Greg Hopkins said the purpose of the Changing The Community football training program that he founded is simple.
"We mentor and train student-athletes," the 2003 Edison graduate said. "We help them get into college on scholarship."
The coronavirus pandemic that has hovered worldwide since 2020 has made that mission more difficult for CTC and other organizations.
Hopkins said there is evidence that those challenges have receded enough that Rochester-area players can work around the remaining hurdles and offers to play in college have increased. Look at the nine high school athletes in CTC that have offers to play, Hopkins said.
"This has been the most we’ve had since 2016," Hopkins said.
CTC, a non-profit, has been up and running in it current form since 2009.
Headed for college football?
Here are the players with ties to CTC who have received offers:
Anthony Diaz, junior, East/World of Inquiry: Received an offer to play on scholarship from University at Buffalo, which recruits the Eagles defensive back/receiver as an athlete. He was East's leader in interceptions last season, and will have an even larger role in the team's offense.
I am extremely blessed to have received my second D1 offer from campbell university🐪@CoachPFMiller @CoachChiappelli@CUCoachMinter@GoCamels🐪🐪@realchadricardo@ncaafnation247@SWiltfong247@247recruiting @rivals@RwrightRivals @CTC4CHANGE pic.twitter.com/JjefLHcDlz
— Camryn Higgins (@CamrynHiggins2) July 31, 2022
Camryn Higgins, junior, Saint Pius X/St. Matthias Academy: Goes into this season with a scholarship offer from Campbell University in North Carolina and San Jose State in California. Played at receiver and defensive back with East/World of Inquiry in 2021, his only varsity season in Section V, and transferred to a private school in Downey, California, a Los Angeles suburb.
Styhles McKenzie-Baker, sophomore, Monroe: An offer from Campbell makes two possible scholarships to choose from for the former University Prep defensive back. UB made an offer to McKenzie last school year.
Jamiere Munson, freshman, University at Buffalo: Former Greece Athena receiver and cornerback plans to join the UB Bulls as a walk-on. He played two varsity seasons at Athena, before he went to Culver City High, near Los Angeles, for his final high school season.
Amir Proctor, freshman, Marist College: Eastridge graduate signed a letter of intent to accept a scholarship with Marist College in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly 1-AA) in February. Red Fox coaches are going to keep him at cornerback, where he was standout for the Eastridge Lancers.
— Wolf Pack’s Finest (@W_Packs_Finest) January 16, 2022
Victor Snow, freshman, University of Nevada: Former Webster Schroeder receiver/defensive back)) went to Feltrim Academy, a prep school in-between Orlando and Lakeland, Florida, before landing an opportunity to join the Nevada Wolfpack as a preferred walk-on.
Jordan Walker, freshman, Rutgers: Hopkins predicts this former Rush-Henrietta (receiver/tight end) will see the field to play as a college freshman. Walker went to Milford Academy, a prep school in New Berlin, Chenango County, before he joined Rutgers as a preferred walk-on.
Zayden Walters, freshman, Greece Athena: Plays right tackle for Athena, at about 6 feet-2 inches and 285 pounds, and already has a scholarship offer from the UB Bulls. He also plays on the Trojans defensive line.
Ervin Wiggins Jr., junior, East/World of Inquiry: Georgia Southern, which plays in the Sun Belt Conference, has offered a scholarship to the Eagles safety/outside linebacker to play defensive back. Wiggins was a team captain last season.
Tough recruiting landscape
College football coaches can search for players in at least two other talent pools before they turn to high school graduates to retool rosters.
They can take a look at their team's roster, since players can stay with their teams longer, a ripple effect from when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down sports in 2020. There are also plenty of players in the NCAA transfer portal to choose from, which could cross off opportunities for high school athletes who are on the hunt for scholarships.
These are less than ideal conditions for players in a state that college football recruiting services rank in the bottom third of the United States, when it comes to potential scholarship players.
"It's very exciting, very exciting," Proctor said. "This is a great chance to showcase my talent at a higher level. I'm just ready to work.
"(Recruiting is a) very difficult process, for me especially, to have the patience to wait for the right call. Division I, it's been a dream of mine since I was little."
Proctor's and others' excitement is an explanation for Hopkins' enthusiasm about CTC members' success finding schools and teams to move on to.
"It has to do with the fact that we've had players who have had success in college and now, it's been trickling to others," Hopkins said.
"There are people who are starting to realize there are football players here."
James Johnson can be reached at JAMESJ@Gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @JJDANDC. To subscribe to the Democrat and Chronicle's new weekly high school sports newsletter, Varsity Voices, please follow this link:https://profile.democratandchronicle.com/newsletters/varsity-voices/
This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Rochester football program paves way for college scholarships