BRISTOL - Even amid the coronavirus pandemic, there isnāt a day that goes by where Victor Rosa isnāt working on his game.
Running, lifting, different drills. He knows he has to if he wants to reach his goal of playing Division I football.
āEver since I was a kid Iāve always wanted to go Division I,ā Rosa said. āEver since I got into high school Iāve been working. I understood what it takes to get to where I need to be and as soon as I got to high school, my whole mindset changed; my whole workout schedule changed. Iāve been working out every day and Iām just doing what I need to do to get where I need to be.ā
Usually the fastest player on the field and the focal point of his teamās offense, Rosa - who has been starting on both sides of the ball for Bristol Central as a freshman and sophomore - used his dynamic speed and athleticism to post 1,146 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground to go along with 475 passing yards and two touchdowns and earn his second all-CCC selection. He capped off his sophomore campaign with record-tying five touchdowns in the Battle for the Bell against Bristol Eastern and scored 32 of Centralās 34 points.
Nearly a year later after increasing his training regimen and working in the offseason, Rosa now has an offer from UConn, his first from a Division I school and is making the efforts to garner even more attention.
āHeās definitely put on a lot of good weight without sacrificing the speed and agility, which in my mind are his No. 1 attributes as a football player,ā Central head football coach Jeff Papazian said. āItās finding a way to get out and compete with other kids that are really good.ā
Rosa knows he will not be playing quarterback at the next level so a lot of his offseason work is focused on developing the skills at receiver, running back and defensive back because that is where he will be assigned to play in college. For help with this, as well as the rest of the recruiting process, Rosa joined the mentoring program Supreme Athlete, which is run by former UConn football player Stanley āStackā Williams. His company helps high school athletes train to reach their highest potential on the field, so he can help them gain the most attractive scholarship offers to play at a prep school or in college.
Rosa was first introduced to Williams and the program when he tried out for the Supreme Athlete seven-on-seven football team. After peaking Williamsā interest, Rosa was added to the team and was presented about joining the Supreme Athlete program.
āOne of the biggest benefits for him was that he was training with and alongside better athletes than him,ā Williams said. āKids who were ahead of him from the recruiting standpoint, kids who were as dynamic or even more dynamic than him and that just helped him see āI might be the best in Bristol, but Iām not overall, where I would like to be.āā
Already driven towards his goal of playing Division I, joining Supreme Athlete and being exposed to a higher level of training and competition motivated Rosa even more because he was getting firsthand experience against his competition at the next level.
āHe didnāt win every race, he wasnāt the strongest or the quickest, but it made him see how much more work he had to put in and I think that was great for him,ā Williams said. āSo now heās training with kids who have bigger FBS offers than him, that are younger than him, so thatās been inspiring him to work harder. Victor has done a fantastic job of responding and his parents have been tremendous with supporting me and allowing me to be the person who helps facilitate things from a recruiting standpoint for him and itās been really great so far.ā
Despite Rosaās junior season being put on delay for the time being, heās still been able to make people notice how heās grown since last season and intensifying his training. Since starting with Supreme Athlete, UConn made him his first Division I offer and he has been in discussions with many other programs including the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Rhode Island, the University at California-Berkeley, Temple, UMass, Bucknell and some schools from the Ivy League have taken notice because of his strong grades.
With the offer from UConn, Rosa is just a decision away from finalizing his dream, but plans to keep his options open. He doesnāt expect UConn to be his only offer, but was more than thrilled to receive one.
āThis entire recruiting process I was just waiting for a school to believe in me,ā Rosa said. āThis summer, Iāve competed in seven-on-seven through Supreme Athlete. Thereās Division I athletes from all over competing in there. Iām there, Iām making plays, holding my ground, [making] interceptions. I know I can play at the next level and I was just waiting for a school to believe in me. UConn was that school and Iām very blessed with this opportunity.ā
With other schools interested but it being unclear when his next opportunity to play an actual football game will come, Rosa is surveying his choices with how to proceed. He has nearly two years until he would be set to start his freshman year of college, but the pandemicās unpredictability makes the situation more complicated.
āItās junior year, it wouldāve been my year,ā Rosa said. āThis wouldāve been the year to put up the film and blow up, but we have to work around that. Iāve been working out every single day and even though thereās no season [right now], there might be a spring season. All is still unknown. I donāt know what Iām going to do, whether itās go to a prep school if I donāt get my junior season back. I still donāt know. Me and my family donāt know what weāre going to do. Every day Iām continuing to work and I have my mind on the bigger picture, especially with this UConn offer. Iāve got my eyes on the right sight. Iām just going to keep on working, junior season or not.ā
Regardless of whatās next for him, Rosa is ready. He refuses to lose sight of what he wants and believes he has positioned himself in the best possible way to make those goals materialize. In a time that created great uncertainty for many people in every aspect of life, he has no intention of letting anything slow him down.
āUConn is the first to jump on board, I would totally expect some more schools will fall with that,ā Papazian said. āHeās got UConn, which is obviously at the FBS level, but a kid with a transcript like he has, I absolutely believe some of the Ivy League schools are going to come along. Theyāre at a different pace in their recruiting timeline than an FBS school like UConn. I think when itās all said and done heās going to have a lot of options and heās going to have a really tough decision to make, in a good way.ā
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org