At the age of 10, Marcel Joly and his older sister left unstable Haiti for opportunity and safety in the United States.
"We came here for a better life," Joly said of leaving his violent and poverty-ridden homeland.
Joly is finishing his junior year at Forestville (MD) High. He's in position to have a free college education.
Iowa, Maryland, Vanderbilt, Temple and Old Dominion have offered him scholarships to play football, he said. Boston College and Wisconsin have been among the other schools showing him the most interest.
Joly's recruitment will go into the fall. He's not really in a place to see colleges until he can take official visits after beginning his senior year.
"I live with my sister and it would be kind of hard for her to leave her job for us to travel to schools," Joly said. "As of right now, I'm just trying to keep the grades up and pass the (NCAA) clearinghouse and I should be fine."
Joly said he may travel to Vanderbilt with his coach and some of his teammates this summer but that likely would be his lone unofficial visit out of the area. He does plan on seeing the Hawkeyes, however.
"I know I'm going to Iowa their first or second game," Joly said. "I'm using my official for that."
The 5-foot-11, 182-pound Joly first heard from Iowa Assistant Chris White a little more than a month ago. The Hawkeyes offered a scholarship last week.
"My coach said they were interested," Joly said. "They came together (as a staff) and watched my highlight tape. I guess they liked it and they offered."
Iowa told Joly that they were impressed with his versatility but are recruiting him as a defensive back, he said. He also plays running back in high school.
"Iowa is a great school," Joly said. "My coach was talking about Iowa even before they offered me. He was telling how great of a school it is.
"I did some research. Now, I'm receiving more letters from them telling me more about the school. I really like it."
Joly, who reports running the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, is considering college majors in criminal justice and sports medicine. He feels fortunate to have opportunities but a part of him remains in his native land.
"My mother is still in Haiti," Joly said. "That's the real negative part about it. I know she is proud of me, though."