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Transition – The Move From Friday Night Lights, To Saturday Afternoon

Football Featuring the Leo Lions

Transition – The Move From Friday Night Lights, To Saturday Afternoon

To steal a quote from Billy Beane in the movie Moneyball “How can you not be a little romantic about football”

As the rain finally stalls and the flowers begin to bloom, we football fans reflect. We look back
on a hard-fought season from last fall. We start to ramp up for the season ahead. But how
quickly we forget those Friday night warriors – the boys of fall. In this article, we talk about the
Leo Lions seniors. An area high school football team packed with college commits. This will be
the start of more content on area ball players and their path to college success.

Their names rang over the PA speakers all season long. Mason Sheron. Samuel Htoo. Rylan
Crawford. DJ Allen. Landen Livingston. The list goes on and on. How quickly we move onto next
season without recognition of those area football players that were offered a college
scholarship. This is no fluke. For these young men to capitalize in the form of an extended
education is paramount. This year, we decided to reach out to some of these players and dive
deeper into their stories. Thankfully for Summit City Sports, the always amazing Leo Lions
Football Remix Twitter account set up a group chat with most of the seniors on this squad.

To say I was shocked by my findings is an understatement. The level of commitment to family,
community, team, and most importantly keeping up grades for young men just becoming adults
is a constant juggle. But a large group this year did it. And this is not uncommon for the growing
level of talent in the area. What impressed me most is I was able to speak with players ranging
from NAIA, D3, D2 all the way up to Division 1 powerhouse schools. A lot of their stories in
recruiting were different. But one thing stayed the same. Each one had to work harder at this than anything else previously in their lives. So deeper, we dove in.

I asked these young players what recruitment was like. Things like when did you begin being
courted by schools or what did you like that certain schools pitched to you? Answers ranged
from incoming Freshman all the way to mid senior year. They all responded that they loved the
experience of being recruited. The excitement of seeing how the next level of football
operations work and the impressive facilities. And getting to speak to coaches who all seemed to have high interest in all these players.

We discussed what type of support they received from school faculty, family, friends, and
coaches. This is where some answers differed. For some players the hype and buzz was so high
that everyone around them knew and supported the process. For others, they felt more
isolated and where some may break, these individuals dug deeper. I was most blown away by
Leo QB Jackson Barbour’s story. I felt like his perspective resonated with so many graduating
seniors wanting to continue to play. Where Jackson didn’t have the level of film, or physical
attributes as a lot of other regional QB’s, he absolutely knew in his heart that he could play at
the next level. He was smart, stayed focused, worked harder, and leaned on his closest contacts, and credited his family, especially his father and Coach Rob Livingston for where he ended up at Lawrence University.

One thing that seemed similar with all these players was the gaining popularity of camps and
showcases. As we have attended and called many regional showcases at Summit City Sports, we
can also attest to their value in getting a player noticed. Leo OL Landen Livingston talked about
the timing of the start of his first offer from Michigan State, to ending up at West Virginia and
the amount of time and energy he put into camps to be seen by more schools and coaches.

The final question I asked. What is exciting about the new challenges/opportunities that college
will provide? And at its core the answers were similar. These boys are extremely thankful to
have the opportunity to receive a top-level education and continue four more years of playing
the sport that they so truly love. I enjoyed Samuel Htoo’s (Saint Francis) answer; that everyone
knows collegiate football is a step up from high school. And there is no doubt in my mind that these guys are all ready for that challenge.

In closing, Jackson Barbour made a statement that I think is critical to our viewing audience.
Any high school player can play at the college level if they want it badly enough. Truer words
have not been spoken. And there is no doubt that this group, and all other seniors on a similar collegiate path did everything possible to make their dream come true.

I encourage all area coaches to continue to help your players in any way. Reach out to your
contacts. Share Hudl film. Share showcase dates and promote your players. Get involved with
the process on social media. With some positive energy and some elbow grease, we can be a
driving force in blossoming more collegiate athletes in the future from Northeast Indiana. I
know that we can all agree that our biggest goal is to assist these young men in getting a
top-flight education. Leo football showed us a great example of that!

Special thanks to the Leo Football community, Remix Twitter account, and Leo Seniors

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