This year has been full of chaos in a variety of ways. Since March, COVID-19 has affected students athletes at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, some of whom have spent years working towards earning a collegiate athletic scholarship.
Quarterback Matt O’Dowd (4), linebacker Jahrel Wilson (44) and cornerback Geovanni Vilsaint (12) are seniors on the MSD football team who currently have offers lined up from the University of Rochester, University of Alabama and University of Davidson.
The pandemic has prevented these athletes from potentially getting additional offers and exploring colleges and universities.
“There hasn’t been really any pros with having a scholarship offer and COVID-19 going on, but the cons are that I can’t meet the school’s coaches in person and school camps have been canceled,” O’Dowd said.
With the 2020-2021 MSD football season currently delayed, the players are relying on their previous stats and highlights to receive or maintain their scholarships. The players have prepared throughout the year in the hopes of playing on Friday nights, but COVID-19 has continued to interfere with that possibility.
Although players are still not eligible to play against teams in the district, they are practicing from home and training to the best of their abilities. Several players from the team have maintained their previous scholarship offers by staying in contact with coaches and other representatives from various colleges.
“I’ve been keeping in contact with the coaches who offered me and making sure I stay in shape and better myself,” Wilson said.
Wilson had an impressive season junior year by playing a key role on the field as a linebacker, which led the Eagles into the playoffs. He was seeking to build off his success before he could step foot on the field for his last year to play high school football. However, his mindset changed when finding out that his season was going to be put on hold for a couple of months until there is normalcy.
“Football is coming back soon, but COVID really set me back mentally because I was so ready to play, and I just felt down,” Wilson said.
COVID-19 has a negative impact especially on student-athletes seeking athletic scholarships. Many athletes that have previously received offers from numerous colleges had to put aside the opportunity for the time being.
“Before COVID I was starting to get love from different colleges, but now that this pandemic hits it’s like the recruiting process has been put on hold, but I have prepared my mind, so if I don’t get the scholarship I’m just going to have something else to do,” Vilsaint said.
For now, athletes continue to hope for future opportunities to be recruited, but as with many other things, the outcome of upcoming seasons and the possibility of being recruited remains uncertain.