When college football fans cheer at the top of their lungs encouraging their team’s offensive line to block so the running back can hit the hole for a touchdown and the “W,” no one thinks about what it takes to play football at the collegiate level.
It takes “grind.” It takes determination, dedication and hard work. That is exactly what the Atlanta-based training program IDareU Academy, Inc. teaches its ball players. IDareU is a position-specific training football program founded in 2006 by Chairman and CEO Glen Ford. “Our mission is to help every kid to get a free education with their God-given ability,” Ford said.
That God-given ability is tapped into from the moment young men join the program. IDareU helps kids ages 6 to 18 years old to excel in their specific positions. Employing a variety of training exercises and drills, this powerhouse program has developed young athletes who have gone on to play football at notable schools, including University of Alabama, Brown University, Georgia Tech, Louisiana State University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, to name a few.
According to NCAA.org, approximately one in 16 or 6.5 percent of all high school senior boys playing interscholastic football will go on to play the sport at a NCAA member institution. This number is low and proves that it is no easy accomplishment to play football at this level, nevertheless, IDareU seems to have the formula to contribute to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s statistics.
IDareU’s legacy continues to be upheld by six young men who have been participating in the program since the seventh grade. This core group of young men have been awarded full scholarships to play football in their respective positions. They attribute their success to IDareU and agree it has developed their game and so much more.
D. J. Brown
D. J. Brown is a 17-year-old cornerback who attends Creekside High School in South Fulton County and has committed to play football at Penn State. D. J. said he was introduced to the program through one of his track teammates. Brown said he didn’t know what to expect, but once he started the program and was introduced to “The Grind,” he knew it was special.
He said he saw his game improve year after year. “IDareU is the reason why my technique is so strong. It’s taught me how to give 110 percent every time I hit the field,” said Brown.
Last year in 2015, D. J. was selected Runner-Up Defensive Player of the Year, and in 2016, he was selected to the Pre-Season All State Team CB, Blue/Gray All American and USA U19 All-American.
“I didn’t think I would be among the group of young men committed to the Power 5 conference,” he said. “We worked our way from nothing to the top in our regions. I am excited and thankful.”
D.J. said one of the most important lessons he’s learned from IDareU is success in life comes from hard work. “No one is given anything in life. To be successful you must earn it and you truly have to work at it everyday to be the best.”
When asked how he would challenge young men interested in starting the program at 12 years old, D. J. said, “IDareU to get up and work hard everyday to perfect your craft!”
Jaden Hunter is a 17-year-old linebacker. He attends Westlake High School and has committed to play at The University of Georgia.
Jaden told South Fulton Lifestyle that IDareU is a brotherhood. He said through the program he’s learned a lot about football as well as valuable life lessons. One of those lessons has been the importance of believing in yourself. “I learned how to identify what motivates me and I learned how to “Grind” to accomplish my goals,” Jayden said.
He explained when he started the program in the seventh grade he hadn’t realized his potential, but when the staff presented him with a blueprint detailing where he could be if he put in the work, Jayden was sold. He credits the rigorous training of drops, lifting and running coupled with discipline, analyzing and critical thinking for helping him earn the ranking of 43rd Overall Player in the Country and third best at his position.
Jayden was invited to participate in the Rivals 5-Star Challenge and competed with the Best 110 Players in the Country at the Georgia Dome.
When asked what advice he has for young men interested in joining IDareU at a young age, Jayden said, “IDareU to keep grinding and stay hungry because your life can change in just one year.”
Deon Jackson is 17 years old and is a running back at Pace Academy. He too is a member of the brotherhood that entered IDareU Academy in the seventh grade. Deon says he was impressed by the concern of the staff to make sure the athletes had access to skillful trainers who have played and succeeded on the gridiron. He said he was excited to see how the coaches worked to make sure each player was prepared for life’s experiences.
A part of life preparation at IDareU comes in the form of SAT and ACT preparatory classes. Participants are encouraged to excel in their academics and on the football field. Deon noted that he appreciates this type of support because as a Duke University commit, he must be strong both academically and athletically.
“It’s all part of ‘The Grind,’” he said. “In this program ‘The Grind’ is something you cannot avoid. You must work hard if you want to first be accepted to college and play football on the collegiate level. I have never done training like this before… it is part of the process. You simply have to embrace it.”
