Flow Of European Talent Brings A Pair Of Recruits to WVU
Brandon Collier has found himself in an unusual position for a Cleveland kid.
He’s now basically the American football whisper for European kids looking to land spots in U.S. colleges.
What started as a trickle is steadily growing thanks to Collier’s effort to get those prospects from places like Germany, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, etc., across the Atlantic to participate in summer football camps in front of an increasingly receptive group of college coaches.
The Dreamchasers Tour, which is put on by Collier’s Premier Players International, started in 2017. It features a group of 30 or so European prospects – most handpicked by Collier – who fly to United State in June and spend most of that next month bussing to various college campuses to participate in football camps. It’s an annual event now. The first tour produced nine scholarship offers, then last year it increased to a dozen. This summer that number is moving up again.
A stop at West Virginia University brought a great deal of interest in some of the prospects from WVU’s coaches. Two of those who earned offers from Neal Brown’s Mountaineers have since committed – defensive back Jaïro Faverus (6-0, 190 lbs.) from Amsterdam, Holland, and tight end Victor Wikström (6-4, 235 lbs.) from Uppsala, Sweden. Faverus is slated to be a member of West Virginia’s recruiting class of 2020, while Wikström will be part of the class of 2021.
Collier was a four-year starter as a defensive lineman at UMass (2007-09). After graduating in 2010, he had NFL dreams but injuries limited his options at that level at the beginning. Instead he went to Europe and played professional football in Austria and then Germany with the hopes of eventually returning to the U.S. and the NFL.
While there he discovered – or more accurately they discovered him – a number of local athletes who had football dreams of their own but at the same time had little idea how parlay their talents above the European club level.
Collier became the conduit to the U.S. It started slowly because American college coaches were reluctant to offer such untested players sight unseen. Thus the idea for the bus tour was born, allowing the prospect to work out in front of U.S. coaches during their summer camps. The players have to pay their own expenses for things such as travel and accommodations, but more and more are leaving with college scholarship offers, like Faverus and Wikstrom.
In an interview with BlueGoldNews.com’s Jeff Cobb, Collier raved about both Mountaineer commits.
“At WVU camp, Victor was 6-foot-4 230-pounds ran 4.58 and jumped 34 inches, so he is a Freak!” said Collier in the exchange with Cobb. “He is a kid that will be a top five tight end in the 2021 Class! (He’s) a kid that could play at Clemson, Penn State or any of these schools, but his connection with the coaches at WVU sold it. Victor will be mid-year ’21 (enrolling at West Virginia in January of that year).
“Jaïro is a kid that is 6-foot, 190 pounds, runs 4.46 at corner,” continued Collier, who currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany. “He is a kid that will come mid-year (enrolling in January of 2020), and once he learns the game, he will be a legit player because he is so physical. He actually learned how to play football by watching YouTube. I believe he will play year one (at WVU).”
The European prospects haven’t been exposed to the same level of youth football instruction as their counterparts in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean they completely raw, said Collier.
“Jaïro has high football IQ but hasn’t had the top level coaching yet. He is very smart and knows the game,” he said. “He just has big upside because he hasn’t had the greatest coaching. But when you see him, he doesn’t show that he hasn’t had (good coaching), as he is very well trained but he did a lot himself. There are things he needs to work on, sure, but he has a high, high ceiling.”
Collier was also impressed with what he saw while at West Virginia. “
“I think Neal Brown is a Star!” he gushed. “He relates to kids, and let’s just hope WVU can keep him for long time, because they will win. And the other staff members seem to love working for him, which I don’t see everywhere, but I saw it there.”
If this current group of incoming football talent from Europe can prove themselves on the U.S. college level, there’s no reason to believe the overseas trickle of talent to America won’t turn into a steady flow in the very near future.