As college recruiting websites go, rivals.com is the one-stop shop for 40-yard dash times, bench press reps, video highlights, college possibilities, and predictions on a prospect's potential.
Nathan Sherr visited the site all the time during his record-setting senior season at Reading's Austin Prep last fall, when he capped his high school football career by scoring 682 points to pass Holyoke's Cedric Washington (575) as the leading scorer in Massachusetts high school football history. Sometimes he'd check to see what people were saying about him. Most times he was checking to see what people were saying about everybody else.
The websites had Sherr being recruited by such schools as Boston College, the University of Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Northeastern, and Syracuse.
He said he heard from the schools, but he never heard the same thing twice.
"There were schools that would tell me one thing, then I'd get there and they'd tell me another thing," Sherr said. "I'd go to visit them and they'd say another thing. Or they'd be talking to me, then all of a sudden one school stopped calling, period. I tried calling back and leaving messages and they'd never call me back."
Sherr scored 96 touchdowns and had 53 2-point conversions during his Austin Prep career. Opposing coaches designed defenses to stop him. But when the college coaches watched his game tapes, Sherr said, they didn't see the moves or elusiveness that would have produced a scholarship offer.
Austin Prep coach Bill Maradei said he considered it a privilege to be able to give Sherr the ball 20 times a game every weekend. He was there during the recruiting process when Sherr would go to workouts and run the 40 in 4.41 seconds. He still can't figure out why colleges passed on him.
"I've been coaching for 30 years and if there was ever a player that deserved a scholarship it was him," Maradei said. "I don't know if they believed what they saw" on the game films. "It's very perplexing, especially with the season that he had and the performances he had at the various combines."
Sherr said, "They liked what they saw but people didn't like it enough to offer me any scholarships. "I never really argued the point but it didn't really make all that much sense."
He found himself with two options: Either go to Buffalo as a nonscholarship athlete or go to UConn. He chose the latter.
Now, a year after he completed the biggest scoring binge the Bay State had ever seen at the high school level, Sherr is essentially back at square one, trying to make a Division 1 team. Only, he's not a blue-chip prospect, but a walk-on with a lot of work ahead of him if he hopes to make it onto the field.
Sherr said he hasn't been on the rivals.com site for months, but it still has all his information.
The basics are there, like height and weight (5 feet 10 inches, 192 pounds). But more importantly, it also includes statistical Twinkies for recruiting junkies. It has his 40 time, his bench press statistics, his vertical leap, his shuttle-run time, even his grade-point average.
But when Sherr looks at it, it does not feel honest.
In fact, looking back on the recruiting process, Sherr said, not too much felt genuine about it except for UConn, the school just a few hours away from his Lynnfield home. The coaches, he recalled recently, talked with him throughout the recruiting process, always giving him the straight dope -- something he found to be a rarity.
"The recruiting process for me," he said, "I didn't really enjoy it. I guess it's good for some people because they're getting a lot of scholarships coming in, but I wasn't getting anything like that. I was just getting a lot of people talking to me, showing up and acting like they had a lot of interest, then falling off. But UConn didn't do that."
Sherr isn't a scholarship athlete with the Huskies. He's a walk-on. One face on a team with close to 100 of them. But he's comfortable. In head coach Randy Edsall and his staff, he has people who were upfront with him during a recruiting process that left him feeling betrayed.
"They told me all along that they didn't know if they were going to be able to offer me" a scholarship, he said. "Then it turned out that they weren't going to offer me, but they told me that they'd give me a fair shot here as a walk-on. You've got to trust them in that, because it's so hard to walk on here. "I'm getting pretty much the same number of snaps as the other two incoming freshman running backs. So I've just got to do what I've got to do now, but so far they've been fair to me."
UConn's website doesn't even link to a bio of Sherr, but he's OK with that. He's not much into what websites say about him these days.
"I've got to work hard every day and try to do the best I can, just like everyone else on the team."