There are few things more valuable than advice from someone you can trust.
So when Marian Central quarterback Chris Streveler considered leaving high school early to join Minnesota’s football program, he knew just whom to call.
Streveler spoke with former Marian quarterback Jon Budmayr, who left early in the 2008-09 school year to attend Wisconsin. After reassurance from Budmayr of the benefits, Streveler followed that plan and enrolled at Minnesota last month.
While today is momentous for athletes who will sign their NCAA national letters of intent with NCAA Division I and II schools, it will be just another day of classes and working out for Streveler, Prairie Ridge’s Sean Folliard and Crystal Lake South’s Boston Mathews.
Those three followed the trend of the past five years and finished their graduation requirements a semester early and enrolled in college. Folliard enrolled at Northern Illinois, while Mathews is already at Toledo. Both are working out with their respective football teams.
Those athletes who leave early sign athletic financial aid agreement after they enrolled, so they will not sign NCAA letters of intent today.
“I really like it up here, the transition has been pretty seamless,” Streveler said. “Jon said it was really helpful for him with learning and getting an offseason under his belt. Jon said it was good for getting used to the workouts and being with the guys.”
The Golden Gophers' weightroom, spacious and polished, was a stark contrast to Marian’s, but Streveler said he received a warm reception.
“The guys treated me like one of the guys, not like a new guy,” Streveler said. “I’m trying to get names down. I’m good with most of the offensive guys.”
Marian offensive coordinator Dirk Stanger said it takes a special type of student-athlete to leave early.
“There are advantages and disadvantages,” Stanger said. “It depends on the player and the situation. It has to be where the player can handle it academically and be ready to handle the college course loads. From a career perspective, it gives you a leg up. You’re getting involved in things right away.”
Marian had defensive lineman Sean Cwynar leave in the middle of 2007-08 for Notre Dame. Then, Budmayr left the next year. This is the first year the area had multiple players leave their schools early. They will return for some high school functions and walk in graduation with their senior classes.
Mathews (6-foot-3, 250) planned during his junior year to leave early and join the Rockets. He had an abbreviated season after suffering a broken bone in his left ankle in preseason practices. Mathews gutted it out through three games, then sat out for a while to let it mend. He returned for South’s final two games.
Toledo coach Matt Campbell does not allow freshmen to speak to the news media. Mathews, who wowed college coaches with a YouTube video of himself hang-cleaning 315 pounds last year, is working out with the team and projected as a center.
Folliard (6-2, 205) was a junior safety on Prairie Ridge’s Class 6A state championship team in 2011 and played safety and quarterback as a senior. He will move to linebacker for the Huskies.
“There are a a lot of great guys here,” Folliard said. “I fit in perfectly here. I’ve known I wanted to go early, I figured it out at the beginning of the school year. I talked to NIU’s coaches and they were all for it.”
Folliard might get redshirted as a freshman while he adds more size to play linebacker, but he figures participating in spring practices still will be a huge advantage.
“I’m going to be here longer, working out with the team,” Folliard said. “I can learn the system now, it’s my way of trying to compete.”
Visit McHenryCountySports.com for more local high school athletes who will sign their NCAA national letters of intent with NCAA Division I or II schools.