National Signing Day is truly the climax of a high school career. Yes, being named to an All-State Team is certainly a great accomplishment. And claiming a state championship for your high school leaves you with a ring and lifelong memories. But, signing on the dotted line and securing an athletic scholarship to the college of your choice validates a decade of hard work and commitment to your sport.
It is a defining moment that makes every early morning practice and long night of schoolwork finally worth it.
At the same time, though, signing your National Letter of Intent is really just the beginning. Committing to a Power 5 school or securing a full-ride scholarship marks the beginning of a journey that affects much more than where you spend the next four-plus years.
Founder and CEO of GMTM, Joey Grant, wishes more athletes were aware of what being a student athlete means. The sacrifices, the stress, the distractions - all things that can step in front of what's most important. In fact, Grant made a list of a few of the things his 18-year-old self knew before starting his five-year football career at UCF.
"I received 3 Degrees(2 Masters @UCFDeVosSBM) in my 5 years playing for @UCF_Football. What I wish I knew when I started my career to maximize the opportunity of collegiate athletics:" via Twitter.
In a tweet thread Grant posted on January 11, he shared some of the most valuable lesson he learned during his time playing offensive line in the FBS. In a college career that included a Fiesta Bowl victory and two Masters degrees, Grant's example is certainly a valid one to follow.
Below are all of the tips Grant shared via Twitter, each being an excellent piece of advice to a recruit hoping to make the most of their time playing college sports:
Learn To Compartmentalize
"Separate your pursuit on and off the field. When you don't, it's easy to use your sport as a crutch for "doing enough", instead of a vehicle for opportunity."
Find Your Passion Outside Of Sports
"Your career will come to an end for you or by you. Lean into this uncomfortable truth with enough time to discover more about yourself. Don't just consume, try to create outside your sport."
Take Advantage Of The Resources Offered To You
"Programs are built to maximize your chance of success. Don't view this as an inconvenience or distraction from your sport. Treat this as aid on your journey and invest in yourself by taking advantage of what's given."
Connect With People And Network
"The harsh truth is when you graduate, no one will care who you are or what you're working to accomplish. As a college athlete, every door is open to you. All you need to do is walk through it. Put yourself out there."
Push Yourself Out Of Your Comfort Zone
"Both on the field and off the field, understand playing collegiate athletics puts you in the top 6-percent. Make your goal reaching the top 1-percent, on and off the field."
"There are so many people invested in the success of student athletes. Regardless of situation or mood, live in gratitude and appreciate everything you are given. Practicing empathy in a place of privilege will pay forward."
*Scotty Jenkins is a staff writer for GMTM covering college football. He grew up slowly in Nebraska in the midst of the Husker dynasty of the '90s... and has been aging rapidly ever since.