TJ Pledger: Chasing My Dreams

Written by TJ Pledger and Evan Miller 
Published Saturday, January 9, 2016

My name is TJ Pledger and this is my first of many RecruitDiaires. I am excited to be part of this movement and can not wait to share my experiences with the world. I currently attend Chaminade College Prep in West Hills, California. I am a running back and I am set to graduate in the spring of 2018. I currently am 5’9 and weigh roughly 185 pounds. I really enjoy playing running back because you have to be a different breed of football player in order to run in the trenches. The biggest guys on the field are trying to crush you when you hit that hole, but I enjoy the challenge. I’m a dog on the field, and I have been one since I first started playing football as a kid. My favorite part of playing running back is that I have the power to choose where to go, I can go left or right. When I have the ball, the power is in my hands, and everyone is watching me, so I know I have to make a play every time I get my hands on it. And unlike receivers who are afforded some space, running backs have to fight for every yard, and it is always a battle, but there is no better feeling than breaking a couple tackles and going on a long run.

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It is still early in my recruitment and there is still a long way to go. Because I am only a sophomore, I really expect it to get much more active over the next couple of months, and then a lot more my junior and senior years. As of right now I currently hold offers from five division one football programs: Georgia, USC, Washington, Cal, and West Virginia have all offered me a chance to live out my dreams and play football at the next level. Washington was the first school to offer me a scholarship. I was fourteen years old at the time and it was amazing. The craziest part of my recruitment was when USC offered me a scholarship. Like so many other kids from Southern California, to play football at USC was always a dream of mine. It is my dream school, and to know that they believe in my talent and my abilities just validates my hard work and my effort to get to where I am today. I am extremely grateful for these offers and I am excited to see where the process takes me and what happens over the next couple years. I don’t have a leader and my recruitment is one hundred percent open, and I am open to all schools that want me.

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When I am on the field nothing else matters, everything going on outside of football, all the pain, stress, and the hurt, is gone. When I hit the field, my goals are to help my team in any way possible and also to make my family and loved ones proud. My family are my biggest fans, and I never want to let them down. I honestly feel football is my way of making a mark on the world, so I am going to take advantage of every second I have on it. I am going to work my hardest in order to make something of myself doing the one thing I love most in the world. Without football, I don’t know where I would be, it’s everything to me.

Football is the ultimate team game and that is what makes it special. No one player can succeed without the help of his teammates. A great football player is someone who is able to bounce back from adversity and return even better than before. Adversity on the field tests what type of man you are. Only the strong willed are able to succeed in this game, and if you have to question if you really want to succeed in football, then you shouldn’t keep pursuing it. It has to take over all of your time, your thoughts, and it has to consume your life. You have to work harder than everyone else, and push yourself to limits you didn’t even know you could go to in order to be successful.

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My dream is to one day play division one football, and while I know I have five scholarship offers now, I won’t relax. The offers could be taken away from me just as quickly as they were offered to me, so I keep working hard trying to improve and be the best player I can be. I want to excel wherever football ends up taking me in life. I am down for the long rode ahead, praying for the best and knowing that I will make it one day. I put faith in myself and truly believe I will make it, because through God and hard work, I can accomplish anything. Nothing can stand in my way and I can achieve anything I set my mind to. Having success in football does not happen overnight. Since the age of six I have pushed myself and proved people wrong. Nobody believed I would be able to make a difference on the team as a freshman because I was so young. All the hate and the doubt just motivated me, and I kept pushing, kept trying my hardest. I ended up being named a second team Freshman All-American by MaxPreps.

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My favorite moment of my football career is one I will never forget. I caught the game winning touchdown pass against our league rivals Bishop Alemany after a long 96 yard drive. It was something I will truly never forget and something I will always be proud of. My favorite recruiting moment has to be receiving an offer from USC. When I was on campus, I felt like I was part of the family. All the coaches I talked to were genuine and kept it real with me. I have nothing but respect for them and the program at USC. The offer was a real shock because I had no idea they had interest in me. The fact that my dream school is interested in me, let alone wants me to come there and play football, is a dream come true. It is truly a blessing.

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This past season went well for me individually. I was able to rack up 1,331 yards and get into the end zone twenty seven times. After a 5-5 freshman season we improved a lot this year and went 7-4. We lost to the number one team in Southern California and one of the top teams in the nation, Corona Centennial. I was also named an All-American for the second year in a row. It is a blessing to be recognized for my season and something I appreciate very much. Accolades and awards motivate me to keep grinding because I am nowhere near where I want to be. I remind myself that not so long ago I was a nobody in the world of recruiting, and that I have to keep grinding and working with the mindset that I still am a nobody. This offseason I want to work on cleaning up my route running. It is something that I definitely need to work on, and as a running back at the next level, I am going to need to be able to catch the ball, not only out of the backfield but also the slot because of my size. I enjoy fine tuning my game and if something is not perfect, I am the first one to admit it. I am and will always be my own harshest critic.

I look forward to working with Evan and am grateful to be a part of the RecruitDiaries family. That is all I have for you at the moment. Make sure to check out all the rest of the player diaries and be sure to come back often. Follow me on Twitter @Uno_TJ to get updates on my season and also follow @RecruitDiaries to get updates about when all the diaries are posted.

Till Next Time
     TJ

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