Luke Del Rio and the rest of his family had everything packed up, and off they went -- from Jacksonville, Florida to Denver, Colorado.
“It was all so sudden,” Luke Del Rio said. “Dad got hired Friday, and we moved Sunday. I didn't get to say goodbye to anyone.”
It’s the life a child of an NFL coach can get used to ... sudden change is about the only reliable thing in a league in which many joke the acronym “NFL” actually means “Not For Long.”
But Jack Del Rio’s transition from nine-year head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars to the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos this January came at an inopportune time for his son. Del Rio, a quarterback, was entering the final semester of his junior season at Episcopal in Jacksonville -- a vital moment in time in the recruiting world.
It was to be Del Rio’s time to pick up a slew of offers and grab even more attention on the recruiting scene in Florida. Instead Del Rio was forced to move into a new area of the country –- a good way for a prospect to get lost in the recruiting shuffle. Perhaps the move wouldn’t be so burdensome if he played a position other than quarterback, but that fact complicates matters for Del Rio even more.
So off Del Rio went, enrolling at Valor Christian in south Denver before spring football started.
“I love my new coaches,” he said. “I wouldn't trade them for anyone. They are really smart. They are proven winners. They've won three state titles in a row.”
The attention, which he was gaining while in Florida, was more difficult to come by with the move. Geography dictates that there are fewer schools in the mountainous West than in the South. Still, Florida and LSU have kept track of Del Rio –- as has Alabama.
His move to the Rocky Mountains prompted one in-state school, Colorado State, to offer immediately. Oregon State saw something they liked from the newcomer to the area and offered Del Rio in early May. He’d heard from neither before the move. It appears Del Rio’s recruiting momentum is palatable -- with new programs dropping in regularly.
“Today was the second time I threw for Vanderbilt. Oregon is coming by tomorrow,” he said. “Washington told me that they were coming back a little later this month.”
Del Rio said he felt each of those schools could offer very soon. Oklahoma State offered him over Memorial Day weekend.
One has to wonder if Del Rio would already be committed and focusing on his high school team if he was still in Jacksonville. But that reality is long gone.
“I had nine great years in Jacksonville, and even though the move was rough it was a necessary choice because I wanted to stay with my dad,” he said.
Meanwhile, Del Rio is doing his part to make a national name for himself. He won the quarterback MVP award at the Nike Football Camp in Columbus, Ohio, and was invited to Nike’s prestigious Elite 11 Finals in Los Angeles this July.
“It was a big deal,” Jack Del Rio said during a recent press conference in Denver. “It was a great accomplishment for him. The recruiting process is starting to heat up. It’s a great time for him.”
Del Rio’s move coupled with his recent accomplishments at camps have his summer plans up in the air.
“We still have to map out my summer,” he said.
But schools interested in Del Rio should know ahead of time where to spent their recruiting focus: on him ... not his father.
“They talk about my dad a lot of the time; it can be frustrating because you wonder who they are recruiting‚” he said bluntly. “They know my dad, and sometimes it feels as if they are doing it more for my last name than my performance on the field –- I don't want it that way. I want to earn it.”