ELKHART — Elkhart Central football coach Josh Shattuck is quick to point out that the recruitment of Rodney McGraw is about one person.
But as Shattuck moves towards his third year at the helm of the Blue Blazers, he knows the impact McGraw's Division I recruitment is having on his program.
"It's a great thing because Rodney is very humble about it and doesn't go around boasting about this offer or that offer,'' Shattuck said. "But we have a handful of other kids that can play at the next level someday, and for them to see how hard Rodney works in the weightroom and on the practice field, it pushes them to work just as hard.''
"I just want to do my job, work hard and try to help my teammates down the right path,'' McGraw said. "I want to work hard to get stronger and then win a lot of games next season.''
McGraw is just a sophomore at Central, but his size and potential have college coaches finding their way to Elkhart every day.
Listed at 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, McGraw made The Truth's All-Area team as a sophomore last fall and his play at defensive end have caught the eyes and imagination of college coaches from all over the country.
How big is the recruitment for McGraw? Well, Notre Dame coaches will be in Elkhart today to talk to the sophomore, while Indiana has already offered a scholarship. Iowa, Purdue and Boston College have already been to Central, while four MAC teams – including Ball State – have also offered scholarships for the Class of 2021.
And Shattuck knows, things may just be getting started.
"It's already been an interesting experience ... I've never been through something like this either,'' Shattuck admitted. "Some of the bigger schools are still getting to know Rodney and there is still plenty of time and games to be played. But for him, every offer he gets, no matter what Division I school it is, they're offering a free education. That's not something you can lose sight of.''
In his first year of varsity football last fall, McGraw had 45 total tackles, including an eye-opening 18 for loss. He recorded four sacks, forced four fumbles and even recorded a safety.
"The coaches I've talked to have said, there is really no limit on how big Rodney could get in the next few years,'' Shattuck said. "We expect him to be about 230 at the start of next season, but he's still young and growing.''
By the time he's a senior in the fall of 2020, Elkhart will have just one school and McGraw and his younger teammates will be playing at Elkhart High School.
"I love my teammates, but having the athletes together from Memorial and Central will be great,'' McGraw said. "We should be really good my senior year.''
Because he's just a sophomore, college coaches aren't able to talk to McGraw yet, everything goes through Shattuck until next fall.
"They tell coach they want me to keep working hard and make sure I keep my grades up too,'' McGraw said.
"Some of the coaches from the bigger schools are just doing as much homework as they can on Rodney,'' Shattuck said. "For instance, the Boston College coach asked a lot of questions, the biggst one being, would Rodney play football on the east coast. They're just getting as much information as they can for now.''
Oh, one more thing, McGraw didn't hesitate when asked about his favorite college football team.
"Alabama,'' he said. "I'm hoping to get more offers in the next few years, but hearing from Alabama would be great.''