Photo of Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School graduate and Miami University freshman Tom Tupa controlling himself in NCAA Football 14 video game / Photo courtesy Tom Tupa
The select group of 2013 Northeast Ohio high school graduates who were fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to continue their football playing careers will officially become college student-athletes when they put on their team's jersey for the first time when practice begins in August
For most, that is when the reality that they are a college athlete will sink in.
But for those that enjoy playing football on the virtual gridiron as well as the real one and who have earned the privilege to compete at the NCAA Division I level, that realization probably came when they first played as themselves in "NCAA Football 14," the latest installment in the popular EA Sports college football video game franchise.
The game, which was released July 9, does not include any player's name, exact likeness or attributes due to NCAA regulations. That fact, however, is often trivial to the first-year college player gazing at himself in polygonal form for the first time.
Just ask Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School graduate Tom Tupa how it feels to move himself up Miami University's depth chart and to lead the RedHawks' offense on a march to the end zone in Yager Stadium,
Just ask Aurora High School graduate Jake McVay how it feels to roam around the virtual playing surface at Dix Stadium with his character sporting his Kent State uniform.
Just ask St. Clairsville High School graduate Dan Monteroso how it feels to gaze at an up-close view of his three-dimensional character sporting his Purdue Boilermakers jersey.
Ditto for Uniontown Green graduate Christian DiLauro and his video-game double dressed in his University of Illinois uniform.
The fun isn't reserved solely for those now in the college ranks, though, as Bedford's Brandon Cloud, Westlake's James Bailey and North Royalton's Andrew May all proved by tweeting USATodayhss.com/Cleveland photos of the players they created with their likeness using the game's create-a-player feature.
The NCAA recently announced it will not renew its contract with EA Sports, making this year's game the last to include the NCAA name and logo.
But today's high school gridiron stars shouldn't worry too much about not being able to experience the same thrill in the coming summers as Tupa, McVay, Monteroso and DiLauro did this month. According to Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today Sports, more than 150 colleges, conferences and bowl games have approved a contract extension with EA Sports that will continue production of the game.
For more Northeast Ohio high school sports news, scores, photos and videos, visit USATodayhss.com/Cleveland.