Would you trust this man to be a college football recruiter in your high school halls? The Croatan High School Cougars, of Carteret County, North Carolina, did, as well as others, and it’s kind of bit them, embarrassingly, in the ass.
For reasons that have yet to be made entirely clear, Kodey Alexander Kroger spent several weeks posing as a “student-recruiter” for the East Carolina Pirates’ football program. Having pulled the same stunt at other area schools earlier in the year, Kroger showed up at Croatan this month asking to talk to coaches about offering preferred walk-on status to two Cougar prospects. When asked for credentials he happily presented realistic looking documentation with ECU logos, letterhead and even coach Skip Holtz’s “signature.” Kroger also claimed to be a Freshman member of the Pirate football team, and said the Pirates had instituted the “student-recruiting” program to provide the coaching staff more time to focus on other, presumably higher priority, areas…
Were the Cougars satisfied? Of course not. Croatan Cougars don’t just let anyone who may or may not have even novice Photoshop skills, and could possibly afford some ECU apparel and resume paper from the local Super Walmart, walk in and meet with student-athletes and their families…they run a background check Google search first: “I e-mailed a friend of mine at Campbell, because when I Googled his name, his photo came up on Campbell’s Web site,” said Cougar Assistant Coach Scott McBride.
It’s true, Kroger was actually recruited and signed to play football for the Division II Campbell Camels in 2009. Shockingly, this didn’t pan out for some reason, which I guess gave Kroger some extra time to hatch his brilliant student-recruiter scheme. Unfortunately for Coach McBride and Croatan, however, if the staff had only checked the next Google search result, they would have come across the additional weight of evidence offered by Kodey Kroger’s MySpace page, accessed as recently as this month, in which Kroger describes himself thusly:
Whats up people, im Kodey Kroger. I’m a pretty laid back guy and fairly easy to get along with. I am a bouncer at a club in Morehead City, The Midnight Rodeo. I love playing football and lifting weights. Also ive recently really gotten into cage fighting. I recieved a football scholarship from Campbell University which i will be attending fall 2009. Anything else, just drop me a line!
There’s no mention of ECU or the Pirate football team anywhere on his page. Nevertheless, for several days Kroger met with Croatan coaches, two student-athletes and parents regarding preferred walk-on status on the ECU football team. It wasn’t until someone thought it might be wise to actually call the ECU Athletic Department to see if anyone had ever heard of this kid that the Cougars realized Kroger had them by the tail.
Fortunately for all involved, there apparently was no attempt to defraud any coach, player or their families (not of anything tangible, anyway), and no charges have or will be filed against Mr. Kroger as no crime was actually committed. Still, Kroger’s motive in all this is unclear. There is speculation, however, that he may have some mental health issues, and, assuming that’s the case, we certainly hope Kodey gets any help he may need.
In the same breath, we hope Croatan gets some help on beefing up their procedures for granting clearance to recruiters, or anyone at all for that matter, to meet with student-athletes and their families.
Let’s face it, in this day and age, stuff like “it was all very believable…He was dressed in all purple and had a purple notebook and such. He was offering walk-on vouchers, and they looked legitimate. He was able to defend his authority, and he gave us a lot of credentials,” and “he had ECU-embroidered documents. He had an authority letter given to him by Skip Holtz. And he looked to be about 6-2, 250 pounds, so he definitely looked like he was a college football player” shouldn’t cut it. Should it?