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Recruiting whirlwind has been 'life-changing experience' for Cantwell


Upon returning to school, Jackson Cantwell certainly had quite the story to tell his classmates about what he did with his summer.

Cantwell's recruiting trail led him to college powers the likes of two-time defending national champion Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Arkansas. The Nixa sophomore offensive lineman's list of NCAA D-I offers is in the 20-range.

"If you would have told me this time last year I would be visiting all those places, it would have been crazy to think about," Cantwell said. "I did not expect it. I'm excited it's all happening. It's a life-changing experience."

Cantwell was mindful to try not to be overwhelmed upon meeting legendary coaches such as Alabama's Nick Saban and Georgia's Kirby Smart.

"I'm trying to figure out if the school is the right fit for me, so getting to meet the head coach is a good part of that," he said. "Even though the head coach probably won't have much to do with my day-to-day (training), the big picture of a program is if you have a good head coach, often times the program will go in the right direction. That trickles down to individual position rooms. I definitely saw that in places like Alabama and Georgia."

Cantwell won a state championship in the shot put as a freshman last spring and will likely pursue track and field in college, as well. He's encouraged that the coaches from the football programs he's visited told him they would be OK with him throwing the shot put and discus.

"I haven't had a school say no to it, yet," Cantwell said. "I haven't asked every single school. Every school I asked said they wouldn't have an issue with it."

Cantwell attended Oklahoma's 73-0 win versus Arkansas State last weekend. He is due to attend Arkansas' home contest versus BYU this weekend.

Also, the 6-foot-7, 300-pounder has already received and accepted an invitation to the 2026 All-American Bowl.