An excellent story made its way around the Internet Thursday morning, courtesy of 247Sports' Kipp Adams, detailing the conflict and the journey of Ukrainian-born, class of 2015 offensive lineman Nikita Fair from Washington, Ga.
Not yet rated by 247Sports and without a current offer from an FBS school, Fair, who came to America in the fourth grade after his mother, Tanya, met and fell in love with an American man online, has already camped at Georgia and Alabama, seen interest from Vanderbilt, Clemson and Stanford and received letters from Big Ten powers such as Nebraska, Michigan and Michigan State.
For most prospects his age, football is the only thing that matters. Recruitment is the primary source of stress and unease. For Fair, however, the Russian military occupation of his home country, where his brother and sister still live, is weighing even heavier on his mind.
Fair explained his family's situation, per Adams:
It has been very hard for my family. My brother, who has a family of his own, and my sister are in Sevastopol, which is occupied by Russian military right now. The Russians have blocked access to the seaport and there is a heavy military presence right now. We cannot communicate because they cut off internet access in the Urkraine a week ago. We use Skype to communicate, so we have not spoken to them since.
"I am worrying 24/7 about them and this is strange to have these feelings about your family," Fair continued. "We do not know who is alive and who is dead."
With a heavy heart and an occupied mind, Fair will continue trying to make his way toward an FBS scholarship. He is a 6'5'', 285-pound offensive tackle at Washington-Wilkes Comprehensive High School, where he has started on the varsity football team since three games into his sophomore year.
European prospects were once a novelty, but they have begun to pop up en masse to make an impact at the FBS level.
German-born Bjoern Werner was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and a Unanimous All-American for Florida State two seasons ago, parlaying that success into a first-round selection by the Indianapolis Colts. SMU's Margus Hunt, who hails from Estonia, was a second-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in the same draft class (2013).
This very recruiting cycle, Danish foreign exchange student Hjalte Froholdt, a 6'4'' defensive tackle at Warren Harding High School in Ohio, is a 4-star recruit and the No. 77 overall player on the 247Sports composite. He committed to Arkansas Dec. 2.
Fair has work to do before he reaches that level of prospect, but another season of practice and games at the high school level might be enough to earn him an FBS offer. Said Washington-Wilkes head coach Robbie Robinson of his Ukrainian-born tackle:
"He...get(s) better every time he takes the field."