The Marinelli Missives - #4

This is the time of year that top Division I prospects bask in the limelight of their athletic greatness. As they enjoy successful senior campaigns, their mailboxes are filled with pleading literature and their phones ring off the hook with anxious college coaches. For <b>Chris Marinelli</b>, the on-field achievements are only half of his mission, and this week he writes about the balance he seeks.

Even though "The Marinelli Missives" are a collection of football or football related issues in my life, it seems only proper to concentrate on the other end of the spectrum for high school student athletes once in awhile. With that being said, I will give two points of interest regarding football this past weekend: 1) The Stanford Cardinal defeated Washington to go 3-1, and 2) The New England Patriots dominated the Buffalo Bills to move to 18 straight wins. Now let the focus turn to academics.

It is a known fact that in order to be a Division I scholarship player in the NCAA, one must pass their Clearinghouse. This test is not one worth being awake for, as any common middle school student could pass it. Also, a student must have a passable GPA and an SAT/ACT score that fits the sliding scale. For example, if a student earns roughly a 3.5 GPA, he needs a measly 400 score on his SAT to be eligible. These undemanding standards could be a main reason when many colleges have such low graduation rates; we call these schools "football factories." Universities which have unbelievable athletic programs, but have players that wouldn't be in college otherwise on their teams. Does this create a disadvantage for top notch academic institutions like Stanford or the Ivy League schools?

All the schools which offered me scholarships, with the exception of the one to which I committed, told me not to worry about applying or about working so much my hardest senior year in the classroom. Having already applied to Stanford last spring, I realized I had to be accepted before my scholarship meant anything. Over my first three years I accumulated a 3.8 GPA (counting honors and AP credit), a 1230 SAT (610 V, 620 M), eight honors classes, and one AP class. Even so, I was told I had to work harder. This year I enrolled in four more AP classes (English Literature & Composition, Calculus AP, Latin IV, and a Greek III class called Homeric Academy), and I am trying to achieve the grades I received sophomore year - somewhere around a 4.2 GPA. Anyways, the point I am making is that Stanford University only takes players who are well rounded, never satisfied, and always attempt to challenge themselves, both on and off the field.

While Stanford cannot open its doors to the many high school studs who strive only on the field, it seems to always get young men who are very alike. All Stanford commits have the same goals: to reach the NFL, but also to get a degree and change society in one way or another. By having every football player on the same page, Stanford now has a team cruising down a one way street to Bowl Week. A Stanford football player is dedicated to what he is doing; this means that he will not cease until that goal is met. When a team holds a hundred or so such people, constantly pushing each other to greater things, it creates a tremendous chemistry fit for all situations. No team can be great without everyone working toward the same goal.

Although, it may seem that other "football factories" pull in the most talent out of high school, there seems to be a different aura by the time these same gentlemen come to graduation. If an athlete from such a university does not make the NFL, what lies in the future for him? Perhaps without a degree, and without a job, they become just more wasted talent out on the street. I think if every university ran recruiting like Stanford University, there would be a lot more talented high school football players looking for something more than just a free ride to party.

As some of my classmates prepare for senior trip, pranks, or even start to "pack it in," I work each and every night to further myself for the next level. Hours upon hours of homework, speeches at freshman orientation and an alumni dinner, and then some more studying for nearby tests - all to make me a better person. After two and a half hours of football each evening, I head home and hit the books hoping someday soon I, too, can be part of the Stanford team that heads to the National Championship.

Chris Marinelli is a 6'7" offensive tackle recruit in the 2005 class who verbally committed to Stanford in July.  He is writing a weekly series this fall to deliver Cardinal fans insight into the triumphs and travails of his senior season at Boston College High School.

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