College Football Recruiting: Follow your heart

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David Rosenberg (@breakinghuddle) of UGA Football Live

“Roquan Smith? Will you accept this rose?”. “DuVonta Lampkin? Will you accept this rose?”.  “Mike Weber? Will you accept this rose?”. “Matt Colburn? Ummm, we made a mistake. Can we have our rose back?”

Is it just me or did National Signing Day morph into an extended version of ABC’s hit show “The Bachelor?” The courtship of some of America’s most talented high school football players by collegiate coaches collides each year with the recruits’ desires to be in a “relationship” that is lasting and meaningful; not just with the university they choose, but with the coaches who will guide them.

I was going to go into a whole diatribe about the universities’ points of view, the coaches’ points of view, the fans’ points of view and the recruits’ points of view. Then two things happened. I read a great article by another writer that got me thinking and Coach Dean Smith passed away.

(Photo: Reuters/Ellen Ozier)
(Photo: Reuters/Ellen Ozier)

“Other than my parents, no one had a bigger influence on my life than Coach Smith. He was more than a coach — he was my mentor, my teacher, my second father. Coach was always there for me whenever I needed him and I loved him for it. In teaching me the game of basketball, he taught me about life.” ~ Michael Jordan on the passing of former North Carolina Head Basketball Coach Dean Smith

In the coming months, it will be important for us to explore all the aspects of recruiting and identify ways to make it better for all parties concerned who participate in the process. For every Mark Richt, whose character is unimpeachable, there are 10 Bobby Petrino types. Every coach has the right to do what is best for himself and his family. But by the same token, it appears that some coaches are withholding crucial information from recruits. It seems some coaches are trying to keep crown jewels of a class together, moments before they bolt their respective positions leaving players with no recourse; see DuVonta Lampkin and Mike Weber.

To all current and future recruits: I have two sons. And if you were my child, I would say this to you:

“You are my son and I love you. You are now a young man and you are entering into a new phase of your life. You are going to have new experiences, make new friends, achieve new successes, and face new challenges. You will come in contact with people who genuinely care about you and people who ultimately care about only themselves. You will have to search your own heart to know who is who. Trust yourself. Trust those family members, coaches, friends, and advisors who have been with you every step of the way, not just those who appeared when things were coming up roses. When meeting with a coach, ask questions. Ask them to take your sport out of the equation and have them sell you on their University, the education you will receive, and what that means for your future after your “playing days” are over. (And trust me your playing days end when you are still a relatively young man.) Interview the coach. Tell him what you want out of your relationship with him. Tell him your hopes and dreams, and ask him how he feels he is best positioned to help you reach those goals. Find that connection. You can feel it. You’ll know when it is there. But keep in mind, the coaching profession is one of nomads. Coaches at all levels; especially college and pro will come and go. I pray that the coaches that lead you will be there for the long haul. I pray these coaches provide you the same sense of stability and support Michael Jordan felt from Coach Smith. I hope this and so much more for you. Ultimately, I want you to use your G-d given abilities and this opportunity to get the education you deserve. In the end, this will be the time of your life, so take from it things that will last YOU a lifetime.”

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