In order to become a highly recruited elite player you have to either be invited or figure out a way to show up at some manufacturer’s sponsored combine event and display your talents to the recruiting site experts. If not, then you are quickly relegated to the category associated for lesser talented players with a very limited upside potential. Coach Paul Johnson of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets could care less as he subscribes to the time tested old school way of finding football recruits; looking at them play football and their character as a person.
As the college football offseason slowly comes to an end along with the inordinate amount of; “off the field incidents” and numerous player suspensions, perhaps it’s an opportunity to take a deeper look into this problem in conjunction with the current manner of football recruiting and reassess the actual meaning of a student/athlete. While all of the football playing schools now have summer recruiting events to get players onto campus and determine their potential for success, apparently this is no longer enough.
Given that all of this occurs in the summer when players are on break from high school prior to entering their senior seasons of eligibility, isn’t it ironic that these events take place simultaneously with State and local fairs around the country. You know, those places with their midway rides, Ferris wheel, and competitions where you can throw a baseball and knock down the metal milk jugs and just have a real good time. But the parallels with the fairs and football recruiting services is not only remarkably similar, it is identical.
What I remember the most from the State fairs are those events for the rural kids enrolled in the 4-H club who raised the biggest pig or best cow that they entered in the contest to compete for the blue ribbon, or the mothers who baked their special pie or signature entree’ for the taste contest with a panel of judges composed of the local rotary club members and other assorted chamber of commerce types. Is this stars rated football recruiting any different? Would a major sausage manufacturer really care what some local business owner thought was a prized sow or bovine? Was the Pillsbury Corporation going to buy Daisy Mae’s recipe for corn bread because two out of three judges working at the local hardware and corner drug store voted it the best ever?
This current atmosphere of stars recruiting is no different than these State fair events with their local “experts” looking at a pig or devouring a slice of rhubarb pie then awarding the blue ribbon to the contestant of their choice. In fact this recruiting process is just as ridiculous. I was recently reading a “scouting report” of a player who has offers from several major schools that said; “he lacks the ability to get penetration into the backfield and therefore will not make much of an impact at the next level.” Naturally the person who wrote this critique did not attach his or her name to the report but they are no doubt an “expert.” Much like the individual who after hearing Elvis Presley audition said; “don’t quit your day job.”
In the past few seasons since Coach Paul Johnson arrived at Georgia Tech he has had numerous players graduate early with eligibility still remaining to play another year of college football. However, several of these players have elected to forgo their last season of football and take a job offer from Microsoft Corporation and immediately begin their career with a Fortune 50 Company. While none of these players were five stars recruits they did contribute and became members of a team that won an ACC Championship and lots of games the past four seasons. The epitome of what a student athlete should strive to be in this era of college football.
Unfortunately, the current trend of recruiting highly rated stars players has resulted in a disturbing reality that these kids are entitled to do what they want once they arrive on campus which has resulted in an alarming number of arrests, suspensions, and dismissals from these schools. This privileged evolution has just now recently created the situation whereby a recruit in essence has said; I will come but only if you also bring several of my teammates. Although now both the school and player are backpedaling and indicating; “that comment was taken out of context.” Only time will tell if this is true or false once signing day arrives in February, 2013.
For the life of me I cannot ever remember reading about the owner of the biggest pig or best cow in the State ever getting arrested for engaging in a fist fight at a bar, or the winner of the best pie taken to jail for carrying a gun or being under the influence of narcotics. Nor do I know if the blue ribbon prize winning sow became pepper bacon at the local meat market, or if the recipe for the best cherry pie was sold to a nationwide franchised restaurant chain. But here is what I do know; the current media hype surrounding college football recruiting is quickly becoming out of control.
As it stands now the proverbial tail is wagging the recruiting dog at most schools, thankfully not at Georgia Tech. It was very refreshing to read about a recent recruit who gave an oral commitment indicating that he selected the Institute because of their highly ranked computer program. Perhaps having players obtain employment with a major five stars Computer Corporation in that academic field was a helpful component that also went into this player’s decision making process. Although I will wait for the actual signing on the dotted line come next February given the last minute recruiting drama that too often occurs, this is the type of student/athlete that I will enjoy watching compete for the Yellow Jackets. Perhaps Microsoft will too.
I will also observe with great interest the player who was the brunt of that unflattering scouting report and see how he performs as a student/athlete at the next level. I’m actually keeping my fingers crossed and looking forward to him hopefully electing to attend Georgia Tech and have numerous games much like the non five stars DT from Maryland had last year who couldn’t be blocked and made 22 tackles against the Yellow Jackets.
BTW, the player from Maryland was an All ACC first team DT and potential All American heading into this season despite being a meager two (2) stars player coming out of high school according to the recruiting experts. Who knows, maybe his mother never won a blue ribbon for the best pie at the State fair but certainly raised one heck of a football player that the recruiting services didn’t think merited much of a look. Go figure.