New Year’s Day is spent by many relaxing with family and enjoying some college football on the couch.
For Eastern York High senior Kaleb Corwell, the first days of 2020 will include relaxation and football, but in a much different location than he ever imagined.
Corwell, who plays running back and wide receiver for the Golden Knights, was selected to play in the Hawaii Tiki Bowl, a high school football all-star game in Honolulu from Jan. 1-6. It features players from across the nation.
“It was kind of crazy, that was one of the first things I have got so far this year,” Corwell said. “Just to see that made me think my hard work and dedication is really starting to pay off a little bit.”
Chasing his dream: Playing football in college is a dream for Corwell, but despite interest from schools after a big junior season and a strong start to 2019, the offers haven’t come yet.
He was overshadowed last season by Eastern’s two senior receivers, who earned NCAA Division I scholarships and finished top five in the York-Adams League in receiving yards — Demonte Martin and Dylan Zurin. Still, Corwell had a very productive 2018 season.
Corwell earned Y-A Division II honorable-mention honors as a running back following a season where he rushed for 375 yards and had 614 receiving yards. This year, he's already rushed 23 times for 196 yards, averaging 8.5 yards per carry. He's also caught 21 passes for 321 yards, averaging 15.3 yards per catch. He's scored four touchdowns.
A coach’s dream: His versatility as a player who can line up as a receiver and running back is something Eastern coach Josh Campbell said could help him land an offer soon.
“Having Kaleb is nice,” Campbell said of the 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior. “Kaleb catches the ball really well, he runs the ball really well (and) he blocks really well. He does a lot of things really well.”
The invite to the Tiki Bowl shocked Corwell, but was a sign that all the extra reps during the offseason and in practice are starting to bear fruit and generate interest from college coaches.
In the age of social media, seeing the attention other players are generating was frustrating for Corwell, but he decided to keep working and let the results speak for themselves.
“On Twitter, you always see these guys saying, I got an offer here and here, and it kind of gets a little frustrating because you know much work you have been putting in,” Corwell said. “But, as soon as you get your first one, it’s kind of like, ‘Aah.’ You get over the hump and now all this hard work and everything is paying off.”
About the Tiki Bowl: While the bowl isn’t designed to be a recruiting event, according to Joel Hill, national recruiting director for the Tiki Bowl, a chance to play in front of college coaches or in one final all-star game was an exciting prospect for Corwell.
The trip is not just about playing football though. In addition to two practices and the game, the players have time designated to go sightseeing and relax. The cost of the trip is $3,000.
Corwell won’t be the only Y-A League player in the game. York Suburban senior linebacker/fullback Keyvon Wright was also invited to participate in the Tiki Bowl.
Earning an offer: Campbell said that he starts to send out highlights and statistics to college coaches after three games and that he has been in touch with multiple coaches about Corwell since the end of last season.
“It’s a nerve-racking process for the kids, and myself too, because you always want to be able to see the kids achieve their dream,” Campbell said. “Offers (are) so hard to predict, they may come tomorrow, they may come in eight weeks. You just have to control what you can and that’s going out and performing each Friday.”
So, until the offers come, Corwell will continue to put in the time during practice and perform during games and wait. With his team at 2-1 and the prospects of continuing his football career like his older brother (Keegan, a junior at Lebanon Valley), Kaleb is grateful for his family, friends and coaches who helped him along the way.
“I am just really thankful for the people who put me in (this) position,” Kaleb said. “Thank you for not giving up or thank you for pushing me more, so I am getting all this now.”
Reach Rob Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.