He had no home. Scratch that. Technically, he had a home, but it was condemned. So he bounced around here and there, staying with his best friend or his girlfriend. On days he felt too proud to ask for another favor, he went back to the condemned house, with no water or power. He just needed a place to fall asleep.
All those nights he had nothing, Jon Feliciano thought about football. He thought about the University of Miami, the only place he ever wanted to go to college. Somehow, he thought, I have to get there. Football will get me there.
Never mind that Miami had never shown any interest in him, even though he went to high school in Davie, Florida, 40 minutes north of the campus. If Feliciano wanted to change his fate, he would have to do it himself.
So he and his high school football coach, Rashad West, arrived at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for the 2008 Miami spring game with a plan.
A junior offensive lineman at the time, the 6-foot-4, 280-pound Feliciano put together a highlight tape to hand-deliver to the coach recruiting his area, Tommie Robinson. Feliciano and West initially wanted to sneak down to the field when the game ended, but there were too many people to make it far. Feliciano was crushed.
West, familiar with the stadium layout, knew where the Miami buses would be parked. He drove Feliciano to the back of the stadium, where they waited for the team to emerge. When Robinson came out, Feliciano gave him the tape.
"You pass the eyeball test," Robinson told him. "I'll watch your highlight tape, and we'll see how it goes."
To read Andrea Adelson's full story, click here.