In division one college football, recruiting is absolutely key to sustainable success. While that statement is as obvious Bill Self’s toupee, I felt it was necessary to preface this blog by acknowledging the fact that I understand it’s importance. Because from here on out, things may get a little contentious. I invite you to walk with me as present my case. Maybe, just maybe I’ll win you over.
As an adult (subjective), who is only a few years removed from participating in college athletics, I feel the recruiting process of high school athletes is becoming a bit too convoluted. There is elaborate announcement videos, Twitter, Facebook and even message boards.
Gone are the days of visiting campuses, meeting coaches and giving a commitment, back when a commitment meant something. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not some crotchety old man who thinks these kids are out of touch when in fact I am the one out of touch. I’m a mid-twenties internet blogger who was fortunate enough to compete in college, although it should be noted I am very white, very slow and if I were to have released and announcement video, the reaction would have gone something like this..
Sad, yes I’m aware.
The prevailing problem with modern recruiting is social media. This platform sensationalizes kids who have yet to prove anything on the collegiate field. Yeah, you were great in high school, that is awesome and something to be proud of, but let’s not forget the actual money is four years away. To get there, you have to get through some 60 odd players who just watched you take off four other jerseys during your commitment video. Not exactly the way you want to start off with your future teammates.
Truth is, we are in a self-entitlement era. A time when all that matters is personal exposure. Where recruits are tweeting anything to garner attention from fan bases around the country. Even schools they are not seriously considering. All in the name of followers, likes and retweets. Don’t get me wrong, these kids deserve a little shine, but we need to keep in mind that a 3 or 4 star rating doesn’t always translate to touchdowns or tackles.
The coaches have to cater to this expected praise and tell them they are the best thing since the yellow first down line. Knowing all the while they have everything yet to prove once the pads are on. It is a necessary evil however. Opposing coaches are offering the same praise in hopes of drawing the recruit to their school.
Fans even take to social media offering acclaim and criticism, dependent on which way the recruit decides to go. It is sad, but something we will just have to get used to.
The video above is from Michigan kicker Quinn Nordin, yes that is right. Nordin posted this announcement video committing to Penn State and subsequently opted to attend the university of Michigan. For your sanity, my advice to you is to not invest to much stock into college recruiting news until signing day.
On a separate note, but partially related, the Elijah Blades recruitment process was a roller coaster ride for the Huskers. Blades is a 4 star defensive back. His situation is the epitome recruiting madness. He was verbally committed to Florida, then suddenly switched to Nebraska on national signing day and signed his letter of intent. Allegedly after USC turned him down twice as a result of his sub par academics.
Blades signed at Nebraska as a partial qualifier. Meaning he would not be able to play in games for his first year and would only be granted three years of eligibility. He etched out a 2.26 GPA in high school and only met one of the two requirements to play at the division one level.
The 4 star recruit ultimately decommitted and decided to play for a Arizona Western. A national powerhouse at the junior college level. Blades made the decision to play immediately and try to improve his academics as opposed to coming to Lincoln. I can respect that.
When asked if he could see himself coming to Lincoln, Blades responded “probably not”.
Here is his interview with Husker Online.
I was watching Twitter tonight and 2018 Nebraska signee Elijah Blades was tweeting to have a reporter call him. Since I have spoken with him before I decided to start communicating with him. The information that he shared was a revelation. Here is the interview as a straight Q&A:
Was being a partial qualifier a possibility at Nebraska?
“Yes, partial was a possibility, but I decided not to.”
Did you decide not to take the partial opportunity because you didn’t want to go to Nebraska after all?
“You can say that. It seemed that at Nebraska I was going to get eligible to play. I thought it would be easier.
“Fans thought that I was scared of competition because I decommitted, but that had nothing to do with it. I am a competitor and that’s what I play the game for.”
Was the hiring of Donte Williams by Nebraska critical to get you to look at Nebraska?
And even after you committed and signed with Nebraska you doubted the fit of you with Nebraska?
“Yes, but I do love their fan support.”
So based on your decision to go to junior college rather than take the partial qualifier at Nebraska there is no way after you finish junior college that you will go back to Nebraska?
“I don’t think so.”
I have a question, and it’s a tough one to ask you and I am sure that it’s difficult to answer. Do you feel like you were tricked at all into believing you would qualify at Nebraska? Meaning, do you feel like you could’ve qualified at other schools in the end?
In the end what was your GPA?
What did you need on the test to qualify?
“1,000. I was a little off. I don’t have the score on me.”
Have you spoken with the Nebraska staff? Do they know how you feel about the situation?
“Yes. I told them how I felt and they wanted me to take the partial qualifier.”
One last question and I appreciate you taking the time tonight to set the record straight. As a result of what happened to you have you decided to reach out to anybody in the 2018 class from Nebraska that you knew or met about this?
“No. No one knew about this, but I helped recruit for them. I have never said anything negatively to any recruit.”
Ultimately, Blades made the decision that was right for him. Hopefully he learns that his performance in the classroom will greatly impact the trajectory of his athletic career.
Thank you for taking the time to read my take on the madness that is college football recruiting. And as always, love you guys.