On one of the coldest, snowiest weekends of the winter season across America, Altamonte Springs WR Xavier Pierre Youngblood-Ary took a trip to Chicago to visit Northwestern University.
The weather did not change his mind about the Evanston, Illinois school, which sits on the banks of cold and mighty Lake Michigan, where the wind blows so frigid that the sheer force and shock can stun you like a dagger.
"Yesterady it snowed, and it's pretty cold," Youngblood-Ary said. "It’s fine. I just have to limit my activities outside. I can handle it."
So with the weather not being a problem, it was also no problem for Youngblood-Ary to make a commitment to the Big Ten school, which had exactly what the 6-foot-4, 190-pounder wanted in a university setting.
"It feels good to be a Wildcat," Youngblood-Ary said. It's great program and has great academics ... really great coaches I’m happy and proud of myself."
Youngblood-Ary is not an early entry and will finish his senior year with spring semester.
"It feels great. There is lot of stress off me and now I can just relax," he said. "Now I don’t have to worry about all of that and I can just focus on the rest of school."
Youngblood-Ary is the third Orlando-area prospect to select the Wildcats in the past two yera. Last year, Orlando Olympia teammates QB Trevor Siemian and WR Rashad Lawrence signed with Northwestern. Lawrence actually made a pretty big impact as a freshman. He played in all 13 games and had 12 catches for 178 yards. Siemian did not play and will likely redshirt.
Lawrence was Youngblood-Ary's campus host for the weekend.
"We're just hanging out with the players watching the Colts game," Youngblood-Ary said via cell phone Saturday night. "Rashad is my host. We were friends on Facebook, but I didn't really know him."
It's even more impressive that the wide receiver d such a high-profile scholarship coming out of Coach George Clayton's option offense at Brantley, where they don't tend to throw the ball much.
"We threw it a little more this year than last year," said Youngblood-Ary, who could tell you last year exactly how many balls he caught and how many times he was targeted.
"12," Youngblood-Ary said of throws coming his way as a junior. "Nine catches, with five touchdowns."
Those kind of numbers are pretty easy to remember. He got more looks in 2010, sorta. He still had just nine catches but only played nine regular-season games, however. He had three TDs, with five of the catches and two of the TDs coming in one game.
Youngblood-Ary said it was his performance at last summer's Nortwestern camp that got him notice from Wildcats' coaching staff.
"They got a lot out of that with me running routs and catching the ball," Youngblood-Ary said.
Despite the non-passing offense at Lake Brantley, Youngblood-Ary stuck it out when he very easily could have transferred.
"I had just moved to Florida from Louisiana when I was 12," he said. "I thought about (transferring), but I just didn’t want to do it again because I had just moved here and made friends and I didn’t want to go through that process again. I had thoughts, but I didn't leave. I am a Patriot."
Others schools who offered Youngblood-Ary were Tulane, Rice, FAU and the Naval Academy.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.