At first, the screen will be pitch black – all but for a small circle illuminating the film’s star. Then, the black fades to light, the circle disappears, the action starts.
How audiences will respond remains to be seen.
The main character of this film – highlighted periodically by that bright circle – is David Raffin, a 6-foot-2, 269-pound offensive lineman from Chesterton, Ind., who will also direct, produce and distribute the final product.
Raffin’s foray into amateur film-making isn’t his first step toward the movie industry. No, he hopes it’s his first step toward his true ambition – playing college football. Big-time college football.
Sure, the one-star recruit has been contacted by some Division I-AA schools. But he has his sights set a little higher. And even though he hasn’t garnered offers from any FBS programs – including the offer he most covets, from Northwestern – he is going to try to sell himself via his tape.
The film will hit coaches’ offices around the country this fall in hopes that it lures a scholarship offer. Colorado State will get one. Wyoming and Ball State, too. Anyplace, really, where Raffin thinks he might be appreciated.
"I'm just going to make the tape, send it out and hope good things happen, hope that someone likes what they see," Raffin said.
One thing that’s a bit unique about Raffin’s tape is that it won’t be a highlight reel, per se. Instead of splicing together a compilation of himself simply pancaking and bullying opposing defenses, Raffin is going to take what he feels is his best game, have his buddy work some magic with that pre-snap highlighting, and let coaches judge for themselves. Even if it’s not all good.
“I give them every down,” Raffin said, “because you know what, there’s no reason to hide when I make a mistake. If I sent them a highlight tape of just great plays, they’re not getting the whole deal.”
While Raffin has yet to arouse much hype from BCS conference schools, he’s optimistic that a two-thumbs-up tape could change that. And that’s why after this season – or maybe even during – the senior-to-be is going to send his video to critics – er, coaches – around the country.
“I want to give them some game film from this year,” he said, “because last year I didn’t do too terrific, at least compared to how I wanted to perform....
“One of the problems was that I played both ways, so I was just exhausted. So (coaches who saw me last season) didn’t get a chance to see me go full-out because I was playing every play of every game. So hopefully this season, playing just offense, they can see me as an explosive offensive lineman.”
Make no mistake – Raffin’s chances of ever donning Northwestern purple are slim. He said that he hasn’t met with any coaches from NU, and that the Wildcats haven’t been actively recruiting him.
But still, a Wildcat he wants to be.
“Northwestern would definitely go to top of the list if they offered. My uncle played there back in the 80s. I’ve had good times following Northwestern in the past. I’ve heard stories. My uncle has contacts there, but contacts only go so far. So I’m just waiting for the season to start so I can get that other film prepared and send it in.”
Indeed, Larry LaTourette’s book Northwestern Wildcat Football – a sort of manifesto on Northwestern football – does say that linebacker Rich Raffin co-captained the defense in 1983. So there is some history here.
Family and ambition aside, Raffin remains a realist about his football prospects. While Wyoming has shown some legitimate interest – still though, without an offer – Raffin concedes that it looks likely he’ll end up far south of Northwestern’s stature.
“The lower level schools would probably be better suited for me,” he said.
But that doesn’t mean he’s not going to try to get himself some offers. And that process is going to involve some solid play on his part, a little bit of work in the editing room and a trip to the post office.
That, and some blind hope. Hope that there’s a coach out there – preferably one from Evanston – who is impressed enough by Raffin’s film to offer up a scholarship.