What makes a successful year? Most companies measure success by dollars made, while Gridiron Football does as well, we also measure our success in how many kids graduate and go to college. Part of the vision that started this company was the desire to use the medium of football to change lives of young men. When young men play football, are a part of a program, and believe they can play at the next level; they are more likely to go to class, finish homework, and stay out of trouble. This last is important in Louisiana as we historically have ranked number one in the country in incarcerations. When we first started, one of our goals was to help the incarceration rate in Louisiana drop. Since 2018, when we held our first bowl game at Louisiana Christian University (LCU) in Pineville, La, the incarceration rate has fallen drastically. Coach Andy and coach Randall believe that the work we do here has made a small contribution in this drop. Gridiron Football helps so many young men every year from all over the country and Louisiana. Not all players we help play in college, however they still graduate high school and still have a chance in life.
While we get excited with every player helped, we understand that you may not see the numeric value associated with helping these young men. So, let us take a look into the numbers over the years: in 2018, Gridiron Football held their first Bowl Game at LCU and had 86 players. That year 85 of the 86 kids received offers to play at the next level. The total amount of scholarship money earned by players as a result of their offers from universities after the Bowl Game was over $6 million. The magazine covered over 800 players from all over the state that year and around 75% of those players received offers to play at the next level.
The 2019 Bowl Game was held at LCU and had 104 players from every corner of Louisiana. That year we had 94 guys receive offers to play at the next level with a total amount of scholarship money earned from colleges in excess of $8 million. In the 2019, Gridiron Football grew our staff and efforts to cover more kids around the state, as well as East Texas. We had over 1,000 kids in the magazine and around 80% of those kids received offers. 2020 was a difficult year for everyone, but we still succeeded in helping kids. We did not hold the Bowl Game, but we did hold a Senior 7v7 showcase in Eunice, La where 45 guys showed up and 100% of them received offers. We also expanded the magazine nationwide and covered over 1,700 players with around 85% receiving offers. In 2021, Gridiron Football changed the All-Star Bowl Game to an All-American game and offered kids from Texas, Mississippi, Florida, and Virginia, to name a few, an opportunity to play. We had 111 players and approximately 96 have received offers so far. We are still working with a few players to try and find them offers before the August 1 deadline. We featured over 1,600 players nationwide and roughly 70% received offers. The total scholarship amount earned through colleges by players we featured was roughly 100 million. 2021 featured a new obstacle, following the COVID crisis in 2020, the NCAA allowed college athletes an opportunity to extend their eligibility one year which has created a surplus of college athletes and fewer high school athletes the ability to sign. 2021 also saw a large number of student athletes enter the transfer portal which has also made it more difficult for high school athletes to sign.
The following chart will give you an idea of how many college student athletes there are with the average amount of athletic scholarship money vs academic scholarship money each prospect can earn.
|Division Level||Number of Teams||Total Athletes in Division||Average Team Size||Scholarships Limit Per Team||Ave Athletic Scholarship Value Per Year||Average Total Scholarship Value Per Year|
|D1 – FBS||129||15,167||118||85||$ 18,013||$ 36,070|
|D1 – FCS||125||13,028||104||63||$ 18,013||$ 20,706|
|D2||170||18,889||111||36||$ 6,588||$ 17,142|
|NAIA||85||9,102||107||24||$ 7,870||$ 13,705|
|JUCO||68||5,160||76||85||$ 3,259||$ 5,020|
|CCCAA||68||5,354||79||N/A||$ 482||$ 7,400|
But don’t just take our word on it regarding our impact. On Thursday May 26th, coach James Shiver (HC at St Edmund High) called and informed us that his school held their annual senior banquet and that the senior class earned a little over $600,000 in scholarships and one person who played in the 2021 All-American Bowl game earned nearly 30% of that sum with $125,000 in total scholarship money. This is just one example of what high school coaches have told us over the last few years about the difference we are making in the lives of their students.
Not only do we get feedback from high school coaches, we also get lots of information from parents of the players we work with. For example Nakia Michele, mother of Kyle Jones, said, “KJ’s recruiter actually watched the All Star Game on live and commented on his 50 yard touchdown during his recruitment process! Just thought you guys should know! Thanks for the opportunity! ”
We have received overwhelming positive comments about both our overall company (magazine/media coverage) as well as our Bowl Game. “Thanks again for inviting my son Hayden to your All-Star game. He had a great time and the exposure will help him tremendously with playing at the next level. You are making a great investment in the next generation of young men and I thank you for all the hard work that goes into a weekend like this!” Mo Seneca.
Christian Corkran, current student athlete at Arkansas Tech, said, “Thanks @gridironfootbal for an awesome 3 days at the All-Star Bowl!! Awesome win by the Blue Team!!”
Trenton Johnson from Salmon High School in Slidell, La said, “Thank you for this opportunity and everything else Mr. Andy. I hope next year All-Star Bowl game goes even smoother and better and following years. You are doing great things and I don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Thank you!!”
We look forward to continuing to change communities one young person at a time in the years to come. We see a lot of value helping young men get to the next level and reach their potential. After reading this article we hope you see the value as well. We are so very proud of each and every graduation announcement that comes through our office, and we can’t wait to see how many players we are able to help in the next year. We feel that we are a living testament of “Changing Lives, Improving Communities.”