More Than $1 Million in Scholarships Earned at Inaugural Orange Bowl Florida High School Football Showcase in 2017
Last February, at the inaugural Orange Bowl Florida High School Football Showcase, 61 high school student-athletes earned more than $1 million in scholarships to study and play football at NCAA Division II, III and NAIA schools. 341 student-athletes participated in the 2017 Showcase (all academically qualified) in front of 49 schools.
The 2018 Orange Bowl Florida High School Football Showcase presented by Cleveland Clinic Florida, will take place on Saturday, Feb. 17. This year’s event will take place at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla., from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. All NCAA Division II, III, and NAIA head football coaches have been invited to attend the showcase.
“The results from our initial Showcase exceeded our expectations in college and student-athlete participation, those receiving scholarships and coaches offering scholarships,” said Sean Pittman, the new Orange Bowl Committee President and Chair. “This validated our belief that beyond the usual volume of Division 1 signees, Florida has an abundance of talented and academically qualified student-athletes who are looking to continue their careers. We are excited to provide this opportunity for student-athletes, but also for coaches from around the country who have limited recruiting budgets. Because of the Orange Bowl, these coaches can now evaluate football players all in one trip and one location.”
Last year, St. Vincent College (NCAA Division III school from Latrobe, Pennsylvania—training camp home of the Pittsburgh Steelers), awarded the most in players scholarships (nine) while Graceland College (NAIA School from Lamoni, Iowa) awarded eight.
Among Graceland’s signees was Caleb Thomas from Miami Gardens (Flanagan H.S.) who became a record-setting freshman. In 10 games he caught 158 balls (breaking the NAIA record of 144) for 1,235 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 15.8 catches per game also set an NAIA and all-division record, as did his 27 catches in one game.
“It was a great opportunity for me to be able to come out and showcase my talent,” said Thomas. “Only God would know where I would be if I hadn’t attended the showcase. If it wasn’t for him blessing me with the opportunity to perform the way I did at the Orange Bowl Showcase, I wouldn’t be in this position I am in life right now.”
Graceland assistant coach Nate Robinson, who was on site in South Florida and helped recruit Thomas, said it was the first time in school history that the Yellowjackets had an AFCA All-American and identifying a player of Thomas' caliber has changed the direction of the program.
"It’s a great experience for the athletes involved," said Robinson. "You always want to feel wanted, and there are a large amount of colleges and universities in attendance. There is a school for every athlete, they just have to take the time and find the right fit.... It’s hard to truly identify how explosive players really are without seeing them run around. You look at highlight tape and ask yourself about all the other things that factor in... It’s hard to find a player like Caleb without a Showcase like this one."
To be eligible to participate in the 2018 Showcase, student-athletes must be graduating high school seniors who have not accepted a scholarship offer from a NCAA Division I (Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision) program. In addition, they must meet the following academic qualifications:
Earn a 2.5 GPA or higher in 16 Core Courses (please visit www.ncaa.org/student-athletes/future/core-courses for a description of NCAA Eligible Core Courses); AND
Earn an SAT score of 920 (math and verbal only) or higher; OR
Have a composite ACT Score of 18 or higher or a sum score of 68 or higher
For more information about the Orange Bowl Florida High School Football Showcase and to register, please visit http://community.orangebowl.org/highschoolfootballshowcase/
For volunteer opportunities with the Orange Bowl and to register, please visit http://community.orangebowl.org/ambassadors/
For accredited media interested in covering the event, please register http://community.orangebowl.org/highschoolfootballshowcase/media/
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