They live just 45 minutes apart, separated by a county line and this little theme park south of Orlando called Disney.
Though their lives have run a somewhat parallel path for the past six months, quarterbacks Robbie Matey (Orlando Dr. Phillips) and Jared Beekman (Kissimmee Harmony) only met for the first time this week. Neither of them had known until a few weeks ago that their meeting was inevitable.
And had they not met Monday, their original introduction likely would have taken place far removed from their Central Florida stomping grounds.
About 900 miles removed.
Matey and Beekman are headed to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to play football next season. They have never played against each other, but starting with fall practice, they'll be competing for the same position on the Blue Jays' football team. A position that already has a bonafide starter in junior-to-be Hewitt Tomlin.
"Yeah, when Coach Swanstrom (offensive coordinator Dan) came down to speak to me, he said they were looking at a quarterback from Dr. Phillips," Beekman said. "But I didn't really know much and hadn't heard anything again until now."
"I didn't know either, maybe because I was involved in committing a little bit earlier, or whatever," Matey said, "but it's going to be fun either way."
Florida players are rare at Hopkins. Of the 94 players on the 2009 Blue Jays' roster, only four are from Florida, 35 from Pennsylvania and 24 from New Jersey.
It's not an easy admittance and for those who do get in, the book work will be a time-consuming part of their lives. And then some of them, like Matey and Beekman, will make time for football.
"That was my main focus when looking at all these schools, academics first," said Matey. "I'm only going to play football for four more years. I was also looking at Bucknell, Rhodes and Hamilton, but Hopkins was always my top choice."
Beekman sort of tried the conventional route at first, but he too eventually locked his focus on Johns Hopkins.
"At first I was talking to The Citadel, but after speaking with them and the fact that it being a military school and all of the responsibilities with that, so I passed on that," said Beekman. "I was talking with William & Mary and Georgia Southern didn't work out ... it all kind of filtered out. Hopkins was definitely in my top five choices the whole time and it just kind of narrowed down to that."
There are no athletic scholarships at Hopkins, an NCAA Division III school that takes its football, and other sports, very serious. The Blue Jays won 10 games last year, losing in the D-III playoffs.
Matey will be going into a pre-med program that will eventually evolve into Med School. Beekman will be seeking an engineering degree, which also will involve its own post-graduate program.
Both players play quarterback, but given that Tomlin will likely be the guy for the next two seasons, these guys will do anything to just get on the football field.
"They talked to me a little bit about playing the slot," Matey said. "It doesn't matter to me. I just want to play football."
"Their policy is to play the best players," Beekman said. "If you are a good enough athlete to play somewhere else they're not just going to have you sit on the bench. I really want to play and it doesn't matter where. If I only get one play a game, I'm going to go out there and compete and do the best I can."
Matey and Beekman are a classic example of how work in the classroom can get a player just as much attention as can work at a combine -- the only difference being that 4.5 means GPA, not 40-yard-dash times.
It may not be NCAA Division-I football, but it's education at its finest. It's a lifetime of career benefits if a person succeeds in the program.
And it's still football, the concussions hurt just the same, they just don't happen in 70,000-seat stadiums.
They have playoffs, too, imagine.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's college sports recruiting coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun