Colin Rodkey knows it will be the culmination of a dream.
"To run out of the pregame tunnel into a full stadium in the Big Ten Conference," he said. "Well, that has to be a dream for every little kid who ever plays football."
Rodkey, who will be a senior offensive lineman this season at Gateway High School, took the first step in realizing that dream recently when he made a verbal commitment to Indiana University.
Rodkey, who is 6 feet 5, 275 pounds, chose the Hoosiers after also mulling offers from West Virginia and Army.
The timing of the proclamation wasn't an accident. Rodkey wanted to get the recruiting process out of the way before his senior season at Gateway began. He wanted to focus on the upcoming season and help the Gators make a deep postseason run.
"I took a week out of my summer to go see the schools and to really concentrate on this because I know how big of a decision it is and how it will impact the rest of my life," Rodkey said. "It is such a big weight off my shoulders. To have this off my mind is a huge thing because now I can concentrate on this year. And this year I really think we have a team that can win a state championship."
That line of thinking isn't too farfetched considering the Gators feature Dorian Bell, an Ohio State recruit and one of the top linebackers in the country; Corey Brown, a receiver/cornerback who has also committed to Ohio State; and Rob Kalkstein, a strong-armed senior quarterback who enters his third season as a starter, along with Rodkey.
Because he is surrounded each day by such talent, and because Gateway coach Terry Smith has a reputation for cultivating premier players, Rodkey believes he will have a leg up on other recruits once he gets to Bloomington. Smith has a 53-18 record in six seasons at Gateway.
"[Smith] runs an amazing program and we are all definitely more prepared for a college program because of it," Rodkey said. "When a college coach recruits a player from Gateway, he knows that player is organized and has a great understanding of technique and all the parts of the game because they played under coach Smith and the Gateway staff."
Rodkey, over time, has taken advantage of playing at Gateway.
"It has been tough at times with him, as it has been with all of our kids, to reinforce that work ethic that we are trying to instill," Smith said. "But he is improving every single day. He is seeing that he hasn't even tapped into his full capabilities yet, and I think that is pushing him and motivating him a lot right now.
"Indiana is going to get a football player who, if he keeps realizing that he needs to work hard, can be very good."
The skill position players are the ones who score touchdowns and get their names in headlines, but Rodkey understands his role is vital.
"That is just how it is with football, and it will kind of always be that way, I guess," Rodkey said. "But it doesn't bother me, because everyone who plays knows how important the line play is. We know that we get the recognition that we need from the people who matter most, and that is the guys whom we are blocking for."
Rodkey discussed his situation with Indiana's staff and seemingly already has his road mapped out.
"They expect me to redshirt, definitely, when I get there that first year," Rodkey said. "I see that as a positive. That way, I will bulk up some and get to know the system."
Colin Dunlap can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1459.