Tilting at Goalposts 

More than 90 percent of high school football players will never suit up in college, let alone the pros. But that doesn't stop them from pursuing their dreams.

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Coach Kahn is still working as hard as he can for Washington. "Fresno State said that they would take him if he could qualify," he reports. The English difficulty got solved, but Washington's math grades still aren't up to snuff. "He might play one season at a junior college and transfer to Fresno," Kahn predicts. "Then with Arrion, you have the grades and the film, but people look past him."

Kahn has heard Archie's Montana story before — "if our first choice drops out, you're our man." Kahn sighs. "A lot of times they'll tell a kid that, but it's really five kids they're telling that to. This is the reality of cutthroat college recruiting. You don't want to give a kid false hope, but you also don't want to cut the rope."

As for Washington, says Kahn, "He's a kid that regardless where he goes, he'll be a standout. He could end up at Fresno State or Portland State. Now he's taking a full load of courses, and he'll take math at a community college this summer. He needs nothing but As and Bs moving forward."

Turns out Archie didn't fly entirely under the radar. He was offered three scholarships, two to D2 schools and one to the University of San Diego. Archie faxed in his signature to USD on March 2. "They have great academics and a top-notch engineering school," he explains.

What was most important in his recruiting success? "A highlight film is very important because it's how coaches decide if you have potential," he says, adding that he made his own tape. Still, he says, "The most important thing to being recruited are grades. Even if you have a lot of talent, without grades schools won't accept you."

Which is Washington's dilemma. If he makes up his credits, he could go to Arizona State or Fresno State. Or he may go to Contra Costa College for just this summer before qualifying for a scholarship. "Schools usually have one scholarship left for these situations," says Kahn, to award to those who slide in just as the door is closing. "Time will tell." Washington is talented enough to play on a ranked D1 team. Whether he wants it enough to knuckle down is up to him.

Calvin Nunley, as predicted, will go to San Mateo Community College or Laney and try to be a JUCO transfer to a D1 school. It happens every year to some lucky players: The Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers transferred to Cal from Butte Community College after one year.

D3 schools recruited a couple Gaucho seniors — Arnim Barrett and Alex Meurer are accepted to Lewis and Clark and Willamette, also in Oregon. Meurer likes football so much that he chose not to play baseball this spring, instead spending those hours in El Cerrito's minimalist weight room to bulk up for college football.

Junior Darius Powe has already received a scholarship offer from the University of Nevada at Reno, Colin Kaepernick's alma mater. Banks, who plays center on El Cerrito's ranked basketball team, still has his heart set on football. He's been invited to tryouts for the All-American Army game, a national showcase for top high school players. He's also been invited to other camps: Nike and Rivals (sponsored by UnderArmour), at which visibility and networking are the watchwords. Banks has already come under a laser beam: Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide have their eye on his upcoming junior campaign.

Kahn is looking ahead to his own opportunity. He was admitted to Cal's Principal Leadership program in the fall. "Next year, I'll be leaning on my assistant coaches more," he says.

Kahn believes that seeing last year's seniors go on to UCLA and Arizona State opened up a vision of playing football in college, whether that be D1, D3, or community college ball: "People who might not have played junior college ball now see that as a goal."

And though the season was difficult, Kahn saw a genuine love and appreciation for teammates and coaches. "We care about each other," he says. "We care about where people end up next, and we're building relationships that will stand the test of time."

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