Caleb Holstein has always been a multi-sport athlete.
The 6-foot-4 St. Thomas More junior played a handful of sports growing up but has narrowed his focus to football and basketball as he’s gotten older. Since December, when the Cougars lost to University Lab in the Division II state championship, Holstein (the quarterback) shifted the bulk of his attention toward the hardwood. And now, as the calendar ticks toward March, STM’s big man in the middle has his sights set on another playoff push.
If only it was that simple.
For players like Holstein, whose futures have more to do with touchdowns than 3-pointers, this time of year can be rewarding. It can also be accompanied by a heaping helping of stress and distractions.
It’s one of the few stretches during the year that college football programs can dedicate the bulk of their time and resources to the recruiting trail. Coaches across the country hit the road in an effort to woo the best and brightest with a little in-person face time and promises of a mutually beneficial relationship.
Although those players being recruited always welcome the attention and potential opportunities their football talent affords them, juggling schoolwork, secondary athletic pursuits and a social life, they admit it can be overwhelming.
“Yeah, definitely,” Holstein said before basketball practice Wednesday. “Normally, it’ll be about a (college football) coach a day that will come through and (at least) say hi. Sometimes, they’ll come watch practice or a game. But, yeah, it can kind of get in the way sometimes.”
Holstein said he has six official scholarship offers: UL, Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss, Cincinnati, Harvard and Yale. He added there are others (LSU, Georgia, Kentucky) who have expressed interest or come by for a first-person evaluation.
“Every once in a while, schools will just pop in,” he said. “Like, TCU popped in the other day.”
One of the NCAA’s self-mandated “quiet” periods began Feb. 8 and lasts until April 14. According to ncaa.org, “during a quiet period, a college coach may only have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents on the college’s campus. A coach may not watch student-athletes compete (unless a competition occurs on the college’s campus) or visit their high schools. Coaches may write or telephone college-bound student-athletes or their parents during this time.”
Players aren’t the only ones affected. Coaches, too, are often tasked with juggling things in the wake of recruiting.
“Calling it a distraction is hard,” said Westgate basketball coach Oliver Winston, who is also an assistant football coach for the Tigers. “We had three guys miss a game because they were on a (recruiting) visit at the same time. I didn’t really like it because it was late in the season. And it definitely affected us. We didn’t win the game. But I understand the importance of (why they missed the game). It was the last opportunity they would have to make a visit before signing day.”
STM basketball coach Danny Broussard, who is in his 36th year as a head coach, had to keep Holstein out of the starting lineup for a game against Rayne in January. Holstein missed the practice before the game because he scheduled an unofficial visit to Memphis.
“You have to be flexible,” Broussard said. “Way back, I wouldn’t have been maybe. But I look at the kids and they’re trying to juggle everything. It’s just the nature of the beast.”