Editor’s note: Brendan “Bookie” Radley-Hiles, a top-ranked 2018 cornerback recruit who plays at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., is contributing a weekly first-person story to DieHards. Here is the 13th installment, as told to beat writer Erin Sorensen.
It’s hard to believe my senior season with IMG is over. While we don’t have practice now, we’re still lifting. It doesn’t even feel like we’re out of the season-mode just yet.
And that will continue. We’ll have team lifts and senior lifts, as well as meetings. We’ll also continue to work out, because our coaches don’t want us to lose everything we’ve been working so hard for. We’re still preparing for our college careers.
Our coaches are some of the best at preparing us too, whether that’s for life, college, or our high school football games. We were just talking about that, in fact. The way that they prepared us for our matchup with Bishop Sullivan Catholic was crazy. They hyped it up like this was their Super Bowl, their biggest game of the year, and I think it was in some ways.
We ended up winning 48-0, though. And it was a fun game, because everyone really got to play. We were dancing during every kickoff and everyone was just having a really good time.
As for our coaches, preparing us like they do is all intentional. They hype things up on purpose, and we’re better for it. Every game is the biggest game of the season, and they remind us every week at practice that if we don’t prepare that way, we could lose.
They’d tell us about Chandler (Ariz.) who just came off a win when we faced them so they had a lot of momentum. They’d tell us about Centennial (Calif.) who only lost by one point to IMG the year before, so they were going to come back and beat us. Hoover had just lost the game before they played us and they hadn’t lost consecutive back-to-back games since the early-1990s. It was just always something that made that specific game bigger than it was.
And now that our season is officially over, we’re waiting to see how everyone else finishes their seasons before we know if we are national champions. We have our eyes specifically on Mater Dei (Calif.) though, because they’re the ones really in competition with us for that top spot now. We even wanted to play them straight-up at one point, but a bowl game is always difficult. It means another game for players to potentially get injured, so it is what it is. For now, we wait.
In the meantime, I have plans to officially visit Clemson this weekend and then UCLA the weekend after. And I’m excited to have my mom and brother join me at Clemson, too.
They’ve been huge support systems this year. On every visit, they ask me questions that focus on whether or not I would enjoy growing as a person and player at that university if I go there. They’ll say, “OK, do you have a good relationship with the academic advisor? What’s the support system like there academically? How is your position coach? How is the city? How is the night life? How are the dorms? How are the study sessions?”
It’s like a checklist, and it comes from my family. They just want to be sure I make the best possible decision, which I appreciate.
I know whatever decision I make will be the right one with my family’s help.
Miss a week of Bookie’s senior season diary? Catch up here.