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

Justin Turner, Chris Taylor repay Dodgers’ patience by sharing NLCS MVP

first_img Dodgers fans go crazy for #ThisTeam after 11-1 victory over Cubs secures World Series spot In Taylor’s case, it was the Dodgers’ willingness to gamble that an offseason of grueling workouts would enable the young utilityman to rebuild his swing in a matter of months.Related Articles The co-MVPs turned up in the interview room together after the Dodgers eliminated the reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs, 11-1, in Game 5. They were champagne-soaked with hats turned backward, a pair of googles still perched on Turner’s head. Fittingly, they doused each other with praise.“He’s a dynamic player and a table setter,” said Turner, who hit .333 for the series, with two home runs and seven RBI. “When he goes, we usually go as a team.”“I talk to him as much as I can. He’s one of the reasons I decided to make the changes I did,” said Taylor, who finished at .316 with two homers and three RBI. Both men also walked five times, as many as the entire Cubs roster.“Guys that have gone out on a ledge and made big changes and had success with it,” Taylor added, “I saw those guys and the success they had, and that’s kind of what encouraged me to go out of my comfort zone.” Magic Johnson celebrates Dodgers’ World Series berth at Staples Center Dodgers slam Cubs, reach first World Series since 1988 Before the Dodgers punched their first World Series ticket since 1988, Manager Dave Roberts said Taylor had been a “fringy, 4-A player” with his old swing – good enough to play comfortably in Triple-A, but too often overmatched in the major leagues.With a new look at the plate (Mike Trout’s bat waggle, Turner’s leg kick, Nolan Arenado’s weight shift), the 27-year-old was part of the most valuable duo on the field throughout this series.“To really try to shoot the moon as far as committing to a swing change, he did that,” Robert said. “And it really paid off.”Turner, meanwhile, had already established himself in three previous playoff appearances as one of the most dangerous hitters in the postseason. Then he served notice in Game 2 that he’d be a similar force against the Cubs.His walk-off home run in that one was the Dodgers’ first in the postseason since Kirk Gibson in 1988, a feat he remembered watching as a 4-year-old at his grandmother’s house in Southern California.“One of my first baseball memories,” Turner said.Now he’s returning the favor for a few youngsters in search of some inspiration.“People were talking about the J.T. homer,” Roberts said, “and it’s up to us to make that an iconic moment as well.”Taylor’s highlights included momentum-swinging home runs in both Games 1 and 3. The first came in the sixth inning, when reliever Hector Rondon tried to throw a 97 mph fastball and watched Taylor deposit it over the wall in right-center for a 3-2 lead.The second came in Game 3, when Chicago starter Kyle Hendricks tried to sneak an 88 mph sinker past him. Taylor drove that one into the seats as well, tying the score, 1-1, and helping LA’s offense get on track in a 6-1 win.The most inspirational part of Turner’s story stretches much further back.He broke into the big leagues with Baltimore at the end of the 2009 season, but was designated for reassignment to the minors the following spring. Claimed off waivers by the Mets, Turner lasted three seasons playing all around the infield (he was blocked by All-Star David Wright at third base), but the Mets let him leave as a free agent in 2013.Later that offseason, Wallach saw Turner playing in a Cal State Fullerton alumni game, and the organization signed him to a minor league deal. His versatility earned him playing time when infielders Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe went down with injuries, and the third baseman has been tough to keep off the lineup card since.After that breakout year, Turner began establishing his postseason bona fides against his old team, the Mets, in the 2015 NLDS with a .526 average. After tearing through the 2016 NLDS, though Turner stumbled against the Cubs in the NLCS a season ago.But he more than made up for that this time around.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Los Angeles Dodgers’ Justin Turner hits an RBI single during the third inning of Game 5 of the NLCS on Thursday night in Chicago. Turner shared NLCS co-MVP honors with Chris Taylor. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)By JIM LITKEThe Associated PressCHICAGO — Justin Turner and Chris Taylor shared MVP honors in the NL Championship Series, repaying a Dodgers organization willing to roll the dice on players whose big league careers were stalled.In Turner’s case, it was then-bench coach Tim Wallach who rediscovered him playing in a Cal State Fullerton alumni baseball game four years ago, after his career appeared all but over. Dodgers World Series tickets will cost big bucks in secondary market NLCS Game 5 Dodgers highlights: Kiké Hernandez slams Cubs last_img read more