division I schools that showed a lot of initial interest.
“They were great, but sitting on that plane for four hours, man, it’s a long way,” Mr. Champaign said. “So I think we’re going to focus more on the East Coast or a shorter flight anyway.”
Champaign has generated a lot of interest from Navy and Air Force and also from Western Kentucky, Toledo and Middle Tennessee State on the Division I level. But the most intense attention has come from I-AA schools such as Georgia Southern and Furman.
“We’re not really hung up on the SEC or ACC like a lot of kids are,” Craig said. “A lot of kids are hung up on that and we might have been in the past. But we’re not now. We’re just going to talk to a bunch of coaches and do what’s best for him. The main goal is really to get him an education and for him to have a good experience in college. When the right school comes he’s going to know it.”
In the meantime Champaign is concentrating on the one thing he can control and that’s his play on the football field. And that’s going very well. Playing alongside Division I commitments Shawn Green (DT, Georgia Tech) and Kori Gaines (DB, BYU) and linebacker prospect Terry Williams, the Class AAAAA No. 2-ranked and undefeated Rams (4-0) have allowed only 26 points all season.
“It’s a really great group,” Joseph said. “We’ve been playing together since the eighth grade and we’re close. We all have each others backs during games. If somebody’s down, we pick them up. We push each other in practice, push each other off the field. We’re brothers for life.”
As far as the recruiting, Champaign said he’s just letting it take care of itself.
“I’m just playing football right now,” he said. “I’m focused on the season and having fun. This is my senior year. I’ll find somewhere for me eventually.”