As we get prepared for the 2020 football season, we wanted to touch base with former NUIC players that have gone on to play at the college level to hear what their experiences are, what playing in the NUIC did to help them out for the college level, and what insight they would bestow upon younger guys looking to play at the collegiate level.
Name: Sam Barkalow
High School: Forreston
College: Western Illinois University
Position: Tight End
Major: Law Enforcement Justice Administration
Q. How has your experience at the college level been?
A. My college experience has been an absolute blast. The level of competition and speed is so much higher, but so much fun! There is so much more that goes into college football than what you would expect. It's the study halls, class, studying plays, meetings before practice, walkthrough, practice, meetings after practice, then 6 am lift sessions to kick it all off the next day! (Not to mention watching film, which is a whole other article itself.) It's been a humbling experience coming from 1A Forreston football surrounded by cornfields to playing at the highest level. I wouldn't trade it for anything out there.
Q. What have you taken from playing in the NUIC to the college level?
A. What I have taken from both high school and the NUIC is the tough nose football mentality. Just put your head down and grinding it out. It's not about the glitz and glam, it's about going hard between the whistles.
Q. What is your favorite memory from playing in the NUIC?
A. My favorite NUIC memory is scoring a touchdown during the state game in 2016.
Q. What is your favorite college memory thus far?
A. My favorite college memory thus far is on our first flight of the season I was lucky enough to be sitting with a teammate who had never flown before, it was quite a show!
Q. What are your plans after college?
A. My plans after college are to pursue a career in law enforcement, more specifically at the federal level.
Q. What insight would you provide younger athletes looking to play at the college level?
A. Some advice I would give is start recruitment early! Go to camps, reach out to coaches, prepare and excel in the classroom. Once at the college level, I would advise an athlete to understand and embrace being at the bottom of the totem pole. It's a clean start and a challenge to build a name for yourself. Also learn to enjoy watching film, it's truly an art and a skill!