Monroeville, Pennsylvania's Gateway Gators have a strong football tradition, including former players Dorian Bell, Shayne Hale, and Cameron Saddler. Last year's season continued the school's proud history as it reached the state championship held at Heinz Field before falling to Bethel Park, 10-6. Despite the graduation of some key starters, Brendon Felder expects the same kind of success.
"We are losing a lot of returning starters, but we've got a good group of kids. We've got kids who, if they played anywhere else, they would have started there. That's how good the starters were last year. We have a couple of JV players who could have started anywhere else. I think we're going to have a very good team this year."
Felder is a multitalented athlete who plays a variety of positions for his team.
"I played slot receiver, running back, and corner last year. This year, instead of corner, I'm going to be playing safety, but I'll still be at slot and running back. My personal goals are to definitely get better and to be one of the best receivers in the nation. I want to improve every day, to go my hardest, and to get my route running down."
The 6'-0", 170 pound Felder is a gifted wide receiver and corner. As proof, he holds offers to play both positions.
"It's about half and half. Some schools are recruiting me as a wide receiver, and some are recruiting me as a corner. Illinois is recruiting me as a corner."
Regardless of position, Felder attributes speed to his success at both.
"As a corner, my speed and my coverage skills are definitely my strength. I have makeup speed to be able to recover if I make a mistake. As a wide receiver, I think my strength is again my speed. I can get separation from defensive backs. I was electronically timed at 4.37 at a Scout combine in Baltimore, and I'll probably run track next spring."
Like every athlete, Felder wants to get better at both positions.
"I want to work on my technique as a corner and just really learn that position to the maximum. I want to get more acquainted with different corner techniques. I want to perfect my route running as a wide receiver. In high school you can run by anyone, but in college they're as fast as you are, so I need to perfect my routes."
A plethora of schools have offered the Pennsylvania product, and several others are very interested.
"North Carolina, Illinois, Pittsburgh, Boston College, Maryland, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Syracuse, Akron, Toledo, Buffalo have offered. Michigan, Ohio State, West Virginia, Purdue, and Rutgers are recruiting me as well. Growing up I rooted for Boston College because I lived in Boston for a time."
Distance is not going to be a factor in Felder's decision.
"It's definitely going to be whichever school fits me best. I'm a pretty open kid so I think I'll be fine away from my parents."
Felder has visited many schools during the summer, but hasn't really taken any visits to date.
"I wouldn't really say I've taken any visits. I think that maybe Boston College and Pitt are the only schools you could say I've visited. I've gone to some schools for 7on7's and a couple of camps. I've been to Maryland for a 7on7. I went to a camp at North Carolina. It's mostly just been traveling with my teammates."
Every recruit has 5 official visits, each of which is crucial in a recruit's final decision. Felder is taking his time planning out his official visits.
"I haven't really decided what schools I want to use my official visits to see. I think I'm leaning toward a couple of schools, but I'm not real sure to tell you the truth."
Felder hasn't come to a final decision on when he would like to make his commitment to a school either.
"Right now, I was really thinking about getting it over before my season began so I can just focus on my season and my team, but to tell you the truth I'm really starting to think I should take all five of my visits so I can game plan more with schools and see different schools. It could be anytime to tell you the truth."
The University of Illinois is certainly very interested in the talented corner.
"My recruiting coach is Coach (Jim) Pry. Actually, I just got off the phone with him about 30 minutes ago. We talk pretty often. I've gotten emails from different coaches.
"Coach Pry said that Coach Zook talks about me a lot, and that he's going to get in touch with me this week. I haven't been to Illinois. That's another reason why I want to take my visits. I know it's a good school, a good program, and that they really want me so I definitely want to check it out."