Comedy specials, road trips part of recruiting grind for Viera’s Lamp


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Viera High School graduate Gavin Lamp spent three summers traveling all over the southeastern part of the country attending football camps to help in his recruiting process. It was a trip to the University of Richmond that helped get Lamp noticed and was a big factor in getting him a scholarship offer. "It was just a fit," he said. "One hundred percent a great fit."

CARL KOTALA

Gavin Lamp’s journey to fulfilling a life-long dream of playing college football ultimately led him to the University of Richmond, where the Viera High School graduate is preparing for his freshman season.

But during the course of three summers, that journey also led him to places such as Virginia, Furman, Georgia Southern, the University of Connecticut, Georgia State … and a lot of places in between.

“It’s a grind,” Lamp said of his college recruiting process which included trips to various football camps — sometimes three in a single weekend — throughout the southeast.

“Me and my dad would leave on Thursday or Friday. We’d pack the car, get all my equipment and drive up there. We’d listen to the radio, listen to comedy specials.

“We would drive hours at a time, go to a camp, compete, take a quick shower at the hotel, get in the car … I would probably nap and he would drive to the next school.”

While five-star recruits have colleges practically banging down their door, for others it’s not just a matter of sending out tapes. It’s a matter of being seen and getting their names out there.

Lamp, an offensive lineman, remembers those days all too well.

“As an O-lineman, it comes down to do you have the grit? How bad do you want it? Play to the whistle. Pancakes are always a plus,” he said.

“Recruiting is always a grind. It’s fun and it’s tough at the same time. It’s a great time in your life.”

In the end, Lamp had offers from Richmond, Stetson, Jacksonville, Morehead State and a Division II school. Other places such as UConn, Lafayette, FAU, FIU and Mercer wanted him as a preferred walk-on.

Some coaches told Lamp he was their “next guy” and that if the player they had ranked in front of him decided to go somewhere else, they would offer him.

In other words, if the other guy commits, we wish you the best of luck. If he doesn’t, we’ll keep in touch.

“It’s a very real side (of recruiting),” Lamp said. “It sucks, but it’s all about the path, where I’m at. I obviously want to play Furman and show them what they missed out on. I want to play all of those schools, if possible.

“William & Mary, I was talking to them for a while and they told me the same thing. Then Richmond offered and now I’m ready to play them this year. It’s a rivalry game. I’m ready to show them what they missed out on.”

If there were two things Lamp knew he could count on throughout the process, it was support coming from two areas — his real-life family, and his football family.

“Viera is home. That’s what I’m thankful for,” Lamp said. “There are tough times when offers don’t come your way, or people leave, or you get injured.

“The one thing I’ve always felt about Viera is it’s always been a brotherhood. It’s always been a family. (Former offensive line coach, now offensive coordinator Mike) Degory has been in contact with me ever since I left. We still talk. When I go to Richmond, I plan on still talking to him.

“They’re just father figures to me, which I don’t think you get at a lot of at other schools.”

Gavin and his father, Garrett, have always been close. In fact, it was Garrett who took Gavin to see the movie “The Blind Side” that helped the younger Lamp fall in love with playing football.

The road trips the two took during those three summers … listening to Jim Gaffigan’s comedy on the radio … only made them closer.

“We had so many fun moments,” Gavin Lamp said. “We’ve run into so many weird individuals along the way. We’ve been across the whole southeast of America together. At the end of the day, it’s just made us closer every step of the way. … Again, the recruiting process is tough, it’s a grind, but then again, it’s fun. I thank him a hundred percent.”

Lamp’s advice to other players who want to play college football is simple:

“Be patient,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to a coach. I was always a timid person and my dad would always say, ‘Gavin, go say hi to these people. Put your name out there.’

“It only takes one school. I think I’m going to be a prime example of that. I think me going to Richmond is going to be a great thing for me. Obviously, the goal is the NFL.

“That’s the end goal. But if not, I get a college degree. Be patient and don’t be afraid to go out there and compete. Don’t go hiding in the back. Show yourself. Show what you can do. There’s a school for everyone and you’ll find it.”