Tour of the States turns into ‘Dream Come True’ for European footballers

by Neil Willis [email protected]

The European scouting service Premier Players International recently completed its second annual DreamChasers Tour, making history in the process.

Brandon Collier led 25 of Europe’s best college prospects on a whirlwind tour of the Eastern USA to compete in NCAA camps against America’s best. During the 10,000 mile journey, the tour was able to visit nearly a dozen FBS schools where its ‘DreamChasers’ had unrivaled access to college football’s top programs.

The quality of talent in the European contingent was evident throughout the tour, resulting in a raft of scholarships for its participants. Eleven of these 25 DreamChasers have already received full scholarship offers from FBS schools, with more expected in the coming months (see list below). Most notable in this group is Luke Wentz of the Paderborn Dolphins who became Europe’s first ever quarterback to receive an FBS scholarship and possibly first ever for any college football scholarship.

This second tour builds on PPI’s success last year whereby 13 prospects received FBS offers. With each scholarship worth on average $200,000 in school costs, this means in its first 18 months PPI has garnered nearly $5 million in scholarships for European players. Only one of these is not Europe born and bred. Zavier Scott, now a RB at the University of Connecticut, was an American military dependent living in Germany last year.

Several trends are already apparent in this European invasion.

First it is evident that some schools feel they are getting a steal by snatching up these players. Programs like Temple, Rutgers, University of Virginia, and Old Dominion have each offered several DreamChasers because they feel these are potentially Five Star recruits overlooked by the likes of Ohio State and Alabama. This is not to say top ranked schools are unreachable for Europeans. PPI’s Four Star prospect, German DE Julius Welschoff, is now playing at the University of Michigan which is currently ranked 12. This year’s DreamChaser Martin Veinberg, a 6’9 Finnish OT, has already received offers from Florida and Nebraska with Ohio State still watching him closely.

Paying a visit to Florida’ Gator’s head coach Dan Mullen: from left Martin Veinberg, Brandon Collier, Dan Mullen, Kariem Al Soufi, Alex Ehrensberger

Secondly, Collier is a former NFL and University of Massachusetts player who only recently finished his career playing in Germany. Thus he has an extensive network of contacts across all levels of football in the USA, and now also across Europe where he lives. The European contingent earned a reputation for excellence in the camps, but it is apparent that the fact that Collier has vouched for them has opened doors.  There are other factors involved beyond football talent. Coaches need to know that a prospect will also be able to handle the increased commitment athletically and academically away from home.

Collier says that the success of this year’s tour where of the 23 players, 11 have received scholarships and six to seven more are expected to, is due in large part to last year’s crop of players:

“This year was hugely successful but so was last year. We brought over 14 players last year and eight received full scholarships at Division I schools. With Zavier Scott making his mark, coaches across the US have begun to realize that Europe is a gold mine of talent. This has made it easier this year.”

Clearly, coaches have been welcoming the PPI tour for a private campus visit because they have come to realize they are getting a first right of refusal on a whole group of bona fide FBS prospects.

Thirdly, the quality of youth and junior football in Europe, and Germany in particular, is on the rise.

Again, coaches having been finding the time because of the diversity of talent. Indeed, scholarships extended to all these prospects comprise virtually every playing position. Quarterback was the lone omission but that hurdle was cleared on this tour when Wentz received a scholarship to play quarterback at the University of Virginia where he will be joined by teammate OL Kariem Al Soufi . UVa hope to keep Wentz at quarterback, but stressed that receiver remains an option if making the jump to NCAA quarterback proves too much.

Surprisingly, no kickers have received offers and that is the one position American coaches had expected to be able to fill from European rosters.

According to Collier, Premier Players International now intends to expand its operations to host more combines, scout more games, and expand its recruiting network across Europe. Interestingly, so far Collier has not asked for a penny in fees for the players he is helping. All they need to do is cover their own expenses. Naturally sponsors are welcome according Collier.

Collier says he welcomes applications from potential scouts with excellent knowledge of the 16-20 age group in Europe. Interested parties can make enquiries and/or send their resume to [email protected] A day by day recap of the tour can be found on PPI’s website, ppirecruits.com, where players can also register as prospects.

2018 DreamChasers Scholarship Recipients (school indicates player has committed):

Emil Bo Andersen: Denmark Defensive End U of Virginia
Alex Ehrensberger: Germany Tight End / DE
Emil Hovde: Sweden Linebacker
Max Lövblad Sweden Offensive Line
Anton Oskarsson: Sweden Offensive Line
Kariem Al Soufi: Germany Offensive Line U of Virginia
Victor Stoffel: Sweden Defensive End
Martin Veinberg: Finland Offensive Line
Fabian Weitz: Germany Linebacker
Luke Wentz: Germany Quarterback U of Virginia
Sylvain Yondjouen Belgium Defensive End

 

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