IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., is arguably the most unique high school experience in America. Known for its out-of-this-world facilities, the academy routinely attracts some of the best high school football talent in the country. That includes four-star linebacker Will Ignont.
Originally from Alabama, Ignont transferred to IMG for his senior year. For him, it's essentially an early start to college.
"It somewhat does (feel like college). It gets tough sometimes. Sometimes you have to wake up at 5:15 in the morning to work out at six," Ignont said. "It's tough because nobody wants to wake up that early, but do I want to be starting on Saturdays in a year? That's what you've got to be thinking about."
That's what IMG is all about -- a factory for helping football recruits get the most out of themselves athletically in preparation for their first seasons of college football. Ignont already has offers from just about everyone, so for him, IMG isn't about visibility. It's about getting a head start so he can be ready to play immediately wherever he ends up in two years.
"Really just preparing my body, preparing myself mentally and physically for the next level, as far as managing my time well, getting to class on time, getting to workouts on time, getting to team meetings on time," Ignont said of the experience. "Just preparing my body, eating the right things, drinking the right stuff, just getting my body right, not having too much body fat. Getting my body fat low, all of that good stuff. Just trying to prepare my body for the next level, so when I get to college and when I graduate in December, I'll be ready."
A day at IMG is about as structured and un-high-school-like as they come. Here's a typical Friday for Ignont:
- Wake up at 5:57.
- Cardio for 30 minutes.
- "After that, I've got about 45 minutes to go back to my room, take a shower and get breakfast," he said.
- Classes start at 7:45. Ignont has three classes that go until 12:25. "We have great tutors that are there to help you throughout the day," he said.
- Then, athletes have about an hour to eat, go change, then take a tram to the other campus for football.
- "After we work out for about an hour and a half, two hours, we'll go on the field on Fridays," Ignont said. "We'll tram over to the fieldhouse, we'll get on the field, we'll run individual stuff, a lot of team stuff now because we can do it year round. So we just work on a lot of plays, get the new playbook in, all that good stuff for the new guys. We'll run 7-on-7 for stuff like this, preparing for camps and stuff."
- The day ends at 5 or 5:30.
"It's long," Ignont said of the day. But that's what goes into the goal of playing immediately on Saturdays.