Patience and perseverance are traits that Dan Burkett knows will serve him well in the coming weeks as he filters through the myriad potential college choices that may present themselves.
The senior second-year starting quarterback at Neenah High School is on the radar of countless coaches and recruiters despite the Rockets' switch in offenses and their struggles so far this season.
Stanford, Wisconsin, Harvard, Western Michigan, North Dakota and North Dakota State visited Burkett last spring. The latter two NCAA Division I-AA schools have made the most recent contact, while Western Michigan, Stanford, Harvard, Princeton and Brown want to assess film from the current season.
So, as e-mails and letters from more than 20 Division II and III programs also arrive consistently, Burkett works on his game on and off the field—he scored a 33 on his ACT—and waits for offers.
"I live and breathe football, and I'd love to play Division I, but if I don't get a scholarship offer I'll look into walking on," Burkett said. "But I'm trying to focus more on my academics because I know I'll have that to fall back on."
Having so many options can be a blessing and a curse, but Burkett knows it's a matter of making the right choice when the time comes. So, he's applying to Princeton, Harvard, Brown, Yale, Cornell, Penn, Dartmouth, Stanford, Wisconsin, Boston College, UCLA, Northwestern, Amherst College, John's Hopkins and possibly Wake Forest.
On the field, Burkett is doing what he can to help a young Neenah squad, which lost 18 of 22 starters to graduation, improve and hopefully that will take care of any personal goals.
"We switched to the Pistol-veer offense this year, so we got film of a California high school team that runs it and I studied it with my dad (Jeff)," Burkett said. "It means a lot more running, so I had to adjust to that and how to read the defenses differently. Last year I would only run if the play broke down or if I knew I could gain 5 or 10 yards, but this year I've had to rely on my feet a lot more. I would rather pass every down, so it was a big change.
"But it wasn't working that well and we've shifted back to a more pro-style, power-I set and drop-back passes, so hopefully we can pick it up for our last few games," Burkett added. "I don't feel like I've been able to show what I'm capable of yet."
Still, Burkett said that running a different scheme can only help his development and improve his chances of succeeding at the next level.
"It definitely has helped me mature mentally and as a player because in college they throw all kinds of different things at you, so you need to be prepared for anything," Burkett said. "Most colleges want a guy who can run and pass. This experience has given me a lot more perspective."
Burkett completed 119 of 241 pass attempts (49.4 percent) for 1,450 yards with 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions as an honorable mention all-Fox Valley Association choice in 2007.
Despite not having any offers yet, Burkett knows that hard work is the only answer. He's confident in his abilities and wants to tackle the challenges that lie ahead in realizing his dream.
"Ever since I was a little kid I was throwing the ball, so football runs in the family," Burkett said. "My dad was a quarterback and he's the one who taught me all of the techniques and fundamentals. I've always been a quarterback, and I plan to be one for a long time.
"I've always considered myself a good leader in the huddle, in the classroom and in the community," Burkett added. "I want to play under a great quarterback coach and keep growing and maturing. I'm patient enough and prepared to wait as long as necessary to find the right situation."