This part of the year is listed on the NCAA recruiting calendar as a quiet period, a time during which in-person contacts can be made only on the institution’s campus.
That cannot happen this spring with the COVID-19 outbreak that has shut down college and high school campuses.
Although it has been a quiet period for college coaching staffs, it has been quite loud for two juniors on Richmond-Burton’s Class 4A state championship football team.
Offensive lineman Luke Eckardt and tight end-defensive end Jacob Petersen both have accrued multiple scholarship offers from NCAA Division I schools the past week. Eckardt (6-foot-6, 265 pounds) announced his commitment to Northern Illinois University on Twitter.
Eckardt, a two-year starter, also had offers from Arkansas State, Bowling Green, Eastern Illinois, Eastern Michigan, Illinois State, North Dakota and Southern Illinois. Petersen has offers from Eastern Michigan, Illinois State, North Dakota and Southern Illinois.
Both attended Junior Days at NIU and Iowa before the coronavirus put most travel and visiting on hold.
“Northern is in my backyard and I like the coaches there,” Eckardt said. “They wanted me to commit all along, so I did, and I’m happy with my choice. It’s a good school with good academics and good coaches with a good program.”
Eckardt started part of his sophomore season on both lines as the Rockets advanced to the Class 4A semifinals.
“Luke has a lot of potential, he has a very high ceiling,” Rockets coach Mike Noll said. “He’s young for his class. He’s just starting to figure out how to use leverage and his hands. He wants to be a good football player, and he’s willing to work hard. He’ll do well.”
Eckardt was a Northwest Herald All-Area second-team selection last season and was voted R-B’s Lineman of the Year by the coaches and players.
“The (NIU) coaches have a lot of faith in me and think I can get better at the sport,” Eckardt said. “My high school coach thinks that and I think that too. I just need to get stronger, get better with my hands and get more aggressive. I’m right there.”
Noll thinks most colleges regard Petersen as a tight end/H-back type of player, although he produced well on both sides. He caught 18 passes for 402 yards, an average of 22.3 yards a catch, and had six touchdowns. He had six sacks and 12 tackles for losses on defense.
“It’s going well. A few weeks ago it was kind of slow, and it’s picked up super fast,” Petersen said. “It’s all happening at once.”
Petersen (6-4, 220) has added almost 30 pounds since the football season ended.
“The thing is, the film colleges are seeing he’s 6-4, 190 pounds,” Noll said. “He had a tremendous season, he makes a lot of plays. He’s already gotten a lot faster. They both played well as juniors, but they’ll play a lot better as seniors.”
Petersen said he has been lifting weights hard and eating a lot, although even with the extra weight he broke into the 4.7 range with his 40-yard dash time. Last year he ran it in 5.02.
Petersen has also been in contact with Eastern Illinois and Central Michigan.