COVID-19 concerns created challenges for the high school football season in 2020. Now, as National Signing Day approaches Wednesday, it's become more evident how the pandemic impacted college football recruiting too.
For many senior football players like Arlington Seguin quarterback Xavier Gordon, future goals and dreams have always included the game of football.
"By third grade when I started my first year of tackle football, I knew that was something I wanted to pursue in college and maybe even the NFL, like every other kid dreams," Gordon said.
But Gordon is like many other senior high school football players, impacted by COVID-19 restrictions regarding travel in the college football recruiting process for both coaches and players.
"Basically no coaches on campus and you didn't see any in the spring," said Arlington Seguin High School football coach and Xavier's father Joe Gordon. "You weren't able to go to see them in the summer to do your own unofficial (visits)."
"I have two going to UNLV, one going to San Diego State, one going to Boston College, one going to Kansas, they're literally going all over the country, and they haven't been there," South Grand Prairie High School football coach Brent Whitson said. "A virtual campus visit is a really cool deal, but it's nothing like sitting down to a steak dinner with some other players and getting a feel for what it's really like."
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It's one reason most high school football coaches in North Texas said they believed more players would pass on the early signing period in December to instead weigh their options until the regular signing period begins Feb. 3.
"I think you're going to see a mad dash at the end," Lovejoy High School football coach Chris Ross said. "You're going to see universities that realize on signing day they're not just going to take random people. They'll take their top and hold their scholarships. Signing day is the first day, not the last day you can sign kids."
That gives senior high school football players like Gordon hope that there is still time to make an impression on a coach through a video shared online, pursuing that college football dream in a recruiting process unlike any the game has ever experienced.
"Just control what you can control," Gordon said. "Make the plays you need to make, focus on your season and the rest will follow."
Gordon experienced another challenge because of COVID-19 this year. His Cougars football teams' season - and his high school football career - came to an end when Seguin High School forfeited its playoff game last Friday night because of COVID-19 concerns within the Seguin program.