Raph Andrades is a 6'1", 200 pound receiver from Tallahassee's Lincoln High School. Though his team got off to a rough start, it caught fire and ended up winning a Florida State championship.
"We had most of our losses early on. We played a lot better though after starting 0-2, but those were playoff-type games. Our coach likes to schedule tough games early. We made a couple changes and then finished out 8-0. We made our offense more fluid and moved down the field faster."
Andrades was the beneficiary of many of those plays.
"I had 12 TD's and around 750 yards. I just like being strong at the line, running good routes, and always finding a way to get open and catch the ball."
Lincoln will undoubtedly have a target on its back heading into this fall. Andrades knows he has to step up his game and improve on a few things.
"I need to be quicker. You can always work on your hands, and I want to tweak my route running a little bit more."
It's still early in the evaluation period, but Andrades hopes coaches take note to some of the little things he does to be an effective pass catcher.
"I feel like when I'm going against db's at camps or even in games, I always get past them. I always have good separation. I don't know if coaches notice that, but I have that a lot."
The well-spoken young man puts education first when selecting a college. However, he admits he needs feel welcome and at home, too.
"Great education. It needs to be family oriented, and their players need to work hard. I'd like to play early, but really it's just going to be where I feel comfortable."
Illinois offered Andrades early in the process, and since then he's collected two more offers. In addition, he is hearing from many of the top schools in the south as well as one in the Pacific Northwest that played in January. He isn't ready to play favorites yet.
"I only have three offers right now. My first was Illinois, then Stanford and FIU. Other than that, Florida, Miami, FSU. Lately I've been getting mail from Oregon, Alabama, USF, Arkansas, Tennessee, and a bunch of others.
"I mean most of the ones with the offers stand out, but I'm open to seeing whatever comes my way."
Andrades was able to check out a few of the schools close to home during the spring. He felt like in most cases he was able to connect with the staff at each school and learn more about the programs.
"I went to a couple junior days. I went to Miami, FSU, and Florida's junior days. Those were good. I got to meet all of the coaches and talk to them and get some one-on-one time with them."
Being the first to offer, Illinois holds a unique seat in the race for Andrades. He's especially fond of Coach (Paul) Petrino and has been following Illinois from home throughout the spring.
"I like Coach Petrino. We talk on and off. We haven't talked in a while, probably because spring has been busy. I've been watching the spring practice highlights online just to see what everything's been like.
"Coach Petrino is a great guy. We talk about everything. Not just football, we talk about life in general."
Though he couldn't make it to Champaign this spring, Andrades hopes to visit sometime soon to see the Illini in action, as well as get a feel for the campus.
"Oh yeah, I'm definitely going to take a visit there. I'm not sure when, but I'm going to be taking a visit there."
One other notable connection Andrades has to Illinois is that his teammate, D.J. Abnar also holds an Illini offer. The two often talk about attending college together.
"D.J. and I talk about going to the same place all the time. We kind of all want to go play together in college, but D.J. and I talk about it almost every day. I've played with D.J. since I was like 10 on Pop Warner teams.
That would be like a dream if we got together and played in college. Illinois is our only offer in common so far. I'm kind of hoping he can get Stanford so we have that option too."
Since education will play such a big part in the decision, it's easy to see why he is curious about Stanford.
"Well, I don't want to say anybody is above the rest, but Stanford has my interest because the education is so great there.
I haven't really decided what I want to go into yet. I change my mind every day. I've thought about being a sports agent, doing law, or being in sports medicine, but I'm still debating."
For now, Andrades is focusing on working hard in the classroom and in the weight room. He knows he has to be prepared for anything that he'll face next year and is doing what he needs to do to get ready.
"I want to get back and get another state title. We're working on getting another. As for me, I want to get my GPA up and get weight on better than I was last year. I want to be on a different level, so I'm working extra hard to get better and stand out from most of the kids around me."