Brandon Chrest’s Hudl page is getting plenty of hits these days.
He hopes so, at least.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Caledonia High School inside linebacker occasionally tweeted out a link to the 3-minute, 45-second highlight tape from his junior season in 2019 in response to coaches who put out social media feelers for recruits champing at the bit to play college football.
Chrest is one of those, and as of April 10, he’s upped the frequency, sharing that same Hudl link with dozens of coaches nationwide — from FBS schools Texas Tech to Fresno State to FCS Northwestern (Louisiana) State and Division II Northwest Oklahoma State.
Currently unable to participate in recruiting camps and showcases due to the outbreak of the pandemic, his social media blitz is all but necessary to catch the eyes of any coaches who will have him.
“That’s really the only way right now,” he told The Dispatch on Monday.
The strategy doesn’t always work; it rarely does, in fact. Chrest said only about one in 20 times does a coach respond, thanking him, asking him to fill out a questionnaire and inquiring about availability for camps down the road.
But Chrest knows all it takes is one.
The inside linebacker has no official offers on the table, but he expects one to come soon. Head coach Terry Harrison of Bethel College, an NAIA school in Kansas, took a liking to Chrest, who said he expects an offer to come when Bethel can begin offering 2021 prospects in June.
So far, though, Chrest continues to fight for opportunities in a pandemic-altered recruiting world.
He was scheduled to attend recruiting camps at Mississippi State, Northwestern State and Austin Peay; the latter two schools also extended him an invitation to their junior days, which were both canceled.
“I can’t go see the coaches and prove to them that I can compete with people at higher levels than our school,” Chrest said.
He’s still scheduled to play in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in late June in Dallas, hoping the event will still happen so he can prove his worth against tough competition.
The linebacker, who touts that he will graduate this December and can enroll early with a college, got a taste of that when he grappled with 5-star offensive linemen in the 2019 Football University (FBU) Top Gun camp in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
“It was a higher competition level, and they had really good coaches there,” Chrest said. “They explained what I needed to do there really well.”
Chrest has tried to take that instruction to heart. On Friday, he posted a video of himself running a “5-10-5” — the 20-yard shuttle at the NFL combine — and received a message from the combine prep coach at sports powerhouse IMG Academy about switching his hands during the drill. Chrest did, posting another video with the correct technique.
To stay in shape, he works out roughly 1½ to 2 hours a day, using exercises sent to him by former Caledonia offensive lineman Logan Canerdy. Canerdy, who played at Jones County Junior College for the past two seasons, earned a spot on Northwestern State’s roster for his junior year this fall.
Chrest, who finished with 89 tackles, six sacks and 18 tackles for loss in a junior season that earned him a first-team all-division nod on defense, hopes he can follow a similar path.
If not — he knows that’s a possibility — he hopes to earn an ROTC scholarship and major in kinesiology or sports science. As for the school?
“I think I’d like to go to Mississippi State or somewhere close by for that so I’m not too far away from home,” Chrest said.