ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Camari Berry might be one of the luckier ones.
The Lakewood High School defensive back is headed into his junior year with two offers already, from the University of Illinois and the University of Toledo.
“Football is so special to me because I’ve been playing it my whole life,” he said. “I love doing it for my family and it also keeps me on track—it’s kept me out of drama and organized.”
The question is whether those offers, given the potential fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on collegiate sports, will still be there when Berry is ready to graduate.
"I'm still worried,” he said. “I just pray—that’s the main thing—you got to pray and hopefully everything will just play out."
The prospect of no college football this fall could wind up being felt as far as high school programs nationwide.
"This could definitely have a detrimental, perpetual effect if it's not done the right way,” said Lakewood High School football coach Cory Moore.
Moore worries a lost season will mean lost revenue and then likely lost opportunities for student-athletes who, in some cases, might not have a shot at a quality higher education otherwise. And given that college football programs help fund scholarships and resources well beyond football, student-athletes in all sports could be impacted, he said.
"Definitely scholarships but also by not having those monies, that can play into the fact with recruiting and (colleges) going out and having the funds to see players,” Moore said. “So all of these things would allow us to take a really, really big hit."
With so much up in the air still, even with their own season, Moore says he’s trying to keep his players focused on what they can control.
"You have a lot of underclassmen who are really banking on the opportunity of playing college football,” he said. "Now, it's to the point they're wondering if this might be the end to something they've tried to prepare their whole entire life for that could maybe not happen."
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