Lots of high school kids spend hours on their phone.
Some are on Snapchat, others are watching videos on YouTube. Most are doing it for entertainment.
Ubayd Steed is doing it because he’s in demand.
Steed is a senior on the Northeast High School football team, and he’s heading into his third year as a starter on the Vikings’ stout defense. Northeast has been one of the best football teams in the city, having won three straight Public League 6A championships, and because of that, they’ve drawn a lot of attention from colleges across the country.
The Vikings have picked up more than $4 million in scholarship offers, and many of them have been offered to Steed. That means a lot of his free time is spent on the phone, answering texts and emails about coaches checking in to find out about his next move.
“I have 17 offers now, so it’s going pretty good,” said Steed, who has heard from Temple, UMass, Buffalo and Eastern Michigan, among others. “It’s definitely humbling. It’s why we all play football, we want to win, but we also want to get to the next level. The goal is to play in college, go to college and get an education. If you can get a free education for football, it’s perfect.
“I started as a sophomore and I started picking up some interest, schools would be out to watch my teammates, who are great players. The older guys were the ones who started this, and now we’re doing it. The better the seniors play, the more opportunities the younger guys get.”
Steed believes the younger guys on this year’s squad are going to do a lot with their opportunities because in his mind, the Vikings are one of the top teams in the state.
And many agree.
Northeast returns a squad that was very successful in Public League play, but for the third year in a row fell victim to St. Joe’s Prep in the city championship game. That’s nothing to be embarrassed about, the Hawks have been the top team in the state for most of the decade.
Prep also returns a top-notch squad that many have among the top 10 in the nation. But Steed isn’t ready to call them the best 6A school in the state.
“We always want to win the Public League, it’s a great league, but we are all talking about what it would be like to win a state championship,” Steed said. “That’s our goal the whole way. We want to win the state championship. That’s all anyone wants, and to do that, we have to beat the best around here.
“Prep is great. We love playing them. It makes us better. But this year, I really think we can compete with them. We’ve been working every day for that.”
Steed intends on bringing the same intensity on defense he has for the past two years. Because he’s so versatile, he can play cornerback, safety and at times looks like a linebacker. No matter where he is, he loves to hit.
“I can cover, I do a lot of things, but yeah, hitting is my favorite thing to do,” Steed said. “I’ve become better at everything. I love playing defense. We have a lot of playmakers on defense. I think I’m more of a safety than anything else, but I can play any position. Whatever they need, I’ll do.”
Last year, he was all about defense, although he did return kickoffs and punts. This year, he plans on having the ball in his hands a little more.
While the Vikings return key guys at almost every position, they did lose some talented running backs and there will be carries available.
If they need a ball carrier, Steed is ready.
“I think I’ll play a lot of running back this year, I’m working on it,” Steed said. “I’ve played it before, but this year I could play it a lot more. I’ll still be on defense, but I’m ready to play running back. I’m ready to play anywhere.”
During the first two years as a starter, Steed’s stats were quite impressive. Last year, he scored three touchdowns in limited carries and was one of the top tacklers on the defensive side.
But his numbers in the classroom are even more impressive. He maintains a 3.7 grade point average and takes tough courses. Those numbers are the ones he cares about the most. And luckily for him, it’s the ones colleges look at first, too.
“My mom has always told me how important school was, and I take that seriously,” Steed said. “I am proud of it because it’s the first thing college coaches look for. Everyone they look at are good football players. They want people who are going to do well in school. That’s the reason you go to college.”
He’ll keep working hard in the classroom and on the field. In his mind, it will make for a perfect senior season.
“We’re just doing whatever we can to get ready for the season,” Steed said. “We have big goals. I have big goals. I think we can have a big year. I’m excited about college, too, but the best way to (accomplish his goals) is to get better and play better. That will take care of everything.”