No Clowning Around for Clowney

The Best Player in America

It has to be said that for every attention hungry blue chip drama queen out there, there are plenty of top prospects that choose to not play games with the media. They are straight forward about their preferences, and once they announce a decision, it is for good.

James Wilder Jr is another blue chip prospect who minimized the drama

This past year, Jadeveon Clowney was the best prospect in the country. In fact, after checking all of the top recruit evaluation sites, I failed to find one where he was not considered the #1 player in the 2011 class.

Clowney isn’t the kind of guy who likes having the media all in his business, so he would often just give simple answers when necessary. This article has a quote from his high school coach about how he doesn’t like a lot of attention, and how you couldn’t get him on the phone unless you’ve known him for years.

When he did speak to the media in the summer, he named Alabama and South Carolina among his leaders, and those schools were in it until the end.

He never lied to the media. When he attended the U.S. Army All America Bowl, he admitted that other commits tried to sway him to join them at their respective schools, and he just told them what they wanted to hear. But he never went out and publicly said anything that was untrue. He met Nick Saban, the “king of all of football,” and when asked about it, he made a joke about Saban only being 5’5″. How could a 6’6″ 240 lb monster be intimidated by a shrimpy guy like that? You get the feel from listening to him that he is very grounded, and he is just all about working hard and playing ball. He seems like the kind of guy every coach would want to have on their team.

Jadeveon chooses the S. Carolina hat

He did push back his announcement date until past signing day, but that was only because he wanted to wait until his birthday to announce. So we see a situation where a very mature young kid dealt with the media very well, and never looked to showboat or brag about his athletic abilities. He never tried to act like he was leaning a certain way so that he could extract special attention or perks from certain schools. He didn’t treat it like a business, and he didn’t take advice from someone else, not even his mother. Instead he lived out his senior year of high school, and chose the school that was closest to home, and closest to his heart.

I guess the media can’t corrupt everyone…  😉

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Flip Flops, no Sandals

Matt Elam was a top ranked safety from Palm Beach, Fl

The story of Matt Elam is much simpler than those of Dupree or Brown. Elam was a blue chipper who always knew where he wanted to attend school, but he kept the world on our toes trying to figure it out.

Elam committed to the Gators in October of 2008, over a year before his National Signing Day, saying “Florida has always been my team and I have always wanted to play there.” And for all practical purposes, it was a done deal. Not so fast, here we go.

In June, 2009, Elam announced that although he was still committed, he would be taking a look around at other schools. In October of the same year, he announced that he would not take his planned official visit to FSU, and that his recruitment was over, with the gators as his final choice. In December, after Urban Meyer announced his resignation as head coach of Florida, Elam, along with the rest of the gator class demanded answers about the future of the program. Four days later, Elam switched his commitment to FSU, stating that Meyer was the only reason he had committed to UF. Elam also said “I’m happy its over with” in early January of 2010, one month before National Signing Day. THE NEXT DAY, Elam speaks with Urban Meyer, and tells the media “It really touched me so my decision might change.” Even the University of Georgia was suggested by one media outlet as a possible suitor. As you may have guessed, Elam switched commitments again on Jan. 9, when he chose the gators, saying “I’m positive.”

Elam was a Nole for 9 days

This story teaches us that although the media cannot be blamed for a kid changing his mind over which school to attend, the fact that they allow these young kids to have the spotlight means that the players can abuse the attention. Elam’s own mother said, “The media keeps coming to him, and he likes the attention.”

Elam signs his Letter of Intent for UF

Is the media evil? No, I don’t think so, but constant media attention does give these kids a false sense of entitlement, and that leads to immature decisions.

Posted in florida gators, florida state seminoles, football, football recruiting, sports | 2 Comments

17 and famous

Brown at the US Army All America Bowl

I have been following college football recruiting for many years now, and the one story that stands out to me is that of blue chipper and consensus #1 overall recruit RB Bryce Brown. This is a guy who just found it extremely difficult to make up his mind about what was best. With the pressures that he faced from mass media outlets, it was nearly impossible for him to follow his heart. Even when he did so, it was not permanent as people continued to ask questions about his future, and whether or not he will continue to shop around at other schools. Like I’ve said, with the media outlets that follow player’s every step, to radio shows like the Jeff Cameron Show, which not only reports the news, but gives opinions on these steps, it must be very difficult for a 17 year old kid to keep his head on straight. Is it morally wrong for the media to pry into these kids’ lives? Maybe, but there is a demand for this information, so we can consider the opinion that the media is just doing their job. I’ll let you decide.

