It turns out Twitter can be an under-recruited athlete's best friend during a time in need.
The social media outlet helped Lancaster's do-it-all-football star Joseph Andreessen market himself to coaches around the country in hopes of earning an appealing Division I offer. Andreessen, who helped the Legends win back-to-back Section VI Class AA championships during his final two seasons, reeled in a prized offer and will now try to lead Bryant University to success he has helped the Legends attain during his scholastic career.
Andreessen accepted a Division I scholarship from the Rhode Island-based university – a school whose gridiron program is a member of the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA).
Andreessen inked his scholarship before family, football coaches, friends and fellow scholarship athletes – soccer players Zach Drayer and Andrea "Annie" Judasz – during a National Signing Day ceremony Wednesday in the high school gym at Lancaster.
Andreessen is a two-time All-Western New York selection at linebacker, earning first team honors this past season. However, he's perhaps one of the most versatile players in Western New York as he also shined as the team's wildcat quarterback, running back and offensive tackle (he wore No. 62 for a reason).
A candidate for The Buffalo News' Player of the Year honor after leading the Legends to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA championship game for the first time in their history, Andreessen is the first Lancaster football product to earn a Division I scholarship since Perry Taglienti in 2002, according to retired coach Len Jankiewicz. The last scholarship player to come out of the program is believed to be 2010 graduate Justin Juda, who went to Division II Adams State.
"It's very fulfilling to be done with it," Andreessen said. "I'm looking forward to the next four years."
"It's huge," coach Eric Rupp said. "Joseph has worked so hard to get here. He's put in countless hours in the gym. He's had a tremendous senior season. I couldn't be happier for him."
While Andreessen played multiple positions in helping the Legends get to the Carrier Dome during a 12-1 campaign, he has been recruited as a linebacker by Bryant – the spot where he's earned All-WNY honors the past two seasons (he was a second-team selection in 2016).
Andreessen finished with 118 tackles, including 18 for losses, and 5.5 sacks. He, along with fellow first team All-WNY linebacker – Division I baseball prospect Ben Damiani – were among the key reasons Lancaster's starting defense only gave up one touchdown through the team's first 11 games of the season.
That string ended in the third quarter of the state semifinals against high-scoring Section III champion Cicero-North Syracuse. C-NS scored two quick touchdowns to turn a one-score deficit into an advantage.
Once C-NS surged ahead, Rupp switched from the team's normal base offense to its large "Tank" one with Andreessen lining up under center instead of tackle. Andreessen took over the game from that point on and proved to be an unstoppable force on both sides of the ball that day. Andreessen rushed 11 times for 149 yards, scoring on runs of 43 and 2 yards. He also completed a 20-yard touchdown pass and contributed with his usual double-digit tackles on defense.
"He put the team on his back and willed us into the state championship game," Rupp said of that 35-21 comeback win.
While that's Rupp's favorite Andreessen moment, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Andreessen said winning the Section VI championship in 2016 was his top memory.
"People didn't know how good we would be," he said of a team that finished 10-1. "It was a really happy moment."
Another happy moment for Andreessen: receiving his first Division I offer – which came from Bryant in January.
He and Lancaster coaches sent out highlight clips to colleges via Twitter, hoping to catch someone's eye. They did just that in Bryant coach James Perry – although Rupp said Andreessen may have caught the Bulldogs' attention while attending a summer camp.
"Bryant was there the whole time," Andreessen said. "They came down to Lancaster. They seemed really interested off the bat.
"It's really exciting. A lot of stress has been put off me. ... It feels like a lot of hard work paid off."