The football recruiting game can become a crazy journey, especially as national signing day draws closer. Robert Lockhart
has found that out recently, but it all was worth it, as he has been awarded with scholarship offers that two weeks ago were not on the table.
In a 24-hour period last weekend, the two-sport standout from West Boca Raton (Fla.)
High played and excelled in two basketball games and an all-star football game, but that is only a portion of what has become a suddenly hectic schedule the past two weeks for Palm Beach County's leading basketball scorer.
Two weekends ago, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound wide receiver for the Bulls took a football recruiting visit to Eastern Michigan University, his first and only recruiting trip up to that point. After returning home, he balanced basketball with workouts for the Palm Beach County Treasure Coast all-star football game.
The night before the football game, Lockhart
scored 32 points in West Boca's basketball win against Lake Worth. He arose early the next morning to travel to Fort Lauderdale for an early afternoon game against LaSalle (Miami) and tossed in 27 points. Immediately after the game, Lockhart rushed north up I-95 to Boca Raton High and switched from sneakers to cleats for the all-star football game that night. Despite unseasonably cold and windy conditions, he scored two touchdowns, including the game-winner late in the fourth quarter, and was selected the MVP for the National all-star team.
"In 24 hours, he played in two basketball games and a football game, and was amazing in all three," West Boca basketball coach Joe Nappi said.
Despite his whirlwind week, there was no rest for Lockhart the next day. He had to awake early to catch a flight to Manhattan, Kan., for a football recruiting visit at Kansas State, at the time the only other D-I program that seemed genuinely interested in him. However, he returned to South Florida on Tuesday to find Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer at his home. When Lockhart told his mother that he couldn't meet with the highly respected Hokies coach because he had a basketball game to play in that night, that's when his mom and Nappi intervened.
"I texted him and told him not to come, that he didn't need to play, that this was more important," Nappi said. "It's not every day that Frank Beamer is in your living room. But that's the way he is. He'll play all day. He's such a competitor."
Suddenly, the recruiting game for Lockhart had become amped up and was getting crazier by the day. After seeing video of Lockhart, including some impressive footage on YouTube, major Division I coaches unexpectedly began showing up on Lockhart's doorstep. On Wednesday, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini was in town to talk with Lockhart after hearing about him from an assistant coach for the Cornhuskers who a few days earlier was watching film of West Boca kicker Mauro Bondi when his eyes were opened to Lockhart's talent.
The next day, Lockhart again was on a plane for a visit to Lincoln, Neb., immediately followed by a trip to Blacksburg, Va., last weekend to visit Virginia Tech before heading home to South Florida. Late Monday night, Lockhart told the Palm Beach Post that he has verbally committed to Virginia Tech and plans to sign with the Hokies on Wednesday.
"It makes my legs sore just talking about it," West Boca football coach Willie Dodaro said of Lockhart's recruiting journey the past week.
Nappi said he loves the fact that major Division I football coaches recent began realizing Lockhart's talent as a football player, but Nappi can't wait for Lockhart to return to the basketball team after missing the Bulls' last four games. Lockhart is Palm Beach County's leading big-schools scorer, averaging 21.4 points a game, and was being recruited for basketball by North Florida and Jacksonville University.
"We miss him. He's a huge part of our team," said Nappi, whose Bulls are a strong post-season playoff contender in a tough Class 5A district that includes state power Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens) and Jacoby Brissett, who also is a standout football/basketball player and one of the state's most sought-after prospects.
Unlike Brissett, however, this suddenly wild ride for Lockhart was unforseen. Lockhart sustained an injury his sophomore season playing football at Boca Raton High before transferring to West Boca. He did not play football his junior year so he could concentrate on basketball, a big reason he flew under the recruiting radar when the 2010 football season began. But he totaled 866 receiving yards and caught seven touchdown passes and also was outstanding as a defensive back, registering 86 tackles and six interceptions for West Boca last season to earn South Florida Sun-Sentinel All-Palm Beach County first-team honors.
Despite those accolades, he still mostly was overlooked by D-I recruiters . . . until recently.
"He's one of those athletes who only comes along once in a blue moon," Nappi said of Lockhart. "Most of the real big schools weren't knocking on his door until they saw his highlight tapes. He's blown up completely."
So has his frequent-flier miles.Steve Dorsey, who covers the South Florida region for MaxPreps.com, is a freelance writer based in West Palm Beach. He has covered the South Florida high school sports scene for the past 29 years. He also is a contributing writer for American Football Monthly and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.