Khairi Fortt, the 6-foot-2.5, 220-pound four-star outside linebacker from Stamford, Conn., has around 20 total scholarship offers and says that every day he’s focusing on a different school.
“I’m looking at all of them right now,” Fortt said. “Every day I go through the stuff they send me and do some research on the schools. I’m keeping a list of some stats and stuff and my parents and I plan on narrowing it down to 10 in May.
“College is for the next four years and 40 years so I have to make sure I make the right decision,” he said.
Fortt says that although his parents don’t have a favorite school they will be involved in helping him make a decision. “They really just want me to be happy,” he said. “But they definitely want me to go to a good academic school and where they have my major.
“They want me to choose a program that has good alumni support and where they’ll help me after college and after football,” Fortt said. “I’d also kind of like to go where there’s a possibility of playing early. It’s always better not to go where there’s like 11 guys in front of you.”
One of the reasons that Fortt is having such a difficult time narrowing his focus may be because he never followed any programs as a kid. “I never really followed football,” he said. “I wasn’t into that. I was into planes…I watched any movie that had a plane in it and that’s why I want to major in aeronautical engineering.”
Fortt has been pretty busy already this year and has attended junior days at Maryland, Boston College, Rutgers, Virginia and California – and all of those schools have offered. He also has offers from Ohio State, Penn State, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Duke, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Connecticut and Tennessee.
His first scholarship offer came from Boston College last September and he says he enjoyed his time in Boston. “It’s a fun place,” he said. “I like them a lot. They had a coaching change but I pretty much know everybody there already.
“The new head coach (Frank Spaziani) was the defensive coordinator so he knows the program and there shouldn’t be many changes,” he said. “I also like that the coach is defense-focused.”
Maryland’s junior day also impressed Fortt. “I like the guys they have there,” he said. “I connected with some of the players there and the whole school and campus is nice.
“But Virginia has a great campus too,” he said. “They have some of the best facilities I’ve seen. They have like two locker rooms – one is under the stadium where the players come out of before the game.
“The campus is beautiful and Virginia has really good academics,” he said. “It’s always between Virginia and California for the best public university in the country.”
Speaking of Cal, Fortt tripped out to the West Coast for the first time for the Bears Junior Day. “That was a real nice experience,” he said. “They are getting new facilities which should be really nice and I liked all the coaches.”
Fortt says he’s never been to the Golden State before and admitted it’s not like what he’s used to on the East Coast. “The people seem much more mellow out there,” he said. “And there’s a lot of hippies around the town, which was kind of funny.
“But the campus is real beautiful too,” he said. “It’s actually a lot like Virginia. They have great academics and they said that the average salary for a player who didn’t go into the NFL was like $202,000 and that’s real good.”
There’s no rest for the weary and Fortt isn’t nearly done tripping unofficially to schools. At the end of March, Fortt will be visiting Connecticut, then on April 4 he’s heading to Penn State, followed by an April 18 excursion to Notre Dame and back to Penn State on April 25 for the Nittany Lions spring game.
“I really like Penn State,” Fortt said. “They have a good defense and really good tradition,” he said. “It’s a good program and they are only offering like three linebackers this year so there’s a good opportunity to play.”
Although Fortt hasn’t visited the Penn State campus yet, he says he has seen a game at Happy Valley. “It’s an amazing stadium,” he said. “They had like 110,000 people there.”
Besides the Nittany Lions, Fortt says he’s very excited to check out Notre Dame for the first time as well. “Notre Dame is Notre Dame,” he said. “Everybody knows them. I’ve seen Touchdown Jesus on TV and I really want to see it in person.”
Another school that Fortt says he’s thinking about possibility visiting is USC. “My dad has emailed (linebacker) coach Ken Norton and they said they want to talk to me,” he said.
“They haven’t offered yet but they have been recruiting me,” he said. “I like coach Norton. He’s one of the best. He’s sent a bunch of linebackers to the NFL. It’s like anyone who starts goes to the NFL, plus they really need linebackers now.”
Fortt finished his junior season with 118 tackles, four fumbles caused and two interceptions. He also had six touchdowns rushing on offense.
“I think I have good speed and I use my hands well,” he said. “I get around quickly for a big guy. I’ve been going to camps since the eighth grade so I have pretty good technique. I know how to shove off blockers and use my hands.
“But I’m still working on improving my tackling,” he said. “I want to work on my form tackling and explode through the guy more. I’d like to hit bigger.”
He says he benches 345-pounds, squats 495 and claims a 35-inch vertical jump.
Fortt plans on majoring in aeronautical engineering and reports a 2.7 core GPA and a 1040 on the PSAT. He took the real SAT on March 14 and is awaiting the results.