Montini's Kuczynski opts for move to Florida

  • After the Illinois High School Association pushed the football season to February, Montini center Brett Kuczynski transferred to a high school in Florida so he could play this fall.

    After the Illinois High School Association pushed the football season to February, Montini center Brett Kuczynski transferred to a high school in Florida so he could play this fall. Courtesy of Mike Kuczynski

 
 
Updated 8/5/2020 5:14 PM

About two years ago Brett Kuczynski's family bought a vacation home in Florida.

Little did they know it'd turn into a lifeline for Brett to pursue a dream of playing college football.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

After the Illinois High School Association said last week football would be delayed to spring because of COVID-19, the Montini senior made the tough decision to transfer to New Smyrna Beach High School in Florida so he could play this fall.

"This had been something we'd been discussing for the past two weeks," Kuczynski said. "I'm pretty grateful to have this house down here. We had no idea it'd come in handy like this."

Kuczynski, from Downers Grove, is already living in Florida with his mother Denise in a community just south of Daytona Beach. He's been going through organized conditioning with his new teammates, some he met on family vacations on the beach.

While uprooting a life to play football might sound extreme, Kuczynski is continuing a trend that started in May when J.J. McCarthy, one of the nation's top quarterbacks and a Michigan commit, left Nazareth to play his senior year at IMG Academy in Florida.

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With surrounding states also planning to play football this fall, additional players are likely to leave Illinois. Two other Nazareth standouts -- Syracuse commit Landon Morris and Domenic Virelli -- are transferring to Indiana and Iowa, respectively.

Kuczynski made the decision because he's searching for an opportunity to play college football. He played center for Montini but his future at the next level is as a nationally-ranked long-snapper.

According to Kuczynski, scholarship offers for long-snappers don't arrive until late in the recruiting process. He has an offer from Valparaiso, but said he needs to play this fall to gain necessary exposure.

"That's always the very last position to get recruited, so this was really my opportunity to get my film out there," he said. "It was very tough to make the decision to move but ultimately I think this is what's best for college. That's really what drove my decision."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The longer the IHSA delayed in making an announcement about football, the less confident Kuczynski felt about the season being played this fall. A few weeks ago he traveled to Florida to meet with the New Smyrna Beach coaches and get a sense of the program. A day after the IHSA announced its plan for the sports calendar, Kuczynski announced last Thursday he was moving to Florida.

"(Kuczynski's Montini teammates) understand my decision and what went into it," he said. "As a team collectively we would have wanted to go out and play our senior year but times are different."

Kuczynski hopes to graduate early so he can play spring ball for whatever college he chooses. The possibility also exists, however, for Kuczynski to be reunited with Montini.

IHSA bylaws allow for athletes to play a sport in a different state in one season, then return to Illinois in a different season to play the same sport. The athlete must make the moves with family, but Kuczynski likely meets that requirement because he moved with his mother.

That's for the future to sort out. For now he's getting ready for a football season in Florida that's scheduled to begin with practice Aug. 24. Like everything else in the sporting world, though, that could change.

"The boys have been really cool and really took me in," he said. "Now it's already starting to feel like I can trust them and they're my brothers.

"If this is going to help me accomplish my dreams and goals, then by all means I have to go for it."

Twitter: @kevin_schmit

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