"We had planned to drive up to Tennessee
and do the one day camp," the 6-4, 275 lb. Jason tells BRZ during a phone interview. "It was a three-day camp, but we just went for the one day. I did really well at the camp. They told I was the top offensive lineman there and they told me to call them this week and I might have an offer."
After performing well at the Volunteer camp, Jason and Brian decided to take advantage of their locale and head to Murfreesboro to see what Middle Tennessee
had to offer.
"We had a couple of friends who said why don't you just go check out Middle Tennessee. They've been trying to get us to go over there for a month or two," Brian says. "It was one of those things where we've been traveling so much on the recruiting circuit this Summer and we just hadn't really gotten that much mail from them. Then in the month of June he probably received about 25 or 30 letters so I said why not go over and check them out? Let's just go and see what's there."
So the pair set out for the three hour drive from Knoxville to Murfreesboro. Upon arrival, they were immediately greeted by GA Nick Coleman. The Rexroads were already familiar with Coleman, as he's been Jason's area recruiter and to this point, has been his main contact with the Blue Raiders.
Coleman met the father/ son duo at their car and took them to the weight room to begin their tour. While there, the group ran into offensive line coach Jimmy Ray Stephens in the middle of a workout. They spent a few minutes talking to Stephens before getting a bit of exciting news.
"We talked for about 15 to 20 minutes and he told me as far as he was concerned I had an offer. He just needed to check with Coach Stockstill first to make sure," Jason says.
After leaving the weight room, the pair was taken on a tour of the facilities, which included Floyd Stadium and the locker room. The new players lounge was a highlight of this portion of the trip as Jason described the area as "Grade A. Top notch."
After grabbing a quick bite to eat at the KUC, the group eventually ended up watching film with new offensive coordinator Mike Schultz.
"Me, [Coach Schultz] and my dad talked close door for a good 45 minutes to an hour. We watched some film and he showed me a few things he was doing."
Sit down with Stock
Eventually Jason and Brian ended up in head coach Rick Stockstill
"Coach Stockstill brought me and my dad in his office. We talked with him for about 45 minutes or so closed door," Jason says. "With him, we probably talked about football for about 10 or 15 minutes. The rest of the time was talking about life and how I'd be treated there. He told me that I'd be treated like his own son. It was really just perfect."
"His sincereness is absolutely unbelievable. That's something I felt as a dad," Brian says. "I couldn't believe what they were saying to him and to us. Stockstill told me, 'Mr. Rexroad, if you let me have your son' and then he pulled a picture of his family off of his credenza and pointed to his son, 'I'll treat him just like I would this one here and I'll take care of him like he was mine.' As a dad, that hit me square in the heart. He didn't want to use J because he's 6-4, 280 lbs. He wanted to make him a better person and a better athlete at the same time. That was just absolutely huge with me."
The long drive home
Once the pair had wrapped up their visit, they hit the road headed for Myrtle Beach with instructions to call and check in on Monday, once Stockstill and Stephens had had an opportunity to review Jason's tape together. The first 30 minutes of the drive home was mostly silent, but that didn't last for long.
"About 30 minutes down the road I said whatdya think?" Brian recalls.
The two began to discuss all of the schools they'd visited in recent months: Texas A&M
, Georgia Tech
, Florida International
, Tennessee, NC State, Elon and of course, Middle Tennessee. They were going through mentioning pros and cons for each and they could only find one negative for Middle.
"We had one con on Middle Tennessee and that was they didn't have an indoor practice facility. Well, only about 60 percent of schools in the country don't have an indoor practice facility, so it wasn't really a con," Brian laughs.
"When we got done, I told him I never in my life would've believed these words would come out of my mouth. You had a great camp at Tennessee, but I wanna tell you what, the place that is the best fit for you is Middle Tennessee State," says Brian, a University of Tennessee alum. "I don't care if Alabama, Texas, USC, Florida, Oregon, Ohio State or Penn State call you. I don't care who it is that would walk in there and offer you a scholarship. The best place for you is Middle Tennessee."
The younger Rexroad agreed with his father. When asked what the deciding factor in his commitment was, Jason didn't mention the facilities, the 2009 season, the high-paced offense or even Coach Stockstill. It was the whole package.
"This is the thing, all the coaching staff and the players I talked to said the same thing. They were all on the same exact page. Even Coach Schultz who had only been there for a couple of months. From Coach Stock to Coach Coleman to Mark Fisher
. It was all the same thing and it was all the truth," Jason says. "Hearing all of that is real good, but I didn't commit because of that. I committed because everything just fell into place. Everything about Middle Tennessee is perfect to me."
Once they arrived home, Jason had some thinking to do. He had a few days to burn before calling Coach Stockstill, which he finally did on Monday.
"I talked to Coach Stock for about 15 minutes. He told me I had an offer and I told him Coach, I'm playing my ball there," Jason says. "He told me that he was 100% committed to me and I said as long as you're 100% committed to me, I'm 100% committed to playing football at Middle Tennessee."
Many offensive lineman heading to college normally expect to redshirt their first season on campus to get a grasp of the more involved offensive schemes and to bulk up. For Jason, that isn't necessarily the case. His current system is almost identical to the spread offense the Blue Raiders have become known for, so the learning curve is extremely small.
Additionally, Jason is all set to graduate high school following football season. He plans on enrolling in Middle Tennessee in the Spring of 2011, allowing him to go through Spring drills with the squad and essentially giving him an additional eight months with the team before the season starts.
On top of that, the hole left by departing senior Mark Fisher leaves a hole in the O-line that Jason could fill immediately beginning in 2011. Not only will Jason be stepping into Fisher's shoes, but he's also going to be stepping into his jersey, too. He currently wears #74 for Myrtle beach, which is currently already taken on the Blue Raider roster. The current wearer? Mark Fisher. So Jason was right. Everything did fall into place.
Brian on official visits this season:
"We're planning on going to two or three home games this year. I think what we're going to do is take the official visit over homecoming. That way he can take it all in and see what goes on around homecoming. We're either doing that one or the game on Nov. 27 as the official visit. J's birthday is November 24 and we're definitely going to take a birthday trip for the game."
Brian on purchasing Blue Raider gear:
"I personally haven't. Jason has. He's got one of the brand new black t-shirts. I am placing an order tomorrow of multiple MTSU things. I told him that as his senior year progresses, I'll be wearing less and less high school colors and more and more MTSU things and by the time he plays his last game I'll be decked out in MTSU."
It was a last-minute decision to extend their trip, but Jason Rexroad and his father Brian decided to make the drive to Murfreesboro while they were in the area. It's a good thing they did.