With the reach of technology these days, it must be more difficult to sincerely choose the school of best fit today than it was for someone like Marcus Dupree 30 years ago. Because kids from Miami are able to learn so much about schools in California or Oregon and vice versa. Marcus Dupree probably had a much vaguer feel for schools that were far far away. In the case of Brown’s recruitment, he did take advantage of visits as well as the good will of coaches. Maybe because he was confused, maybe because he was advised to do so, or maybe because he wanted his face on the front page of websites and magazines and newspapers.

Brown Commits, for the first time

Brown committed to his older brother‘s school, the University of Miami early his senior year of high school, but that was far from the end of the story. Like Dupree, Brown had an advisor, and nobody really knew why this was, or who this man was.  The advisor Brian Butler, who was a former felon and rapper, and Butler acted as Brown’s representative to the media. Butler sold updates of Brown’s recruitment on a website, announced at one point that Brown was considering joining the CFL, and eventually pushed Brown’s commitment date to March 16, over a month past National Signing Day.

Brown wavered in his commitment, taking visits to Oregon, Clemson, and Tennessee, as well as fielding interest from LSU and Missouri, all while remaining ‘committed’ to Miami, whatever that means. Eventually the University of Miami did what I would do (I never thought I’d say that), and told Brown to take a hike. Brown committed to the University of Tennessee.

Brown struggled in Knoxville

At Tennessee, Brown claimed he had trouble finding common ground with his teammates, and found it difficult to find the field behind future NFL back Montario Hardesty. He eventually left Tennessee to enroll at Kansas State, which is where Brown was originally from. Brown has yet to play for K State as he must sit out a year before suiting up. Oh, if only we knew where Brown really wanted to go from the beginning…

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the pioneer of indecision

marcus dupree. his name was meant to echo through the ages, but that was a dream that never came to fruition. marcus dupree grew up in Philadelphia, Miss., and during the end of his high school football career in 1982, he was the most highly recruited football player ever.

the best that never was

Dupree was the focal point of ESPN’s episode of 30 for 30 titled: “The Best That Never Was”, which followed his path of bad decisions, coupled with poor advice which led his career to crumble. The media attention he received was unbearable for a simple country boy from a small town. Schools from all over the country were hot on his tail, and his team of advisors, ranging from his mother, to his uncle, to a family friend, were pulling him in all different directions.  Following his visit to Texas, most people in the media speculated that The Longhorns were at the top of his list. However, many people close to Dupree wanted him to attend Southern Miss because it was close to home. Oklahoma’s coach had a strong reputation for developing players, and he always put a winning product on the field. Dupree was torn. Had he had more time to think by himself, without the whole world breathing down his neck, his decision would have been more informed, and may have led him to a happier career.

When Heisman Trophy winner Billy Sims showed up at Dupree’s high school in February of 1982, Dupree was blown away, and he chose to attend Sims’ former school, the University of Oklahoma, while forsaking schools like Texas and Southern Miss. Immediately following Dupree’s signature, he knew he had made a mistake.

At Oklahoma, Dupree’s personality immediately clashed with the hard-nosed, working environment led by coach Barry Switzer. Dupree struggled his freshman year, and even when he achieved success, he was undisciplined.

After his freshman season, word got out that Dupree and Coach Switzer were not seeing eye to eye. The media had taken a comment made by the coach after the team’s Fiesta Bowl loss to Arizona State about Dupree being out of shape. Dupree and Switzer confirmed that they had not spoken very much during the offseason, but that didn’t stop the media from turning the comment into a s***storm of massive proportions. Sports Illustrated even published an issue with Dupree on the cover, titled “Clash of Wills at Oklahoma.”

Dupree returned to Oklahoma for the beginning of his sophomore season, but soon disappeared. When he reemerged in Mississippi, he openly stated that he would not return to school. After further pressure from his family, he flirted with enrolling at Southern Miss, but eventually opted to play for a semi-professional team in the USFL. Dupree retired from football in 1992. He now works as a long haul truck driver.

I believe that the media has every right to speculate about the activities of athletes, especially when they are high profile players at a high profile football program. However, I have to ask whether it is ethical for media outlets to put such a massive amount of pressure on young kids who are struggling to find the best fit for themselves. We urge them to narrow down their lists, and place deadlines on them to decide. We also fail to stress to them the importance of contracts, how decisions need to be well thought out, and how decisions should be final.

Posted in football, football recruiting, sports | 1 Comment

will michelangelo play DE or OT?

although there are some sort of potato chips in existence which are actually blue in color, blue chips can also refer a very select group of annual high school football prospects.  in recent years, the media’s search for the toasty … Continue reading

Gallery | 2 Comments