When There's Smoke, There's Fire

Five minutes before the bell rings for lunch, Jeremiah Sirles was sitting in class at Bear Creek High in Lakewood, Colo., when the fire alarm went off. The teacher thought it was a drill, and told the students to continue wrapping up what they were doing before leaving.

Then they smelled smoke.

"That's when we figured we better get out of here," Jeremiah Sirles said.

It happened to be arson, with the fire causing damage to roughly 40 percent of the school building. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.

With a lot of the classrooms unusable, the school day has been split into two. For the last month, Sirles, a four-star offensive tackle, has been going to school from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The first half of the school day, the building is being used by students with last names beginning with A through L.

"It's terrible," Sirles stated.

So sometimes, when college coaches have come by the school during this recent recruiting evaluation period, the 6-foot-8, 300-pound Sirles has been at home sleeping in. He has 10 scholarship offers coming from Oregon, Louisville, Texas Tech, Colorado, Colorado State, New Mexico State, Arizona State, Nebraska, Northwestern and Kansas State.

Last week, a new program showed its face to Sirles for the first time, arriving in the morning.

"I was in the shower when I got a call from my coach," Sirles said. "Coach (Tom) Thenell called me and said we have a coach down here from Notre Dame that wants to talk to you.

"I don't think I ever got dressed so fast to get in my car and go down to school before."

Notre Dame assistant coach Jappy Oliver dropped off his card and shook Sirles' hand. A few days later, Oliver gave him a call.

"We just talked about what I was up to, and how school was going, and that he was interested in me and to stay in touch, and that he wanted me to come out for a couple visits this summer," Sirles explained.

"I'm very interested. Just definitely the name of the school, it's a great academic school and they've had great legacies for football programs and players that have come out of there."

Oliver also told Sirles, who has a 3.5 GPA, what he thinks of him as a player. Sirles plays mostly left tackle, but sometimes lines up on the opposite side.

"He said I'm a nice big strong kid," Sirles said. He benches 315 pounds and squats 405. "I'm good at pass blocking, and I have the size to be a great athlete on the college level. Our offense is mostly passing, so I consider myself real good at that, getting my arms locked out on someone with a good plant foot and jabbing. I can improve on my drive blocking skills, and that is something I'm working real hard on this summer."

Sirles said he may also visit Notre Dame for the first time this summer.

"If Notre Dame shows that they're interested in me, I'll try and take a visit up there," Sirles said. "If they are just kind of like, we like you but we're not entirely sure, I'm not sure I'll go out."

Sirles lists Oregon and Texas Tech as his top two. A week ago it was Texas Tech and Louisville. His favorites are always subject to change.

Besides the schools that have offered and Notre Dame, Sirles is also hearing from Miami, Stanford, Purdue, Washington, San Diego State and a few more. He has had the opportunity to visit the campus at Colorado, Colorado State, Kansas State and Texas Tech. He is hoping to soon get to Oregon, Louisville, Nebraska and Northwestern.

Sirles targets a college verbal commitment during his senior season, just before the state playoffs begin.

"I'm just looking for a good steady coaching staff, a coach that is going to be there the next five years," Sirles began. "I want to come in there with a coach I feel safe with, one that is going to be there, not like in two or three years when I get there and I'm a sophomore, he is leaving for some other job."

Sirles said he will try and keep in touch with Oliver as much as possible, and looks forward to his senior year when the school day is back to normal.

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