The game of football extends beyond the field of play into
other meaningful “games” within the game. The most obvious continuation is to
the practice field and the weight room where players get to impress their
coaches in the hopes of receiving playing time, starting, and/or becoming a
focal point of team, especially on offense at a skill position.
The hard work from the weight room, to the practice field,
and then under the Friday Night Lights leads to another game – the recruiting
game. The recruiting game is a biased, unpredictable, and flawed system that
leaves hundreds of talented kids across the country empty handed at the end of
their senior seasons every year bringing an abrupt end to a once promising
This inexact system in the U.S.
is now creeping more readily into Canada where another group of
talented high school players seek to extend their playing careers onto the
American collegiate gridiron, a task even more daunting than the trek laid out
for brethren in the lower 48.
One such player attempting to extend his career into the
Division-I ranks is Canada Prep’s Nick DeLuca.
DeLuca transferred to Canada Prep for his senior year going
from a Canadian style football format, where he shined scoring 13 total
touchdowns during the 2013 season, to a school that focuses solely on the
American style game. CP focuses so much on the American game they are the only
Canadian school to do so and the Raiders only played U.S.
teams in 2014, all on American soil, traveling three times to Michigan,
three times to Ohio, once to New
York, and once to Texas.
The Raiders are in the mold of Florida’s
where top athletes from around the country go to focus on academics and a given
sport. The result is a grouping of top Canadian athletes taking a big step
forward into new territory trying to learn the game and gel as a team in an
In eight games and playing in a run-first offense DeLuca,
6’1”, 195 pounds, attempted to impress American college coaches hoping for that
golden ticket, a scholarship offer. The Raiders’ offense dropped back to pass
roughly 200 times last year. DeLuca caught 12 of
those completed passes piling up 194 yards with one touchdown carrying a 16
yard per catch average.
The reality is, despite
Nick’s 4.4 forty-yard dash speed (now mid 4.3), a passion for the game, being
academically qualified, and fitting the part physically, it’s still not enough.
Eight games of tape for a wide receiver in a run-first offense for a senior
playing in the U.S.
rarely if ever translates into a scholarship offer.
The dream is not over for
Nick. He has registered as a Class of 2016 student extending his high
school/prep career one more season in hopes of having one more year to attract
college coaches south of the border.
In an Elite Sports Network
exclusive interview Nick sat down to answer a few questions about his journey
through the camp circuit in the summer of 2014, the 2014 season, offseason
workouts, and the quest to land a D-I scholarship as part of the 2016
Nick, how is everything going for you right now?
“I’m good. I’m working away at my second semester courses, training hard
keeping my nutrition on point and basically eating my parents into poverty
Since we talked last have your measurables changed at all?
“Yeah, last year around this time I was about 180 pounds and
just under 6-foot. These days I'm in the mid 190’s and almost 6-foot 1-inch.”
How has your speed and strength training progressed?
“My bench has increased from 3 reps at 225 pounds to 13 now. And I'm really
excited with my 40 times, which have dropped from mid to high 4.4s to mid 4.3's.”
Last season you were at Canada
Academy, which was your
first season playing a truly American brand of high school football correct?
“Yes. We played a lot of really great schools and our entire schedule was on
the road, no home games.”
That must have been tough?
“Yeah, it was, but by the end of the season I think we played our best games.
We took Steubenville (Ohio) Big Red right to the last second but
came up short.”
So how did the season go for you personally?
“It went well, I mean, there were some learning curves, the travel, rule
differences, style of play, that kind of stuff. I really felt like I was just
getting comfortable with everything by the end of the season.”
Are you looking forward to next season?
“Definitely, I really don’t think that last season I showed even close to what
I can do.”
You had a couple of schools showing interest in you through
the fall right up until National Signing Day. Which U.S. schools were in contact with you
during the recruiting process?
Nevada-Reno, Eastern Washington, Minnesota,
Bucknell, and Cornell were the main schools that showed heavy interest. I had a
couple other schools email me or send recruiting letters.”
Do you have any offers extended?
“UNR asked me if I wanted to join the program as a preferred
Why did you turn that offer down?
“My goal all along is to be a scholarship athlete at the
Division-I level. With another year of game tape, college camps, and some of the
bigger exposure camps across the country I think I can realize my goal.”
