There’s no doubt that Manheim Township (Pa.) midfielder Grayson Sallade was the most ‘in demand’ freshman on the recruiting scene this fall.
Due to his dominance at November events (he accumulated Recruiting Rundown writeups at Quaker Fest, Big 4 Champions League and the B’more Classic), everybody in the world wanted Sallade’s services, starting up a hectic recruiting process that likely got overwhelming.
Big 4 head coach Billy McKinney handled much of the process for Sallade and has candidly told me in the past that he’s not sure if he’s had a player as highly recruited as the kid from Lancaster.
“Every program that was recruiting 2018’s at the end of the summer and early fall was interested in Grayson as a potential student-athlete,” McKinney says of his team’s go-to midfielder. “Grayson was in a desirable spot, but as a kid who was adjusting to life in high school and playing football, the amount of energy spent on the recruiting process was a lot to handle. He is such a nice kid and doesn’t want to let anyone down, so initially he was speaking to everyone.”
After narrowing things down and visiting Duke, Virginia, North Carolina, Hopkins, Notre Dame, Maryland and Penn State, the freshman decided to continue the trend of Duke’s L.C. players heading to play for Dom Starsia. On Wednesday evening, he pledged to the ‘Hoos, and Recruiting Rundown was the first publication to put out the news:
UVA will get a tremendously athletic midfielder who is best known for unleashing nasty, well-placed shots on the run or in step down opportunities. The righty plays an aggressive, uptempo style that is tailor made for Mark Van Arsdale’s offense in Charlottesville – it’s scary to think what Sallade is capable of down the road if he’s this polished now.
“Grayson is a monster,” McKinney says of Sallade, who makes the 90-minute trip to Big 4 practice at Penn Charter every Sunday of the year. “He consistently beats the man in front of him and scores so often because he has enough range on his shot to score before a slide can get to him. He’s great on the defensive side of the field and deadly in transition.”
Next summer, Sallade plans on attending Maverik Showtime in addition to events with Big 4 and Duke’s LC. After catching up with him a few hours after the commitment to the ‘Hoos, here’s what he had to say about his decision to wear the navy blue and orange.
What made you decide on Virginia? When did you visit and how did that go?
People say that when you go to a school, you’ll get that feeling that that’s where you want to be. I definitely got that there, I just loved the coaches and campus – everything about it was amazing.
In the middle of the summer, I set up a visit through my Duke’s coach Jason Christmas, whose brother was a big-time player at Virginia. I went down for prospect camp in late October and I thought I played particularly well so that helped. I met with Coach Starsia and Van Arsdale, who toured me throughout the campus and it really just seemed like they wanted me there the most of anybody.
How did the recruitment process go for you? A year ago, did you ever think you would be committed by now?
The heavy recruiting started after the summer season and into the fall, when colleges started contacting Coach McKinney. A year ago I thought people were crazy for committing this soon, so I never would have guessed I’d be all done by now. I don’t feel like I rushed it, I wanted to see all of the schools and do it the right way.
I don’t think anyone is in favor of early recruiting, but it’s here and there’s nothing you can do about it. When you’re playing, you know the all of the top Division I schools are there but you look past it and play your best rather than be selfish and try and impress them.
Knowing that there’s a now an event bigger target on your back, what’s your mindset between now and when you head to Charlottesville in the fall of 2018?
My high school coach, Kyle Wimer, isn’t just going to play me in the spring because I’m committed to an ACC. He’s going to play who gives us the chance to win no matter where they’re committed, whether it’s Division I, Division III or wherever.
I just want to keep working since I’m now in the proving stage, if anything I’m gonna work harder than I did leading up to the commitment. Some kids slack off at this point and I don’t want that, so this is where the hard work really begins.
Who would you like to thank for your accomplishment?
I want to thank both of my parents for taking me all over the country to tournaments and different colleges, I wouldn’t be here without them and they made sure I handled the process properly. I’d also like to thank Billy McKinney for helping me through this all, he’s coached me since sixth grade with HHH U-13 and has helped me every year to make me the player that I am. I’d also like to thank Ebe Helm and Jason Christmas from the Duke’s, they’ve put us in great events to expose me to coaches within a great team environment. I’d also like to thank Manheim Township’s Kyle Wimer, who communicated to Duke and a few other schools… I’m pumped to play for him.