Brazzoni: Students, coaches, media need to take step back, rethink high school recruiting

first_imgFootball is a game of balance.Teams need to balance a strong passing game with an equally strong running game. Quarterbacks need to remain balanced in the pocket to make crisp, accurate throws; running backs need to keep their bodies balanced as a means of breaking tackles and making extended runs.But the most important form of balance in football may just be the balance of egos.With so many heads competing for playing time, the coach’s attention and the overall spotlight, it likely gets difficult at times for players to put aside some of their individual pride and find the right balance between personal and team success.That balance was put to the test last week when high school running back Antonio Williams — who is ranked as the 10th-best tailback in the nation according to ESPN — de-committed from Wisconsin after giving a verbal commitment to the school last December.Just four days later, Williams verbally committed to Ohio State after taking an official visit to the school.Football: Class of 2016 running back Antonio Williams de-commits from WisconsinAs one of the earliest verbal commits to the Wisconsin football team’s 2016 recruiting class, Antonio Williams could hardly contain Read…Now, the exact reason for Williams’ actions is still under speculation. But whether it was because the school talked to the North Carolina-native over a tweet or because a spot opened up at Ohio State doesn’t matter.The real issue lies in the process. As from the start, these 15 and 16-year-olds are thrown into the national spotlight without any real warning of what is to come from college coaches and the media. As these athletes get better, that spotlight grows larger and their egos get bigger, big enough to the point where their reputation is at risk before even entering college. For that reason, everyone must take a step back.Student-athletes need to take a step back and realize they’re still in high school. They should still act like adults and be treated as adults, but that does not heighten their level of importance as teenagers.The media needs to take a step back and realize the context of these kids’ lives. They are still under the shelter of their parents. They likely haven’t had a job yet because of their commitment to sports. They have likely had no real opportunity to live independently. Constant pressure instilled on them from the media can take a toll on someone so young and leave them fearful for what is to come.And while constant media attention may simply be a warning to them about what is to come, they still aren’t there yet. Let them breathe.Lastly, their coaches need to take a step back and understand there is as much responsibility on them as there is on the students. Even though they should be treated like adults, they aren’t adults yet. They are prone to mistakes, as all teenagers are. So instead of forcing them to face the consequences on their own, use them as teaching moments.A coach is just as important a contributor to an athlete’s future as anyone, but still, in the end, it all comes down to the kids.I can say with confidence Antonio Williams and many other high school stars are not 100 percent ready for what’s to come. They may not be ready to go from top dog as a senior to the bottom of the totem pole as a college freshman. They may not be ready for the immense amount of pressure from coaches, fans and the media to perform as soon as they step on the field.They may not be ready for the cheers, the boos, the hype, the criticism, the microscope they’ll be under, all of which will hit them as soon as the spring.But it’s also not entirely their fault.So, let’s treat these kids as who they are — high school students. Let’s teach and prepare rather than criticize and glorify. Let’s not throw overwhelming amounts of pressure on them before they can even see an R-rated movie.Let’s take a step back and realize that being in the spotlight alone provides more than enough pressure for these student-athletes to handle, and it is more than their own responsibility to maintain that balance in their lives.last_img read more