Shakir Soto, a 6'4, 235-pound offensive and defensive lineman for Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) GAR Memorial High School said he's dreamed of playing Division-1 football ever since he was a kid.
"Since I was 7 or 8, that was a dream," Soto said.
Soto is sitting on four verbal scholarship offers - Boston College, Massachusetts, Temple and Kent State - and has received interest from programs like Cincinnati, Maryland, Miami (FL), Nebraska, Pitt, Penn State, Rutgers, Syracuse and, most recently, Illinois. Maryland could be Soto's fifth offer. He indicated Maryland was "probably the closest" of the schools showing interest to be his fifth offer.
Boston College was the first to extend an offer to Soto.
"I got an e-mail telling me to call them and they offered," Soto said. "When I was told I was offered, it was kind of like shock. Every offer is awesome. But (getting) that first one is a really great feeling."
Pitt has not yet offered Soto, but the Panthers have shown interest. Soto said he has received mail from the Panthers.
"I've been getting stuff - basically introducing the new coaching staff and talking about the program," Soto said. "I went to Pitt last summer for one of their one-day summer camps. It was fun getting to meet the coaches. I'm looking forward to meeting the new coaches, too."
Soto said he's willing to listen to all comers and will wait to take visits until the summer.
"Whoever has offered me by then is probably where I will go (to visit)," Soto said.
As a junior, Soto was GAR Memorial's leader in tackles, posting 114 total tackles (79 solo), nine sacks, an interception, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a blocked punt in 11 games, averaging 10.4 tackles per contest. He was a Pennsylvania Sportswriters' Class AA All-State selection on the defensive line - one of four Grenadier players selected to the 34-member team, which led all of Class AA.
Soto also helped to pave the way for a Grenadier offensive unit which averaged 371.4 yards (270.9 rushing, 100.5 passing) and 40.8 points per game en route to the program's second consecutive District 2 Class AA championship and berth in the PIAA playoffs opposite Pen Argyl. The Grenadiers scored a school record 530 points and finished the season with 64 total offensive touchdowns (48 rushing, 16 passing).
Winning a third straight District 2 championship would be a big deal for Soto.
"When I was a freshman, GAR hadn't won a district title (in its program history)," Soto said. "If we won three in a row (in 2012), it would be cool to know those three titles were something I helped our team achieve."