Recruiting attention from major college programs is nothing new for McAllen (TX) Memorial High's Bradley Stephens. The 5-10, 190-pound speedster put up over 2,000 yards of total offense during his freshman campaign, and suitors have been courting him ever since. Fast forward a few years later and the list of interested parties is practically a mile long. After he led the state of Texas in rushing during the regular season with 2,638 yards on 244 carries and 39 touchdowns, his recruitment shifted into overdrive with inquiries from all across the country. Stephens has already received offers from Texas A&M, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, University of Houston, and more are on the way. For the time being, though, the youngster is listening to all comers and has all of his prospective colleges on equal footing.
"It's real crazy right now," Stepehens said. "I can't even narrow it down to 10 schools right now. I'm hearing from a lot of Big 12, Big 10, and SEC schools, and I'm interested in all of them. I've visited Texas A&M, Iowa State, and Ohio State, but I want to take some more unofficial visits. Of course I'm probably not going to be able to visit all of the schools, but by just visiting some of them I should have a good idea of what I want to do. Probably in the next month or so I should be able to narrow it down a good amount. I'm starting to go to a lot of junior days, so that should help."
Though Michigan is not one of the schools Stephens has visited, he is already very familiar with the Maize and Blue. He grew up in the heart of Big Ten country, and the Wolverines made a favorable early impression on him.
"We're originally from Illinois, and Michigan was his favorite team when we were in Illinois," Stepehens' father Craig said.
"I was actually a pretty big Michigan fan," added Bradley. "I used to watch a lot of their games. I used to watch a lot of Big Ten football in general. Michigan has had a good deal of contact with me. I actually started getting letters from after my freshman year."
Stephens boyhood affinity for the Wolverines wasn't without its detractors. His uncle's status as a tenured professor at Ohio State made for some very interesting conversations when the two traditional rivals squared off every November. "There'd be some phone calls during the game," Stephens recalled laughingly. "There'd definitely be some trash talking back and forth."
Now that he resides in Texas, Stephens doesn't see as much Michigan football as he used to. That, however, has not deterred his interest. His attraction to the program is still alive and well and he indicated that a trip to Ann Arbor in the coming months is a very distinct possibility. "I've been getting letters asking me to come visit there, but it has been hard for me to get up there because it's so far away," Stephens explained. "I am hoping pretty soon to actually get up there."
Unofficial trips will be an extremely important part of Stepehens' process since he is planning to make an August decision. One way to pack a lot into the campus visits is to attend camps. With Stephens' busy schedule, that could leave him without much free time, but that is a sacrifice he is willing to make.
"That's something we have to do if I want to make my decision early. I have to hit the camps so I can narrow things down. When I look at a school I'm not just looking at the facilities or how good the weight room. All the schools I've been too have had those things. A lot of my decision will be based on the character of the people there. I'll be looking at the character of the coaching staff and how I relate to them. That stuff is really important to me because you're always going to have your good times and bad times there, whether it's on the football field or not. You have to have good character around you when you go through those times. That's a major part of what I look for. Of course, academics will play a role too."
GoBlueWolverine will have more on Stephens in the coming months.