I used to wonder who in the world these young recruits were that being hailed as the next saviors of their program. I wondered how do guys like Carmelo Anthony, Jason Williams, Tim Tebow and Reggie Bush get all of this pub and hype when a fraction of the population in their state has seen them.
I wondered how guys like Ron Powlus and Felipe Lopez were considered huge busts after their collegiate careers when I never understood the hype to begin with.
Let’s just that now that National Signing Day has become the most pointless new day in sports I kind of wish I still felt the way I used to.
Signing Day has moved past the NFL Draft Combine as the most pointless and overhyped sporting event in sports. You run out a bunch of 17 and 18 year olds who are being touted as the next big thing BEFORE PLAYING A COLLEGE GAME! These guys are made deities before they step out on the field on Saturdays and are expected to become superstars immediately. Anyone else see something wrong with that?
Take today for example: the nations #1 recruit Jadeveon Clowney held a press conference two weeks after Signing Day to make his decision on which school he was attending. He sat in front of the media with three hats his mother and brother and in LeBron James fashion decided that he was taking his talents to Columbia, South Carolina and be a Gamecock. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or shake my head.
All this does is bring extra attention to a young man who we don’t even know will make it past the college game and into the NFL. This is the scenario for a guy like Terrelle Pryor who was an incredibly hyped player who was set to be the next big thing at Ohio State and now probably won’t be an NFL quarterback because he isn’t that good.
It’s not only the case for Pryor but the top 150 as well. The Rivals and ESPN 150 is nothing more than a sad dose of reality when you analyze all of those can’t miss talents and see where they are. When you look at these lists you see guys like Cam Newton who matched his expectations and Nick Fairley who exceeded. Yet the cases of who didn’t make are much more striking.
A few years ago Mitch Mustain was to be the next big thing at Arkansas as the local boy who was going to carry the Hogs to new heights. Four years later his eligibility is done after transferring to USC and failing to rise up the depth chart and last week was arrested for possession of marijuana. Not that glamorous is it?
Blame ESPN for all of this and Sports Illustrated for that matter. This whole new movement started with the fascination behind LeBron James as a high school senior. Before the SI cover high school seniors were like diamonds in the rough. They were treasures that were concealed waiting for that chance to shine in the right way and that’s in the actual game. After the SI cover James’ high school games were being featured as a prime-time event on ESPN with Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas. Then came ESPNU games featuring high school talents like Gerald Henderson, Wayne Ellington, Greg Oden and others. Then came National Signing Day and then came questions like today when Tom Luginbill was asked about his potential draft status in the NFL in three years… LET THE GUY PLAY VANDERBILT FIRST THEN LET’S TALK ABOUT THE NFL!!!
If the NCAA says it’s about protecting players and the student athlete itself, then why are they allowing players and programs to do this self promotion with teenagers and push their product? It’s allowing agents and other forces to come in and get in these kids ears early and puts these programs at risk for sanctions by the NCAA. It’s a show that leaves these kids open to larger amounts of scrutiny and failure.
When Kwame Brown fell flat on his face in the NBA as a draft bust it was ok because he was a professional and he knows that his face will be in the limelight as a high draft pick. Subjecting high school athletes going to college to that same potential treatment is unfair because of their amateur status.
Unfortunately were past that point. This is the new era of high school athletics. Were now looking for the next LeBron James, Bryce Harper or Jadeveon Clowney and when we find them, no matter the age, were going to see them on magazines and on ESPN. I kind of wish I didn’t know until these guys put the jerseys on with their colleges on the front again. It was better that way.