LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada has developed a reputation for knowing exactly what he wants in a quarterback and successfully developing them. Earlier this year, he called New Jersey native Artur Sitkowski “his guy”.
He is currently the No. 5 pro-style quarterback in the 2018 recruiting class, and was one of the most sought after at his position all year.
Sitkowski ultimately went on to choose the University of Miami over LSU, and told me he was content with his decision to commit to the team.
"I feel great about going into this Hurricanes program,” he said. “There's a lot of momentum going into the Class of 2018. Just the program, in general, is moving in a positive direction. I'm really happy to be a part of something special going on in college football. I can't wait to get this thing going, and I can't wait to be on campus."
What influenced his choice to stay in Florida to play college football? According to the 18-year-old signal caller, it was the people closest to him.
"The biggest impact on my decision was my family and my coaches. Me and my dad, after I got all of these offers, we looked at which place would be best for me. Where the best scenario would be. Where they had coaches that would stay there and care for you and coach you up to the next level."
Sitkowski is already very close with several of the recruits who will be playing alongside him in Miami, and of course, the coaches who brought him there to play in the very beginning.
"As far as recruits right now, it would have to be either Brian Hightower or Randy Russell. I'm pretty close to them. As far as coaches, probably coach Jon Richt. He's the guy that recruited me. I'm really close to him and coach Mark Richt — he's the main guy for recruiting too."
When it comes to what he’s most excited about in his upcoming career, the answer is simple. Sitkowski is grateful just to have the opportunity to get on the field for such a well-known program.
"Just going there and working hard and competing every day and leading the Hurricanes to success. You know, going in there and getting the chance to play. I'm really excited."
Even though the quarterback won’t be playing for LSU, he made it clear he loved the program and had a lot of respect for the people there. Especially his good friend and mentor, Matt Canada.
"I have a great relationship with Coach Canada. I could see myself one day possibly working with him. He brings another level of intensity and so much enthusiasm to the game of football as a quarterback coach and as a person. I got to know him very well."
The main reason he didn’t pursue an opportunity to play for the Tigers had nothing to do with the system there, but everything to do with finances - which are still a very real obstacle even for athletes on full-ride scholarships.
"There was nothing against LSU. I liked LSU a lot, you know, it's Death Valley. It's just that Miami was quick for me, I've been there. It came to financially not being able to get to LSU. Actually flying there from Tampa to Baton Rouge. It costs so much money just to be able to take a visit."
When I asked Sitkowski what he hoped to get out of football in the long-term, he gave me a much more mature answer than you would expect from a teenage, high school football player.
"I want to play for as long as I can. I want to come away from football with as few injuries as possible, still want to be able to function and not have aches in my bones. I want to play a long career with many great memories, hopefully some Super Bowls."
"You want to have the ideal career and be Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre — a Hall of Fame quarterback. But it's easier said than done. You've got to work your butt off every single day. Be the first one in, and the last one out. You've really got to strive for that. It's a long way, a long journey, and you've just got to embrace the journey."
And if Sitkowski does make it to the way to the pros, he wants to go back to his roots in the state where it all began.
"And the team I want to play for if I do get the opportunity is the New York Giants. That's the team I grew up rooting for as a kid in Old Bridge, New Jersey. It's a small town. I grew up a big Giants fan, an Eli Manning guy. It was an every Sunday thing."