Did you have any offers from Canadian schools?
“McMaster University and the University of Ottawa
There’s a lot of emotion and uncertainty for high school
football players everywhere leading up to NSD. Now that its over how do you
“Well, I’m kind of relieved actually. I mean, it was cool to
see all the hype and see how it all works, but I'm anxious to move forward with
my recruitment process this year.”
What is the plan or strategy in place for this year to help you get that first
“My dad (Rob), my coach Geoff McArthur (Canada Prep head coach), and I are
looking at the winter and spring camp and combine schedules and the plans are
for me to hit it hard!”
You were really active on the camp circuit last year as well. Last time we
spoke about the camp circuit you had wrapped up camps at UCLA, Duke, Cal,
Washington, and Iowa.
Why did you hit so many camps last summer?
“As a Canadian and virtually unknown we felt that I had to get in front of
recruiting analysts, scouts and coaches so that they could give me an eyes on
evaluation. I wanted to put up some verified numbers for college coaches as
You had a great SPARQ score last year didn't you? Something like a 112?
“Yeah, I put up a 111.75, which was the 103rd highest recorded in 2014.”
Where do you think you would test out this year?
“I’m aiming for a 130+, which based on recent training sessions seems to be
Which camps will you look to do this spring and summer?
“Well, definitely I want to start out with a Nike SPARQ, and then an NFTC,
(Opening Regional Events), if the invite comes. I’m doing the EFN Elite
Exposure Camp in Harrisburg/Palmyra (PA) which I’m really looking forward to.
“I registered for a Rivals Combine, and hopefully my performance there will
earn me an invite to a Rivals Camp, which is on my wish list this year. Also, I
would like to make it to the Sound Mind, Sound Body, in Detroit, and possibly the North West Elite
Camp again this year.
“Aside from these, I want to do some school camps again, and hopefully ones
that I’m invited to. Of course it would be a dream come true to be invited to
The Opening, and/or the Rivals/Under Armour 5 Star Challenge!
“Last year I also did a VTO Elite 100, and that was awesome, great camp, and
they really work you. I did an FBU, where I received an invite to Top Gun. I
met and worked with Coach Billy “White Shoes” Johnson. I learned so much from
him, he was so nice.
“I also did a NUC Camp, won Combine King and got invited to a U100 and the Top
Prospect Camp. It would be great to do them all again this year, but honestly
I’m just not sure I can fit them in? Being from Canada, almost everything I do is a
long distance travel to event.”
That camp circuit from last year and this year is a lot of hard work and a big
commitment by you and your parents.
“Yes for sure! My parents have been great. They’re all in! I know they’re going
into their savings to pay for all of this but I told them, I’m going to pay it
all back to them some day!”
How about Academics, how is it going on that end of things?
“Good. I just received my first semester grades and they were A’s and A pluses.
I have been on the Academic Honor Roll since the eighth grade. In high school I
haven’t had a grade below and an A- in any course. Our grading system is a
little different up here, but basically I have a 4.0+ GPA.”
Have you taken the SAT’s or ACT’s yet?
“Yes, I did the ACT in December.”
How’d that go for you?
“Ok for the first time I guess, I got a 24.”
That’s great and combined with that 4.0 GPA should help open a lot of doors for
you. What do you plan to study in college?
Nick, you’ve got the drive and desire, you’re working hard on the field, in the
weight room and in the classroom, and have your diet on point. Your physical
measurables this year may put you at the very top tier of all prospects. If you
could give a message to prospective college scouts and coaches that might help
convince them to give you a chance what would you say?
“I know I have the potential to play at the highest level. I know others want
it, but I want it really bad. I will never stop working at getting better.
Someone once told me that I am the best “clay” that a school will find, and
that I need to find a program that believes in developing players.
“I guarantee that if a D-I school gives me a chance, I won’t
let them down. Hopefully after the spring camps and combine season is over my
performance will open some doors. This coming fall I will be back at Canada
Prep and I plan on tearing it up next season, as do the coaches and my
Good luck Nick. Please keep us updated on your progress over the spring,
summer, and next fall.
“Will do, and thank you for this Mr. Wright I really appreciate the support.”
Photo credit: P. Fife and Canada Prep