Toward the end of his freshman year, Paul VI junior receiver Irvin Charles started getting an indication that he could be a scholarship football player. He began earning invitations to college football camps, great recruiting vehicles for the big-time programs.
Since then, Charles hasn't done anything to dispel the notion.
In fact, he is among the top recruits in the state, and that is why the spring of his junior year is in some ways much more hectic than the past football season.
This is when college programs try to get players to make oral commitments. NCAA rules prohibit a senior-to-be from signing a letter of intent until February 2015.
Yet colleges want as many early commitments as possible, and that explains why Charles' cellphone charger has been working overtime.
"It's really been hectic," Charles said.
He has nobody to blame but himself for being in this position.
Charles stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 210 pounds. This spring, he is out for track for the first time, and says he has run the 100 meters in 10.9 seconds.
This past fall, Charles was an Inquirer second-team all-South Jersey selection. He had 49 receptions for 848 yards (17.3 average) and 11 touchdowns.
Charles also has played in the secondary, but in the pass-crazy world of college football (and, as an extension, the NFL), teams look for sure-handed receivers who can fly and, in Charles' case, also block.
No wonder there have been 22 scholarship offers, including the usual list of heavyweights: Alabama, Miami, Florida, Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan State, to name a few.
And the only person who might be busier at Paul VI than Charles is coach John Doherty. Like many of his fellow South Jersey coaches, Doherty feels a deep sense of responsibility in helping players with recruiting.
That means being in contact with the same coaches who are calling Charles, providing any information requested.
"It really takes a lot of time, but this is one of the reasons you get into coaching," Doherty said. "It's crazy, but it's a good crazy and Irvin has handled everything great."
With so many programs tugging at the player and coach, the one goal always remains the same: to make the best possible choice for the student-athlete.
"It's starting to get serious," Charles said about the process. "But I really feel fortunate to be in this situation."
So Charles insists that, despite all the sales pitches and the pleas to give an early commitment, he's not setting any timetable.
He simply will make the choice when it feels right, and that could come anytime between now and next February.
"What I want to focus on is getting better," he said.