WKYT Investigates | COVID-19’s impact on college recruiting in Kentucky

High school seniors are hoping to use this season as a springboard to earn scholarships.
Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 11:32 AM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - As of now, high school football practice in Kentucky will begin on August 24 with the season opener set for September 11.

Everybody is looking forward to the return of Friday night lights, especially seniors that want to play college football. They are using this season as a springboard to earn scholarships.

“If you have a good senior season, it will help with recruiting,” said Lexington Christian Academy linebacker Mattie Lebryk.

If the season goes off without a hitch, seniors will have plenty of opportunities to shine for recruiters, but COVID-19 has already impacted the recruiting cycle in a negative way.

“Usually we have a ton of camps during the summer that help you get exposure, but most of them have gotten cancelled,” said Lebryk.

“Because of the limitations due to COVID-19, it’s going to be hard to get exposure from those summertime camps,” said LCA lineman Neal Dickey.

“You can’t really get better at that face-to-face interaction with coaches,” added Dickey. “Whenever a coach knows and can see your work ethic on the field, it makes a big difference compared to just seeing film of you.”

Without those summer camps, players like Lebryk and Dickey have to rely on their highlight reels to attract college recruiters, but they need to start playing games so they can update those reels with their updated bodies.

“Going from your junior to senior season, a lot of kids transition from boys to men,” said Dickey.

“We’ve got kids that have put on 30 pounds and have gone from this kid that may have got knocked around a little bit last year to now, he’s 30 pounds heavier and deserves a scholarship somewhere,” said LCA defensive coordinator Marty Moore.

“You can have a good junior season, but say you won’t be as big, so say you are 180 and go into the offseason and put on 20 pounds,” added Dickey. “That’s a big difference from a DII to a D1.”

Lebryk has six college offers, a list that includes Morehead State and Centre College. With a stellar senior season, he could start to see those D1 looks, but as defensive coordinator Marty Moore explains, COVID-19 is stunting that process.

“It has been a huge impact for these kids,” said Moore. “This is some of these kids way to better their lives and get a scholarship and not being able to play football and be seen and get into these camps, it has made a huge impact on these kids and people are getting creative on how to get their kid out there.”

Speaking of getting creative, Scott County head football coach Jim McKee has a unique way of promoting his players.

“We just held a virtual, one-day camp here,” said McKee. “We did a 40, shuttle run, individual drills without a ball, one-rep bench press, height and weight and what we did was we took that, created a film and put it on the front end of their HUDL.”

“We tried to adjust with the times,” added McKee. “Will it have an impact on recruiting? I’m sure it is, but it doesn’t mean colleges will quit recruiting. As a recruit or a coach, you have to promote your recruit in a different way.”

KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett has been adamant that fall sports will be played, but we will see in time if this pandemic allows that to happen.

The KHSAA Board of Control is set to meet again on August 20, four days before official football practices are set to begin.

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