ODESSA, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – The process of being recruited at the high school football level, in an attempt to continue your football career in college, is one not every player has the chance to go through. With that in mind, ABC Big 2 Sports spoke with local athletes who have made that jump, about the struggles and rewards they experienced when putting their name on the map for new programs.

Hayden Kelly, linebacker for the UTPB Falcons football program joked, “16, and 17, you haven’t really made a big decision in your life yet, so the first big decision in your life, because it’s gonna be an important one.”

While playing high school football, most athletes live in the moment, are playing for the next game, and the next, but what about those who are playing to get to the next level? UTPB Falcons Kelly and quarterback Kenny Hrncir, know a thing or two about the recruitment process.

“Making the transition is a long and difficult process,” Hrncir added. “Especially when it comes with figuring out who actually has your best interest at heart.”

Finding those who have your best interest at heart, something both emphasized heavily when looking for the program they believed would be best for their future.

“Couple offers came in late for me so, it was trying to figure out who actually wants you and who’s just telling you the right things or the things you want to hear instead of the important things that you need to know,” Kelly said.

And Hrncir emphasized the importance of using social media as an asset, to further your career.

“Just getting your name out on Twitter, and social media is the best thing these guys are doing now. You know, reach out to coaches, send them, DM’s, just getting noticed,” he mentioned. “It’s a difficult process, not a lot of people know how to go through it, and I didn’t know much about it at the time, but just now, being in the college program, just as much as you can get your name out there on social media it helps these kids out.”

Though they said it’s a tough process, both Kelly and Hrncir agree, there’s nothing like the feeling of being wanted by several different colleges.

Kelly said when the first offer came in, “It’s a dream come true, you know you work you go all high school, you don’t really know what you’re going to get, or if you’re going to get anything so when you finally get to call like hey, we want you to be like you, we’re gonna pay for your school, it’s a big deal.

An NCAA study done in 2020 showed that roughly only 7% of high school players will make it to the collegiate level, and less than 2% of that seven are at a DII school. With that in mind, Hrncir and Kelly urged current athletes attempting to make that jump, don’t take any opportunity for granted.

Hrncir agreed it was a tough process, just waiting for answers, “A lot of prayers, at night, speaking with my family. You don’t really know, I called e-central home for four years, love that place, I loved Oklahoma, but you know, sometimes it just needs to be a change, but change is hard, it’s hard to just get out from somewhere and go another place.”

“It’s humbling coming out of high school, you know, if you’re getting offers to play in college that probably means you were the guy on your team you were the dude, so it’s a little gambling to know going into college like you’re starting over a little bit,” Kelly shrugged. “Everybody was a guy on their team, everybody was good enough on their team, to get college offers, which is not a thing that everybody gets, so going in and getting the offers it’s just the start of a long process, to get to play.”

With all that being said, they both had the same advice for any future high school athletes looking move to that next level, something they each wished they knew back when they were high school athletes looking for their next opportunity.

Hrncir said if there’s one thing he would change, “Enjoy, every second, be grateful that you have the ability to play college football, not a lot of people have it. And just if you’re in the situation, remember that you’re blessed, but at the end of the day, just have fun each and every day, and live your best.”

And Kelly echoed, “I would enjoy it more, I got caught up a little bit trying to figure out where I wanna go or stressing over things and I didn’t have control over, so, I would say, just enjoy the process of all of it because it only happens once.”