By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer
Nathan Tilford is your normal eighth grader in Upland, California. He takes the same tests, studies the same subjects, and has the same kind of homework all eighth graders do. In addition to it all, Tilford practices, plays, and practices some more of his favorite sport – football. To be a football player in 2013, no matter what age or level, is a lot more demanding than it was years ago. Football players of all ages are putting in more and more training hours, possibly tripling the practice hours spent by football players twenty years ago, according to California Quarterback coach Steve Clarkson.
Still four years away from graduating high school, Nathan Tilford’s dedication to developing his football skills has not gone unnoticed. After a local practice against stronger and older athletes, Tilford walked away with the honor of being projected as one of the best soon-to-be high school freshmen wide receivers in Southern California, possibly the country.
However, the payoff for all of Tilford’s dedication to football did not stop there. This eighth grader has landed a scholarship offer by the University of Southern California after attending the Trojans’ Skills Camp. With the scholarship offer to the powerful Southern California football school, Tilford joins Baton Rouge’s Dylan Moses and San Diego’s Tate Martell as another Class of 2017 football player with a college offer.
Recruiting as young as seventh and eighth grade is not a new concept, but it is a new trend emerging from colleges intent on filling their team rosters with the best of the best way before other schools take notice of them in high school games and practices. While these scholarship offers are just offers and require each player to continue on the path of academic and athletic excellence, the early scholarship talk and possibilities make the whole sport of football buzz with excitement. And, it just goes to show that if you put in a lot of hard work, people are bound to notice.