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Suburban Teen Moves To Iowa So He Can Play Football With Few COVID-19 Restrictions

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Illinois high school sports changes due to COVID-19 are worrying some students who have high hopes of getting those scholarships for college.

As CBS 2's Steven Graves reports, some students are opting to leave the state altogether for a chance to be seen by recruiters.

Nazareth Academy High School senior Domenic Virelli said it was a hard decision, but he had no other choice.

"It's just the best guarantee I have right now," Virelli said.

The bags are packed and furniture in the truck as he hits the road to leave La Grange for West Des Moines, Iowa. His reasoning? It's where he'll be able to play football in the fall.

"We'll be wearing face masks over our helmets during practices to make sure we're not exposing each other," Virelli said.

The season there will be a bit shorter and the playoffs also altered. Virelli thinks it's a risk worth taking after COVID-19 pushed back football season in Illinois to the spring.

A top concern, if the season will even happen, and if recruiters will be able to see the long snapper. He's trying to reach a good college and get scholarships.

"A lot of long snappers won't even get talked to by colleges until after the senior season and for right now, I'm going to need to get my extra tape out there of the offensive line," Virelli said.

Rick McDole with the recruiting network, Next College Student Athlete said while students are facing challenges during the pandemic, coaches are adjusting.

"What we're seeing more and more of now is families are filming videos in the backyard. They're running through the same type of drills they would in practice, so the coaches can see them move, see their athleticism," McDole said.

Virelli said the transition to Dowling Catholic High School won't be hard. He has family there and is already getting loads of support on Twitter after making the announcement.

His departure leaves two holes on the team after the quarterback also left for Florida. But he says there's no hard feelings.

"Everybody that I've spoken to so far has been great from my team. I spoke to the coach before I announced it. He wished me nothing but the best," Virelli said.

And throughout this stressful process, recruiting experts urge parents to constantly check on their students' mental health.


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