Illinois quarterback Jacob Charest honed his passing skills by throwing to younger brother Nate Charest in their hometown of Matthews, North Carolina. Nate has had an equally great career at Butler High School, playing varsity ball four years, starting as a receiver for three. He started both as a wide receiver and defensive back his last two years while also serving as the punt returner and placement holder.
The younger Charest's career totals are fantastic. He had over 2000 receiving yards, scored 34 touchdowns in a variety of ways, grabbed 17 interceptions and had 171 career tackles. He was All-Conference and All-County as a defensive back as a junior. He was All-Conference at receiver his senior year as well as All-State as a defensive back.
Charest accomplished all this playing for one of the top teams in the country. Butler was 15-0 this year, winning its first ever state championship. Butler always produces college football talent, and its junior quarterback Christian LeMay already has 15 scholarship offers including one from Illinois.
"We played top competition this year," Charest reminds. "We beat Independence, Richmond, West Charlotte, East Mecklenburg, and we beat Jack Britt for the championship. It was a fun season. That was our school's first state championship.
"In Max Preps, we're #2 in the country. And then on ESPN I think we're sixth. We're in the top 15 in almost every poll."
He was also chosen to play in the Shrine Bowl. He and Jacob were both chosen for that game, and the only other brother duo to be so honored were Chris and C.J. Leak.
Charest made his presence felt in the all-star game.
"I did pretty good. I recovered a fumble, and I downed punts three times inside the five yard line. I mainly did stuff on special teams. I caught a pass on offense when we spread the field out. I just try to take advantage of every opportunity I have."
Unfortunately, few schools have shown an interest in a receiver who is 5'-11", 175 and runs a 4.55 forty yard dash. He doesn't fit the profile of a major college receiver, so no one takes time to notice his heart and determination. His list of schools talking with him is unimpressive.
"Yeah, it's been a little frustrating," Charest understates. I've heard from a bunch of Division 1-AA schools like Gardner-Webb, Catawba, Pembroke, Wingate, University of Albany. Those are the main schools that have been talking to me."
Charest isn't hoping to land a high major scholarship offer, although he'd love a chance to join his brother with the Illini. But he is convinced he can play at a higher level than his present choices would permit.
He would like to play receiver in college, but he will play anywhere he can get a chance to prove himself. He believes he has assets that can be valuable to many college teams.
"I'm always around the ball. I just try to make every opportunity that I can. You put me in special teams somewhere, I'm gonna try to make a play. No matter how big the kid is, I'm gonna try to beat him. As a receiver, I always find a way to get open."
As proof of his toughness, Charest was sixth in the state of North Carolina in wrestling last winter at 160 pounds. He has the heart, aggressiveness and smarts to play college ball. All he wants is a chance to prove himself.