Growing up, I always wanted to be a college baseball player.
No, that’s not a typo. It was actually pretty late in my athletic career when I finally found I had a talent for football.
Even going into high school, I had my mind set that I would continue to play baseball and that my future was tied to the sport. But then, during my freshman year at Briar Woods High School in Virginia, I was reintroduced to my future passion.
I had spent the prior two years living in England with my family because of my father’s job, so football really wasn’t even on my mind.
But many of the guys I had grown up with were joining the team, so I decided that would be the way I would spend my first fall back in Virginia.
Almost immediately, I fell in love with the game like I had never done before. I found myself more challenged mentally, physically, and emotionally than I ever had in any other sport, which was something I had always been looking for.
But even with my first year’s experience, it was still just a hobby. In my mind, baseball was my future and I couldn’t see that changing.
So to really explain how I came from this mindset to a football junkie, you’re going to need some background.
When people hear that I went to Briar Woods, most people don’t know that it wasn’t always a football powerhouse. Actually, when my friends and I stepped on campus, there had never even been a championship team within the program.
So with a group that included many really good football players and even some future college football stars like Trace Mcsorley, Matt Rolin, Mike Barta, Devin Ramos, Jonathan Rosa, JT Logan, Trei Germany, Justin Baker and Alex Carter, we set out to change that.
The majority of us grew up playing youth football together in the Ashburn Youth Football League, so we already felt like we had the chemistry. We just needed the coaching. And fortunately for us, we had a great one in Charlie Pierce.
By the end of our sophomore season, all the work started to pay off.
Winning our first of three state championships, we shocked the state (and maybe even ourselves), proving Briar Woods was a name worth remembering.
And that’s when everything started to change.
Alex Carter, who was a year older than the rest of us, began to see scholarship offers stream in. He was the first one on our team to receive any sort of college attention, so these opportunities really opened our eyes.
And that’s when it hit me. Maybe baseball wouldn’t be my ticket to the next level.
When we started, it had nothing to do with getting recruited for any of us. We just wanted to create something special that we could be proud of. But after seeing Alex head off to Stanford, we were all motivated to follow in his footsteps.
Heading into my own recruitment, I really didn’t have expectations.
I was the first in my family to go through the process, so I didn’t have anything to base them off of. What I did know was that I had put in the work necessary to become one of the best tight ends in the country, so I expected to be treated that way.
But as things ramped up, I started to see some schools and recruiting sites didn’t see it the same way.
In high school I played both ways, often moving from position to position, doing whatever the team needed to win. And on offense, my role was far from traditional.
Being split out as a wide receiver and sometimes lining up in the backfield, I wasn’t spending every play coming off the line like most tight end recruits.
For me, this was a plus, but to scouts, it made them question my potential at the next level.
During my junior year, I received several scholarship offers from mid-major programs, but I didn’t feel like I was meeting my goals. Throughout the process, there were many ups and downs, especially when I heard from bigger schools I thought were interested but continued to keep me waiting.
The process started to weigh on me.
Finally, I got so tired of recruitment that I decided I was finished with it. I decided that I would go with one of the mid-majors who believed in me from the beginning: James Madison University.
But as I was telling my Dad about my decision, he convinced me to take one last shot and attend a camp that Wake Forest was hosting the next weekend.
I was skeptical because we didn’t know much about Wake, but my Dad encouraged me by telling me several players from our area were on the team.
Maybe I could be next.
So the night before heading down to Winston-Salem, we sent in my highlight tape as our first contact with the program, and just hoped for the best.
When I got on campus that next day, I was amazed to hear from Coach Himey.
He was my area recruiter and the offensive line coach for Wake Forest. As soon as we arrived, he took my father and me aside and told us that he had taken the time to review my film and really liked what he saw.
After an introduction to the rest of the staff, he sent me off to the workouts.
And then, about halfway through the day, Coach Lobo, who was the offensive coordinator, pulled us aside again and offered me a scholarship to play football at Wake Forest.
I almost couldn’t believe my ears.
That last minute trip that I almost didn’t go on, turned into being the best decision I’ve ever made.
I still remember my Dad and I walking around campus after they offered me, in disbelief that I would have the privilege to attend such a prestigious university and play against the top talents in the country.
After that, I just realized sometimes the best things in life are worth waiting for and you should never just settle.
Returning home with that offer, I now had a decision to make.
I had a trip planned to visit Stanford that following week, but the Wake coaches told me they needed an answer soon. They were hosting a few more tight ends, and if they committed, I would no longer have a spot on the roster.
After thinking at length about the pros and cons of the decision, I decided to cancel my trip to Stanford and commit to Wake. My heart was fully with the program, so there was no reason to drag things out and risk losing the opportunity.
From that decision, my time spent with the program has been a blessing. Just like everything in life, though, my career still has had many ups and downs.
From redshirting my freshman year when I thought I was ready to play to injuring my hamstring last year when I was ready to have my best season, the game has thrown many obstacles at me.
But just like the recruitment process, staying patient for success paid off.
All of those hours I spent training when no one was watching during my redshirt season allowed me to have the breakout season that surprised many that following year.
And although the injury slowed me down my junior year, it allowed me to focus on my run blocking, turning me into a complete player that can help our team win in multiple ways.
So, now as I get older, I’m not only focused on areas where I can improve, but how we can improve as a team as well. I know through hard work and putting in the time even when it feels like we are far away from our goals, we can achieve whatever we set our sights on.
The success may not come immediately, but by staying focused and patient, we can reach any goal we set out to achieve.
Cam Serigne | Contributor