Last year Deon was voted Player of the Year in his region and scored the winning touchdown, helping his team win the State Championship. Deon’s hard work helped the team advance to the Elite 8 in his sophomore year as well.
When asked what would he say to challenge boys training in the IDareU program, Deon said, “IDareU to step out of your comfort zone.”
William Poole III
William Poole III attends Hapeville Charter Academy and is 17 years old. He too plays cornerback and has committed to The University of Georgia. William told us IDareU teaches kids how to stick together and support one another. He considers the program a blessing because they also receive instruction from coaches who have played football on both the collegiate and professional levels.
“When things get hard for us when we are receiving instruction from athletes who have been where we want to go, sometimes it is necessary to get some serious encouragement,” William explained. “IDareU even invited ministers to come into the program and pray with us when we need encouragement. The program has taken my game to a whole new level.”
William said one of the most important lessons he has learned through the program is giving back to the community. He does this by mentoring younger kids who aspire to play the sport.
William has been selected as Region 6-AA First Team Defense for three consecutive years and is a 2017 Under Armour All-American and has more than 40 Division 1 offers to schools, such as Louisiana State University, Auburn, University of Alabama and Florida State.
His words of wisdom for challenging boys aspiring to accomplish the same things he has: “IDareU to try this program and see the outcomes. You will thank me later.”
A. J. Terrell
A.J. Terrell is an 18-year-old cornerback attending Westlake High School. He says without IDareU many athletes would not secure full scholarships to attend the colleges and universities of their choice. A.J., who is committed to play football at Clemson University, told South Fulton Lifestyle magazine that IDareU athletes are putting in the work when other athletes are asleep.
A.J. is an Under Armour All-American and has helped his team win the Regional Championship three times consecutively. He attributes these accomplishments to learning through the IDareU program, the importance of being a dedicated athlete who doesn’t mind working hard day after day. A.J. is hoping this work ethic helps him to one day play professional football.
IDareU has taught A.J. how to dig deeper when he gets tired. This lesson applies to working hard to acquire good grades as well, he said. “IDareU is a character builder, that’s for sure,” he added. A.J.’s challenge to younger athletes is to listen, go to school and go the extra mile in both the classroom and on the field. “IDareU to be great!” he said.
LeAnthony Williams, Jr.
LeAnthony Williams, Jr. is an 18-year-old who attends Roswell High School and plays cornerback. He has received a scholarship to play football for Clemson University as well. He has been selected as one of the Top 10 High School Cornerbacks in the State of Georgia and he leads his high school team in interceptions. LeAnthony attributes his accomplishments to the IDareU coaching staff. He said when he first joined IDareU, it was tough and the drills were very challenging. “I didn’t want to do them at first, but I was encouraged by star athletes who believed I could be a star one day too,” he said.
LeAnthony said it was important for him to be pushed and to be surrounded by people who were better than him. Just like his friends who started the program with him, he believes there is one word that best describes IDareU: Special.
He says IDareU isn’t just about learning how to be an awesome football player, but it also teaches other lessons that kids may or may not get at home. The extra care and concern to develop the whole athlete is the secret to the program’s success. One of the most important lessons LeAnthony has learned since joining the program is patience.
“Today’s youth want to obtain success quickly,” he noted. “However, I have learned to be patient and to stay the course because I know the reward will come soon enough,” LeAnthony said.
LeAnthony’s advice to young football players? “IDareU to stay focused in school and on the field and watch everything fall into place,” he said.
Since its inception, IDareU has helped more than 150 young men attend college, helping those participants receive $22 million in scholarships.
Coach Ford attributes the program’s success to the kids and the alumni. “The kids have such big hearts and drive and are willing to put in the work while being encouraged by alumni and awesome coaches,” Ford said. In addition to the kids and coaches, Ford said the kids’ parents are awesome supporters and believe in the overall mission. “It’s a process,” Ford said, and he Dares U to trust the process!
Ford would like to offer special thanks to Councilman Ivory Young of District 3 and Ramando Davidson, Assistant Director of Recreation for the City of Atlanta for all their support. “Without their help, we could not do what we do for the kids in this community.”
For additional information about IDareU Academy, Incorporated, visit I-DareU.com.