The regular season is over. We know what will happen next. The transfer gate is about to burn out. This is a word of caution addressed directly to college football players…
I knew it was a lie the first time your parents told me.
“Coach Reed, the most important thing for me is that he gets his education. As long as he does well in school and gets his degree, I’ll be fine. Football doesn’t last forever, you know. We’ll need to step back from that education.”
But now your kid isn’t playing, or he’s not getting enough touches. Now education has no value that you once discussed with me. The first year may just be over, but now it’s about playtime and the league. The coach lied to you, they play with the other kids because of where they are – not because they are better players or have earned the coaches’ trust. Now you want your kid to get away from his whole journey of playing Russian roulette in the transfer portal.
Why education has no value to you now? Now it is NFL or bust. Your kid must already adapt to how hard it is to play football in the first division. Now it makes you add more stress every day, and you don’t fully understand what he’s going through.
Young man, I really want you to listen to me. Read this and read it closely. Process and understand it. You most likely will not play professional football. You are a good player, but you are not a great player. You love the game and there is a place for you in it. But it probably won’t be Sunday in the NFL.
But here’s the problem. You just entered the transfer gate because you feel disrespected, lied to, misled, and belittled. You feel your NFL dream slipping away with every shot that passes you by the sidelines. You’re now on your way to the compliance office ready to throw in the towel. You cannot bear the shame of not starting another day. You can’t go another week without being the main ball carrier.
Listen to me man, turn around and go to training! Don’t give up on your scholarship! I repeat – do not give up your scholarship! Take a deep breath and call someone you can trust. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, call me. But whatever you do, don’t give up on your scholarship! Before you do that, we will make sure that you have competed as hard as possible, and that you have fought harder than ever before for anything in your life.
Now I know what you’re about to tell me. You are going to refer to Jameson Williams, who left Ohio and went to Alabama. Look at it, you’ll say – it’s going to be a first-round pick now. Yes I saw it, the whole world saw it. But let me tell you that Jameson Williams He’s the fastest person I’ve ever seen. Let me say it again. He’s the fastest human I’ve ever seen. You will tell me how Kenneth Walker At Michigan State, he reached the Heisman Finals, and how Jermaine Johnson now plays his way into the NFL Draft in Florida State. I know everyone will be looking at the best possible result. But are you ready to deal with the worst possible outcome?
When you were 14, you said it was all about education. That was it, I just needed your testimony. What will we do if you switch and still not play? What will we do if you convert and have to go down a level? Not just a level in football, but also a level in the type of degree you will get. Have you been thinking about it?
What if you enter the transfer gate and no one picks you up? Have you heard of the Purgatory Transport Gate? In the 2019-20 cycle, nearly half of all Power Five transfers finished at the FCS level, in the JUCO rating or – get this – anywhere! What are the options now? Have you thought it through? Have you imagined your life not only without football, but also without school?
I know what you’ll say next. You’ll refer to the guys you trained in high school who did the diversion. Antonio Doyle From Texas A&M. Jack Buford from miso. Devon Harris and Tank Brown from Minnesota. My response to that was that I knew these guys were moving on, but I begged them not to. I tried to persuade them to stay, or to do what they needed to be able to survive. We had hours and hours and days and days and weeks and weeks of conversations and dialogue and accountability talks. In the end they are men and they made a decision. It may work, it may not work, but they made a decision – the same decision you’re facing now. My job is to help them see it through a lens other than emotion. I’m trying to help you do the same.
I see, you feel hurt. You may feel betrayed. The coaching staff hired you and you’re not playing. In your heart you feel like they promised you something, and you were lied to. But was it really a lie? They gave you the one thing in life any man needs, and that’s a chance. Any man in life who asks for anything more than opportunity is ungrateful. College football is a business, and it’s a big company at that. You are not promised playtime. No matter how awesome the hiring process is. Regardless of your association with the technical staff or your expectations. Nobody owes you anything. They will play with the players they feel give them the best chance of winning. The stakes are too great to do anything else. Do you see all men being fired? Do you really think that if they thought you could contribute to winning, you wouldn’t be the one playing?
But let’s get back to this point. Are you really going to walk away from free education? What are your plans then? See, that’s the other side of it. Do you remember those NCAA commercials? Those who said “There are about 400,000 NCAA student-athletes, and nearly all of them have gone professional at something else.” Well, that’s another thing. It’s time to take care of your education and your life. The 35-year-old is going to want some money. I’m looking for the old man you’ll be one day. Also, and here’s an idea, but what if I told you that you don’t have to go to the NFL in order to buy a house for your mom?
The fact of recruitment is that it often does not work out. You can’t play, things don’t go well on the court, your girlfriend from high school kicks you out, your coach gets kicked out for not winning enough. These are the most likely endings. Sure, there are some success stories, and those stories make you want to chase things that you probably won’t even discover. But your education is something that cannot be taken away from you. But here you are, with tears in your eyes, a feeling of tightness in your stomach. You’re about to get rid of it because you’re number 2 on the depth chart. Take a deep breath and make the decision with a clear mind. How would you feel if you leveled down and turned your entire trip into a partial scholarship? You have to weigh everything.
When it comes to hiring, you have to look deeper than taking photos, visits, and the 15 minutes of social media fame you get. You have to become your own manager. Look at the depth chart, and check the staff and program history. You will discover if this school is really for you, rather than just making a decision because of uniform groups and a slicker weight room. You have to think for yourself, this is your life, not anyone else’s life. When you get to where you want to go, rest assured. to improve. compete. Keep your focus. Remember why you are there.
Those who work hard, who subject themselves to the most discipline, who sacrifice for a goal, often become the happiest.
Carl Reed is a college football analyst for 247Sports and the head coach at De Smet Jesuit powerhouse in Missouri. He played college football in Austin Bay.