Will Rossi passed on some "sure things" in favor of fulfilling a dream. Isreal Richardson received a helping hand and wants to show his gratitude.
The 2011 T.C. Williams graduates took different paths to the world of college football, but each will have a reason to stay motivated during his freshman season.
Rossi, a former receiver for the Titans, passed on multiple offers from Division II and Division III schools due to his desire to play at the DI level. The 5-foot-10 Rossi received an opportunity with the University of Pittsburgh, but will have to earn his way into the Panthers’ program as a walk on.
"I’ve always wanted to play [against] the highest competition in college," Rossi said. "… DIII, I really didn’t see it for me. I didn’t take it serious. It’s my dream" to play Division I football.
While attempting to play at the highest level means Rossi isn’t guaranteed a spot on the team, his father, Gene Rossi, backed his son’s choice.
"In a nutshell, it was an emotional roller coaster with a lot of highs and a lot of lows," Gene said. … "We’re proud that our son is rolling the dice and pursing a dream."
Rossi received a confidence boost when he found out he’ll be on the fall roster and will appear in the media guide. Whether that translates to a future with the Panthers is up in the air.
"It makes me feel a lot better," he said. "I was worried in two-a-days I might get cut loose. I still might be cut loose, but it makes me feel like I have a better chance."
Rossi will head to Pittsburgh for orientation and to meet with the coaches on July 27. While Rossi will battle to show he belongs at Pitt, Richardson, a former defensive back and receiver with the Titans, said he wants to work hard to show he’s thankful for the opportunity given to him by Glenville State College. Richardson has the talent to play high-level college football, but struggled with his grades during high school, limiting his options. That’s when Division II Glenville State stepped in.
"Glenville still stuck their hand out for me and I can respect that," Richardson said. "Anyone who can take a chance on me with my grades the way they are" has his respect.
Richardson said his academic struggles in high school have taught him to re-focus his priorities. He said Glenville’s "isolated" campus should help him limit distractions, as well.
"The fact that someone actually believes in me, that’s great. That makes me feel good," Richardson said. "… Even if they’re like, ‘OK, you can’t play football for us anymore,’ the fact that they let me go to their school, I’m going to get good grades and I’m going to work extra hard in the classroom. Without grades, there’s nothing …. That’s what I learned."